Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palette in Monochrome - review and swatches


This is one of those products that I've had for ages but I've never reviewed it because I wanted to use it for a long time before giving my thoughts.

The reason being, these Hourglass Modernist Eyeshadow Palettes have been quite polarising - you either love them or hate them - and I didn't want to jump the gun and write my review too early.

While my feelings on this product haven't changed (spoiler: I love mine), I have been able to test this in different seasons and with different primers so it's a product I know well.

If you've kept an eye on the reception these palettes received, I suspect you will have seen Temptalia's comments on them: she didn't like them at all and while I normally trust her reviews, I've been scratching my head a bit over hers' and others' complaints about these shadows.

In some ways I can see what people are talking about (yes, they're very soft - but that's easily managed with a gentle touch!), but in others I definitely think how you feel about these comes down to personal preference. 

Yes that's an obvious thing to say, but with these palettes it's particularly applicable: if you prefer wearing strong eyeshadow looks you mightn't like these because the pigment isn't the same as eg an Urban Decay eyeshadow, but if you prefer something gentler then these might be right up your alley.

There's an old shot of mine, taken in direct sunlight when I first opened the product:

Hourglass claims/product details:
  • An artist-inspired eyeshadow palette with seamless colour transitions offering effortless blending in a single pan
  • Innovative multi-press, three-dimensional design
  • Fine, creamy consistency
  • Introduces a new level of control for blending and picking up pigment
  • Available in seven curated colour palettes
  • Complementary colours for base, crease and eyeliner allow for endless customised looks with one palette
  • Each shade and finish is specifically calibrated to work with the other formulas within the palette
  • Formula is exceptionally soft, long-wearing and crease-resistant 
  • Shimmer shades may be applied wet for more dramatic colour
  • RRP $92 AUD for 5g (yikes! I bought mine for $76!)

There's an old shot of mine, taken in direct sunlight when I first opened it:

And a recent shot, taken in natural light:

All five shades, swatched in direct sunlight (they're subtle swatched but I find they show up better on the eye):

Same shot, indirect sunlight:

Natural light:

And in the shade:

Wearing all five shades, indirect sunlight (I've used a separate gold highlighter shade on the inner corner):

And in natural light (click on any image to enlarge it):

And in the shade (it looks cooler here):


As mentioned above, I absolutely love this palette and I would be giving it an HG tag but for one thing: these shadows do crease earlier than other shadows I own - even with a decent primer - so I only wear them if I don't need my eyeshadow to last all day (as I might eg at a wedding). On me, they last four or five hours before I need to touch-up. Not great, but not terrible either.

The main thing I love about these is how they look on the eye: they add an ethereal glow and they never look powdery. It's like they vanish into the skin, and no other eyeshadow I own has achieved this. On top of that, no eyeshadow I've ever used before has applied and blended so well with barely any effort from me. I've never had issues with patchy application from these, plus I only need to use the smallest amount of product for a great colour pay-off that never crosses into clown territory.

One of the Mecca staff members told me that these shadows were designed to mix with the oils on your eyelids, so perhaps that's why they always look so flawless, natural and beautifully blended without a speck of powdery texture in sight. On the flip side, this could also be why they have a tendency to crease earlier than some other shadows, so it might be one of those double-edged sword situations.

I liked the look of a few Modernist palettes (generally those with more mattes and less shimmers because mattes are more useful for my hooded eyes), but I chose this one because I didn't have similar colours and I liked that the one shimmer shade wasn't a standard gold or cream.

For me, the best thing about Monochrome as compared to some of the other palettes is that it's a complete, stand-alone palette and I don't need to use any other eyeshadow if I don't want to. Above I have used a gold because I wanted a shimmer for the inner corner that wasn't pink, but I often just use the matte cream and don't reach for anything else because Monochrome has everything I need.

What I also love about Monochrome is that I always use every single shade when I apply it. No shade is a dud and I have a use for all of them. The cream matte is a great base shade; the pink and purple crease/transition shades are versatile and look great together; the shimmer shade is a beautiful lid highlight; and the dark shade is great for deepening the outer edges and also works well as a liner. Honestly, it's a perfect palette in that respect because no shade goes unused.

I've seen people say that these shadows aren't pigmented and they blend away into nothing. This really confuses me: while the shadows don't swatch strongly, they come alive on the eye and I get a stronger eye look from these than I do any other shadow I own, if I consider how little of these I need to use and how many times I have to go back in and build colour with other shadows. Some products swatch well but don't apply well on the eye (here's looking at you, Nars), but these are the opposite - and surely that's what you want!

I've also seen people say that these are powdery and prone to fall-out. While they are very soft and do kick up product in the pan if you're not careful, I don't think they're powdery at all - I think they're very creamy! I've even seen people run their fingers or brushes through these and show the amount of fall-out. I'm not sure why you'd expect any different from a soft, delicate powder that needs to be treated with care?

All in all, I reckon this is a fantastic eyeshadow and I really love it. I'm keen to pick up Infinity once I've finished one of my neutral palettes or duos (if I ever do ; ) ) and there's room for a replacement. 

While I do wish I could find a primer that makes these last more than four or five hours without creasing (I'm still looking!), the way these shadows look on the eye and how easy they are to apply and blend - plus how little product I need to use for a big colour pay-off that never looks too much - far outweighs the longevity issue for me.

Absolutely love.

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