While I was in NZ (how many times have I said that on the blog now? A billion?), I was for the first time in as long as I can remember, totally unfocused on makeup and skincare and generally all the pretty things I consume myself with in a normal day here at home. However, while killing time in Auckland one day, I was browsing a Japanese cosmetics store in a mall there and happened to see these cute little shadow palettes for sale. The line was KATE, a drugstore-level sub-brand by Kanebo (the same company that produces the lines LUNASOL and SENSAI). Not having tried any Japanese brands before (and hearing so many great things about them), I figured I’d pick one up to try.
Debuting in 1997, KATE’s brand motto is ‘No More Rules,’ forgoing conventional makeup trends to adopt a more contemporary and urban take on beauty products. It turns out that eye makeup is a hallmark of the brand, so I’m pleased that I seemed to make a good choice. The product I purchased is one of the Real Create Eyes eyeshadow palettes, which are designed to create ‘naturally contoured large eyes‘ and do so with ‘clear, soft-transmitting colors and a deep monotone colors.’ I purchased mine for $35NZ (about $29CAD), and it contains 5 eyeshadow shades in similar tones and varying finishes.
The palette I chose was in ‘shade’ BR-2, which I guess stands for Brown and the 2nd of three different brown-toned palettes (out of five – there is also a green-toned and blue-toned one too). As you can see, there is a pearly shade on the top left (which has a cream formula – all the rest are powder); a dark, cool brown in the top right; a creamy white-gold in the bottom right; a warm champagne shade bottom left; and a beige-taupe shade in the middle.
I’ve had this palette now for two months, and have just started to use it now. And boy, what I was missing!! I am generally not a fan of palettes because usually one or two (or more, depending on the size) shades don’t get used, and I feel like it’s just taking up space. But this one is small and compact, the shades aren’t terribly large (which might be a drawback for some, but not for me!), and I find each shade extremely wearable. The formula of the powders are soft but not powdery, terribly smooth, and apply easily with medium pigmentation. They are ‘sheer’ colors: as in, they look very natural when worn, and though they all contain shimmer it is not glaringly obvious or metallic in any way, so quite office-appropriate if that is a concern. The most densely pigmented shade is the white-gold, which happens to be my favorite and I’ve been wearing it as my inner eye highlight almost every day now. It’s got a slight duochrome-y-ness to it that I LOVE, and it’s just so smooth and shimmery without being too sparkly.
It gives the most wonderful glow to the eye and is just the right balance of cool and warm, so that I can wear it with pretty much any eye makeup. Above, aside from the white-gold, I’m wearing the champagne from lash line to crease, the deep brown in the crease and on the bottom lash line, and the taupe to blend. You can see how naturally it all wears and blends together. I’ve worn these shadows twice now without primer and experienced excellent staying power with only slight fading over the course of the day.
I have yet to use the cream formula, though I’m intrigued to see how it will work. Here is a closer swatch:
I don’t know if it’ll apply so ‘sheen-y’ to the eye and with such a whitish-pink hue. I did swatch it heavily to show the tone so I suspect it will be subtle. I plan on trying it tonight so we’ll see how it goes! It feels smooth, not gritty at all, and is slightly tacky but not gummy in the least.
Indications on the back of the plastic packaging box on where each shade should be placed on the eye. ‘A’ which is the cream ‘glow’ color, doesn’t have a specific area noted but I’m sure it explains it in the text…which of course I cannot read
I’m super-enamoured with this palette overall, I love how the tones and finishes provide an eye-opening effect so easily. For the white-gold alone I would buy this palette; it’s like nothing I own and I often find frustration with pale colors that others can use in the inner corners because they often run too cool or frosty on me. I can see myself already gravitating toward these shadows on a daily basis, which is highly unusual for this fickle gal. The only issue I have is the packaging, which I actually like the look of, but which feels quite flimsy. However, I did drop this the other day (argh! I hate when I do that!), and the top of the case came off, but was able to just snap back in place without incident, and none of the shades were broken. So maybe it’s not such a bad setup after all…?
Unfortunately, when I looked up online where to buy KATE aside from Asia (where it’s sold in most countries), there did not seem to be any other locations available and no online option. However, I suspect that if you are in a store like the one I was in, that specializes in Asian cosmetics, you might get lucky. I would highly recommend taking a look if you have that option, as these shadows/palettes are absolutely lovely and at an entirely reasonable price given the quality.
Update: Lovely reader Mimi let me know that you can purchase KATE online at adambeauty, among other Japanese cosmetics brands! I just did a ‘trial run’ to see how it would all work, and it looks like you could buy this palette for $15US plus $2US shipping (international). CRAZY!!! I’m half-tempted to pick up a few other palettes myself! She notes that sometimes products are out of stock, but for the prices I don’t know that I’d be all that bothered to just keep checking back. Another site she’s checked out (but not shopped from yet) is gooddealer, which appears to have brands like Shiseido and Kose, as well as KATE – though it doesn’t seem exceptionally user-friendly. Anyway, so not all is lost if you’d like to get your hands on this or other Japanese brands!
Have you tried KATE before? What has been your experience with Japanese brands? Do you have any to recommend?