Discount Chocolate: Devouring Makeup Revolution London’s Chocolate Bar Palettes

Published on May 16, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

If you’ve ever wandered into a Sephora for any amount of time, it should come as absolutely no surprise to you that makeup is expensive as fuck.  Every brand out there is working their promos and their packaging to convince you to spend your hard earned coins on their products – that their new palette is not only better than their last one (which they also worked really hard to convince you to buy!) but is exactly what you need to make your life beautiful and complete.  There is also a growing selection of brands out there that are working to provide you with the same sorts of colors and collections offered by the high end brands at a fraction of the cost.

But where is the line between inspiration and downright theft?  And does it matter?

Kat Von D recently got into a bunch of hot water for ranting on social media about a brand, Makeup Revolution London, that is famous for copying or “duping” high end brands and providing them at a big discount.  In the case of Kat’s product, the “inspiration” was…less than subtle.

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Some people were turned off by Kat’s abrasive critique, but many felt that she had a point: yes, it would be stupid to act like Kat herself came up with the idea of a nude/neutral eyeshadow palette (Urban Decay has been banging that drum for years!), but the Makeup Revolution palette, called the Light & Shade palette, is clearly meant to be a cheaper recreation of the more expensive Shade & Light palette.  What got lost in so many millenials crying “Bullying!” and Kat Von D being characteristically self-indulgent (I’ll link her follow up video at the bottom – she turns the whole thing into a reason to tour her studio and show off her artwork) was a rather important discussion about what should or should not be considered off limits in a billion dollar industry that basically serves up the same sorts of offerings year after year.  I know I’m not the only one – I’ve bought the same damn shades of eyeshadow and lipstick over and over again.  They have different names and different packages, and they come from different brands at different price points, but at the end of the day a red lipstick is a red lipstick.  So if so many brands are offering the same products, is it wrong to copy things like names or shade layouts?  I don’t have answers, but I think the questions are worth considering.

I was recently in Ulta and I discovered the brand on display; I was drawn to a series of palettes that were clearly inspired by the Too Faced chocolate bar palettes.  Unlike the Kat Von D palette, these had different packaging that I actually thought was really fun and creative: the molded plastic palette looks like a sectioned chocolate bar (like an original Hershey bar) that also has melting drips; though it’s clearly not high end in construction, I thought the look was more creative than the Too Faced palettes.  Here’s a comparison of one of the Makeup Revolution palettes with the only Too Faced chocolate palette I have, Chocolate Bon Bons:

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I suppose you can say that it’s meant to look similar (especially for the original Chocolate Bar palette), but it still seems to be on the inspiration side of the line.  When you open them up, you can definitely see that the color selection is almost identical but the layout is different.  Because they are working to create a bargain version, they don’t have the shaped pans that Too Faced has and the shade names don’t appear on the palette – they are written on a clear plastic insert that sits atop the shadows.

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The pops of pink and that solitary purple – this is clearly meant to be a dupe of the Bon Bons palette but, for me at least, I think this palette manages to dupe without looking like a cheap copy.  And you can’t argue with the price: I picked up one of the chocolate bars at Ulta for $15.  I then went to the Ulta website and found three more for the same price, plus they were having a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sale; basically, I was able to buy 4 of the Makeup Revolution palettes and pay $4 less than I paid for the one Too Faced palettes.  For a bitch who spends as much as I do on makeup, that’s an impressive value – but only if the shadows actually perform!  That’s the rub, right?  A dupe is only worth the reduced price if the performance is decent.  I don’t expect a dupe to have exactly the same performance as a higher end brand (though sometimes the two products aren’t as different as you think, as we learned when Stephanie Nicole did some pretty basic research and found that ColourPop’s liquid lipsticks have basically the exact same formula and ingredients as Kylie Cosmetic’s lipsticks offered at more than 3 times the price!) but I do expect that I get some decent performance if I’m going to spend the money.

So, are Makeup Revolution’s Chocolate Bars a tasty treat?  Or is the sugar rush all hype?  Let’s take a look at the four palettes and how they perform:

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NAKED CHOCOLATE

TOP, L to R: Smoothly, Divine, Mocha Lover, Dipped, Choc-Fest
MEDIUM, L to R: Adorable, Buttons, Frosted Choc, Delight, Sweet Shop, Sugar
BOTTOM, L to R: Double Dip, Tob-le-rone, Wonka, Milky, Way

This was the first palette that I picked up; I wasn’t really in the market for nudes, but I’m a sucker for white chocolate and this packaging just called to me!  The shades in this palette are pretty standard and there is a nice mix of mattes and shimmers.  Unlike the Too Faced palettes, you do get an applicator in each palette but it’s just one of the sponge tip things you can get in bulk at the Dollar Tree so it’s nothing to write home about.

Choc 08PINK FIZZ

TOP, L to R: Champers, Drink, Flute, Sparkling, Toast
MEDIUM, L to R: Bubbles, Girl, Party, Elegant, Celebrate, Truffle
BOTTOM, L to R: Rosy, Cork, Pop, France, Pink Fizz

I like this one; it’s only got 3 matte shades and the rest are all shimmers.  I love the pops of color – the light blue Celebrate and the purple shade France are especially pretty, but the other more neutral shimmers also look cute.  If they perform, this can be a pretty solid collection of shadows.

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CHOCOLATE VICE

TOP, L to R: Vice, Sway, Satisfy, Require, Convert
MEDIUM, L to R: Treat, Habit, Persuade, Need, Crave, Lust
BOTTOM, L to R: Reason, Must, Maleficence, Fancy, Appeal

This one is a little more warm-toned than I usually go for, but the other ones are so focused on lighter shades that I appreciated the dark brown Treat and sparkly black/gunmetal Lust to help round out eye looks.  The shade appeal is also a great option for inner corner and brow bone highlight.  They are all really pretty in the pans, and Must actually looks like the sort of coral-orange shade I’d give a chance.  Or two.

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CHOCOLATE LOVE

TOP, L to R: Love, Treat, Chip, Whipped, Heart
MEDIUM, L to R: Filling, Sweet, Pink, Candy, Melts, Smooth
BOTTOM, L to R: Premium, Ganache, Choc, Perfect, Flavour

This palette, the Bon Bons dupe, has all the same draws as that palette: the deep berry pink shade Pink as well as the pastel Heart.  Perfect is a nice purple, though a bit more red-toned than I usually like.  Smooth is a nice deep shade with a cool undertone.

Just because lighting is always my nemesis, the Joker to my Batgirl, I’ve included a gallery below of all 4 palettes photographed with flash; all of the photos above are without.  And I apologize for my janky looking packdrop – I spilled a bunch of pigments during my review of Shiro Cosmetics and the cloth is looking ratchet.  I might try to change it out soon, but it’s just not at the top of my priorities right now.

Now on to swatching.  You know I love you Champagne Dreamers, but I just don’t have it in me to swatch every single shade in all 4 palettes.  I just don’t have it in me.  So I decided I would I would do at least 6 out of each 16-shade palette, trying out a mix of mattes and shimmers, lights and darks.  I hope that will suffice.  If not…well, what’s done is done and if you don’t like it you can go swatch yourself! :)

NAKED CHOCOLATE

           Swatch 12

Swatched, L to R: Choc-Fest, Adorable, Buttons, Delight, Tob-le-rone, Way

This one did ok.  The first matte shade, Choc-Fest, was a little bit of a chalk fest (see what I did there?!) but I was able to build it up to decent coverage.  I appreciated that the shadows didn’t feel dry and for the most part had pretty good pigmentation.  Adorable is a nice champagne, but it’s a little bit sheer – more of a highlight shade.  Adorable went on beautifully and had great shimmer to it.  Delight was a little patchy and was the worst of this palette.  Tob-le-rone also needed some building, but it would make an ok transition shade.  Way was beautiful, yellow gold with enough shimmer to be very versatile without being over-powering.  So far, so good.  I don’t’ feel bad about having spent $15 on picking up this collection.

PINK FIZZ

swatch 09
Swatched, L to R: Champers, Sparkling, Celebrate, Truffle, Rosy, France

This one was…meh. As you can see, Champers was extremely powdery and had a lot of fallout.  This wasn’t true of most of the shadows across all of the palettes, but this palette in general had the most.  Sparkling was a nice champagne shimmer, but a little too light – I wanted more of a pop!  Celebrate was pretty but the blue tends to sheer down a little too much and it starts to look mroe silver than a true light blue.  Truffle was a nice deep brown shimmer with a great cool undertone.  Rosy was super powdery and was supposed to be like a pinky duochrome, but it just sort of sat there looking like a bland shimmery mess.  Not impressed.  France was ok; it didn’t blow me away but it was a nice enough purple.

CHOCOLATE VICE

Swatch 04
Swatched L to R: Sway, Require, Treat, Lust, Must, Fancy, Appeal

This is probably my favorite of the four palettes; I liked it so much that I swatched an extra shade!  I thought it was the most consistent though Sway was definitely a bit of a powdery mess.  Require was beautiful and yellow gold, though it’s not that much different than Way from the Naked Chocolate palette – I think you could do with only one or the other.  Treat was a nice buildable brown.  Lust is a great gunmetal shade with silvery shimmer.  I like it a lot – the base is dark enough to darken up your eye looks while still having some silver glitter.  Must is a lovely orange coral – I was right about this!  It’s applies nice and evenly , and it’s a really pretty shade.  Fancy is a nice coppery red with consistent pigmentation.  Appeal is a nice basic nude matte, again a little powdery but not bad.  This is a vice I can definitely embrace!

CHOCOLATE LOVE

Swatch 03

Swatched, L to R: Love, Heart, Sweet, Pink, Smooth, Premium, Flavour

This was another pretty solid performer, and I also did 7 shades.  Love is pretty close to my skintone so it’s hard to see, but it’s a nice beige that almost borders on taupe.  I love it for a more subtle transition color – not that I know anything about subtle!  Heart is a nice light pink, but I would have liked a little bit more vibrancy. If you’re going to do pink, do it like you mean it!  Sweet is a gorgeous shimmery cool champagne, and one of my favorite shades of this palette.  Pink was nice – I have a million like it but this was a solid light fuchsia.  Smooth is nice, dark with some cool undertones.  Premium goes on a little more coppery than I expected; the pigmentation was fine, but I didn’t love the color as it applied.  Flavour is a bit patchy and not terribly remarkable.

THE VERDICT

Choc 16So in the end, is Makeup Revolution worth it?

Yes and no.  Most of the shadows that I swatched did a fine job, but there was nothing particularly special or remarkable about these palettes.  If you’re on a budget, Makeup Revolution has some decent options for you, especially if you’re lusting after some of those pricier brands.  You can get some decent looks out of these palettes, and getting 4 palettes for the price of one is definitely a value and gives you much more versatility than that one palette.  If you’re good at finessing slightly lower quality products, you’ll have fun with these – there is a definitely difference in quality but it’s not insurmountable.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you’ve been buying makeup for a long time, these palettes aren’t offering you anything you don’t probably already have.  There is even a fair amount of duplication from palette to palette, so don’t expect to see anything different from what you have in other palettes.  And if you already have it, is it really worth shelling out a few bucks to have a lower quality dupe just to have some cute packaging?

Just like discount chocolate in the days after Valentine’s Day, there is a certain sweet satisfaction in finding a treat at a lower price, and these palettes can give you that.  I think that these palettes are different enough from the Too Faced palettes to not be a blatant rip off, but they give you the same sort of color selections so that you can create looks that are similar for a fraction of the price.  In terms of the brand overall, I think that they really do toe a line between what is appropriate: obviously there are only so many combinations of colors that make sense and are marketable and so there is bound to be some duplication in the beauty industry, but there still should be some respect for the intellectual property of the people who work on and design these products.  What I found with the chocolate bar palettes is that they can take a step away from the source material and give a fun and usable product without seeming like that kid who copied off your test in 7th grade algebra.

And at the end of the day, makeup (just like chocolate) is supposed to be fun.

Now Go Forth & Get Painted

(as promised, here is Kat Von D’s video, following up on her InstaGram post)

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