I’m a bit of a desert rat. I’ve grown up around red rock landscapes since I was a kid, and being a pretty huge nature nerd I like iron-y earth underneath my fingernails, ravens circling overhead, and miles of rusty slot canyons to climb through. No doubt, this probably informed my love earth tones. These are the colors, textures… hell, even smells of my childhood:
It should come as no surprise , then, that I have been eyeing earth-toned mattes from Blackbird Cosmetics since it opened at the end of June. When Maleah recently asked if I would be willing to give her shadows a try, I was PSYCHED! I’ve been on a glitter-and-sparkle binge with all of my indies recently (Shh, shhh Alkahestry, it’s ok, I still love you!), but have been craving some good, grounded mattes in some fabulous colors. Full disclosure: She generously provided me a sample pack of her shadows for free, and I am very happy to provide a really honest review of them in return… and I have to be up front in saying that I think these shadows are totally fab!
Come with me, wee ones, let us get a closer look!
Fiction is a lovely, soft, mid-tone gray. It leans a bit cool, but as you can see in the sunlight it isn’t particularly ‘blue’. This shadow was matte like all of the shadows are (getting that out of the way). Because of that, the shadows are colored with iron oxides (since micas give you shimmer/shine), and an interesting side effect of that is the smell of the shadows. It is not at all unpleasant, but is sort of ‘earthy’. I noticed it right off the bat when I swatched this one (the first swatch I did). For me personally, the smell is a lot like the desert, so mentally that became the theme for me with these shadows.
Thirteen reminds me a lot of my very most favorite Laura Mercier shadow, Fresco, which is also pretty matte and I use it all the time. It’s a warm, taupe-y brown, a great nude color. I used it in my look in this post 🙂
Aaauuggg, Imogen is SO PRETTY. It’s a medium, dusty rose sort of color that blends so well as a crease color. I was really pleased with the pigmentation of this one in particular– for some reason I didn’t expect it to be quite so pigmented when applied, but the coverage was great.
Immortals is Imogen’s baby sister. It’s a very pale, ballet pink, maybe ever so slightly peachy leaning, but not incredibly so. This color works particularly good with Imogen, but I think it functions well as a highlighting color within the whole collection.
Dim Tradition is an interesting color– it’s not by any means a pure white, like Daisybird’s April Showers, but it functions like that within the collection. It’s definitely more beige-toned, again with great pigmentation for such a light shade.
Lucid was an interesting one for me– I’ve read that others experienced a bit of patchiness with it, but I only experienced that maybe the tiniest bit. What I found worked best for applying the darker colors is not patting the shadow on, as is typically the rule with loose shadows, but using a smoother brushing motion as you might for pressed shadows. I find that iron oxides sometimes need a bit more manual ‘brushing’ to really smooth out the pigmentation, and it seemed to be no exception here. (Looking back to the swatch, I think that Fiction didn’t apply as uniformly as the others, but I patted that entire swatch). I found Lucid to be a slightly blue-leaning black, totally matte like the other shades, and great for adding dimension in to other colors.
Mmmm, I can’t wait to do a look with Gravity being a focal-point. It is a mauve-y toned brown, which is one of my favorite kinds of colors. Just can’t beat subtle plums and browns, man! This color is going to be BOSS once fall hits!
Like Imogen is the older sister to Immortals, Dog Days is the older brother to Thirteen, in my mind. They are somewhat similar shadows, but Dog Days is a little darker, and a little warmer. I liked using this one in the outer 1/3rd of my eye, along with Thirteen, for a super neutral, every-day look.
Beau, Beau, Beau! Je t’aime! This shadow is really pigmented. It’s a deep, rusty brown, and I particularly love this tone, it’s exactly the sorts of shade that you actually see outside, when you’re on a hike up in the mountains somewhere. I experienced a little bit of unevenness in tone when I applied this one (you can see once patch that is a bit darker), but I didn’t experience the same issue on the lid, and it blended out beautifully.
THIS was the shadow that made me scream “Red Rock!”. My swatch looks a bit orangey– and the shadow does have orange times, but it is a really evenly balanced red/orange/brown, the same shade the best of the formations in Arches National Park, or The Wave in Vermillion Cliffs area.
Turn Around Time
I unfortunately can’t comment on TAT for this, because it wasn’t an order, but Maleah was super fast dropping my sample baggies in the mail, and it was only a couple of days after that before it arrived at my door.
The instant I saw Fire Pledge I KNEW I had to do something with it. I ended up using Thirteen across the lid, Dim Tradition on the inner corner, Beau in the outer edge, Fire Pledge in the crease, and Lucid as the slightly-smoked-out-liner.
These shadows were applied over my NARS smudge proof primer. I really liked their blendability. Sometimes mattes can be sort of ‘stiff’, but everybody played really nicely with one another, and there seems to be almost a creaminess to the blending. Like I mentioned above, I think these shadows work best when they are applied differently to most loose shadows– sort of ‘massaging’ them with short, smooth brush movements seemed to best blend them and smoothly bring out their pigmentation. The one downside I found to this is it seems to increase the fallout of the shadows a bit. Just be ready to use some tissue with a bit of lotion, or whatever your fallout removal method is, when you’re done.
I wanted to choose colors that would suggest more of a desert landscape, and with Maleah’s excellent color palette I was really satisfied with the results. To go along them, I also used My Pretty Zombie’s PCP blush (with a little Darling Girl Fantasia blush) for peachy cheeks, and Fyrinnae’s Chickadee lip lustre (ohmagad isn’t the color perfect?).
- MUFE HD foundation in 110
- Palladio Herbal Foundation primer
- Laura Mercier secret concealer in 01 and secret brightening powder
- Anastasia dipbrow in Auburn
- Clumpcrushers in black
- MUFE full coverage concealer
- NARS smudgeproof eye primer
- Blackbird Cosmetics shadows in Dim Traditions, Thirteen, Beau, Fire Pledge, and Lucid
- My Pretty Zombie PCP blush and Darling Girl Cosmetics Fantasia blush
- Pumpkin & Poppy oak bark contour powder
- Fyrinnae Chickadee
- Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray
Truth time: I was almost entirely a matte shadow junky before I started using indies. In fact, one of the main things that prevented my checking out indie companies sooner was my aversion to sparkly shadows. (Also that loose shadows are terrifying if you have never used them). You can’t run from the glitz and glam forever, though, so of course I got sucked into the world of sparkles and duochrome… but Blackbird’s matte shadows hit something solid for me. I really missed my mattes, and these hit the spot! The shadows are very pigmented, and the colors are well thought out. I think the whole collection of 10 works incredibly well with itself and gives a lot of versatility.
I was also super impressed with how blendable they were, and found that the shadows really stay put throughout the day when applied over primer. I personally experienced only minor instances of the shadows applying patchy/streaky, which resolved easily once I adjusted the way I was using my brush (brushing, vs patting). I think loose matte shadows are more challenging to work with across the board, but I really liked giving these a spin and thought they were really enjoyable to work with!
Blackbird’s pricing is also super reasonable- $1 for a sample baggie, $6 for a full jar, $10 for a large collector jar (which is a larger glass jar with a white shiny lid). I really liked these shadows and would recommend giving them a try… nothing better than a beautiful matte crease color (or let’s be honest, an entire eye of matte shades)! My personal favorites were Fire Pledge, Imogen, Beau, and Thirteen– gorgeous colors, right in the vein of what I already like but not exactly the same as anything that I have 🙂
(ALSOIHELDTHISINTHEWHOLETIME the store is also named after a bird so come on how can you not love that).
What are your favorite indie matte shadows? Did you use matte or sparkly first? What’s your favorite Blackbird matte shade?
It should be noted that these shadow samples were sent to me free of charge by Blackbird Cosmetics, however all of the thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and have not been biased by the company.