As someone that’s tried hundreds upon hundreds of beauty products and that spends an embarrassing amount of time reading reviews and keeping up on the latest launches, it’s a bit of a shock to come across a well-established brand that I’ve never heard of. While my immediate response is to feel like I’ve been living under a rock, I think it also goes to show that the world of beauty influencers is pretty heavily biased. Everyone always seems to be raving about the same big name brands carried at Sephora and Ulta, to the point that you can forget there’s a lot of fantastic stuff going on outside of their doors.
By a matter of happy coincidence I was introduced a few months ago to Motives Cosmetics, which with over 2 million Instagram followers, is certainly not your small indie startup. In fact, they’ve been around for almost a decade under the umbrella of internet marketing and product brokerage giant Market America. They’ve got a pretty extensive range of products, have been featured by tons of magazines and websites, and have still managed to totally fly under my radar.
Of course, as is the case with any die-hard beauty fan, my curiosity was immediately piqued. What are their products like? Is there a reason no one is talking about them? Or was I about to stumble upon a beauty gold mine of underrated goodies? The only way to find the answer was to get my hands on some Motives products and find out for myself!
My first expedition into the world of Motives has been to experiment with their Element Color Box. This 8-Pan collection of neutral eyeshadows is designed for creating everything from wearable daytime looks to smoldering smokey eyes. It retails for $42 and contains a net weight of 28.35 grams of product. While the Motives website does state that it’s finished products are not tested on animals, there is no mention of whether or not the ingredients they use are subject to animal testing, which may be worth noting if you’re Cruelty-Free.
Packaging & Design
While appearances aren’t everything, I’d be lying if I said that people don’t judge makeup with their eyes first. Even though packaging and design aren’t a direct indicator of quality, they certainly can influence our perception of how high-end a product is. If I was going to go old-school grading system on this particular palette, I think I’d give it a solid B+. It’s housed in a very sturdy black plastic, which I appreciate for being extra durable and travel-friendly. The logo and palette name are simply printed on the cover, and the shade names and ingredients are printed on the back.
Inside you’ll find a GIANT mirror that’s actually a really excellent quality, 8 generously sized eyeshadow pans, and a small flat definer brush. The quality of the brush is nothing superb, and it’s way too small to apply color all over the lid. You could probably use it for applying highlight to the inner corner of the eye, but it’s otherwise not very useful. I would have greatly preferred they skipped the brush all together and made the palette half an inch slimmer.
All in all, I appreciate that this palette is sleek and relatively compact, and that it doesn’t feel like its cheaply made or going to fall apart. It’s just very no-frills and no-fuss, which may be great for a MUA, but is a little less fun for the average consumer.
One of the biggest wow-factors for me with this palette is the amount of product that you’re getting for the price. If you’re shopping the likes of Tarte, Too Faced, Stila, or Urban Decay, a $42 price point for an eyeshadow palette is pretty average. However, if you look at the net weight of the most popular palettes from these brands, they’re about HALF of what you’re getting in this Motives palette. Each pan in the Element Color Box has 3.54 grams of product. For comparison, a Sephora brand single eyeshadow that retails for $10 has only 2.2 grams of product. It may be hard to tell from the pictures in this review alone, but these pans are MASSIVE. Even with daily use it’s probably going to take you a while to hit pan on any of these shades. Long story short, as far as bang for your buck goes, this palette gets an A+.
Formula & Performance
Of course, there’s something to be said for quality over quantity. Pan size becomes kind of irrelevant if the actual eyeshadow itself isn’t amazing. First let’s talk mattes, which is essentially the entire top row of this palette. The shadows feel a bit stiff to the touch, and they kick up quite a bit of powder in the pan with a brush. You can tell from the way they blend out that the formula is very finely milled, and that the pigmentation is very even in distribution. Yet because they’re drier in texture, they don’t stick well on their own to the skin. Pair them with the Motives Eye Base, though, and the game is totally changed. As soon as they have something to help them hold on to the eyes, they are beautifully intense while still being easy to blend.
The shimmery shades in bottom row are a similar deal. If you pat them on to bare lids with your fingers you can certainly build up some shine, but if you apply them over a primer they’ll really pack a punch. These shades also feel quite a bit creamier than the mattes, but that’s usually the case with shimmery shades. The one sort of “weird” shade if you will was Truffle (bottom right), which performs more like a matte but has a lot of gold shimmer running throughout. This one I found to be the most patchy of the bunch.
In terms of lasting power on the eyes, I have only tested these shadows when paired with the Motives Eye Base ($16.95). Together they do seem to hold up very well throughout the course of the day. I did not notice any creasing and the colors stayed fairly vibrant over the course of my typical 10 hour day. Based on the way these swatched on bare skin I don’t think they would be nearly as vibrant or long wearing without the base.
Below you’ll find finger swatches of all eight colors on bare skin so you can see what they look like in action without any assistance!
As far as shades go, I think Motives did a pretty solid job of putting together a cohesive palette with this collection. It hits all of your major bases – highlighting, transitions, lid shades, and liners/definers – while also offering you some variety in texture and finishes. None of these shades are insanely unique (especially if you already own several neutral palettes), but they’ll be universally flattering and easy to work with. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the individual colors.
Birch: Creamy off-white matte. Great for setting down primer or for highlighting the brow bone.
Native: Matte camel brown. Perfect for a crease transition on light to medium skin-tones.
Aubergine: Blue-toned gray with a subtle sheen. Would work well as a liner or for a smokey eye.
Raven: Matte black with a subtle sheen. Perfect for lining and defining the eyes.
Shell: Shimmery champagne pearl that makes an excellent inner-corner highlight
Serene: Metallic bronzey taupe that looks beautiful all over the lid
Bordeaux: Metallic cranberry that gives an unexpected pop of color to a look
Truffle: Matte chocolate brown with gold shimmer that’s great for smoking out the outer corner of the eyes.
Recreate This Look
I’m all about soft, subtle smokey eyes, which are super easy to obtain with this palette. Here are the steps on how to recreate the look above!
Start by applying the Eye Base from lid to brow bone with finger or a flat concealer brush. Then apply Birch from lid to brow bone to set the primer. Using a fluffy blending brush, apply the shade Native as a transition in a windshield wiper motion. Remember to start at the outer corner and blend in so that the product is most concentrated there! Then, using a flat shader brush, pat the shade Serene all over the lid. Blend any harsh edges with your blending brush. Using a smaller definer brush, apply the shade Truffle to the outer corner of your eye in a v-shape. Again, you can use your blending brush to smooth out any harsh lines. Next, using a pencil brush dab a bit of the shade Shell in the inner corner of the eye for a pop of highlight. Last, you can use a small liner brush to apply the shade Raven to the upper and lower lash lines in lieu of a cream or pencil liner. This will give your eyes definition but is much softer in appearance.
For a first introduction to Motives, I think this palette gave a pretty solid first impression. While these were not the most mind-blowingly amazing eyeshadows I have ever tried, I appreciate how smooth and even in pigmentation they are. I would highly recommend pairing this palette with the Motives Eye Base or another eyeshadow primer to get the best performance out of it! I’m definitely looking forward to experimenting more with this palette and seeing what looks I can come up with (that cranberry shade is speaking to me). Make sure you’re following me on Instagram, as that’s where I tend to post pictures of my latest makeup looks.
If you’re already a fan of the brand, I would love to hear your recommendations. Or if there is something you’re curious about and would like for me to review, definitely share in the comments down below!