Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Understanding Illamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Selection - Pretest Review

Illamasqua is known equally for their high prices as their crazy products. When Illamasqua released a 'Mystery Selection' - a set of lucky dip items from their collection many were skeptical that this was 'too good to be true'. For $60 (not including a 20% discount on top of that) I bought this lot as an entry point to Illamasqua and test whether this brand was really the real deal!

The Illamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Selection was bought from Sephora in the US (with the help of a friend), one of two stores that sell this lucky dip type products, the other being Debenhams. The two stores while selling products of the same name don't sell the exact same item.
  • Sephora who no longer sells this product used to sell a set of 10 full sized products including two already revealed items: Jo'mina Nail Polish and Fable Lipstick.
  • Debenhams sell two similar sets of 6 items for about the same price including 2 named items, both include Electrum Liquid Metal, and either Collide Nail Polish or Glister Liquid Eyeliner.
Sephora box seems to be the better deal with 4 more products than Debenhams'. After looking at reviews it seems that Sephora's may be old products and Debenhams' are 'not old'.

My Set
On opening it's like a halloween set with black shredded paper, in tune with the brand's image. I found the colours I received to be favourable. This is what I received:

  • Obligatory product: Jo'mina Nail Polish (Pastel Purple)
  • Obligatory product: Fable Lipstick (Pastel Pink)
  • Brazen Cream Blush (Rich deep red)
  • Crumble Cream Eyeshadow (skin colour)
  • Stoic Liquid Metal (Black based green metallic)
  • Drench Lipstick (Medium red/pink)
  • Severe Pencil (Burgundy)
  • Adamant Pencil (Grey)
  • Mistress Intense Lipgloss (Coral pink)
  • Tantrum Sheer Lipgloss (Purple)
Fable (left) looks spotty with wax marks, and Drench (right) looks normal.

The colours were mostly bright shades surprisingly. Had I received a black lipstick or a rich blue eyeshadow I'd be happy with that too but I suspect I received a box that would have made most normal beauty lovers happy! Brazen was my favourite, absolutely in my ballpark of taste. Everything else I'm okay with but I don't loathe anything. The pencil colours fill a gap in my collection, lip colours were standard though bright, obligatory colours were mainstream, likeable for most people.

Brazen was dripping runny oil but otherwise fine. They may have originally been wax beads.

My Opinion: Is this set legit? Will I get my money's worth? Are they good quality?
When I received my set I wanted to see what colours I received and in what condition, and to compare it to other reviews. Here is my opinion and conclusions about the Sephora set:

 Crumble has visible oil marks which may have been melted waxy beads before arriving.
  • The two obligatory products mystify me (pardon the pun!). While they are labelled as bestsellers the shades don't seem the type and can't be verified.
  • Products may be aged but are unmarked on packaging. I believe that they may be shelf pullers because they lack any outer packaging like boxes.
  • Most products are cream products that tend to age faster or expire.
  • There are sweat marks i.e. the oil in the products have separated and come to the surface. Whether this is a result of actual aging or occurred as new is unknown to me but that might be cosmetically unattractive to buyers and could be a reason to shelf pull or clear these items.
  • Colours in the sets are not random per se. Colours don't necessarily go together. Instead sets have been predetermined so that there are identical matching boxes. My theory is that for efficiency certain products were put together to be dispensed in a production line, therefore some boxes will completely match (as I have found for mine). This would be repeated with different sets of products so that overall the sets appear to be random.
  • The only unpopular colours I could figure out would be the eyeliner colours. The grey pencil is rare and the brown pencil is actually burgundy (it is possible that appearance colour may not have revealed its actually colour and was thought to be too ordinary to be bought).
I have heard people receiving mouldy items and it is unacceptable that such lack of quality control exists. This makes me question about the quality of this selection though my box seems fine. I haven't actually tried the products so can't comment on how they perform.

Stoic has oil piling in the corners but otherwise looks normal.

How does price compare?

The Sephora value is $200. Here are the AUSTRALIAN prices from Myer for each item:
  • Lipsticks - $25
  • Nail polish - $21! (that's top dollar for a nail polish in Australia)
  • Cream blush - $28
  • Medium Pencils - $20
  • Liquid Metal - $26
  • Sheer Lipgloss - $22
  • Intense Lipgloss - $22
  • Cream Eyeshadow - $26
  • TOTAL - $235
Who will like this?
The most common response from customers is that they hate the colours they received as they're 'too bright' or 'too dramatic'. Illamasqua is pinned on dramatic looks, out there shades and the box is called Alter Ego! Having people complain when this is what the company is about is hilarious!

Having said that you will love this if you have hardly tried Illamasqua, open to all sorts of colours, a lover of out there shades, like to do costumy makeup, would wear crazy colours out, know how to pull off an interesting shade, and experienced with using high maintenance products.

If you are a neutrals girl, hate bright popping or dark dramatic colours, or like control over what you get this is not for you. Bright colours are almost guaranteed. Of course not every colour will be to your liking but ask yourself how many colours would you need in a set for you to be satisfied with your purchase? Would 5 out of 10 products be enough to justify $60 spent? Or would you rather spend $60 on 3 products you chose and would be 100% happy with?

Love Porcelaine.

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