Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of Coastal Scents, a small cosmetics company based in Florida, and when I visited their site on a whim I wasn’t especially impressed. The site was a no-frills online store, the photographs weren’t professional beauty shots and the menus less than intuitive. But I was intrigued.
Coastal Scents, unlike traditional mascara slingers, caters to a combination of mad-scientists and professionals; make-up artists, resellers and people who want to make their own custom blends. They don’t just sell makeup, they sell makeup components, including pure pigment.
I am constantly on the hunt for intensely pigmented matte colors.
MAC is great and I heartily recommend them, but I have a hard time justifying dropping $15 for a shadow pot I might use once or twice a year. As far as drug store brands go, I’ve had good luck with the L’Oreal HiP line and Milani, which is marketed towards women with darker skin tones and generally contains more pigment, but they’re almost always too sparkly and their lasting power leaves a good deal to be desired. Plus I can’t use their cream-based products because of my eyelash extensions.
Coastal Scents sells their pigments by the half-teaspoon, teaspoon, ounce and pound. I ordered teaspoons of several oxides and micas (at a dollar each!) which is what they call “sample size”. Sample size it may be, but for the recreational user, a teaspoon of pigment is a LOT of makeup. They arrived packaged neatly in teensy zipper bags. Each bag was labeled with the color, approved uses –eyes, lips, face, nails etc.– and the ingredients.
I popped each pigment into its own five gram jar ($3.49 for 10) and started experimenting.
Using their excellent 13 piece brush set ($16.95 including roll) which is by far the best brush set for the money I’ve ever come across, I began monkeying around with applications. First I applied some pigment with a very wet brush and got a lovely, even wash of color. Then I added a drop of fixative (I think mine came from a N.Y.C. loose powder kit) for a full-on intense look. The color payoff was tremendous as good or better as anything I’ve used including the MAC pro colors. It blended like a dream and although there was a good deal of fallout on the dry applications, that’s to be expected with any highly pigmented powder, especially since I forgot to use a primer the first time.
Using a primer is always a good idea with powders, especially if you’ve got deep set or oily eyelids, because powders as a species tend to “travel”.
Primer gives the powder something to grip, making your application last longer and stay where you damn well put it. The nice folks a Make Up Forever sent me a sample of their HD Microperfecting primer in Neutral the other day which is what I’ve been using and I highly recommend it, but historically my trusty old Rimmel Fix and Perfect primer has never steered me wrong and would probably work almost as well.
My only complaint with the Coastal Scents pigments was they don’t offer a really screaming yellow, which I’ve needed for a particular look for ages. I finally caved and bought Make Up Forever’s Pure Pigment #2, which is good, but not the Holy Grail yellow I’d been searching for, especially not for $20, which was nearly as much as I paid for the entire Coastal Scents 42 Color Double Stack Matte Palette ($24.95).
I am way, WAY gun shy about inexpensive palettes. Too many years of cheap Christmas sets with chalky colors meant for little girls playing dress up have left me with a fear and loathing of the multicolor pack, so I can’t tell you why I ordered this.
Maybe it was because the colors were matte –once you’re past the glitter and gloss stage, mattes are a much cooler look than shimmers which tend to look cheap even if they’re not–or maybe I was hoping for that Holy Grail Yellow (close but not quite) but I wasn’t expecting much.
I’m glad I was wrong.
This is by far the best big palette I’ve seen for under $100. It’s a great combination of neutrals and brights, plus some killer blushes and bronzers. The browns are almost exact duplicates of MAC mushroom and bark, which are great browns I use for eyebrow powders (apply it with an angled brush) and the pressed colors have the same ease of blending and almost the same intensity as the wonderful pure pigments.
Next week I’ll have a review of their mineral foundations and veils, plus I’ll reveal The Greatest Cosmetic Brush Ever. Stay tuned!