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Today’s tale is one of tragedy.
Okay, maybe that’s overly dramatic. Today’s tale is one of mild to moderate disappointment, it just doesn’t sound as poetic saying so.
I recently made the somewhat impulsive decision (as us beauty enthusiasts are often inclined to do) to purchase the new Limited Edition Stila Happy Hour Eyeshadow Palette. I was immediately drawn towards its beautiful color story, with dreamy aqua and purple tones, not to mention the gorgeous sparkling textures. In a world full of warm-toned neutral palettes, it was a breath of fresh air.
Now, I should preface this review with the fact that I have a lot of faith in Stila as a brand. Their Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner and Liquid Lipsticks are true to their name, and their Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow quickly became my all-time favorite liquid glitter shadow in my collection. So it probably goes without me saying that as soon as I saw this gorgeous, glittery palette, my hopes were set pretty high.
Alas, despite my numerous attempts at getting this palette to play nice for me, it never wanted to cooperate. What went wrong? Oh, we’ll get there soon enough.
The Stila Happy Hour Palette is described as a “pro-artist curated palette with neutral hues and pop pastels”. It includes 12 colorful and neutral shades in matte, glitter and shimmer finishes. The formula is said to “be specially formulated with micronized, silicone-treated pigments for superior blending and ultra-rich, uniform color and dimension”. You can purchase the palette from Ulta stores as well as the Stila Cosmetics website for $52, however it is not carried at Sephora.
Now, even though this palette is a bit of a splurge, you can’t deny that that description sounds promising. Superior blending? Yes, please. Uniform color and dimension? You’ve got me.
It also happens to be an excellent value, when a bit of not-so-fancy math is involved.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this palette if you happen to see it in person is that it. is. LARGE. Each pan contains almost 2 grams of product, which, to give you a little perspective, is almost double the size of a standard eyeshadow single (1.3 grams). That brings the palette’s total net weight to a whopping 22.8 grams.
For comparison, the Urban Decay Naked Reloaded ($44) contains 14.2 grams of product at a cost of $3.10 per gram. The Huda Beauty New Nude Palette ($65) is a little bigger with a total of 19.7 grams, but with the higher price point works out to a cost of $3.30 per gram. And ABH’s newest launch the Riviera Palette ($45) is actually less than half the size of this Stila palette with a net weight of only 10.22 grams ($4.40 per gram).
From a value perspective, the Happy Hour Palette works out to a very reasonable $2.28 per gram, making it seem like a comparative steal.
Packaging & Design
In addition to its impressive size, this palette is also beautifully packaged. It’s a tad bulky for my personal tastes, but I appreciate how substantial and weighty it feels in the hands. The exterior packaging opts for a sleek matte gold finish with a beveled lid, while the interior showcases a reflective gold. There is very little wasted space on the surface of the palette itself, and you also get a massive, high quality mirror.
For a palette that costs more than $50 I’m glad Stila decided to pull out all the stops and deliver us something that looks and feels luxurious. That being said, this palette is not exactly travel-friendly. The extra bulk and weight make it a little cumbersome to lug around, not to mention the fact that the large size probably wouldn’t fit in most standard makeup bags. This is a palette probably best left sitting at home displayed on your vanity, instead of being thrown into your luggage.
Color Selection & Finishes
As I mentioned before, I can’t deny that I absolutely love the color story in this palette. As much as I enjoy warm toned neutrals, the pops of purple and cool tones in Happy Hour are very refreshing to me. There’s a nice balance of neutrals and colors, alongside the variation in finishes.
When I see this palette, my mind immediately goes to springtime glam. It’s both vibrant and subtle, and provides no shortage of inspiration for a number of looks.
Quality & Performance
And, as you can see from the picture above, this palette swatches beautifully too. The glitters are especially lovely, with an even, opaque finish that’s packed with micro shimmer.
At this point if you’re wondering to yourself, “wait, I thought she didn’t like the palette?” the truth is that I love everything about this palette…until I actually go to put it on my eyes.
So what went wrong? Let’s start with the mattes.
While they feel quite soft to the touch, they end up being quite powdery and dusty in application. No matter how hard I tried to build up the shade Old Fashioned, I couldn’t get it to the intensity of the color in the pan. It also pulled more ashy and gray-ish than it did mauve, which was highly disappointing. Given that this palette has so many beautiful pops of purple, I was looking to that shade specifically to give a more purple-toned transition in the crease of my eyes.
The shades Daiquiri and Neat barely show up on my skin at all, which is fine perhaps for setting down eye primer, but not much else. Finally, the shade Black Book was able to provide a bit more intensity, but honestly is a bit harsh for my personal tastes. I would have loved to see a dark purple or plum in its place.
All in all, the mattes felt very limiting as far as the types of looks I could create. No matter what I did, everything always ended up looking sort of gray, rather than with any tones of color.
Then you have the shades Gold Label, On the Rocks, and Highball, which have a more traditional satiny shimmer finish. Of the three, Highball was the shade I was most excited by. Minty aqua tones are SO beautiful in my opinion, and in this particular color scheme, I would call it a standout shade. Unfortunately, this was also the one lacking the most pigmentation. Even with a wet brush I could barely build it up to full intensity.
On the Rocks and Gold Label were a little easier to work with, but they also are much more common shades I could easily dupe from other palettes. Overall I was pretty let down by this formula, and didn’t think it was anything special or unique.
Where Stila did attempt to offer something new and exciting was the glitter formulation. The texture of these shadows is interesting. Unlike many other glitters, they have a fully pigmented base that allows them to be used alone and not just as a topper. They have tons of fine silver microglitter dispersed throughout for a brilliant, shimmering effect. Upon first swatch, they look absolutely gorgeous.
However, they produce SO. MUCH. FALLOUT. I seriously couldn’t handle it.
On the Stila website, the brand recommends you use the shadows dry and that you apply them with a finger or stiff brush. You will definitely get a lot of sparkle this way, but about half of it will end up all over your face. The look on the eyes is stunning, for sure, but I really don’t enjoy looking like a Twilight Vampire as a trade-off.
I also tried applying these shadows over a glitter primer, as well as foiling them with a setting spray. Both will help to reduce fallout in application, but no matter what I did, by the time I was finished with the rest of my face, I was seeing tiny glitter flecks all over the place.
Now, I recognize that this is a me thing. If you apply your eyeshadow first, fallout during application is less of a big deal. Also, not everyone minds glitter fallout so much, and if that’s you then maybe you’ll be able to make these shadows work in your favor.
I personally just found myself frustrated every single time I tried to create a look with this palette. Between the mattes not showing up, and the amount of glitter I got everywhere that wasn’t my eyes, my heart sank further and further.
The Palette in Action
They say actions speak louder than words, so if you want some visible proof of my struggle, you might want to check out this Makeup Playtime video from my YouTube channel. I loved the color combination of the look I created, but the finished result was very sloppy in my opinion, despite my best efforts to make it work.
To give you another look for comparison, I tried embracing the gray and going for something a little less colorful in the pictures above. I used the shades Top Shelf, On The Rocks, and Black Book to create something smoky, and used Tiki Bar as a highlight in the inner corner of the eyes.
Again, the final look is fine, but not something I’m head-over-heels in love with. And that’s really the best way to sum up my experience with the Stila Happy Hour Palette. I could make it work, but I didn’t really enjoy the process. There wasn’t a single time I finished my makeup and thought to myself, “Wow, I LOVE the way this looks!”. As much as I wanted it to be a new favorite in my collection, it apparently wasn’t meant to be.
I don’t often return makeup that I’ve tried, but I knew it would be silly of me to hold on to a $52 palette that I didn’t enjoy. I brought mine back to Ulta, and have zero regrets about my decision. Yes this palette had so much potential, and was so incredibly beautiful to look at, but those reasons alone aren’t justification for me to keep it in my collection.
Will everyone have the same experience with this palette that I did? Surely not. I think if you have a fairer complexion than I do, the mattes will be much more likely to show up on your skin and actually be useable. If you typically bake your under eye area, or do your eye makeup before your base you may be able to manage the fallout with less frustration.
Ultimately makeup is personal, and our preferences are unique. This palette didn’t end up working out for me, but there are plenty of others that do (the Huda New Nude and Nabla Soul Blooming are two you can read about next). I would love to hear your thoughts on this palette if you’ve tried it and loved it, and how you made it work for you!
As for my feelings towards Stila, I still hold out hope for their future launches. They’ve done some amazing things in the past, and I know it’s only a matter of time before they capture my makeup loving heart again.