What brand surprises you the most?

Since I’ve left the question deliberately vague on what I mean by “surprise,”
I’m going to say MAC. I’m surprised that they haven’t made more changes to their offerings/how they release products or capitalized on really popular formulas/shades by releasing them more often or putting them in their permanent line.
I feel like I’m starting to see subtle changes now and for the last few months but will be curious to see how they evolve in the next couple of years.

— Christine
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Two brands have managed to surprise me consistently, keep me riding by the seat of my pants! MAC and Urban Decay. Surprised as in being both delighted and dismayed on a merry-go-round of: differing quality of LE offerings, product names that make me go hmm, discontinuing really beloved or high quality mainstays, etc. Kinda don’t know what either one will pull next!

From a brand I like and buy from: Chanel
Not because they are innovative or anything like that, but I’ve just been continually impressed and surprised by how much I really like their eyeshadow quads. I thought I’d get one quad just to have something from them, but they are now a staple for me and I look forward to their releases. I have kept my buying from the brand to just the eyeshadow quads (but I did buy 1 blush – that gorgeous Rouge Profond) because I don’t want to get hooked on another blush/foundation/lipstick, etc. formula.

From a brand I don’t like but have bought from: Estee Lauder
I don’t like that they heavily fragrance their skin care products (at least they were when I tried the face creams), have never liked their aesthetic or their snooty blueblood image and I don’t like their current spokeshole. I respect that they are trying to change or add to their image/aesthetic/product line/packaging to appeal to or maybe encompass all different demographics, but I also feel like they have been very aggressive about it and instead of looking like they are evolving and maintaining their place (that they’ve always had) at the helm, they now look desperate and like they are trying too hard to be edgy/sexy/cool and are fighting to stay relevant . . .which, maybe they are. Maybe they took their longevity for granted. They were a titan in the industry for so long, I would have thought they’d have been better at the game. That being said, I did buy Modern Mercury and recently, the Double Wear foundation, and I love both.

From a brand I like but don’t buy from: Anastasia Beverly Hills
I don’t have a single product from this line and don’t plan on ever buying anything from them (not a fan of liquid lipstick, don’t really need any brow specialty products, and don’t need to get hooked on another eyeshadow formula), but I have enjoyed watching the company grow over these past few years. It seems like there has always been enough product when LE or new products are released, the quality seems to be consistently there, they have methodically and steadily expanded and they just seem like a really classy brand.

Hi Pearl!

Spokeshole! Priceless, I’m stealing that. 🙂

I agree about the Chanel quads. I had no intention of getting hooked, but I am. I feel I have chosen carefully, and am delighted with whichever one I select that day. I had not bought from Chanel in decades. Turns out, it was what I have been looking for all along, and it solved my eyeshadow “stress.” 🙂

Eyeshadow stress – yes! I have to only have 1 look per week because deciding in the morning while I’m getting ready is too stressful and then I just default to a quad or an ole faithful combo anyway. I love the quads – they are so pretty and ‘self explanatory’. 🙂

Pearl and Linda – I so agree about the eyeshadow stress issue. Eyeshadows really are my one big makeup weakness and I’ve commented many times in past about how my overabundance – which gives me joy in the abstract – makes me feel stressed in the practical. Any well put together quad or 5-pan really does alleviate that and Chanel’s quads (or the ones I have) are really good at this as they are so well though out.

Ladies I so much agree with all of you. Stress, stress, stress with eye shadows. Why? I ask myself this every day. I am over the top with Chanel quads. And yes Pearl I agree with you, one eye shadow palette a week, because then I would lose my mind trying to decide which one to pick?? Its crazy, but I go from one palette to the next, then leave it for a month or two. Then go back to them again. And eye shadow is also my weakness. Is there a make up therapist out there because I sure need one ASAP.

I’m surprised by Bare Minerals. This was always a brand I dismissed and found to be a gimmick since I first heard of them on infomercials. I never tried them bc I thought they’d be a pain to use and they felt kind of “older lady”. But for some reason I tried them last summer at Sephora and I’m surprised how much I like them. I like the ease of their products, how comfort they feel on the skin and how they last and wear. I have tried a few eyeshadows, blushes and lip products so far. They gen nude liquid lips are so comfortable and such a pretty range of colors. I’m curious about their foundations and want to try once I use up what I have. Really liking this brand!

This is a brand I also have never tried for the same reason, though I keep telling myself to give them a chance. I read somewhere that their face products contain some type of metal & is bad for people with metal allergies, which I have. I think the lipsticks are so pretty, but I have every color of the rainbow lol.

I’m thinking Kat Von D. For the longest time, I paid absolutely no attention to the entire line because I thought her products would be cheap and sort of “nasty” – poor quality for people who just wanted an over the top look. Then I saw the Monarch palette here and decided to give it a try. Since then, I’ve found that there are lots of good “mainstream” (I don’t mean “boring” but wearable and adaptable) and good quality products in the line. And recently, MAC has surprised me with stuff like discounted “Good Byes” (they used to be regular price even if they were being discontinued), discount offers and their newest loyalty program. I guess they’ve finally started feeling the heat from the competition and done a few things to try to compete.

I was thinking KVD as well, but for a very different (almost opposite reason). I started off extremely in love and impressed with her makeup line, but then I began feeling disappointed by each of her new releases. It all started with the Sahde + Light palette, which I expected to love, but once I saw the shades I knew it wasn’t for me. Then came the blush duos and their awful quality. Next, the Serpentina palette, which was not super wearable for me. Alchemist palette? No thanks, not interested.

Her products have become increasingly unwearable for me. Even the lipstick shades! Grey? No, I cannot rock that in my daily life. I used to be excited every time rumours of a new launch started fluttering, but I’ve been disappointed with every single thing that’s been released for the past year or so.

I agree about KVD. I was shocked by how much I’ve liked them and how wearable most of their stuff is ie you don’t have to be a 15 goth kid to enjoy. I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from her!

Good points. I didn’t think about the Goodbyes. I remember when I didn’t even know when things were going to be discontinued, they just were. MAC never ever put things on sale, either (that I can remember). Maybe it’s the same as Estee Lauder (parent company), they aren’t feeling so sure of their place, or they are at least stepping up to try and maintain it.

At least Estee Lauder (like most high end brands) had the occasional GWP – something else MAC never, ever had. You could have knocked me over with a feather when, in the fall, I made a purchase at MAC and was offered my choice of colour of a FREE Versicolour lipstick. Another surprise from MAC and an indication that they seem to be changing to keep up….

It’s more like there are 20 times more brands out since when MAC began. With the advent of Sephora and Ulta, indie brands etc. There simply are more fish in the pond. I’m glad MAC has made these changes bc who wants to be loyal to a brand that never grows. Now Estee Lauder and somewhat Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, all Estee Lauder owned, could take note. They aren’t changing enough imo

Strongly agree with your MAC comments. In general, I’m disappointed that many of the major brands which have been around for years have been incredibly slow and resistant to change; particularly being limited in colour choices for base products. Also, for some of the very high end labels the arrogance of assuming people will buy sub par products simply due to label cachet.

I am surprised at how, in a few years, Too Faced has gone from a brand having quality products with a chic vibe to one that has crappy products with a tweener vibe.

On the plus side, I’m consistently surprised that Makeup Revolution has such good products at a budget price.

Interesting question. To me “surprise” depends on expectations in the first place… so, what comes to mind is lately Estee Lauder has surprised me with their commitment and ability to change their image, offer fresh concepts and quality products; I’ve always thought of EL as old school and stodgy.

Colourpop’s impressed (surprised — idk) me with its ability to mostly stay on track in quality and cost, and not follow MUG’s path for instance. Conversely, Urban Decay quality ups and downs hasn’t surprised me since it happens so often when a giant buys a successful small, focused brand, but it’s been a bit of a bummer.

I am surprised by Colourpop. Their quality is impressive given their inexpensive price point. UD has always has shotty quality imo and I bought them long before Loreal bought them. I bought them ’99 or 2000 and literally tossed them shortly after purchasing bc their formula was stiff and unblendable. They have always been such a gimmicky brand with quality lacking

I find UD off/on. When it’s on — for me it’s great: my HG warm brown eyeshadow is UD’s Riff — very smooth, long lasting, and I have backups already purchase; and off top of my head, three other favorite shadows are from UD. Same with my go-to lipstick. On the other hand, I’ve had varying experience with eyeliners.

Wet n Wild. In the 90’s, it was the WORST quality makeup. I had a couple nail polishes and a “lipstick” (the ones in the white tubes with the clear plastic caps) that was so waxy, you’d swear it was a crayola crayon. And the smell!

I’m surprised that the brand actually survived and became as good quality as it is.

So true! WnW was the brand you bought from if you were 13 or in a fix. I was shocked they were a cult favorite. I was hesitant to buy from them bc I had the mind set they were cheap cosmetics but have been pleasantly surprised with a lot of their stuff!

I wish WnW were more readily available in Canada. I’ve been able to get some of those amazing Vanity palettes (discontinued now), the Comfort Zone palette and a few singles as well as Reserve Your Cabana “bronzer”. But even at WalMart (about the only place in my area that still carries the brand), it’s pretty hit and miss and they only have a limited # of products which is really disappointing.

I have purchased tons of items from WetnWild lately except their foundation or pressed powder but the eyeshadows have been amazing, their huge bronzer size with spf, the blushes are great and matte as well as liquid lipstick. I have ak their highliters and las Spring and this collection. I’m pale and love, love the products fit such a great steal of price! Totally agree and they came up with fun unicorn highliters, etc. Love if!

I think Becca has the most surprised me. I was a huge Becca supporter until they started their highlight zone and they haven’t changed to build in other areas of their line. They did the YouTube craze and then came out with a similar product with Chrissy. Very disappointed.

Gosh, good question…

Good surprises…

Chanel eye quads. I had not bought from Chanel in…oh, maybe 20 years because to me their lipstick tasted awful. Seems that was enough to throw me off the whole line. Then thanks to my enabler friends here :), I tried the Empreinte du Desert. I loved it so much, I tried another. Very different, but equally lovely. I have several now, and I am pleased with each and every one of them in different ways.

MAC. Just about every time I buy from MAC I’m surprised at how much I like the product. I think it’s because of they way they inundate with launch after launch. My brain has correlated that with lousy quality. Reading here, some of the LE is. But avoiding those products and choosing well, I always feel the product is a bit better than I expected.

Bad Surprises:

Both Armani Luminous Silk and Sisley foundations. Those, for me, were simply terrible. I’m not crazy about Armani makeup in general and don’t much look at it anymore. Except for the Sisley Poudre Libre powder (which is the only powder that works on my aging skin and I do love it), the rest of the line can be skipped, IMO.

I didn’t like Luminous Silk either. I know it has quite a following and is a favorite for most, but I feel about Lasting Silk the way most feel about Luminous Silk. With Luminous Silk, forget about coverage, I was an oil slick after an hour. I have normal to oily skin, but that seemed like it just encouraged oil production or something. Lasting Silk is far better for my (aging) skin type – no oily breakthrough, color and (light to buildable medium) coverage stays put, it gets along with all my other products, gorgeous finish and I haven’t boken out. *IF* you were ever in the mood to give the brand another shot, I say try Lasting Silk.

Hi Pearl!

I am always, always interested in trying a new foundation option. Next time I’m in Sephora, I will get a sample. Right now I’m switching between MJ Re(marc)able and EL Double Wear. Both are quite good, and I like them. HG? Not really. So, with summer coming and colors changing, it’s a good time to try new options. Thanks!

Good to know Pearl. I had the Luminous Silk on my list for my next purchase. But I have the same skin issues as you, you just saved my time and money, thanks! I will try the Lasting Silk.

I recently looked hard at Chanel’s quad Spices, also I think it’s Vendome (the one with a bright peach). I can see one or two of these in my future for sure.

KatVonD – I wouldn’t have expected to fall in love with this brand (based on their aesthetic) but I have. I’m surprised at the high quality of their eyeshadows & face products (such fine mist on the setting spray, the high coverage on the undereye creme concealer!), but am negatively surprised when some products don’t live up to the hype. I wish she wouldn’t make such outrageous claims (24 hour wear on lipliner- bah humbug!) and I really wish the quality was much more consistent on heavily hyped products (a lot of those new lipliners are not good at all!…but some are really good).

BareMinerals – I too thought it was just a one-off brand that featured mineral foundation (which is kind of out-of-date); and I too now realize that they actually have a LOT of innovative, high-performance products, much, much more than their old loose pigment offerings! I am surprised by the quality of their line: the lasting power, the huge range of skin tone shades offered, the benefits to my skin, the beauty of the finish, etc. I am negatively surprised that their amazing Marvelous Moxie lip glosses are no longer carried by Ulta or Sephora! These are HG, not just as glosses for me, but I also use them as a moisturizing lip balm that beats everything else I’ve tried.

Inglot @ Macy’s – I had a bad eyelid swelling up reaction to one of their eyeshadows (first & only time purchasing from them). Never had this happen before.

Good surprise: Catrice & Essence some amazing quality products for the price. Not all of their lines are wow, but the highlighters, mascaras, blushes, and foundations are darned good for cheapies. Just tried Catrice’s Nude Illusion foundation & was very impressed! A true luminous matte soft focus finish that minimizes texture issues. It’s what Armani Luminous silk should have been for less than half the price. Now I found out it’s been discontinued. Pfft!

Bad: What happened to Lancome? Lancome used to be known for good, solid, dependable quality. Now it’s hit or miss.

Colourpop suprised me, in a positive way.

They had named a liquid lipstick a culturally insensitive name. And when people pointed it out to them, they actually changed it to a different name.

I felt really happy about that!

Better than *cough* MAC vibe tribe *cough*

Good surprise – KVD – I bought the Shade and Light eye-shadow palette and was surprised at how much I like it. For drugstore brands – it was cream eye-shadow from Flower beauty at Walmart. These cream shadows are sheer and very pretty and last all day. I’ve been on the hunt for a sheer champagne shadow that I can swipe on once on my (NC30/NC35) skintone give my eyes just enough glow with mascara for more of an understated look and I ended up loving it! At first I was confused by the packaging as I thought it was loose pigment, but it was compacted cream that was just enough for a swipe on a bush and lasted on my oily lids.

Bad surprise – BB Brightening Brick in pink. Way way way too much chunks of big glitter pieces. I had Sunset glow which I loved, but this was too much and bare showed up on my skin.

I am constantly impressed with the innovative colors by M.A.C. but have also been constantly underwhelmed by thier quality since the Estee Lauder takeover several years ago. I pine for the quality they had as an independent company. I have to say the quality of Hourglass consistently impresses me but thier lack of Couture colors depresses me. They still have the best foundations and primers and thier eyeshadows are without equal but the desperately need new color selection there. Thier Ambient light assortment is amazing and I live that as well. Temptalia help them with lip and eye colors!

I haven’t been following it all much but I am surprised that UD AND NARS continue with the sexually explicit names,etc. it’s not that serious but it’s stupid IMO.

I’m also surprised by Abh’s quality. I haven’t bought much but the quality is evident.

Glad to see Colourpop/The Ordinary. Quit gouging the consumer.

I’ve been wow’d or surprised by the following:

Estee Lauder — stunning advertising as far back as I can remember. Products have been hit or miss for me.

Nars — a “10” for artistic impression. I love many products in this line.

Natasha Denona — images and products for a glowing, moist look. One of the ultimates in the makeup world.

Bobbi Brown — classic good looks, celebrity collabs, a solid makeup line.

Laura Geller — love her baked products and own many of them. And they don’t make my skin look crepey.

MAC — imaginative collections and collabs. Face & Body, and Liquid Mineralize foundations are HG for me.

Bare Minerals — sneaking up from behind with some surprisingly high quality, wearable products.

Inglot — their shimmer eyeshadows are buttery and worldclass.

Revlon — nail polish in the classic bottle, always impressive.

I’m very surprised by how fast and merrily Too Faced is taking their reputation down the drain. When you start thinking that the only thing that matters is the bottom line, I think you’re in major trouble in the beauty industry. Reputation and image are everything. Maybe they’re still selling well, for now. However they don’t seem to mind losing loyal customers who had been buying the brand for years with very poor quality releases. Maybe they’re trying to appeal to teenagers only now, in hope of renewing their fan base. Doesn’t seem like a very smart move to me…

Good Surprise: Kat Von D, I adore Metal Matte, Pastel Goth and the Alchemist. Colourpop for moving seamlessly into pressed eyeshadow without losing quality and great color selection.

Bad Surprise: UD for the inconsistency of the eyeshadow quality. Too Faced for selling subpar quality makeup (white chocolate chip palette).

Well, after reading the earlier comments I am going to have to find a way to justify some Chanel eyeshadow quads!

My biggest surprise has been bhcosmetics, esp. the eyebrow mechanical pencil (ABH Brow Wiz dupe) and the eyeshadows (I got the foils palette and a couple of the 120 shade palettes). Surprised at the quality for the price and also the range of shades in the 120 palette makes it the perfect “fill-in” for any shade you just don’t have in any other palette/single. I also found a foundation shade which matches my dark skin tone perfectly and has a great formula (replaces my MUFE HD). The colourlock lipstick is like a solid version of liquid lipstick. It goes on easily, then sets and stays like a liquid. Also nice colours for my darker skin tone.

Only caveat… they didn’t handle a manufacturing defect very well. The pump on the foundation broke irreparably within the first two or three uses and I had to shame them a little to even get a grudging refund. They didn’t offer a replacement, which was disappointing considering the pump is pretty essential for a bottled liquid foundation of a non-pourable texture. Having said that, I’d still repurchase from them just based on how much I like their formulas and their prices.

MAC – I feel they offer something for everyone! I am always excited about their new releases even if it’s not a product or color I can use. I admire their creativeness. I now have my HG blush from MAC – yay!

Positive surprises: Jack black, the balm was actually really good! I was using Bite Beauty’s agave mask for a while and while impressed by that, the lighter texture of Jack black really just won me over.
Tarte as a brand. I’m not talking about the holiday releases. I’ve never disliked a permanent product from Tarte (except for their Tartiest mascara, because it’s not a waterproof formula and wouldn’t hold a curl). I know that people have mixed reviews on their Tartiest palettes, but I love mine for a lightweight everyday look. I placed more orders on the Tarte website than any other brands.
Maybelline. Their stuff is probably the most quality products from the drugstore. Very consistent base products.

Negative surprises: Tom Ford unfortunately, I bought a couple of his products, and the only product that I love is the cream shadows. I hate his eyeliner (tugs at my eyelids) and eyeshadow primer (where’s the longevity???). At that price point, It’s important that I love all the products or all my money’s going to waste.

Happy Surprises: bareMinerals – because most of their products, particularly their Ready eyeshadows have stood the test of time and they are not over the top expensive

Unhappy Surprise: Lancome – I used to love their eye shadows, but now they are just awful. At least their new foundation seems to be pretty good, but it is so, so, expensive.

Rollercoaster Award: Urban Decay – in the past couple of years the brands has slipped out some real duds in amongst a few pearls. With this brand, its like Joan Baez’s song – Diamonds and Rust.

My first thought was Too Faced. They just announced a bunch of products for next season and they are doubling down on the just throw in a bunch of glitter; smells like random food thing they have going. Why would they beat a dead banana? Haven’t they realized they are making themselves into laughingstocks? For the millionth time. Jarrod, remember when you marketed your chocolate soleil bronzers and other chocolate products as having skin care benefits? Chocolate was the miracle antioxidant that would make us beautiful, keep us looking young AND smell divine. But….but… artificial peach? Peanut butter palettes with no peanuts let alone peanut butter? Granted I don’t want that on my face in real form either but you’ve lost your antioxidant narrative. Someone! Get this man a map! He has lost his way!
Best surprise is Urban Decay! Love em or hate em you can’t deny they don’t drop makeup bombs that shake up the industry time and time again. I agree not everything they make is always perfect quality but nobody else can claim that either. They are the brand I get excited for, like I can’t wait to see what they do next! Each collection either entirely blows my mind or at the very least a portion of it will knock my socks off. Have you noticed UD kind of buries the goodies only hardcore makeup junkies may notice? I might be wrong about that but some of the things that change my makeup life aren’t the ones that get the press. I know I’ve mentioned this before but mascara ressurection got almost no attention and it is indispensable for me now. I always wish so hard this was around in my work all day go out every night younger years. Back then you could redo or refresh everything but mascara. There was no helping that crunchy spiky ish! Anyway, it’s so fun to love a brand that surprises you with “guess what? We are releasing a 120 lipsticks and they are $4 cheaper than before! or “Check it out, we know Gwen Steffani has been your obsession for your entire adult life so we are doing our first collaboration with HER!! Surprise!!” “Oh, you thought Fireball was our best shadow ever? Pssst. Here it is in highlight form and (months later) TA DA Lipstick!!! Because coral with pinky and sometimes almost blue reflects is soooo expected.” Bwahahaha “You think summer 14 (?)collection with Fireball was the best eyeshadow singles we’ve put out at once but feel bad because not everyone can afford them all? Hey look, we put out a $29 palette with almost all of them and some other colors too. Packaging isn’t impeccable but for fans without the $$$ to care about impeccable packaging here you go……” then ::: Hands on heart ::: Basquiat. ::moment of silence::
Yep, I love UD and they may need to take a look at some of their names but they keep me guessing and keep surprising me all these years later!

Holy crap Christine, I didn’t realize how long that was!! 😂 I won’t be offended if you just delete that, it’s way too long for a comment. I guess I thought I was writing an essay 😂 Sorry.

I think Colourpop is seriously evolving. I’ve been using the brand since last year. During the holidays, I was so surprised seeing how they were giving full sized (not deluxe like most brands) freebies with a specific amount purchase. Recently, They gave out a tweet hinting possible concealers. Sonya Esman collab has multi-sticks. Maybe they will follow through and add fuller range of multisticks to their line.

Speaking of MAC, an artist told me they started having 40% sales at their counters for the past two years.

I’m also surprised on indie brands. From what I have seen, these indie brands appear to have the same amount of quality as full priced products.

The Body Shop. I see that many pioneering/ innovative products from today’s companies (new and old), liquid highlighters, body highlight powders, eyeshadow in pencil form, cream eyeshadows, pigments, all kind of taupe eyeshadows e.t.c , was already then in their range.

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