From the moment my plane ticket to the States was booked, I knew that this would be the very first thing I would pick up in Sephora. It was a no-brainer for me. I had lusted over photos, I had seen people talking about it on YouTube – there would be no pondering or weighing up in-store – this was going straight into my basket. And when I finally got there, that is exactly what happened. If you want to see what else I bought, you can read my haul post here.
Now with news that Kat Von D Beauty will be available in Debenhams come October, I thought that it would be a good idea to review this in-depth for you so that you can decide whether or not this should be an instant purchase for you too.
If you want to watch a rambling review instead with live swatches of the colours, you can watch my video review here.
If not, read on!
Packaging-wise, it comes in a black box with the same print on the front as the print on the actual palette. It’s a cardboard palette which may turn some people off immediately but it is a strong, sturdy cardboard that I don’t think would bend or break unless something really extreme happened to it. It has a magnetic closure which is also strong and secure. This is what I call a flacid palette as the lid will not sit up by itself. If you want to pop it down on a table, you will need to prop it up against something in order to keep the mirror up.
It has a usable decent-sized mirror on the inside lid which wouldn’t be ideal for doing a full face with but is handy if you want to get up close and personal with your eyes.
It contains twelve eyeshadows – three larger ones and nine regular size. It is worth noting that the regular size, although similar in shape, look larger than those in the Urban Decay Naked palettes. A little research reveals that the pans hold 1.1g of eyeshadow while the Naked palette pans hold 1.3g meaning this is a little deceptive. You still probably get better value for money with this as the larger pans hold a whopping 2.3 g of product each.
There is no brush included with this palette which I think is a good thing as I usually end up throwing them out anyway and the palette looks much sleeker without the gap where the brush should be.
Overall I am a huge fan of the packaging; the design is pretty as you can expect from the Kat Von D brand and the palette is sleek yet sturdy. Something else worth noting is the size. While it is thin and easy to travel with, it might be worth mentioning that it is actually quite a bit bigger than you would expect. It might resemble a Naked palette because of its shape but it is a good bit bigger.
Also included is this leaflet that showcases six different eye looks you can achieve with the palette. It also mentions how the twelve shades can be split into three quads; neutral, cool and warm and how each quad contains a base, contour, define and highlight colour.
As the name of the palette ‘Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette’ may suggest, there is a huge emphasis on this palette being designed for contouring the eyes. Although it may be interesting for non-makeup professionals to learn about, I don’t think it is very necessary. You can use this palette whatever way you like, there are no rules. It is good that the aim is to teach people something new – especially because it isn’t something I have really seen another brand do – and it is nice to steer away from the regular ‘smokey eye’ etc. but it just isn’t something about the palette that I actually pay attention to.
In this photo I think the quads are fairly obvious. You may notice that there are no shade names on the palette. The names of the colours are written on the back of the palette which I hate. I continuously confuse which one is which and I just wish they were written beside the corresponding colours instead.
As with the original Shade + Light palette, all of the contour colours begin with an ‘S’ (shade) and all of the highlight colours begin with an ‘L’ (light). While it is a cute concept, it means a lot of the names are similar. I usually pride myself on getting to know palettes well enough that I memorise all of the shade names off by heart but there is pretty much only one colour I can identify in this palette and that’s because it is my favourite shade and a word I know. Trying to pronounce these names out loud is also a struggle although that won’t be an issue for everyone.
First up is the neutral quad. While Laetus is designed as a base shade and Lucius is supposed to be a highlight, I do feel like both aren’t necessary if we’re considering this quad as a separate entity.
Here they are swatched heavily on my arm. I had to play with the exposure a little bit so that the lighter shades showed up on my pale skin. Even though they are subtle, you definitely can see them on the eye.
I will now show you swatches of each shade individually. As with most of my eyeshadow posts, my swatches show a single swipe of colour to showcase pigmentation and then a buildup of shadow to show the true colour.
This is described as a creamy nude and is one of the larger base shades. This is probably the most universal base shade in the palette and is that familiar cream colour that is present in many palettes by many different brands. If I use a light hand with this, I get away with it on my very fair skin but it wouldn’t be my favourite in the palette. That is just personal preference, of course, and I think most people would get a lot of use out of this one. It’s a staple.
This is described as a dusty fawn and is one of the contour shades. It is a light mink brown. This is another staple, I think, for any palette as it is perfect to blend out the crease and will work with any other colours you apply.
This is described as an espresso brown and is one of the define shades. This works brilliantly with Samael as it is very similar in tone but is a few shades darker. This is a brown with a slightly purple undertone while Samael is a little lighter and has more of a pink undertone.
This is described as a soft beige and is one of the highlight shades. This is a shadow I often use as a base shadow as it is about a half a shade lighter than my skin tone and I like my base shadow a little lighter as I think it brightens the eye area.
The middle four shadows in the palette are the cool quad. As you can see they lean a lot greyer and cooler and this quad features both the lightest and darkest shades in the whole palette.
Here they are swatched heavily on the arm so you can see how they work together. I have no idea why it looks like there are glitter in some of them as they are all matte.
This is described as a cool taupe and is the base shadow in this quad. It is showing up very orange-toned in this photo but I would label it a cool light grey. Because it is a grey, I would definitely not be able to use it as a base shadow on my eye area (who would?) but it does make a handy transition shade and is a nice departure from the the usual taupe shades.
This is described as a smoky brown and is one of the contour shades. While I usually gravitate towards warm shades for the eyes, it is nice to have a really true cool brown as they are quite unusual to come by.
This is described as a jet black and is one of the define shades in this palette. A black shadow is always a welcome addition in my opinion but I am very fussy about my black as there are many that fall short of the mark when it comes to pigmentation and intensity. As you can see from my single swipe swatch, this is far from impressive but it definitely can be built up to an admirable dark black.
This is described as a pinkish ivory and is a highlight shade. I am not sure if the description tries to trick my eyes into seeing a pinkish hue here but I would usually identify this as a true white shade. It is that perfect light white that works as a base shadow as it is lighter than my skin tone but is not so stark and pigmented that I look like I’m wearing clown paint. This is my favourite highlight in the palette and while it won’t work for everybody, I think there are enough light shades like this that everybody will find a match.
The final quad is the warm quad and my favourite in the palette. For the record, the top shade is called Ludwin and I have no idea how I managed the typo in the photo above as I am an avid spell checker but I digress…
Look at them swatched there in all their warm glory. This is the quad that caught my eye when I first opened the palette. These are all of my favourite type of shades. If they sold this palette in its separate quads instead of as a whole, this would have been the one I bought straight away.
This is described as a peachy bronze and is the base shade in this palette. I have no idea where they got the ‘bronze’ part of that description. This is a gorgeous light peach shade. Obviously this doesn’t work as a base for me but is a gorgeous warm crease colour instead.
This is described as a rich rust and is the contour shade in this quad. It is my favourite shade in the palette and the only one whose name I can ever remember. It is an unusual reddish auburn colour that is amazing on green eyes. If they sold this in a single, I’d buy heaps of them.
This is described as a chocolate brown and is one of the define shades. This differs from the other browns in the palette as it leans a little warmer and so tends to be the one I reach for most often. I love to pop Ludwin in the crease as a transition colour, Succubus deeper in the crease for some definition and then this in the outer corner to darken it up. They work together like a dream!
This is described as a golden bisque and is one of the highlighters. This is a lovely buttercream type shade which as you can imagine doesn’t work as a highlighter on my skin tone but does make a lovely lid shade. Despite it not exactly standing out when you see all of the shades side by side, this is actually a very pretty colour.
I think when you see the single swipe swatches, you can tell that the shadows in this palette are very powdery. They kick up a lot of dust in the pan and because of that, I feel like I will hit pan on them faster than most shadows from other brands. A lot of them lack pigmentation with that first swipe but all of them can be built up to a very impressive level of pigmentation. It just takes a little work. Despite being so fluffy and powdery, I find that some of the darker shades take a little extra buffing to blend them out fully. On several different occasions when I was on holiday, I chucked some shadows on in the morning – as I usually would with my Makeup Geek ones – but when I went out and caught sight of myself in a mirror, I’d realise they were really badly blended. They take more effort than the shadows I usually use so I ended up not using them for my wedding day as I was terrified that I would make a mess. That sounds dramatic and I have definitely used them a lot since then but that is the one day that you need your blending to be on point!
Now I am fussy when it comes to palettes. I think every palette should have an all-over base shade, a mid-toned matte shade for the crease and a black or very dark brown to smoke up whatever look you do. I think that makes a palette all-inclusive so you can bring it away with you and don’t need to pack anything else shadow-wise. This palette seems to be based around that concept so it ticks every box for me. I bought this when I was away and used it quite a bit while I was on holiday but it wasn’t until I got home and did my research for the blog and my YouTube channel that I realised they were split into quads. I was just observing the palette as a whole. When I was oblivious to the quads, I was happy with the shade selection. A quick glance shows three light base shades, some warm tones, a lot of variations on brown and a black. However when it is divided into three different sets, I don’t like it as much. I know that sounds completely bizarre but I wonder why you would need three base shades and three highlight shades in the one palette. That is six eyeshadows out of twelve that are supposed to be light brow bone type shades! It seems excessive to me.
In reality, only three work on my skin tone and that is the problem with labelling a palette like this. A grey, a peach and a buttercream are not going to work on my skin tone as base/highlight shades just as the very lightest won’t work on those with darker skin. I think this is a palette that really contains shades that will work for most people in some way or another regardless of your colouring but the labelling is just pointless. I have to say that this is one of the few palettes I own – actually this is the only palette that I can think of – where I have used every single shade in it and would do regularly.
Overall, this palette definitely has pros and cons.
– It is an all-matte palette full of wearable neutral shades. There is no crazy blue or out-there green thrown into the mix. The majority of people would wear every single shade.
– It ticks every box in a palette for me. It has everything you need so is perfect for travel. You can use it to create anything from a soft day look to a sultry smokey eye.
– The packaging is sturdy, sleek and travel-friendly.
– The shadows are powdery and take a little building to reach maximum opacity.
– The darker shadows take a little more work than your average to blend.
I think once you buy this palette taking into account that these eyeshadows take a little more play time than usual, you won’t be disappointed. I wasn’t expecting that and compared to my Makeup Geek eyeshadows, I was really let down at first. Once I realised that it just took some extra build and blend work, I learned to accept it and honestly, the shade range is so beautiful that I think it is worth it.
I created three looks with this palette to showcase the variety of things you can do with it.
The first look I did was this warm eye look that is a go-to for me. I used all of the shades in the warm quad to achieve it .If you want to watch the video tutorial on how I achieved it, hit play below.
The second look I created was this dramatic gradient smokey eye using the cool quad.
This was definitely stepping outside of my comfort zone but it was fun to experiment with new shapes. You can watch the video tutorial here.
The final look I created was this classic black smokey eye which I was inspired to do the second I saw the contents of this palette.
I used all of the shades from the neutral quad to do this one although I cheated and used Shax too. If you want to watch the video tutorial on this one, you can do so here.
The Kat Von D Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette cost me $46 + tax from Sephora and you can get it shipped to Ireland if you use Parcel Motel. If I were you, I’d probably just wait until you can pick it up yourself from Debenhams in October although I have no idea what the exchange rate and/or mark up will be.
If you’re interested in the Kat Von D brand, you can read my review on some of her Studded Kiss Lipsticks here.
Has this headed straight to the top of your Kat Von D wish list?
Or has this review made you a little disappointed in the palette?
Disclaimer: No press samples were featured.
No affiliate links were used.