Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

September 3, 2009

Review Revue: Coastal Scents Cosmetics (ZOMG an actual positive review!)

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.

Ultramarine 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.
Sifter Jar

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.

13 piece brush set from Coastal Scents

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).
42 color matte palette

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!


  1. Try – this girl has a bright screaming yellow that I think you’ll fall head over heels for.

    And I’m totally with you on the MAC pigments being so pricey, I get this horrible sense of guilt when I spend money on something and then don’t use it, haha.

    Comment by Limespark - Please Feed the Bears. — September 3, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  2. Check out the Makeup Geek blog for makeup looks using Coastal Scents makeup. You can also try Michelle Phan’s YouTube channel and site (ricebunny) for other looks..

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — September 3, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

  3. Mmmm, not so sure I agree about the shimmer thing. I have golden/dark skin, and shimmery colours look absolutely wonderful. I like mattes as well but those tend to look very 70s on me :-)

    It’s not a shadow, but maybe if you’re looking for yellow, Shu Uemura Painting Cream Liner in Citrine would be a good bet. Here’s a swatch :

    Thanks Frances. The Shu Uemura looks great, but I can’t do anything with oil in it because of my lashes. Oh the price of being high maintenance! – Plum

    Comment by Frances — September 3, 2009 @ 11:35 pm

  4. Limecrime is great. Also look at Medusa’s makeup for your Holy Grail yellow. I believe the color you want is called Big Bird.

    Comment by Lady A — September 4, 2009 @ 12:49 am

  5. I lurk on LiveJournal’s Eyeshadow Sluts community, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Coastal Scents, especially their gigantic 88 and 120 palettes. That group has taught me a lot of things, like how Make Up Forever’s #92 eyeshadow is the greatest purple on earth.

    And I understand the skepticism about buying the huge cheap makeup set. My teenage years were positively littered with them, and I finally tossed my last one 2 or 3 years ago…at 26.

    Comment by ChloeMireille — September 4, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  6. “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).”

    Thank you. I’d completely forgotten about using shadows to fill in eyebrows. I’m generally a minimal make-up kind of lady, but lately I’ve been loving the red lipstick and it unbalances my face as my eyebrows have been bleached out by the summer sun. I’m going to have to spend a little time playing at Sephora to find the right thing.

    Comment by sarahbyrdd — September 4, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  7. Mally makes some wonderful highly pigmented colors. You can get them on QVC.

    Comment by mdegraffen — September 4, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  8. – my fav place for eyeshadow! You can get samples of all the colors (around $1.00-$1.60 each), and they last (me at least) a long time. I don’t buy full size anymore. Shipping is free on sample orders (there is a $10 minimum) and you get free samples (I think its usually like 2 eye shadows and a lip color) which each order.

    Under their “Rocks! Sonic” eye colors- Atomic is a bright matte yellow (on me).

    Comment by Jeni — September 4, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  9. Also, if you have black eyebrows and a certain kind of colouring (i.e., mine,), grey eyeshadow (a fairly light medium grey) makes a DANDY filler for the aforementioned black eyebrows. Much better than brown, which tends to turn reddish on my skin, and not so harsh and fake-looking as filling it in with black pencil or powder.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — September 4, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  10. I’m gonna put another vote in for Medusa’s for your “screaming yellow” They have every color you can imagine plus neons and lipgloss!

    Comment by Sara A. — September 5, 2009 @ 11:45 am

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