C Student: The Shaky Performance of the Crayon Case, Part One

Published on July 2, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

Do you ever get caught right in the middle of something where you sort of love it and you sort of hate it, and you just aren’t sure what to say?

That’s how I feel about this review.

I had a lot of information about The Crayon Case as a brand before coming into this review; that Box of Crayons palette was a big thing a few months back and every one of the big YouTubers was swatching and reviewing and trying it out.  By the time I heard about it, it was already sold out, and it took me until May rolled around to find it in stock so I could order it.  I also placed an order for several other products from the line:

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In addition to the Box of Crayons palette, I got their brand new nudes palette, The New Rule, their shadow primer, their Line Me liquid liner (which looks like a Sharpie marker), two sponges that look like erasers, a brush cleaner (similar to the Vera Mona Color Switch that retails for $18 fucking dollars at Sephora – this was only $5!), and a 7-piece brush set done up to look like #2 pencils.  I also picked up the Watch Me Blush palette, but that item was one of the few on their site that didn’t really blend in with the school supply theme.  The New Rule and the two eraser sponges were in a second order, as that palette was released about a week after I placed my first order (isn’t that always the way?!).

Before we get into the products themselves, let’s talk a little about customer service.  My first order was delivered on June 8, but because of my travel schedule I didn’t get back and open the packages until June 13.  That night I opened up my boxes (I did an unboxing on my Facebook page) and found that from the Crayon Case, I received all of my items…except for the main event, the Box of Crayons palette.  I immediately emailed customer service at the Crayon Case to let them know what had happened.  I didn’t receive a response for 2 days, so on the 15th, I emailed again to make sure they received my request.  I also logged into Paypal to check the transaction and look into the process of opening a dispute if I didn’t receive a response (JenLuvsReviews had a pretty sketchy experience with their customer service – that video will be included below) and Paypal gave me a separate email to pursue.  I wrote to the second email as well, and waited for a response.  I had the Bismarck Pride show on the 15th, so I decided to leave it for the weekend and see what I had received by the next week.  When I still hadn’t heard from them by Tuesday the 19th, I logged back into Paypal and started the process of filing a complaint.  Once I did that, I had a response from Customer Service within about 3 hours.  They claimed that things had just been backed up in their system, but the timing is a little suspicious.  They asked me to provide a copy of the packing slip and pictures of the items I did receive.  This seemed like a strange request, but I wanted to resolve this as soon as possible so I sent the pictures the same day.  Early on Wednesday morning, I had a new tracking number for the replacement palette, which was delivered on Saturday the 23rd.  Overall, it wasn’t that bad of a customer service experience – not as bad as Jen’s was! – but I didn’t appreciate having to wait until I was in the claims process to receive a response.  Customer service in general seems to be one of the brand’s biggest challenges.

But more on that later.  First, the products.

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This is the product that people know best.  This is the one that got all of the reviews, all of the social media attention, and all of the face time.  In a world awash in warm neutral palettes, it’s a simple but really effective concept to bring together a wide variety of shades to create a variety of looks.  You get one sort of middle of the road brown matte if you want that as a transition shade, and a matte black and a deep plum to darken, but the rest is a play with color!  You can mix them up for wild and colorful contrasting looks, but there are actually a lot of coordinated shades: Blue and Baby Blue; Green and Lime; Red, Pink, and Magenta; and Violet, Purple, and Deep Plum.  Even Yellow and Gold could make a fun, metallic monochromatic sort of look!  The mattes feel a little dry, but in general they apply and blend pretty well with a finger or a brush, there was only one that I had much trouble with.  The metallics aren’t as good as Juvia’s Place, but they are still pretty good.  For $30 for 18 3.5 gram pans (a total of 63 grams of total product!), it’s a great starter palette for someone who wants a LOT of bang for their buck.  There’s a little bit of sketch about the products themselves, and we’ll get into those, but as long as those don’t bother you it’s hard to argue with the overall value of this palette.

Here are the swatches of the top row.  Please ignore that gross bug bite on my arm right where I swatch; I tried swatching in other areas, but I just couldn’t get the light and the angles right.  The problem of shooting pictures of your own body parts with your own camera.  If it grosses you out….well, it grosses me out to, and I have to live with it so put on your big kid panties and deal with it.

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Blue is kind of an odd shade – it had a really grainy formula.  It seemed like a shimmer base, but also had some fairly chunky glitter that mostly just fell out when applied.  I’m not super impressed, but luckily this is the only shimmer that’s like that in my palette.  The Green is stunning and pigmented, as is the Red – both applied and blended like a dream!  Yellow was a little inconsistent and patchy, but it ended up blending out alright.  It’s not the best yellow out there, but I do love that it’s a true crayon yellow color as so many yellow shades tend toward a pastel lemon shade or more toward a deep mustard.  The black isn’t the best black ever, but it’s nice a deep and has a satin finish that is nice and almost reminds me a bit of vinyl if applied thickly enough.  Brown is pretty basic, but applies easily enough and looks good blended with other shades.

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Orange is a lovely pumpkin shimmer that isn’t too copper; I really like this shade, and for some reason I really love it next to Violet.  I actually think that Violet and Purple should be reversed since I usually think of violet as having more of a red base (and this is definitely more of a blue base!), but it’s still a great shade.  Baby Blue is probably my favorite metallic of the palette – bright, metallic, and lovely!  So much shine, and it blends with the others nicely.  Pueple is red-based, but we talked about that; it has less shimmer and is less of a standout than Violet, but it’s still a really pretty shade.  Pink is pretty basic, but not in a bad way.  It’s not super shimmery; in fact, I think it’s supposed to be a matte, but actually has a sort of satin low-shine finish that I really like.  Tan was the only real dud in this road, and I guess it wasn’t that bad, but it’s just super boring and the performance didn’t knock my socks off.  If you’re going to include boring shades in your palettes, at least make them perform like Olympians!

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The third row looks really odd together in a line, but the colors are pretty impressive overall.  Magenta is gorgeous!  It’s a metallic fuchsia pink with almost a silver sort of reflect.  I really love it, and you could create some really amazing looks by combining it with either Pink or Red…or both!  White is a shimmer white, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I almost wish they had included a matte white instead.  That would have given you your “standalone palette” basics: matte black, matte white, and a brown transition shade.  This shade looks nice enough though and if you like a shimmery underbrow highlight this is a good option.  Silver and Gold are fun metallics, but I think Silver could have been a bit brighter – it comes of a bit more brushed nickel than actual silver.  Deep Plum is also sort of a dud.  It looks kind of nice in the pictures, but in person I thought it looked really gray and muddy.  Maybe it will come alive with whatever it’s placed next to?  The Lime shade is definitely a little finicky, but I didn’t dislike it as much as Jen from JenLuvsReviews seemed to.

For some context, I’m going to include Jen’s review below:

Jen is known for her thorough reviews and ingredient analysis, and that’s where the trouble starts.  There are several ingredients that are spelled wrong and one ingredient, Interinin A, that Jen couldn’t find any information on whatsoever.  She reached out to the brand and over a span of a couple of weeks didn’t hear anything back.  That’s a concern for me from a Customer Service standpoint – if someone is contacting you about the ingredients in your products, it is your responsibility as a brand to respond, especially since you would have liability if your products made anyone sick or caused any adverse reactions because of mislabeled products.

What disturbed me more was what happened when Jen did finally get some sort of response, in the form of several petty comments on the brand’s IG feed which are detailed in Jen’s follow up video:

I’ve supported Lime Crime’s controversial owner when she sent some snarky comments at a commenter on her social media, and I still do.  In that case, the commenter was being abrasive and abusive upfront and making untrue claims about the brand, and Doe Deere defended herself (albeit in a not very professional way).  If you are unfamiliar with that little scandal, you can catch up HERE and then head on back here!  But in this case, Jen came across the brand owner, Supa, throwing shade at her review video (which, as she notes in the follow up, was generally really positive!).  When she responded and asked her questions again, Supa was super combative and gave answers that I personally don’t feel comfortable with.  There is one ingredient that was clearly spelled wrong on the label; Supa claimed that the spelling was an “alternative” spelling that is approved by the FDA, but Jen couldn’t find any record of that ingredient except in pages linked to the Crayon Case products.  I also searched the ingredient and was unable to find any FDA information about that being an alternative spelling.  It seems like a direct lie, and to lie about ingredients seems like a dangerous and unnecessary game to play.  The same with the mysterious ingredient Interinin A.  I also searched for this ingredient and couldn’t find any related references in English that made any sense for why this would be on the label of a cosmetic ingredient.  I even went to the FDA ingredient search page and had no results returned (a link to that search is HERE).

I don’t have a problem with a brand owner getting saucy to trolls on the internet who deserve it.  I do have a problem with a brand that provides substandard customer service, is dismissive of critics, and lies about ingredients, and that’s what it seems like we have with the crayon case.

I’m going to save my other two palettes and the eye primer for the second part of this review, but I wanted to talk about some of the other products first:

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This brush set is so freaking adorable that I almost can’t stand it.  The Crayon Case isn’t as cohesive in their brand message as a company like the Beauty Bakerie, but when they do a good job, it’s really good.  These are so cute and the bristles feel soft and the brushes seem well made.  I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, and I don’t generally review brushes anyway – I find that a good artist can make magic happen with even the cheapest of brushes!  I’m commenting specifically on the presentation, and for that they clearly get an A+!

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The brush cleaner is a steal at $5 – I still can’t believe YouTube conned me into paying $18 for that Vera Mona mess!  It’s a damn stipple sponge in a cannister!  This one is a smaller “weave” of sponge (I’m sure that’s not the right way to describe it, but I’m not sure what to say – the holes are smaller!), so I find that it’s a little less effective than the Vera Mona, but it gets the job done with a little extra work, and for $13 savings I’m willing to put in a little elbow grease.  The Eraser sponges are cute.  They aren’t the best sponges I’ve ever tried, but they were worth the $3 I paid.  They aren’t as soft as a beauty blender, but the sponge feels looser somehow.  I don’t think these are long term additions to your arsenal: use them a few times and clean them gently, and then throw them out.  They don’t feel like “long haul” products to me.

Now let’s talk about the Line Me liner.  This one was another dud for me.  As you can see in the top left picture, the top is cracked; that crack was there when I took it out of the packaging.  Also show in that picture: the stopper in the bottle that is supposed to help clean off excess product, gets stuck on the wand and pulls right out of the bottle.  You end up with way too much liner on the wand and it’s difficult to work with.  I’m already pretty hopeless with liquid liner with a bristle tip, and this makes it all but impossible.  I would definitely not repurchase this, and after this review this one is going in the trash.  The good news?  Because of this brand’s low price point, I’m only out a few bucks.

What do you think about the Crayon Case?  Were you caught up in all the hype when that wave of videos hit?  Were you able to get your hands on it?  Or did you pass it by?  Do you like the school supplies theme, or are you tired of cutesy packaging to sell cosmetics?  Would you recommend this brand to all of your “classmates”?  Let us know in the comments below!  And be sure to stay tuned for Part Two where we’ll look at the New Rule nudes palette and the Watch Me Blush palette, as well as get up close and personal with the Washable Eye Glue Stick!  And in the spirit of passing notes between classes, we’ll also dish about The Crayon Case versus…Crayola?!  You don’t want to miss it!

Crayola

This brand is really inconsistent, and from an indie brand, especially a black-owned makeup brand, I’m willing to accept a little bit of up and down in their product quality; hell, I’ve roasted Beauty Bakerie for their quality on a couple of occasions and you should see the haul of products I recently got from them for an upcoming project!  But what’s less impressive is the brand owner’s attitude toward reviewers and critics, and the general state of their customer service.  Problems arise, and with an indie brand that’s still pretty new you’re going to hit an occasional snag.  That part I don’t care about.  What I care about is how they handle it, and in this case, The Crayon Case is going to have to stay after school.

Now Go Forth & Get Painted!

 

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