The Morphe x James Charles Palette: one of the most hyped products of the season, and possibly the most hyped Morphe palette to date. As controversial as he is, it’s hard to deny his talent and artistry. I’ll admit though: I wasn’t completely convinced about this palette when it was announced. I figured I had most of these shades among several other palettes; it wasn’t something I felt like I needed. But, I was in my local Ulta Beauty as they restocked his display, and I felt like I should give it a chance. Spoiler: I’m glad I did.
Let’s back up though and go over the basics: James’ goal for this palette was to let the user “unleash your inner artist” and have enough variety for any look you can dream up. So for $39, this could essentially work as an entire eyeshadow collection for a beginner or makeup lover on the go. By the way, Ulta Beauty does not consider Morphe a prestige brand, which means their coupons are valid on this palette! There was a $5 off $15 coupon on their website when I purchased this, so I was able to score it cheaper. Also don’t forget to apply your Ultamate Rewards points.
The Morphe x James Charles Palette is split up into three main sections. The top of the palette is where most of the neutrals are located. I’d like to point out that this section leans warm in my eyes; there aren’t a ton of options in terms of cool neutrals. The middle section has larger pans with shades that you might find yourself using up first in most palettes. I love the idea behind this, as these are colors that you will probably find yourself using the most for purposes like blending, setting, and deepening colors. The bottom section is the rainbow selection, with ultra pigmented brights that really make a statement.
Speaking of ultra pigmented, this palette contains both traditional eyeshadows and pressed pigments. These are two different formulas that actually perform differently and require different application techniques to get the most out of them. Also something that is important to note is that some of the pressed pigments are actually labeled as not safe for the immediate eye area. Now, this is a legal disclaimer because certain shades contain dyes that are not approved by the FDA for eye use, however we’ve seen this similar situation in other popular palettes from Jeffree Star and Urban Decay. James demonstrates this palette by using some of these shades around the eye, so it seems like more of a suggestion than a black and white statement. Basically, the formula may irritate sensitive skin and may stain. I actually consider my eyelids to be sensitive and I haven’t had any issues with the pigments, but proceed with caution. The list of shades that contain these dyes are on the back of the outer packaging (the box).
If you haven’t used pressed pigments before, there may be a slight learning curve with this palette. In James’ launch video, he does go over several tips and tricks to get the best application. The most important ones being:
- This palette works the best with a dry eye primer. Don’t use concealer or a sticky base, as the pigment will look more patchy and won’t blend as easily.
- The pressed pigments apply with the most pigmentation when used in a patting motion. Pack on the shade and then softly blend in circular motions.
- You’ll get the most impact with some of the metallic shades by applying with a damp brush (spray with setting spray before dipping into the pan).
- The shimmer shades look gorgeous applied with the fingertips.
I think the palette could have really benefitted from an instruction insert with these tips, because even though James talked about it in his video, not everyone will watch that or remember which shades require what kind of application. I, myself, am still discovering how they all work. With that said, by following James’ specific instructions, I was able to create some of my favorite looks EVER with this palette.
James repeatedly suggested the MAC Paint Pots ($22) specifically to use as a base, which I did with success. But of course, I wanted to try out something a little more budget-friendly, and both the AOA Perfect Eyeshadow Primer ($1) and the e.l.f. Shadow Lock Primer ($2) worked really well.
So, here’s the thing: I really like this palette. However, I think it would be best enjoyed by makeup enthusiasts who love just sitting down and taking their time to create looks. I don’t think it’s for the person who is looking for something they’ll be able to slap on quickly in the morning and leave for work or school. It lives up to its name as an “artistry” palette in that regard. Of course, once you’ve gotten used to the formulas, you’ll become quicker at application and can for sure whip together a gorgeous lewk for the day. It’s just about playing around and seeing what works. And even though the shades inside aren’t one of a kind, there’s something about having this kind of variety all in one place that unlocks something in your brain, making it easier to mix and match, creating unique looks. I, for one, hate juggling products, and I love that I can complete so many full looks out of this palette.
The Morphe x James Charles Palette is repeatedly selling out everywhere. I bought mine in-store, but you can set an alert on the Ulta Beauty website to email you as soon as its available so you don’t have to stalk your store. I personally prefer buying from them vs. Morphe because of the customer service, coupons and rewards!