Tuesday, November 25, 2014

theBalm Balmsai Eyeshadow and Brow Palette review, swatches

theBalm Balmsai eyeshadow palette swatches, review
I can never resist palettes from theBalm Cosmetics, and have most of their palettes so far, except for Muppets Show or Balm and the Beautiful, both of which were sold out before I got into makeup, two of the Shady Lady volumes, the small Autobalms and N*ude'Dude, which is on my Christmas wishlist. I love the fun packaging and the quality of their makeup.
Their Fall 2014 release, the Balmsai Eyeshadow and Brow Palette, comes with 18 mostly neutral and muted eyeshadows, some of which double as eyebrow powder and even as eyeliner, and a pair of shaping stencils to give you the perfect eyebrows, cat eyeliner and smoky eye. Some of the shades did not appear very unique to me, given the number of palettes in my stash, and I am not a cat-eye person, but there was no way I was going to miss out on something new from theBalm. 

Read on for my review and swatches of theBalm's Balmsai Eyeshadow and Brow Palette.



Packaging of the Balmsai palette

theBalm features a vintage-inspired cover design for this palette, with a tanned, blonde pin-up woman on the beach in the forefront, and a man with the coolest pair of beach shorts I have seen in the background.. While not racially diverse, I like that their illustrations are not those of stick-thin, anorexic models, but of real women. 
theBalm Balmsai eyeshadow palette swatches, review
The Balmsai palette is, as usual for theBalm, made of sturdy cardboard and comes with a slip-case. It flips open to reveal the eyeshadows on the top and the stencils within the smaller flap. I love that the shadows and the stencils have separate flip-lids to prevent any powder fallout from getting into the stencils. The palette also features a decent mirror and a couple of quick tutorials, both on the inside of the flap cover, and on the back cover of the palette.
theBalm Balmsai eyeshadow palette swatches, review

Formula and pigmentation of the Balmsai palette

The eyeshadows are a nice mix of neutrals and a couple of jewel tones, which makes it ideal for a one-week or longer trip somewhere. Someone please remind me not to buy any more neutral eyeshadow palettes after Nude'Dude. Not that I will listen. 
Five shades - Big Kahuna, Pipeline, Stoked, Kawabunga and Surfari - are definitely non-neutral, but muted nonetheless, while the others are neutral variants. Almost all eyeshadows have good pigmentation and were easy to work with, but there were a couple of exceptions. More about the shades further below. 
While these colours do not crease, some of them do fade without primer. I recommend using primer with these eyeshadows to bring out the colour and to prevent fading. I always wear primer anyway, because I tend to rub my eyes without thinking.
The stencils are interesting. One is a brow guide and a shadow fallout guard. The other is a cat-eye stencil. I can never find tissue or Bristol board when I want to apply eyeshadow, to prevent fallout, so it is great that this palette comes with stencils that you can replace inside. I have not tried out the cat-eye look and cannot vouch for the effectiveness of this stencil.
theBalm Balmsai eyeshadow palette swatches, review

 

Shades and swatches of the Balmsai palette

The shades are classified into "In The Buff" or basic shades, "Mavericks" or splash of colour, "Curve and Angle" or brow/shadow shades and "Catch a Wave", which are shades in the last row and can be used wet or dry. None of these shades is very bright but I am into muted looks these days.
In The Buff shades: 
Wipe Out: Ivory beige. Nothing but a highlighter on my skintone. Seen in many palettes. Some fallout.
High Tide: Frosty white. Also a highlighter, but not for olive, tan or deeper skintones. Boo.
Hang 10: Warm gold. Blends into my skintone completely. Good for lids as well.
Dream Boat: Shimmery pale pink. Seen in many palettes before.
Sandbar: This colour was the most difficult to describe. Pale greyish gold? Can only serve as highlighter on me.
Tubular: A beautiful shimmery bronze that I love.
Maverick (Splash of Colour) shades:
Epic: Soft milk-chocolate shimmery brown. Perfect for day wear and my favourite among the shimmery neutrals in this palette. This neutral has been a little difficult to find, though Too Faced Chocolate Bar has something soft and milk-chocolate-ish enough.
Surf's Up: Best grey eyeshadow I have. Right mix of silver and black in this grey, so I can pull it off on the lid at a pinch, whereas most other greys are too dark or villainous if you get my drift. 
Big Kahuna: Aquatic blueish green. Deeper in the pan than on me. Love this shade.
Kawabunga: Olive green taupe. This is the kind of taupe I love on my skintone and I wish there were more such variants in palettes.
Surfari: Deep shimmery purple. Bring on all the purple eyeshadows, I say!
Pipeline: Deep shimmery navy blue. Ditto blue shadows! Both Pipeline and Surfari are jewel-toned.
Curve & Angle (Brow/Shadow) shades:
Score: Matte light brown, good for lids.
Dig It: Matte taupe. We have seen this before. Good for crease. Sheer - maybe intended purely as a brow powder?
Woodie: Deep chocolate brown matte. For crease.
Catch a Wave (Wet/Dry) shades:
Stoked: Shows up as a sheer maroonish black with random purple glitter, rather than the gorgeous "blackurple" (purplack?) I expected from the pan. It is also too dry and sheer for my liking. It is the shade I wanted to love the most, but ended up hating the most in this palette.
Ripper: Deep, dark brown. Does not look matte in the pan but swatches on matte. Good for crease, eyeliner or brow colour for deeper skintones.
Righteous: Matte black. Works as eyeliner or for smoking out a look.
theBalm Balmsai eyeshadow palette swatches, review

Here are the swatches.
From left, row 1: Wipe Out, High Tide, Hang 10, Dream Boat, Sandbar, Tubular, Epic, Surf's Up, Big Kahuna.
Row 2: Kawabunga, Surfari, Pipeline, Score, Dig It, Woodie, Stoked.
Row 3: Ripper, Righteous.
Swatched with fingertips over bare skin, no primer.
Don't the medium and deeper shades have great pigmentation? Remember, these were swatched with fingertips over bare skin. Stoked (second row, extreme right), as I said, is sheer. Four highlighting shades is a few too many, in my opinion. Some of these shades could have been avoided - High Tide, Sandbar, Dream Boat and Dig It could have been left out and it would have made no difference. The deeper neutrals, intended as brow powders or eyeliners, could not have been left out, of course.
Kawabunga, Surfari, Pipeline, Surf's Up, Big Kahuna, Tubular and Hang 10 are the winners for me in this palette. Especially the first five I named.

Summary and where to buy the Balmsai palette

The Balmsai palette is now my palette of choice for travelling. Size, sturdiness, cute packaging, a mix of mostly-neutrals and a handful of colours for the night, combined with the fact that some of these shades double as brow powders and eyeliners, make it ideal for a week or two away. 
If you have most of these shades in other palettes, then you may not get much use out of the Balmsai palette, but if you are a fan of theBalm, or are looking for a palette that can give you a variety of neutral looks for both day and night, with some muted colour options thrown in, then you will love this palette.
Some of these shades are beautiful, and I love using the stencil to prevent a mess. As I said before, theBalm could have left out three or four of the not-so-unique highlighting/paler shades. But perhaps they were catering to newer fans? I hope they come out with a taupe-variant palette or some colourful options next year. Next stop for me is their N^ude'Dude.
I begged my Mum into picking up this palette from Kohls - see here - but it is also available on theBalm's website, and they not only ship worldwide, but also have flash sales once in a while to save on postage. You can also get it online on the ubiquitous Amazon , Asos, and Nordstrom, all of whom ship to several countries worldwide. 
Other stores to carry the Balmsai include Brigette's Boutique, Cloud 10 Beauty and Beauty Bridge. At $39.50, this palette will not break the bank and will make a great Christmas present or a treat for yourself.

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