Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows Review & Photos

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow ($20.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a new product that’s supposed to be a “smudge-proof, long-lasting eyeshadow pencil that enhances and intensifies the eyes.” It’s also “intensely pigmented, “waterproof,” “will not smudge, crease, or fade,” “glides effortlessly,” and “blends easily.” This review is disappointing for me to write, because I love Make Up For Ever as a brand, and they have some really incredible long-wearing products, but these are so-so to good–they’re not excellent and they don’t raise the bar.   Photos, swatches, and individual color descriptions/reviews will follow in two separate posts.

There are twelve shades in total, with five shades being creams (no shimmer) and seven shades having a very frosted, almost metallic-like finish. I’ve been testing these shades for the past two weeks, part of that is because they did not perform flawlessly as I expected them to. These are the ways I have tested the product: alone, three pencils together (but over bare lids), over primer (NARS Smudgeproof, Too Faced Shadow Insurance), as a base (with powder eyeshadow on top), and as eyeliners.   Each pencil is packaged in a plastic pencil, and they are meant to be sharpened–they do not twist-up.  I used Urban Decay’s Grindhouse, and I didn’t have any problems sharpening the plastic exterior off.  In fact, when I tried it, I had nearly no waste.

The creamy shades will crease after four to five hours and be majorly crease and flaking after eight hours, and worse yet, there’s a noticeable amount of smudged product underneath my lid, along my lower lash line, along with flakes of product trickling down my cheeks. It’s creamy yet dry; it applies fairly easily and evenly, but I do recommend going back for a couple of touch-ups because there is slight skipping depending on where your eyeball maneuvers itself while you’re applying the product. It has a quick setting time, and it’s a pain to blend out the edges even if you do so immediately, it will still slightly crease if you don’t let it set for about 5-10 seconds. Over a primer, the creasing was lessened over eight hours, but there was still some noticeable creasing. The best way I found to use the matte shades was as a base with powder eyeshadows layered on top–then I didn’t have any creasing after eight hours.

On the other hand, the frostier finishes hold up much better. They dry very quickly, don’t crease from the get-go, and they don’t crease after eight hours. All of the shades are stiff and more difficult to blend, but with enough elbow grease, it can be done. I wore three shades (#32E, #20E, #2E) together to see just how blendable they were, and I think I managed to get a fairly well-blended look. It’s much more difficult than using three eyeshadows together, though. The frostier shades wear the same whether they were applied to bare lids, over a primer, or underneath eyeshadows (no creasing).

The matte shades are more water-resistant than waterproof, while the frostier shades are pretty waterproof. I took a shower with these on (tests both the effects of humidity as well as waterproofing claims) and had a little smudging from the matte shade I used (#6E) but the frosted shade was fine (#24E). There is a touch of transfer if you press your fingertip against your lid, but it’s very, very subtle. The fact that blending is difficult because the product doesn’t want to budge is both a blessing and a curse! As eyeliners, these are good, though #6E and #8E were more prone to slight smudging and some fading after six to eight hours, but #0E and #2E were fine. It’s not my favorite use for these, because the tip is so large and the formula isn’t as creamy as the Aqua Eyes Pencil, so it doesn’t glide on as smoothly.

These are nicely pigmented with some shades having excellent color payoff and a few having decent to good color coverage, but nearly of the ones I tried were buildable with little trouble–#32E was a trouble maker, though. It was very dry, seemed to apply unevenly, and did not want to build up at all. I was going to use it as a base, but it was horrific that way. The only way I could use it was alone, but even that looked like my lids were dry and flaky.  I recommend MAC #242 and Make Up For Ever’s #14S with these–you want really firm, stiff brushes so you can move these around (at least a little).

Overall, these aren’t flawless.  They don’t provide for immaculate wear–I have normal-to-dry lids, not at all oily–and I do get immaculate wear out of Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Cream formula, which is a bit easier to use because it’s more blendable.   The frosted shades are difficult to blend but are long-lasting, while the matte shades are difficult to blend and crease after a few hours of wear.  I can recommend checking out the frostier finishes, but if you have oily lids, you may want to be a little more cautious with the matte shades.  Please note that the rating is based on an average of all twelve shades; you will see that there’s a difference in the ratings when the finishes are separated, which you’ll see when the next two posts are published.

The Glossover


Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows Review & Photos

The frosted shades are difficult to blend but are long-lasting, while the matte shades are difficult to blend and crease after a few hours of wear. I can recommend checking out the frostier finishes, but if you have oily lids, you may want to be a little more cautious with the matte shades.











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See more photos & swatches!

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #8E Aqua Shadow (2 minutes)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #8E Aqua Shadow (8 hours)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #8E Aqua Shadow (8 hours)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #8E Aqua Shadow (2 minutes if you aren’t careful)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #20E Aqua Shadow (2 minutes)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow (8 hours)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #32E, #20E, #2E Aqua Shadow (8 hours)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #32E, #20E, #2E Aqua Shadow (8 hours)

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #20E Aqua Shadow as a base, Giorgio Armani Ecailles Palette on top

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #20E Aqua Shadow as a base, Giorgio Armani Ecailles Palette on top

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow
Make Up For Ever #20E Aqua Shadow as a base, Giorgio Armani Ecailles Palette on top (8 hours)

Product & Review FAQ

Where can I purchase it? How much is it?

Sephora, $20.

Is it limited edition?


Any dupes?

Dupes to come in the next two posts to follow, which will talk about each shade in depth! :)

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33 thoughts on “Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadows Review & Photos

  1. Hmm it does look OK with eyeshadow on top. Can’t wait for a more detailed breakdown. I’m still curious but might skip the matte shades!

  2. flow12

    Hi, i have a question: Do you really walk around in public like that for 8 hours, when testing the products? Im mainly thinking about first picture with that blue eyeliner all over your lids. (:

    •  @flow12 I didn’t with #8E, but I did with other shades.  Generally, we don’t go out THAT much, so realistically I am able to wear something crazy and not need to leave the house.  We go out for lunch a few times a week, and then to Starbucks pretty much every day.  If I know it’s going to be crazy or I need to do two separate eyes, then I apply after lunch time – because I can still test 8 hours as long as I get it on by 2PM!  I have definitely been in public with creased eyeshadow, lots of fall out, etc. I wore two different eyes the other day when I had to pick up Mellan from the groomers! 
      At the end of the day, I don’t care – I know why it’s like that, and it’s well worth any slight embarrassment (but honestly, I’m hard to embarrass) or funny look because I know I need to get it tested and tested right!

      • Donna

         @Christine @ Temptalia I remember you said you answered the door for the postman wearing two different shadows and that you said he’s used to it by now. You just crack me up, and at the same time, thank you for your dedication!

      • Joanna

         @Christine (Temptalia) i love your dedication!

  3. GUSnail

    Wow, I’m really disappointed.  I really expected so much more-basically because pretty much everything I’ve tried of theirs has been so high quality (if not always the most affordable.)  I was debating between getting some of these and getting more aqua creams.  I guess I’ll stick to the aqua creams; especially as I have oily lids and find that products that don’t crease on Christine, will still crease on me.

    •  @GUSnail Same here.  The frosted shades are great as far as wear goes!  The matte shades are fine as long as you use an eyeshadow on top – which, realistically, is how a lot of people will use them I think.  It’s not as if most of us are going to wear #8E as a wash of color, but I could see someone doing a cut crease with that and maybe #6E or #4E.  

  4. Thank you so much for this review – the extensive testing is why your blog is so great! I’m sad about this too, MUFE is one of my favorite brands!

  5. Venice

    eh… i was looking forward for these. Aqua cream is still better!

  6. wheespree

    hehe, i was imagining you wearing #8e and #20e together for your wear test, and going out with your eyes in different colours :S too bad about #8e, it’s such a beautiful teal! 

  7. avywuvy

    Hi Christine! Do you think the fallout could’ve been prevented by spraying Mist & Fix or Fix+? Just a thought tho :)

    •  @avywuvy MAC Fix+ does nothing for me – it acts just like water, doesn’t set anything when I use it.

      • cariexx

         @Christine (Temptalia) Fix+ isn’t meant to be a setting spray.

        •  @cariexx I’m definitely aware of that, which is why I don’t use it that way – but I know that many people use it as suchy – and based on the comment that Fix+ would set or seal it in, I assumed that’s what the comment meant.

        • Joanna

           @Christine (Temptalia) when i purchased fix+, it was after having my makeup done and the artist used it on me and said it was to set my makeup. are they supposed to pitch it to customers like that? anyways, i use it to foil pigments and maybe help powder “sink” into my skin a little. but i agree with you, it doesn’t set my makeup. at least not in the sweltering florida heat!

        • From what I understand, it’s at best a finishing spray, so it will help take down any powderiness.  It can also be “refreshing.”  

  8. lilly

    I think they look great, actually. No creasing and lots of payoff is all I can ask for in an eye shadow. With powdered eye shadow on top it looks perfect!

  9. Leslie Chavez

    well thank God,i wont waste any money on these!!! Thank u!

  10. Shelley Weyand

    What a bummer.

  11. Ana Belen LA

    I love it!!!!!!!!

  12. Kafka

    As always, I’m struck by the scientific depth to your reviews. Wearing it while in the shower to test for humidity vs water?! Wow. I think you included every possible test scenario or control group (if that’s the correct term) possible. Incredibly impressive.
    Totally OT and stupid question that I wonder every day: how do you take these photos of yourself such that the eye (but esp. the lips) are always exactly the same in each frame? Even if you use a timer and then do post-photo editing/trimming, your lips are always in the exact same shape, close-up, location and boxed size (if that makes any sense). There isn’t a single difference in angles, lip formation or the parameters of the photo.  

    •  @Kafka I used to hand hold to take the photos, and by the nature of the beast, the furthest I could hold it away was the length of my arms.  Now, I use a tripod.
      But the thing is, you’re only seeing one portion of a much larger photo – for instance, when I have a close-up of the eye, the photo as it is taken from the camera may actually have a lot of forehead or some nose in it, not just the eye.  I crop and edit so that the focus is on that piece.  Similarly, you can rotate the area you actually want to keep (because there is so much extra background that I’m not keeping) so that it has a similar angle (as in fairly level and horizontal for my case).

      • Kafka

         @Christine (Temptalia)
          Yeah but even with a timer on tripod and then cropping/editing, the uniformity of each shot (esp. the lip ones) is amazing! I mean, from swatch to swatch, even the size of the space/gap between your top and bottom lip is identical! LOL. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m impressed. Out of curiosity, in those photos occasionally marked “studio lighting,” what exactly is entailed? Do you use the giant, professional photographer’s lights? Sorry if all this is OT but I’ve wondered each and every day about all this. Maybe others have too.

        •  @Kafka Truly, cropping enables me to get the right size/spacing :)  It means I’m using artificial lights that mimic “natural” light. I don’t know about professional photographer’s lights, but something like it – probably not quite as good or as bright!

  13. Wear time and product itself aside, I’m loving that gorgeous blue Ecailles look 😉 (And that dark teal, <em>ugh</em>. I think I’m going to have to hunt down a [powder] eyeshadow in that shade!) 

  14. Jennifer Reynolds Bretz

    What a bummer!!!! Im so sad they crease so badly :(

  15. Lark

    Referring to creasing- Every crayon type shape I’ve ever come across, from ShadeStick to Grease Pencil to UD crayon and especially Nars Soft Touch Pencil is either allied with a brush, or less put on and then worked with a brush. A cake of creme shadow is of course going to crease! If you look at the enormous difference in color deposit by metallics (very little) and matte (fat glob) its pretty obvious to use a brush. It needs to be blended anyway. The Nars especially is always shown blended out, probably applied with anyway,- a brush! Product misuse means product failure.

    • I will have to respectfully disagree, Lark!  It’s not how the brands describe the product or even “instruct” you to use it.  I don’t have the same type of creasing problems with shadesticks, greasepaints, UD, OR NYX’s shadow pencils that I do with NARS, for instance.  Nothing in the marketing says these are for sheer washes of color – which is really how they’d end up looking if you had to blend it out.  There are shadow pencils that do NOT crease without the need to be blended.  NARS’ still crease even when blended or used as a wash for me as well.  The payoff of the shimmery shades vs. the matte shades was very comparable for me, I wouldn’t say that it they had very little nor were the mattes a glob of product – the product isn’t that creamy so there’s definitely no globs of color.  It was a very flat, thin (but opaque) layer of color.

  16. TeeL0veBeauty

    I can’t decide between picking up a couple of these or NYX Jumbo Pencils.. *sigh*

  17. cat

    Out of curiosity, do you ever re-test products at the store if you don’t have much luck with the ones sent to you? I wondered because I used the Aqua Shadows and had no problems with them at all, even falling asleep with them on the darkest blue I had on only smudged a tiny amount.