Most Disappointing Products of 2021

Disappointment is a state of mind, not just a poorly-rated product! Often, the most disappointing experiences are ones where I had higher expectations and the product just didn’t live up to them, even if it wasn’t a total fail.

I’ll also call out that while I selected just one shade to share below, these formulas were flops: Bite Beauty Daycation Whipped Blushes, ColourPop Cheek Dew Serum Blushes, Lethal Cosmetics Glitch Liquid Eyeshadows, NARS Air Matte Blushes, Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Sticks.

This year had more full-on formula misses than just really standout bad shades. There weren’t quite as many palettes–still plenty to choose from!–which are often where I find myself more disappointed. Urban Decay continues to take up far too many spots on this list 🙁

Here are some of the more disappointing products I tried in 2021!

Most Disappointing Products | 2021

Your Year in Review: Worst Products Edition

I thought it would be interesting to read through how readers used products throughout the year, what favorites emerged, what products fell by the wayside… so, if you want to join in, copy and paste the questions below and add your answers via a comment!

  • Did you have any product misses in the past year?
  • Did you declutter any products this year due to quality?
  • What was your biggest product disappointment this past year?

13 Comments

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Mariella Avatar

Did you have any product misses in the past year? As far as I can recall, just the Benefit highlighter I got (Cookie?) – it’s just soooo glittery/shiny but it was at a point where stores had reopened and I was just desperate to buy some sort of makeup;
Did you declutter any products this year due to quality? No, I don’t think I did.
What was your biggest product disappointment this past year? It would have to be the UD new eyeshadows generally (and the fact that they discontinued so many truly first rate products over the past few years but most recently and painfully their eyeshadows); also Sephora’s reformulation of Cappuccino eye pencil, which has been my holy grail liner for years; the new version got a pretty dismal rating from Temptalia (I’ve not tried it yet as I have a few backups that I hope are still in good condition). But why did they have to make it into something WORSE???

Swoozy Avatar

I actually like the NARS blush, although I just tossed the pot I bought in March (about 2/3rds used) because my face powder caused it to get a bit gummy in the pot; I got tired of cleaning that out.

Did you have any product misses in the past year?
I had a sample mascara from Clinique that constantly made me raccoon-y. It’s one of the few things I’ve ever tossed outright.

Did you declutter any products this year due to quality?
Not due to quality. I bought too much during lockdown and needed to be realistic about what I would really use. I sold or gifted the rest.

What was your biggest product disappointment this past year?
The sameness in so many releases – so much pink/orange leaning/red eyeshadow still (I just can’t wear anything by Charlotte Tilbury as this is her wheelhouse color story), sad performing Tom Ford Quads, the reformatted Chanel blushes. . .things I might have wanted to buy, but won’t due to poor quality or lack of variation.

Nancy T Avatar

Did you have any product misses in the past year? MAC x Rosalia Spicy Pimentón Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolor. Simply gorgeous color, and I will try it again when I am not required to wear a mask…and therein lies the problem with this one. Unlike my other Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolor in Selena Siempré, this shade never seemed to fully set, smudged all over under my mask and even wound up smearing onto my TEETH! I’ll save it for summer. Hopefully, things will be better by then with our current situation so that we can go maskless without fear of dying or causing someone else to die.

Did you declutter any products this year due to quality? Nothing springs to mind, but then again, I’ve been spared from buying anything with horrible quality due to your reviews as well as some trustworthy YT’ ers. Which immediately made me think about the tragic death of Mel Thompson 💔 She was so open and honest in her reviews, had a warm, sunny disposition and great swatches.

What was your biggest product disappointment this past year? Basically: what the WHAT happened to Bite and Urban Decay??? I find the steady drop in quality and the unexpected discontinuing of wonderful, well loved products by these two brands on the premise of going vegan to be an insult to their customer base intelligence!

Lucie Avatar

I had no memory of the that NARS one so from the name alone I thought “Really? Cause that seems like it would be amazing!” And then I scrolled down and reacquainted myself with it and the disappointment came flooding back.

For myself…
Product misses? Not really. There’s a few where I misjudged how a shade might look ON ME and it ended up being just a horrible mismatch for me, but the product itself was good for the right person. This usually happens with nude lipstick shades described as having a touch of pink in them and then they end up flat out brown or gray on me or shades that are described as dusty or should be purpley (think Bite Cava or Fyrinnae Pygmy) that end up straight up gray on me.

Declutter due to quality? Only one, but I’m actually about to start a huge decluttering a lot of liquid matte lipsticks (hate the feel, accentuates texture – mostly ColourPop and KVD and there’s too many good matte products on the market now) and a few mascaras that give me panda eyes. The one product I just straight up tossed this year (and it pained me) was the YSL Touche Eclat All-in-One Glow foundation. Admittedly I purchased online, but I did a lot of research and consulted a lot of shade matching guides. It pulled way too dark and way too orange (and it was supposed to be the “cool” shade) and even if I could salvage the color with a mix in, it was patchy when blended out and far more “dense” for lack of a better word than I would expect something billed as medium coverage to be.

Biggest Product Disappointment? On a global level? The UD Prince collection. I probably wasn’t going to purchase it anyway, but UD did Prince dirty. On a personal level? Bite – both the blushes and the lipsticks. I was excited for the blushes, but the poor quality and poor package design ended that. And we waited so long for the bullet lipsticks to come back only to go from their formerly stellar formula and range across the board with hardly any duds to a formula being played out by many other brands and varying quality between shades. Bite cut deep this year and went from a company I would blind buy without reviews because they were consistently excellent to waiting and hoping they’ll maybe be decently average at best.

Genevieve Avatar

Did you have any product misses in the past year?
Yes, I did have a couple of product misses this year – with lipsticks. The CP’s 21 Questions – like the shade colour but not the vanilla taste, which is off putting to me. Otherwise I did not have any other duds. I generally check the reviews here first if I am going to buy anything like an eye palette, with the exception of the By Terry’s Bonjour Paris palette – and I did look at a variety of reviewers (of varying quality I can tell you!) to get a feel of how good/pigmented the palette was.

Did you declutter any products this year due to quality?
Yes, I did do a couple of declutters during the year. I got rid of quite a few older palettes that really I haven’t used for quite some time eg UD’s Vice 2, Tarantino’s Jewel palette and quite a few others. I got rid of quite a few lipsticks that were ultimately too dark or turning pinkish on me (CP’s Liquid Courage) and I donated a few to my twin sister – CP’s LA Lady and Slow Dance, which she loved.

What was your biggest product disappointment this past year?
None really – just a couple of things that I bought blind like the lippies, but that’s about it.

I have to say how sad it is that UD features so often in your most disappointed list. Surely the brand must be concerend about its reputation in the beauty world sliding into the dust.
Included in the above list are some reputable brands like Bite Beauty, Melt, Nars, Fenty etc. Very sad that these brands think they can put out substandard products and get away with it.

brendacr1 Avatar

Did you have any product misses in the past year? No because I read your reviews and did not purchase the UD Wild West Palette that was on the top of my list and I’m very glad I didn’t, thank you Christine!
Did you declutter any products this year due to quality? No, but I have one lipstick (YSL Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick Balm) that has an area that has separated from the rest of the stick when I twist it up. It performs well but I’m just waiting for it to fall apart 🙁
What was your biggest product disappointment this past year? I did not have one that I can remember but I would like to know how sales are for UD seeing as their quality has taken a nose dive. I used to buy their products sight unseen.

Cat Avatar

Did you have any product misses in the past year? I can’t seem to get the Kaleidos Lip Clay to look good on me 🙁 Not really sure it’s a miss yet though, need more time…
Did you declutter any products this year due to quality? No, just threw out old products.
What was your biggest product disappointment this past year? The UD Prince collection for sure!

Chelsea Avatar

Did you have any product misses in the past year?

-I finally gave in and bought the Violet Voss Sugar Crystals Palette that I’d been lusting over forever. I wanted a fun rainbow palette and it’s been disappointing. It’s far more subtle than I was expecting from the online swatches. Having the three ‘steps’ of each shade works, but it’s not comparable impact-wise to a lot of the Singles I’ve purchased from more Indie brands.

Did you declutter any products this year due to quality?

-I decluttered eyeshadow brushes, and makeup that had expired. But the only quality based declutter was Inglot’s pot eyeliner and Melt’s pot eyeliners. People have raved about both and both got Amazon reviews but they ran like a m*therf*clear on me. With and without primers, setting sprays, etc.

What was your biggest product disappointment this past year?

-I didn’t buy the UD Cyber palette myself because I can enjoy subtle shimmers and thought it might be appropriate – but my friend did and the shades fall into eye creases and winkles *hardcore.* I’m not usually that vain about that stuff but it was bad enough that you noticed crows feet before the shade on them :/
Personally I was disappointed in the Melt pot and stick eyeliners in those lovely pinks that were all over Instagram this summer. They didn’t pop and the pot ran everywhere.
I also bought two eyeliners from GaGa’s Haus brand in the deepest blue and black and both pull hard on the skin. Like, barely emollient at all.

Z Avatar

OMG yes! I *loved* Melt to pieces before the releases became something I’m not interested in. But I don’t get the hype about the gel liners either! The colors are cool, but it’s not a formula for my eyes. It doesn’t go on well, it transfers, it wears away, etc… They briefly did two liquid liners (Alchemy? Was that what they are called?) that were AMAZING and actually last on my eyes through hours-long sweaty workouts. Didn’t like the application method, but I couldn’t fault the longevity. Gel liners? Meh, I’ll grab a cool color on sale, but they’re not in my top formula favorites for sure.

Z Avatar

Holy crap the Mary Jane was one of my favorite purchases of the year. My ONLY gripe with it is the chunky shimmer at either end – pick one and stick something else in the other spot – because I do use and enjoy those shadows, but both are so similar they’re not necessary. It’s my favorite “neutral” palette and the formula is good Melt quality. It’s legitimately shocking to me for it to be at the top spot.

My only fail from this year was one of the JD Glow multichrome shadows. I have four – three are GORGEOUS – A Lot is a little flat, like almost a velvety matte with very little shift or excitement, and it goes on more patchy than the other three. If sharing eye cosmetics wasn’t a bad, gross idea then I’d give it away to someone who would enjoy it more, rather than have it go to waste in my collection.

Z Avatar

Geez, I didn’t even answer the questions in my first comment –

Fails? UD double ended brow product. Pencil was thick and “meh”, liquid pen end was hilariously awful. Liquidy and sheer. I tried to use up the pencil but eventually the caps started coming off both ends and I trashed it. That all happened in less than a month.

Declutter from quality – I….don’t remember if I’m being honest. I’ve thrown some things out here and there as I find them and know I’ll never use them again, but I can’t remember being frustrated at something that sucks.

Biggest disappointment – a little more abstract. I’m disappointed to see colourpop EVERYWHERE I TURN. I’m tired of them. I’m tired of fast fashion. I’m tired of environmental damage for the sake of a dollar. I’m tired of celebrity brands. I’m disappointed that there continues to a never-ending market of people spending their hard-earned money on garbage, plastic, trash, a celebrity name, and crappily made products.

Lacey Avatar

Product miss – Mac step bright up skin finish palette med/deep. This was my own fault, I should not have not purchased the trio without swatching first, as this emphasized skin texture. The colors are beautiful, but the formula is too stiff and dry for me.

Declutter – yes, old products and matte face and lip formulas are gone.

Product disappointment – Pat McGrath matte trance lipsticks. Again, another fail on my part. I liked the divinyl lip shine in Nude Venus, thought I would like the minis from Sephora. The formula feels great for a matte, and they are nicely pigmented. I found the colors were much more brown and mauve than swatched online (Elson is ok for me as a lip stain with plenty of lip balm). I just cannot do a matte lip.

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