2018 was a weird year. Surely not as strange as 2020 is, but at that time we did not know that. It seemed to start slowly, not knowing that Ariana Grande would be dropping her Grammy winning album Sweetener or that a charcoal infused food would become that big of a deal. Yet at the end of January, Jeffree Star, as controversial as he might be, launched the palette that would send him to the stratosphere and position his brand as one of the tops in the market at that time.

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The palette, an array of reds with a touch of brown neutrals, was sought after by many and sold out in only a couple of minutes. It didn’t stop there. This palette would go on to set the trend for monochromatic eyeshadow palettes that would go on to shape the beauty community in a way no one really expected.

The Valley of Makeup

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Colourpop started in L.A. in the year 2014. Their goal: bringing good-quality make-up at affordable prices. The first thing they ever launched was the so-called Super Shock Shadow. A crème-powder hybrid, that delivers an intense payoff in one swipe for only six US-dollars.

Back in 2014, make-up brands weren’t as popular as they are now. At that time, even collaborations between influencers and brands were not common, inexistent even. Anastasia Beverly Hills launching a palette with Amrezy was something relatively new, almost no one else had ever done this before. The palette is now known today as the first Amrezy palette with ABH. Aside from collaborations, only a few influencers had their own beauty brand like Huda Kattan with her now multi-billion make-up empire Huda Beauty. Beauty brands from influencers seem almost to be a norm nowadays, but back then they were not. Let alone for celebrity brands, like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, Haus Laboratories by Lady Gaga or the latest, Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez.

The lack of make-up brands meant that there were not that many options. Inevitably there was a big margin between high-end and luxury brands to drugstore. The options you had were simple: you would either spend only a few dollars on a Maybelline palette and had to spray your brush until it was soaked to make the shimmer shades sparkle or you had to spend half a budget to get a good quality high-end palette you could actually work with. Luxury brands weren’t as present as they are today, the quality also seemed to be on the bad side. Back then, brands like Pat McGrath Labs weren’t born yet. This brand revolutionized the luxury sector; they started producing pigmented eyeshadow. In other words, it meant that as far as the quality of the product, there was a huge gap. Mainly between affordable-bad pigmented eyeshadows to expensive-but good.

Drugstore offered some good face make-up at an affordable price, ranging from two to twelve US-dollars depending on which brand it was. However, if someone was looking for a durable eyeshadow, they would have to look somewhere else as the quality of the ones in the drugstore would only last you a few days. For good eyeshadow, you had to be looking into the high-end segment, with brands like Too Faced or Urban Decay, who with their Naked palettes had obtained cult status. There is where the good-quality eyeshadow was to be found, but at a cost! The average drugstore palette retails for six to ten dollars with only a medium pigmentation, whereas the average high-end palette can cost up to fifty US-dollars.

Urban Decay Makeup | Bnib Og Naked 1 Discontinued Eyeshadow | Poshmark

Giving this gap in price, it’s easy to see how Colourpop was able to break the ceiling between affordable make-up with excellent quality. On top of that, it produced their items locally at Oxnard, rather than in China, where many of the competitors in the same price category go to produce their products.

A Scandal on the Gram

Even though Colourpop was an established brand by 2018, the world would still wait a year before going into a monochrome frenzy. The world’s interest in monochromatic eyeshadows was not only shown through Jeffree Star’s release of Blood Sugar but also through one of Tarte’s April’s fool jokes. In 2018 they had the brilliant idea of posting a photoshopped blue version of their bestselling palette line Tartelette called Blue Betch. People loved it and got mad when it all turned out to be a joke.

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The trend Jeffree Star Cosmetics had slowly set, was not going to calm down anytime soon. Roughly a year later, when Jeffree Star would launch Blood Sugar’s sister palette, Blue Blood in March 2019. At that time, Colourpop had already released some of the monochromatic eyeshadow palettes, like the “It’s my pleasure” palette, an all purple palette. Palettes, that people loved and sold out on a regular basis. With these palettes, the monochromatic trend really took off, but also the one where Colourpop came to release two collections a month. Slowly, but surely, Colourpop increased its collection pace to one every week and finally as of today, a palette collection every week, without counting in the other releases as new skin products like foundation or concealers, collaborations with influencers or releases from their sister brands, skin care oriented Fourth Ray or body make-up focused Sol. Included were though the occasional Ulta exclusive palettes.

The Downfall of ABH

Anastasia Beverly Hills used to be a cult brand. An icon for eyebrows and an innovator in make-up. It all changed in 2019. The first palettes the brand launched that year, were two mini-palettes, with colors that were curated by Norvina herself. Nowadays it seems like a small foretaste of what was to come for Norvina, who is one of the key people at Anastasia Beverly Hills and the daughter of the brand’s founder and CEO, Anastasia Soare.

Riviera in her blue-white sailor-inspired cord packaging, was the perfect palette for late spring, the beginning of summer and also the perfect transition to their next palette. This time in collaboration with drag queen Alyssa Edwards, once again, the brand offered a colorful palette in a vibrant, fuchsia packaging, featuring Alyssa’s eyes sleekly in black. They seemed to prep the terrain for more colorful and vibrant palettes, taking a break from their neutral-brown schematic, like Modern Renaissance, Soft Glam, the original Norvina or even Sultry, where the most outstanding shade was a beautiful almost-neon coral tone.

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In between the Riviera and Alyssa Edwards palette, they did release some more products, some eye glitters and lipsticks, as well as glosses. Before releasing their next palette in August, they launched their first foundation as well as loose powders. By August they had announced the release of a new palette in collaboration with YouTuber Jackie Aina. The palette got widespread acclaim for its quality and its choice of inclusive colors. Unfortunately for the palette, it got pulled in the shadow by the brands next move, which was to announce the new Norvina palette.

Namely the Norvina Pro Volume 1, it was the first launch of ABH’s new daughter brand Norvina. The palettes were bigger and would feature twenty-five shadows, instead of the usual fourteen in Anastasia’s. According to Norvina, the bulk is custom made and is targeted towards the normal average make-up enthusiast and professional make-up artists.

The real scandal happened a week later, when supposedly, the pictures of the Norvina Pro Volume 2 and 3 got leaked. Apparently, the leaks came from a Sephora employee, but others say it is actually Norvina herself who leaked them in order to be able to release the palettes in such a short amount of time. When confronted with the claims, Norvina rebuffed them, but nevertheless, Norvina Pro Vol. 2 got released two weeks after Vol. 1 and so did Vol. 3. On the same day as Norvina’s Volume 3 launched, Anastasia did the same with yet another new palette.

Once again, a collaboration, this time with another youtuber, Carli Bybel. Being a part of its Holiday collection, in the midst of eye glitter, lipstick sets and palette value sets. Even though it was a collaboration, it suffered the same faith as the one they released with Jackie Aina. It barely got any widespread publicity or time to shine, as only a few weeks later, Norvina launched her Mini Pro palettes Volume 1 and 2. At the time the two mini palettes were released, there was already the rumor of a third mini one coming.

The Empty Price

image.jpg In midst of the storm of Colourpop’s constant releases, they seem to have compromised their quality, as well as slowly risen their prices. It may not be flagrant, but for some palettes they’re beginning to ask twenty-two dollars. They may seem to have more color options in their palettes, but the sizes are smaller.

The quality on the other side, seems to be a hit and miss issue. People began to notice that some of the shadows performed patchy, something that had never been an issue with Colourpop before. Old and now discontinued palettes like Double Entendre, Yes, please! or You got me at hello, all from 2017 and beginning of 2018, had an A- as mark. Going into late 2019 with palettes like Bye bye birdy, Garden Variety or one of the latest, That’s taupe all receiving a B. This doesn’t seem all to dramatic but coming from a brand that used to have at every launch an A, it definitely showed how the quality was starting to drift away.

The Eleven Palettes

As to ABH, the brand that followed Colourpop’s footsteps, their mattes continue to be great. They are still blendable and gorgeous. They seem to be the same formula Anastasia has us used to, a formula that holds all day long and is highly pigmented. The shimmers though, seem to have changed slightly a bit. They seem to have become creamier, yet they feel heavier on the eye and they do not last as long as they used to. In a way, they seem to have become a dupe for Marc Jacobs’s shimmer shadows.

The Final Dilemma

Is there something wrong with wanting to stay afloat with all the competition? Is it erroneous to exploit our capitalistic system to the fullest? Knowing that people will probably never have enough? Well, in the way our economy works, no. It’s what the system encourages.

It is sad to see that a year ago you could almost buy a Colourpop palette with closed eyes knowing their quality would be good, today this is no longer the case. The fact that they have released so much in such a close amount of time has had an impact on their quality. They were a great alternative to drugstore eyeshadow palettes, which in the meantime have stepped up their game by the way. Colourpop was the perfect brand for someone who would want good quality for an affordable price. It was a brand you could have faith in.

As to ABH, at the beginning of 2020, Norvina tweeted that there would be only four palettes released this year. One right away in January, once again collaborating with Amrezy and a Norvina Mini Pro Vol. 3 in February, as well as a Norvina Pro Vol. 4 in May. The fourth one scheduled for the holidays.

image.jpg This year, ABH clearly did not release enough palettes. People complained last year that there were too many and this year they complained that there were not enough. You are never going to be able to please everyone, says the old saying, but I think they are raising a valid point or at least, pointing toward the right direction. Where is the balance?

For Colourpop, the increasing number of products worked well, but only because their products are affordable. Anastasia on the other hand suffered from the consequences of releasing too many products. They released a palette every month and charged fifty bucks with the hope that people would buy it.

There are others who adopted Colourpop’s release schematic. Independent from Sephora, the beauty authority, or the newly opened market in China, brands now tend to release more and more often. Sure, brands at Sephora need to release at a constant pace because it’s part of the contract, Sephora wants full shelves. The make-up industry now looks like the fast-fashion one. But the ones who started this so-called trend were Colourpop – a brand that is not even available for purchase at Sephora.

The make-up industry, just like the world, is constantly changing. We can never be sure what the future holds but for now, this is how things are. We can sit back and wait for things to change or we can enjoy Colourpop’s new collection that just got released! Go get yours while it is still hot and do not forget to apply Rosy at checkout on Colourpop’s website to get 10% off.

2020-Portrait-Daniela

Daniela Burri
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Sources:

  • www.temptalia.com
  • www.chicprofile.com
  • www.colourpop.com
  • beautyvelle.com/every-colourpop-makeup-release-in-2019/
  • beautybyjannelle.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/makeup-news-amrezy-palette-by-anastasia-beverly-hills/
  • Trendmood’s Instagram (@trendmood1)
  • Makeupcrayz’s Instagram (@makeupcrayz)
  • twitter.com/norvina/status/1214829797202903040?lang=fr

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