Stila Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette in Mind - review and swatches

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I've had this product for over two years now - it was the first high-end eyeshadow palette I bought - and I've been meaning to review it for ages. 

For some reason it became one of those reviews I kept placing in the later basket, partly because I wanted to test some other high-end formulas before reviewing all my eyeshadows so I could compare them.

Unfortunately this palette doesn't hold up to those comparisons. I love the look of it and the shades themselves, but the formula isn't great and it's not a product I'd recommend for anyone with texture on their eyelids. More on all that below.


As you can see, it's a beautifully presented palette that comes in a gorgeous gold compact. There are four of these 'eyes are the window' palettes from Stila and they all come housed in this pretty, sturdy packaging with slight variations in colour: this one has a white gold lid and a golden base.

I knew I had to have this when I first saw it. The packaging drew me in and just look at those shades:


Stila claims/product details:
  • Eyes are the window to the body, mind, spirit and soul
  • This year, Stila celebrates 20 years of infinite style
  • Create endless looks with our new Eyes Are The Window™ shadow palettes
  • Inspired by the spiritual notion that true beauty is revealed from within, each palette is curated with 12 luxurious eye shadows to illuminate your inner beauty
  • Encased in exquisite, jewellery-inspired compacts - a precious mix of rose, yellow and white golds - the shadows will inspire, intrigue and delight
  • Each palette comes with a lookbook curated by Sarah Lucero, Stila’s Global Executive Director of Creative Artistry
  • Mind: a well-edited assortment of 12 matte eye shadows
  • RRP $71 AUD for 14.5g

There's a shot of the pans in direct sunlight (click on any image to enlarge it):


And in natural light:


The shades and my thoughts on the formula of each follow:
  • Brilliance: a matte cream/off white. This is softer and creamier than the pink shade below it.
  • Instinct: a matte grey. This isn't a colour I reach for much (I prefer warmer colours), but it isn't as powdery as other shades in the palette so I might try to incorporate it more often.
  • Reason: a matte black. This isn't a dark black but a softer one. I don't use it because I have no use for black, but I probably wouldn't reach for it anyway because it's dry and doesn't go on evenly.
  • Imagination: a matte pale pink. This one's dry to the touch.
  • Observation: a matte taupe grey. This isn't as dry as some of the other shades, but the pigment also isn't great. I do like using this to line my lower waterline though because it's not too dark so it gives a nice, natural look.
  • Thinker: a matte dark purple. This has the worst formula in the palette (purples often do). The pigment isn't great, it's dry and it doesn't go on evenly - plus it's difficult to blend.
  • Genius: a matte pale peach. It's softer than the shades above and below it.
  • Wit: a matte warm caramel. This has to be one of the best crease-colours of all time. Problem is, it's dry and it makes my eye area look powdered and more textured than it should. Argh! Such a shame. It does make a nice blush shade too, though.
  • Creativity: a matte dark brown. This is hard and dry, plus it's difficult to apply evenly and blend.
  • Understanding: a matte nude that's somewhere between rose and peach. I love this shade but it's dry like the light pink shade. Both are a touch chalky and difficult to blend. You can also wear this on the cheeks.
  • Perception: a matte burnt orange. This has the best formula of any shade in the palette - it's soft, creamy, pigmented and easy to blend. Why can't they all be like this?!
  • Intellect: a matte marsala. This has overtaken Wit as my favourite shade in the palette. It's not as dry as Wit and the formula is more blendable, so it looks less ageing on my eyes. 

Swatches from left to right, direct sunlight:

  
Another sunlight shot for good measure: 

  
And in natural light (outdoors): 


  Indirect sunlight: 


Natural light (indoors):


Verdict

While I don't regret buying this palette, I wouldn't repurchase it. I love the colours and the packaging but the shadows themselves aren't finely milled or creamy enough for my personal tastes, and indeed some of them are straight-up dry and chalky, meaning they're difficult to blend and also go on patchily.

Some shades may be better than others (the burnt orange shade in particular), but overall I don't rate this particular formula of Stila's eyeshadows. I'm annoyed about this because my mattes from the Stila In The Light palette are better than these and don't have the same problems. So why would Stila replace that formula for this one? The mind boggles.

Although I can personally live with shadows that aren't formulated well because I generally don't go for a defined look with my eyes (I have hooded eyes and prefer a soft, simple and diffused matte look that attempts to minimise my puff-factor), what I can't live with is eyeshadows that make my eye area look older and drier than it is. And unfortunately these shades look dry and powdery on my eyes so I don't reach for them much anymore because who wants to look older than they are! 

Having said this, now that I'm not pregnant anymore (which is when my skin is at its driest and most dehydrated), I do find that I can safely use one of these colours on my eyes without things looking too powdery and aged. So I might eg go for a shimmer shadow on the lid and then grab one of these for a soft wash of colour in the crease, and things look fine. If however I start to build up too much colour or go in with a second shade from this palette for depth or definition, that's when things start to look crepe-y.

As mentioned in my comments of the individual shades above, some of these perform better than others when it comes to application. Some blend beautifully while others go on patchily and don't blend well. The whole thing's a bit hit-and-miss, which is one of the reasons why I wouldn't recommend this palette.

One thing to note is that these do last well on the eye - with or without a primer. Perhaps this is partly because these are not finely milled (so they don't 'lift off' as easily as other shadows do). So if you're younger than me and have oily skin, this might actually be a good choice for you because exacerbating eye texture mightn't be an issue for you but longevity might - something to consider. 

All in all, this wasn't a bad starter palette for me but I'm certainly glad that I didn't pay $71 for it. While I still do reach for it occasionally, it's not a favourite for the reasons touched on above. Better mattes exist - Kevyn Aucoin, Becca and Too Faced's formulas, for starters - and I reckon you can find something that's more consistent and has less issues overall.

A pretty palette but not a favourite. Gosh, it looks good though... ; )




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