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Do you feel brands change their quality for holiday palettes and kits?

I don’t like to say yes, because that’s really upsetting, but more and more, it seems that way – though I think that there are plenty of other palettes released at other times during the year that have fallen short! When it’s a permanent product, there are many brands who seem to keep it fairly consistent regardless of the timing, but there are others that put out new products that just don’t feel like the formulas of past shades.

— Christine


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Miekogirl Avatar

I don’t think they do it in purpose, rather they sacrifice quality to either bust out the collections faster & give more product or variety. To me I’d rather they concentrate on smaller more well thought out collections with fancier holiday packaging.

Lea Avatar

This. Thinking about it, I think tend to avoid leaping into a new brand based on their holiday releases. Not sure if it was always the case, but the bargain versus quality has always been something I’ve taken into consideration. These days, the sheer volume of releases from brands like Too Faced, Tarte and the biggest offender – MAC, scream rushed production or intentional limitation of product, which is not cost effective in and of itself. I’m fine with a curated seasonal release, but the quality has to be there.

Paulina Avatar

I heard somewhere that their quality changes for holiday collections because they produce so many holiday things that they outsource to other places to lower costs because their regular suppliers/manufacturers can’t handle the increased level of production that happens for holiday products and bundles! Don’t know if this is completely true (and if it is, then it obviously isn’t true for ALL brands) but it makes sense to me.

Eileen Avatar

That makes sense to me, too. Add to that that there is usually special packaging involved and that the cost of a set is generally cheaper than what you’d pay if you purchased the products separately and you’ve got a pretty good reason to suspect the quality might not be up to par. The shortcomings; however, are frequently balanced by the convenience of having a total look pulled together in a single package or by having an extraordinary variety of colors, etc.

Eileen Avatar

Hi Paulina,

That makes sense to me, too. Add to that that there is usually the cost of special holiday packaging involved and yet the cost of a set is generally priced cheaper than what you’d pay if you purchased the products separately. Since the companies are in the business of making money, some corners (quality) are likely to be cut.

Rachel R. Avatar

If you say so. I don’t know. I just go by what the box says. I assumed it meant contents and packaging unless stated otherwise. I could be wrong, though.

Carmen Avatar

Im sure you are right. That is why it is so important to check the boxes or palettes and read the labels of where makeup is made!
Makeup made in China is not the same quality and has low manufacturing standards.
Beware! These products are going on your face for hours!

Nancy T Avatar

Yes, without a doubt. Not every brand, but certainly most. Which can really cast some serious shade on a brand. Other brands seem to just be downright inconsistent with any or all their limited edition palettes and the like; year round. As in Too Faced, for the most blatant example. UD has been going down this road more and more, as well. Very disappointing and makes me sad!

Zachary Avatar

It seems like a great way for brands to accurately showcase their amazing products and it enables consumers to buy more once they run out! But, almost all holiday sets I have bought because of value end up not being as amazing as full size product 🙁

june Avatar

two faced seem to fall victim to this pretty regularly. i’ve skipped nearly all their holiday/limited releases for this reason, although i did pick up the pretty rebel palette (on your recommendation, christine) and enjoy it a lot

Katherine T. Avatar

Tarte is probably the biggest and most infamous offender, followed by Too Faced. MUFE seems pretty consistent with their shadows. As for other brands like Dior, Chanel, and MAC, their formulas change so much from one shadow palette to the next, who knows? And UD shadow palettes are going so rapidly downhill, who can tell anymore? 🙁

Lulle Avatar

Yes I do. Not all of them but some certainly do. Look at Tarte who has their holiday kits made in China when their permanent products are made in the US. The quality of powder products in particular seems to be lower in larger palettes and kits that are released for the holidays. That’s why I’m very hesitant to splurge on Holiday sets, especially if I can’t swatch them before making a purchase.

Emily Avatar

Yep, I see the discrepancy particularly with brush sets released by mainstream brands like MAC. MAC’s holiday brush sets are of pretty poor quality IMO and def not a bargain. On the other hand, Japanese brush manufacturers (Chikuhodo comes to mind) have put out some great holiday sets with unique brushes that aren’t part of the regular series. Generally though with any type of set, you end up gravitating towards only a few items and so it doesn’t end up being a bargain at the end of the day.

Augusta Avatar

I do see this trend picking up lately, which is unwise since the holiday season gifts are usually are what many people use to sample a brand as a whole thanks to having a good value on the monetary side (especially when the sets that contain various types of products a brand has to offer). Deteriorating the quality seems to be great to make some money, but in the long run they potentially lose customers.

Rachel A. Avatar

I think so. Probably because companies are putting out soooo many products. People buy more this time of year than any other season so i think quality gets lost in the quantity. I don’t feel that’s true so much in skincare kits, but more so in face/eye palettes and brush sets. I bought a face palette and the colors were nowhere near the same colors when i compared them to my individual compacts. Oh well. I tend to buy more skincare this time if year anyway with my super dry skin.

Fran Avatar

I feel that they often don’t put the same kind of care and attention into holiday sets that they do into permanent products. Occasionally something is so dreadful that I even suspect that they deliberately made an inferior product (MAC holiday brush sets often fall into this category, sometimes Too Faced palettes seem to).

I’ve written this before, but I’ll write it again, just in case companies actually look at these comments for feedback: people who are just getting into makeup will often purchase a value-packed holiday set as a way to sample a brand — so this is your chance to make a good first impression and gain new customers. When the holiday products don’t represent the brand well, you’re doing the brand a disservice. Just sayin’.

Mo Merrell Avatar

I would assume so. They are producing more and probably don’t want to use the “best” formula for financial reasons really. I’d do it if I were a company especially if it’s just a holiday thing and not permanent.

Asche Avatar

I tend to avoid holiday collections for this reason. Too Faced and Tarte come to mind as pretty bad offenders. The Too Faced shadows I’ve received in a holiday set are nothing like the shadows in their more permanent palettes. It’s a shame, because their packaging is adorable, but not enough to make up for the poor quality of the product.

Teasha Avatar

I think skin care, hair care, & lip kits are pretty consistent. I notice the most deviation from norm in powder products, like blush & especially eyeshadow palettes. Not sure why, I imagine it’s to spend less & make more. I think it’s counterintuitive though, because as many others have stated holiday kits & palettes are often a persons introduction to a brand. If the holiday kits aren’t up to par, the person likely won’t buy from the company again. So I’d think they’d make more money putting out a decent product, in the long run.

LaMaitresse Avatar

I do now. I was the biggest Nars junkie until about 5 years ago, last palette I bought I think was the Warhol colllection which I liked, but I find the quality is just not the same, I mean a D for Nars???? Even my beloved Guerlain is getting a bit chintzy the packaging was lousy on the Shalimar inspired body and hair mist and the eye palette was only a C+ so for the Ist time in ten years I didn’t buy the collection. If the Tom Ford Winter Soleil palette is garbage, which I pre ordered, I’m taking to my bed with a bottle of Shiraz!! Just kidding

Shana Avatar

It depends, for example the rouge G and the meteorites are still good. (But as I collected already enough for many lifes, I’m not going to buy more… unless they made a new packaging as irresistible as last year’s snow ball !) Some brands just keep the formula and decline them different ways.

Some have quality issues but they always have : Chanel, Dior, Guerlain, Estée Lauder’s shadows for examples. I just don’t trust their quality and wait to see the reviews.

There surely have brands that use holiday to make more profites beacause people are buying more blindly at that time of the year.

Speaking about kits, the one who had the calendar idea and made it a trend is an evil genius. I’d never buy a calendar, it’s a hidden way to buy samples. And you have to wait day after day to open the boxes, lol.
I just see year after year that those things are going more and more trendy and people are more and more crazy about that. All those extra packaging that doesn’t exist some years ago, and now everybody wanna buy them. But those extra packaging just go to the garbage, just more and more stuff to throw in the nature and to pollute the planet ! It may be a good way to try things but it’s still buying samples. It’s a lazy gift. But it cannot be gifted as Christmas present, you are supposed to start to open it at the 1st December. So you still have to buy gifts for Christmas. It’s just evil marketing to make you purchase more than usual and with bad ecological impact.

Deborah S. Avatar

I do think that in general holiday lines are often of poor quality. I know that a number of people blame this on where the product is made, China versus US made. I know that many really good products are made in China so I can’t blame all of the issues on manufacturing. I also hear the idea that they are rushed to get holiday products out quickly but if that is the case then I don’t understand. Every one knows when Christmas is coming and brands know that they are going to put out a holiday product line so why not start on development in January right after the previous years collection has hit the market? Put a team on it to develop the concept, packaging and product development. Cosmetics is a huge $$ industry and a lot of that is going to be purchased for the holiday season between makeup, skin care of perfume. Big companies need to see the writing on the walls and be preemptive in their development.

kjh Avatar

Was at big S and U today. Did check the bar codes on Tarte. They start with 8, all of them, which indicates PRC. Here is where it gets muddy. The bar code does not necessarily mean that it was mfgd there, though it usually does. The bar code indicates the country in which the code was applied for. (Bad grammar, but I couldn’t handle 2 prepositions.). S.t. The bar code really means the packaging, not the product. BUT, you KNOW that Tarte would put ‘made in usa’ if only the packaging were from China. Even dog products do that. Tarte has thwarted the intent of truth in packaging, big time. Too bad, I actually liked the clamshell blush palette. The bottom leaned cooler than expected. It would be deceptive, if most of us were not already aware. But, not all consumers are as well informed as T readers, and Augusta stated this clearly. Caveat emptor. But they don’t know! Hence, it is deceptive. I think, PRC issues aside, that the colorways decisions are made ….possibly in early fall… which does not give the mfgrs sufficient lead time, so quality suffers in the rush to produce. And produce vast quantities. And in specialized holiday motif packaging. Also, brands need to maintain their margins, and holiday selections often are very comprehensive, in smaller sizes. So what corners are cut, are cut in the quality of the product.

Alyssa Avatar

I think it was Cora (vintageortacky) on Youtube that addressed this once. I almost want to say it was in regards to one of the UD palettes, maybe the Alice in Wonderland re-release? Her point was although it probably isn’t intentional, if they have to spend more money on packaging, they have to spend less on the product to make up for it. It makes sense, and ever since I’ve kind of looked at Holiday palettes that way.

LindaP Avatar

May I say that as consumers *our* reaction is that these products are “rushed.” Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of releases and the number of back-to-back LE/holiday offerings that give us a feeling of hurried-ness and overwhelm. I can assure you these products are anything but rushed.

I would bet my house (being a high level corporate marketer) that releases are planned out and in the works already for 2018, if not beyond. 2017 is already in the bag. Between the time frame needed for manufacturing overseas, the gearing up for concepts and marketing content creation, there is NOTHING rushed about what MAC, Too Faced, Tarte, etc. are doing. It just feels that way.

These companies are presenting lower quality products with cheaper ingredients deliberately with the bottom line in mind. They create buzz and scarcity. Women respond. Women buy these products as the companies trade on their reputations of the quality products that have come before. It’s shameful really, but we all fall for it. Me included. And I work in industries that do this!

As consumers we think someone in a company comes up with an for a themed release, then it is done in a hurry. It doesn’t work that way. If these makeup companies wanted to, they could create high-quality offerings for EVERYTHING they do. They don’t because they know the buzz and the LE frenzy is irresistible to many.

Genevieve Avatar

I think a lot of excess and old stock can be put into holiday kits, especially those that contain lipsticks and mascaras. We don’t have anywhere near the same level of holiday and Christmas palettes as you do (in fact, none!) so it is hard for me to judge. However by reading the comments here and elsewhere, I get the impression that many holiday palettes are duds.

Veronica_1017 Avatar

Ok Guys, get ur rocks because I’m sure you’ll want to hurl my way…Absolutely there has been a deterioration in quality holiday/limited edition/collaboration sets although, the problem is not the corporations or the Chinese manufacturers (they get specification from the ordering co.) WE The Consumers are the problem!! We run out like yahoos and buy stuff just because it’s new…we are the ones messaging to the make up brands that selling inferior products to us is ok. I stopped buying all temp sets. My version of civil disobedience/protest is that I buy from their permanent lines only and gift that, then I send a note to their customer service and do a review that says I thought about buying gift set but after realizing your permanent product so and so was better quality I bought it instead as a gift.

maria Avatar

I haven’t experienced it yet but it is probably very true of certain brands from the reviews I have been reading. So far so good with the few that I have purchased so far.

Kristin Avatar

Yes; to some degree. It’s easy to unload a dud formula if you slip it in with some good ones. Even if in a palette of, for example, 20 eye shadows, if 15 perform well most consumers won’t return it and the company has saved some money by sticking the inferior shades in.
However, many of these sets are given as gifts; imagine what someone thinks if this is their first exposure to a certain brand? If “brand x” is known for high-quality cosmetics, but I am gifted a poorly-formulated palette, I certainly wouldn’t want to pursue anything else from them.

ShariP Avatar

I think so. I’ll agree with most of those responding that the worst offenders are probably Tarte and Too Faced. I recently bought a palette from each, but I bought based on your review and I do like those palettes. So from now on I check your reviews before buying. Thank you for saving me money!

And I just have to say it’s been SNOWING all day!!!

Antoinette Avatar

Yes! I generally avoid holiday sets for that reason. Tarte and Too Faced are the biggest obstacles offenders, with MAC holiday brushes totally lacking MAC quality. I only caved for the copper face palette thanks to Christine’s review!

kristen Avatar

Unfortunately yes I do think this happens. Not with all brands but there are definitely a few that constantly stray from their original formulas. I find it happens the most with eyeshadow palettes and blushes. I stopped buying a certain brands holiday sets because of this.

lizalea Avatar

I’ve noticed a difference in quality within the same pallet, some are beautifully pigmented and the quality you expect and then other colors lack pigment and are difficult to blend. It’s like they give you just enough good ones so you’re not totally disappointed and buy again.

Shauna Fidler Avatar

Yes, I do believe the Holiday palettes are compromised!! I’m basing this fact from last year’s Holiday palettes that I purchased. They were all crap!

Susie Avatar

Before I rant, let’s put this out there – I’m a sucker for elegant and cute packaging. And I’m very choosy about what I buy; yet I somehow fall for Too Faced’s tricks.
I’m hoping that Too Faced decides next year to create just one palette that contains a blush, a bronzer and a maximum of 9 shadows (red, green, blue, white, black, two shades of brown and a shimmer pink, nothing chunky that needs glitter glue to stick). Scrap the better than sex mascara and the melted lipstick. I am assuming they are going to continue with the theme of cities and probably choose London – or even Rome – they can just stick to a simple version of their present holiday packaging.
And Tarte should stick to their brush set and a palette that is similar to the Tarte Coral Crush.
I agree with Linda – such releases are planned at least a year ahead with mock ups being created much in advance. If companies really want to deliver a good product, they can set the production numbers at a point that is a bit higher than a break even point – where they aren’t sacrificing profit but they aren’t sacrificing quality either. If this means producing only 5,000 numbers of the product, so be it. And I think this is where ABH scores.

Yvonne Avatar

I was not aware of this, but then i bought the boxoffer from Estee Lauder last year and this eyeshadow palette is not working at all. I was and still am deeply shocked. Here un Europe we hardly have any these holiday sets.

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