Thursday, February 26, 2015

Battle of the black eyeshadows

I have a love-hate relationship with pre-made palettes. I love that you get a variety of shades for a reasonable price, I like that it comes with shades complementary to one another to take the guesswork out of creating a look, and I like that they come in a variety of finishes.

I hate that 99.9% come with a matte black shadow.

I get it. Matte black shadows are versatile. They can be used for smoking out any look, to creating a smokey eye, as a liner, heck, I even use them as a brow powder from time to time. But, y'know, what's a girl to do with ten gazillion of them?

Well, I don't have the answer to that (yet) but in the meantime, I decided to find out of all matte blacks were created the same, or if there's one that was made to rule them all.

I picked out as many matte blacks from my collection as I could, and from as many different brands as I could. With no further ado, here are the matte blacks that I picked out:

1. Wet N Wild Don't Steal My Thunder Trio - crease shade
2. Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral (matte) - black shade
3. Gorgeous Cosmetics - Jet Black (from the 8-pan Essential Shades palette)
4. Saucebox Cosmetics - Black Widow (from the Etude palette)
5. Makeup Geek - Corrupt
6. MAC - Carbon (from the Gravitas palette)
7. NARS - Pandore II (from the Fairy's Kiss palette)
8. LORAC - Black (from the Pro Palette)
9. Kat Von D - Killing Moon (from the Innerstellar palette)
10. Urban Decay - Blackout (from the Smoked palette; also present in the Naked 2 palette)
11. Make Up For Ever - M-100 (from the Studio Case palette)

I rated them based on pigmentation (of course) but I also looked for any powdery-ness, and texture.

First off, not all of them looked uniformly black in the pan. The Lorac Pro Black, and the Sonia Kashuk black looked less black than the others. MAC Carbon and MUFE M-100 definitely looked black-hole black in the pan. But, as we shall soon see, all is not what it seems to be...

Texture-wise, the Lorac pro and MUFE-100 were the smoothest and felt the creamiest. By comparison, MAC Carbon and Saucebox Black Widow were definitely the least smooth, and felt a little gritty.

The Sonia Kashuk black, the Wet N Wild black and the Saucebox Black Widow were the most powdery in texture. MUFE M-100, Urban Decay Blackout, Nars Pandore II, and Kat Von D Killing Moon were the least powdery.

Now, on to the pigmentation. I swatched all the shadows on bare skin, no primer (no moisturizer either but that's because I was lazy), and each of them have been swatched with a single pass.

As you can see from the swatches, we have some clear winners and losers. Let's start with the winners. I consider Makeup Geek's Corrupt and Urban Decay's Blackout as the winners. They're extremely pigmented and also have a nice texture that blends out easily. At the bottom are MAC's Carbon, and the Wet N Wild shadow, with Carbon being the worse of the two.

I was surprised by Saucebox's Black Widow shadow - I've heard it be called one of the blackest blacks in existence, but it was really quite average. On the other hand the Sonia Kashuk black was far more pigmented than I expected it to be, and had a nice smooth texture, albeit a little on the powdery side. The rest of the blacks I would consider average - neither too pigmented nor lacking pigmentation.

I do have to give a mention to the MUFE-M100 - this had the loveliest texture of the lot and I'd consider this my favorite black, even if it wasn't the most pigmented. This would be the one I'd recommend to most people looking for a (standard) black shadow.

I know MAC Carbon looks pretty useless next to the other blacks, but I feel it would be a good matte black shadow for beginners; it's so under-pigmented that novices will have a hard time overdoing it, and it's easy to build up in intensity.

I forgot to test for longevity (primarily because all the swatches totally smudged all over my hand as I went about my day) but I'll update this post when I get around to testing wear time.

What do you think of matte black shadows? Should they be abolished from pre-made palettes? Comment below and let me know!


  1. MUG Corrupt is the best black shadow hands down, it even beats Viseart and Shu Emura in my opinion :D

    LOVED this post.

    1. I haven't tried Viseart and Shu Uemura, but it's definitely the most pigmented. I still prefer the MUFE one, only because of it's texture - it's so nice! UD Blackout surprised me too, I thought it would be average but it's nicely pigmented.

      But yes, when it comes down to price, MUG shadows are hard to beat :D

  2. Corrupt is super pigmented and blackest black! I personally avoid using black eyeshadow as it be harsh sometimes..though i love using it to set eyeliner or smoke out eye liner..for lower lash line love using warm browns!

    1. I use warm browns but I find they can be very... moody? If I use the wrong one, it can make me look like I have dark circles! And sometimes they don't show up on me. I still have to find the perfect one, I guess :D