ULTA-Mate Discovery: What’s Good, Almay?!

Published on June 14, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

So, #realtalk: Almay isn’t a brand I’ve looked twice at.  Like, ever.  All I knew about Almay is that people are usually mad at them because they are super non-inclusive of people of color with the shade range of their products, and that Kerry Washington was their spokesperson a few years ago and she was calling actual makeup customers to say that she was working with Almay to be more inclusive.  Did it happen?  I have no idea.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is, but their section of the drugstore always makes me zone out and I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a single product from them until a recent trip to an Ulta location in Phoenix, AZ (well, technically Chandler, AZ, but that’s not important).

Ulta did something clever; without this, I probably would have skipped over the Almay display like normal.  But on an endcap they had some of the new Shadow Squad Holographic Eyeshadow Quads in a display with pieces of the Wet N Wild Goth-O-Graphic collection.  It was some celebration of (faux) holographic makeup or something, but whatever it was, it caught my eye.  Specifically, a lovely green quad called Pegasus that reminded me of when Sephora did the Pantone Color of the Year collection for Emerald (all the way back in 2013 – holy fuck that feels like forever ago!), and they had this totally amazing and unique pright green with a shimmering fuchsia pink shimmer.  I knew I had to have that one, and that was enough to get me to turn the corner and actually look at the display.

I ended up with 4 little quads: Pegasus and Illusionist from the Holographic collection and Unicorn and Thrill Seeker from the original Shadow Squad collection.

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Clockwise from Top L: Pegasus, Unicorn, Thrill Seeker, Illusionist

Maybe it was the faux holo, or maybe they had some new formulation for this special collection, but I found a clear quality difference between the two Holographic Shadow Squads and the original Shadow Squads.  Pegasus and Illusionist were much creamier and easier to work with, and had a lot more pigmentation than Thrill Seeker or Unicorn.

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Pegasus is really gorgeous with the same green base and a variety of iridescent shimmer effects.  The pink undertone was my favorite, but the yellow undertone was also really stunning.  Really, any of these four shades would work exceptionally well for me…but then we know how I feel about green makeup!  Luckily I had the exact same experience with Illusionist!  All four shades have an orange base and then a variety of shimmer shifts.  I don’t love orange shades often, but all 4 of these were really gorgeous.  Obviously they stick pretty close to the pink/gold/coral sort of presentation, but all 4 shades are totally different and would be a fantastic addition to a warm-toned look or to add a bit of shimmer to a colorful festival look.

The other two weren’t really as impressive:

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Thrill Seeker was ok, but it just didn’t have enough oomph in the pigmentation, and the deep blue shades went on really patchy, and they blended down into a bit of a mess.  The top right and bottom left were the best, and they would make great highlighting shades in a dark blue look, but it wasn’t anything really special impressive.  Unicorn was the real letdown.  I was hoping that they were going to have some colorful iridescent shift, but these are different white shades, and they are all chalky and patchy as fuck.  The first shade I couldn’t even get a decent swatch and it started to turn into hard pan the first time I ran my finger over it.  The second shade was a little better, but not much.  The bottom too in the palette were a little better, and the last shade is actually a somewhat decent white metallic, which is very different from a lot of the shadows I have in my collection, but overall it just wasn’t amazing.  Luckily they were having a Buy 1 get 1 50% off sale on Almay, so I only paid about $3 each for these two.

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What are your thoughts: is Almay a go-to, ride or die brand for you?  Or do you pass them by?  Are they becoming more inclusive in their shade selection, or are they still serving up a limited selection of color options?  Does it even matter – are they relevant?  Let us know what you think about this brand and these shadows in the comments below!

While I’m not a big fan of the OG Shadow Squads, I could definitely get down with the new “Holographic” collection (even though I’m a little crabby that Almay is yet another brand trying to pass off iridescent finish as holographic) and there are a couple more shades of this collection that I may have to add to my kit.  Who knows?  If they can up their quality to this level and up their game on inclusive shade ranges, maybe they can become a brand that stands out – instead of blending into the background.  Give me the quality, and I’m certainly ready to take notice.

Now Go Forth & Get Painted!

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