I realize I’m a little behind on the times here, but man am I excited! I recently got my hands on some goodies from Melt Cosmetics (and also got to share a few words with Dana herself, more about that below) and I am in love. I scooped up all three of their four-pan eyeshadow stacks (Love Sick, Dark Matter, and Radioactive) as well as four of their matte lipsticks in the shades Spacecake, Dark Room, Sext, and Bang! Bang!. Since they’re a smaller brand with no retail presence (which means nowhere to go swatch all the preciouses), I thought I’d give you guys a full breakdown of everything I know about the brand and their products, with swatches and photos of course.
Founded in 2012 by makeup artist besties (and serious beauties) Lora Arellano and Dana Bomar, Melt is a California-based brand featuring cruelty free lipsticks and four-pan eyeshadow compacts. I was able to get in touch with Dana to ask her a few questions about Melt products and she informed me the brand started with just five lipsticks; now the range includes 12 eyeshadows across three palettes as well as 18 ultra-matte lipsticks in nude, black, and pretty much every shade in between.
The stacks come in sets of four eyeshadows with a small round mirror, each in a magnetic disc, which makes them perfectly stackable and perfectly portable too. They do run at a semi-steep $48 each, which works out to $12/shadow and a free mirror. That said, the pans are massive! With the price and size comparisons for MAC, Melt, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Makeup Geek below… I’d argue these are a pretty good deal.
MAC Pro Pan: 1.5g / 0.05oz ($10.00)
ABH singles: 1.7g / 0.059oz ($12.00 or 4 for $40)
Makeup Geek: 1.8g / 0.064oz ($6.00)
Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow: 2g / 0.07oz ($21.00)
Melt Cosmetics: 3.57g / 0.125oz (4 for $48.00)
As for the shadows themselves, the pigmentation is impressive and the quality is up to par with the big name brands (better than some actually). The Love Sick eyeshadow stack was my first purchase and probably one of my best eyeshadow purchases of the last several months, so I’ll start with that. This stack packs two stunning matte shades in Fixated (described as a “gorgeous matte grey”) and Love Sick, an ultra-matte burgundy, as well as two shimmery duochrome shades: Promiscuous – a “color-changing violet/blue” – and peachy gold Amelie. As is common with matte shades, Fixated and Love Sick seem a bit patchy at first and my initial bare finger swatch made me a bit nervous, but with a lighter transition shade underneath (Blurr from the Dark Matter stack is perfect for this), they apply beautifully and are easy to build up. I use Love Sick constantly and it has become one of my favorite shades possibly ever. I’ve used Fixated less often, even though it perfectly matches Space Cake lipstick, but will incorporate it in more looks once I am over my love affair with red and burgundy eyeshadows. The duochrome shades are stunning on their own, but do well with a colored base or a wet brush – for Promiscuous, I tend to reach for NYX’s Black Bean pencil, but opt for some MAC Fix+ with Amelie for an extra-metallic look.
I’ve tried several looks with these so far and they have held up well over eight hours with zero to minimal creasing over MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Painterly (my absolute favorite primer). My only semi-complaint with this stack is that, depending on the look you are hoping to achieve, it can’t really stand on its own and needs other shadows to complete a look e.g. no lighter matte transition shade (again, this isn’t really a complaint, I have no issue with this, but I figured it was worth noting).
While Melt excels in their shimmer shades, Dana and Lana ‘s hearts must lie with matte because the Dark Matter stack is entirely that: four ultra matte shadows in the ideal selection of shades ranging from flesh toned to blackest black: Blurr, Unseen, Enigma, and Dark Matter.
Where the Love Sick stack may struggle as a stand-alone palette, Dark Matter needs no extra help and is also the perfect companion to both the Love Sick and Radioactive stacks. Blurr is exactly that, a flesh-toned blurring “eraser” shadow that makes a perfect transition shade and helps blend out harsh edges from heavy hands (like mine). Unseen is an ever so slightly deeper cool-toned medium “caramel brown” – a pretty fantastic dupe for Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Fawn (a serious favorite of mine). These two are on the more powdery side of things and kick up a lot of shadow when your brush hits the pan. I know this is a deal breaker for some, but honestly, they apply so beautifully and the color payoff is just so good that I take no issue with the fallout – it’s bound to happen at a certain level of pigmentation.
Enigma is a “rusted” brown-red that was intimidatingly warm at first, but I am surprised by how often I reach for it. It’s a fantastic shade for a daytime smokey eye to build depth without getting too dark. Finally, the namesake: Dark Matter – the most pigmented blackest pitch-black I’ve ever encountered; I didn’t know I could have such strong feelings for a black eyeshadow, but I reach for it constantly and find it easily out-performs Makeup Geek’s famous Corrupt, both in color payoff and ease of use. Overall, this compact is pretty perfect for both neutral and dramatic looks, and again has no problem holding its own or meshing perfectly with another stack to round out a brighter (or deeper) look. The Dark Matter stack can seem a bit intimidating at first, so I thought I’d share more of a daytime look:
Finally, the newest addition to the eyeshadow stack family, Radioactive. I am so so happy I didn’t wait to purchase this because I have used it pretty much every time I’ve done my makeup since it arrived nearly a month ago. This all-matte all-neon stack of pressed pigments is out of this world. These shades blow Kat Von D’s Mi Vida Loca Remix out of the water (in my humble opinion), and I’ve barely touched the massive LE (limited edition) palette since.
So on to the stack… I’ve gotta say – I don’t know who started this trend of ultra-matte eyeshadows with glitter in them, but I freaking love it. Fluorescent orange Radon packs pink reflects while neon yellow Neon (how appropriate) flickers with hints of gold specks. Electric lime Xenon and “hot! hot! hot!” pink Radioactive are the true matte shades in the compact and arguably my two favorite – especially together! These shadows/pigments are incredibly powdery and will kick up a fluorescent storm at the drop of a pin, but as we’ve already established this really is not an issue for me and I don’t see it as something wrong with the product. The color payoff is unbelievable and the pigmentation is gorgeous, there is bound to be some fallout with colors so intense and I am totally okay with that.
Before I go any further, I need to mention the disclaimer on the Melt Cosmetics website:
*Warning: Radon and Radioactive pressed pigments contain ingredients that are not approved for the eyes.*
Ingredients used for the orange and pink pigments has left them without FDA approval for use on or around the eyes, so please keep this in mind and apply at your own risk. I personally have not had any problems with using these pressed pigments as eyeshadows, but they do stain my skin quite a lot (I have had no other issues or any irritation, just staining on my eyelids – even when putting down a primer and other eyeshadows first). Please be smart when using these products and avoid the eye area if you have any hesitation.
All that said, if you’re not comfortable applying those two shades (Radioactive and Radon) around the eyes, they are perfectly safe for the lips as demonstrated frequently on Dana’s instagram (above).
Okay, disclaimer covered, moving on. Radioactive stack. Hnnng (that’s the sound of infatuation, or maybe radiation).
Not unlike the Love Sick stack, and for pretty obvious reasons, the Radioactive stack may fall a bit short in terms of creating a complete look on its own (by no means impossible, but I generally find it more challenging to work without a transition shade – like Blurr). Again, this isn’t really an issue for me and both of the other stacks have shades that work beautifully with the Radioactive compact. To be completely honest, my go-to look lately has involved at least one shadow from each of the three stacks – and since they’re all magnetic, you can really mix and match to make whatever size and combination stack you need. Overall, I think each of the three eyeshadow stacks can easily stand up to bigger and more expensive brands and the color selection for each provides unique shades that are actually wearable for a variety of skin tones and eye colors.
For how much I love all three of the Melt eyeshadow stacks, the four lipsticks I have purchased fell a bit short (in performance, not color). Matte is generally my preference for lipsticks, but one issue you run into with a traditional bullet style (versus a liquid lipstick) is the tendency to have patchy application. I’m not sure why this is so common, maybe because it’s a drier formula, but unfortunately the ultra-matte lipsticks from Melt are not immune. The formula is dry and feels very hard which makes them difficult to apply evenly. That said, I (very excitingly) was fortunate enough to get in touch with #bosslady Dana, and she recommended exfoliating your lips first and then warming up the bullet by rubbing it on your hand a few times before applying. To be quite honest… those tips worked far better than I anticipated and I actually had to rewrite part of my review following that discovery.
Yes, the formula is a bit hard and can apply patchy as a result, but exfoliating and hydrating your lips and warming up the lipstick before applying allowed for a super smooth result that I really was not anticipating. I know this may be a downside to some, that you have to do “work” to make the products work better, but I think this applies to almost every aspect of makeup so it doesn’t bother me at all. Exfoliating is a must when using liquid lipsticks, primers are always recommended for eyeshadows, I don’t mind an extra step to bring out the best qualities of a product. So, with tips from the pro in my arsenal, on to the colors!
Space Cake was my first purchase, because how could you not? It is an ultra matte cool-toned grey and let me just say… it’s awesome. It was awesome even before I learned the little tricks from Dana for a smoother application. Definitely a color unique to my collection, it was also surprisingly easy to “pull off” with my cool-toned complexion and made me feel like a badass. For a matching lip liner, check out ColourPop’s Tootsi.
Next I picked up Dark Room, an absolutely gorgeous “beet colored crushed velvet curtains” shade. Sadly, this is the color I’ve had the most problems with in application. It is so beautiful, but I just cannot get a clean application on it without using a lip brush (I will do it, just not my preference). I will continue to work with it and keep trying to wear it, but this shade was almost entirely responsible for my initial not-stellar review. It truly is a beautiful shade, but until I can get a better handle on it, I will probably reach for similar shades from Bite Beauty:
I ordered Sext and Bang! Bang! together, two shades that could not be more different. Sext is the nudiest nude with a hint of pink and leans more cool than most on the market – this I love as warm tones generally just pull brown on me. Sext was also the easiest to apply and looked great from the get-go. It by no means needs a lip liner, but if you like wearing one then MAC’s Edge to Edge is a pretty great MLBB (My Lips But Better) shade for me and looked great paired with Sext. Here it is next to MAC’s Flesh Pot and Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Noble:
Bang! Bang! is a true neon orange that I just cannot get enough of. This was the shade with the biggest turn around between using Dana’s tips or not. You can see me wearing it in a photo above (the one with the neon orange lips) and I was seriously so impressed with the application. I used ColourPop’s Frenchie lip pencil and the finished look was super smooth and really comfortable to wear; this is definitely going to be my go-to all summer long. I actually really thought Bang! Bang! was going to be quite similar to the MAC Viva Glam Miley 2 shade, but it is way more neon and vibrant (and definitely my preference between the two).
Obviously traditional lipsticks will not have the same kind of wear-time as a liquid to matte formula, but these guys hold up just fine. They won’t last all day or survive multiple meals (at least, not if you are as messy of an eater as I am), but each shade will get you a solid six hours with minimal effort and, if applied smoothly, will be just as comfortable all day. I did notice that if my initial application was a bit patchy, it dried out more throughout the day – though that may be due to insufficient lip prep on my end and actually has nothing to do with the formula itself. Overall, there is a bit of a learning curve, but with Dana’s tips these apply just as smooth as you’d expect from any big name brand. A lip liner is helpful if it makes you feel more confident in application (it helps me a lot), and will likely extend wear time a bit. The color selection is stunning, and they’re comfortable to wear. I’m not sure if these will replace all of my favorites like the eyeshadow stacks have, but they definitely knocked a few heavy hitters out of place. This is definitely the strongest showing I’ve seen from a smaller brand producing both eyeshadows and lipsticks and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on whatever Melt pumps out next.
Edited 17 March 2016: In all my excitement to talk about the products, I completely forgot to mention the size and cost of Melt lipsticks and how they compare to other brands:
MAC: 3g / 0.1oz ($17.00)
Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick: 4.35g / 0.15oz ($26.00)
Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick: 3g / 0.1oz ($21.00)
NARS Audacious lipstick: 4.2g / 0.14oz ($32.00)
Melt Cosmetics: 3.2g / 0.11oz ($19.00)
Disclaimer: All products reviewed in this post were purchased with personal funds. The only contact I have had with the brand is an e-mail exchange to clarify some facts. No products were provided by Melt Cosmetics or its owners nor did anyone ask me to write a review. All thoughts are my own.