***Pictures from Maybelline Japan.
So after spending some time staring at the testers, I settled on 3, BR-2, GD-1, and WN-1. I didn't play with the testers, because I wanted to bring them home and swatched them side by side with the US release, and the testers would only spoil the ending for me.
BR-2, GD-1, and WN-1. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.
So I'll start with the most obvious comparisons. Between the US versus the Japanese release, there are a few reversed details. First off, the sparkling top wash is now at the bottom instead at the very top. Secondly, the liner shade is now at top instead of the chevron stripe in the middle. The chevron stripe is the base/highlighter in the Japanese release. Finally, the two lid and medium crease shades are flipped, with the lid shade at right and medium crease shade now at left.
US release 05 Caffeine Rush versus Japanese release BR-2.
US versus Japanese releases, with the Japanese compact slightly bigger and thicker.
Before swatching, I was expecting the Japanese ones to be softer, smoother, and more shimmery. After all, the ladies here are used to much better quality and much more sparkly drugstore items. To my surprise, however, they aren't that different in terms of texture. If anything, a couple of the shades in the Japanese palettes, the lid color and especially the sparkly top wash, feel much drier than their American counterparts. And while the Japanese sparkly top wash is even grittier than its American sister, it doesn't have that wet diamond finish, which in my humble opinion is the sole redeeming feature that makes the US palettes interesting, at least for me. And lastly, whether or not this is relevant the US releases are made in Canada, while the Japanese releases are made in China.
BR-2 and GD-1
My conclusion after swatching? I might go back for more of the US palettes, just for those gorgeous sparkly top washes. As for the 3 Japanese palettes I have, I'm glad I bought them too, because despite the texture difference and the tiny bit of the sparkly top wash let down, the color combos are still very pretty and interesting. And just as with each US palette, I have my favorite shades and those I'm ho-hum about. The biggest disappointment for me in these 3 Japanese palettes would be the stupidly sheer liner shades. 2 out of 3 are matte based with scattered floating shimmers, and somehow Maybelline JP managed to screw them up and make them sheer. How is that possible? I was pretty frustrated swatching the liner shades, having to layer them several times and even then... So yeah, I probably won't buy any more of the Japanese releases.
- BR-2: this was the very first palette that caught my eyes. The plummy mauve paired with a taupe? I'm in! Plus it looks neutral enough and the plummy mauve wasn't too red.
- Top: liner shade, shimmer, low intensity. As mentioned above, this is a matte base black with scattered violet shimmers that isn't really visible at all. This is the most disappointing shade in all the Japanese palettes, both in terms of finish as well as in pigmentation. It is very sheer for a liner shade, and I had to layer the swatch several times.
- Middle: base/highlighter, shimmer, very sheer. A pretty fleshy pink that's much more shimmery than the base/highlighter shade in the American version.
- Left: medium crease shade, shimmer, medium intensity. Looks a plummy mauve in the pan but swatched with more brown on me. I still it like it. It's very pretty and not harsh at all.
- Right: lid shade, shimmer, low intensity. This color appears a taupe in the pan but swatched a nude beige.
- Bottom: sparkly top wash, high shimmer, very sheer. A slight pinky off white.
- GD-1: now this is a gorgeous palette, save for that lame liner shade! It's very warm, but thankfully not too warm for me. Phew! ^.^ My favorite shade in this palette is that bright yellow gold sparkling top wash! Love!
- Top: liner shade, shimmer, low intensity. A matte base black with gold shimmers that are much more densely packed and thus creates a multi-dimensional layer of sparkle that's unique. But boo hoo hoo it turns out so frustratingly sheer! I thought the liner shade in BR-2 was sheer, but this was even worse! I literally rubbed and rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed, it on for the swatch! Why, Maybelline JP, why? It's such a pretty shade!!! Why so lame?!?
- Middle: base/highlighter, shimmer, very sheer. A pearl color.
- Left: medium crease shade, semi metallic, medium intensity. A pretty taupe with a slight plummy undertone. I know it appears very plummy in the swatch picture, but trust me it's a lot more taupe in natural light.
- Right: lid shade, semi metallic, low intensity. A peach with a slight metallic gold sheen.
- Bottom: sparkling top wash, high shimmer, low intensity. A bright yellow gold that's my favorite color in the palette and possibly my most favorite sparkling top wash ever! Wet diamond finish? What wet diamond finish? It's basically a more translucent and super duper sparkly version of the yellow gold medium crease shade in Maquillage Jeweling Palette in 10 Noble Glamorous. And it's only more translucent in comparison to the Maquillage counterpart, as it's actually pigmented for sparkly top wash.
- WN-1: this palette is supposedly the most popular among the Japanese ladies, followed by the GD-1 palette above. And I can totally see why too! It's gorgeous!
- Top: liner shade, satin, medium intensity. I know it looks more of a plummy brown in the swatch but it's actually a deep eggplant. Also, this liner shade is different than the other 2 in having very fine shimmer for a satin finish and not a matte base. And thankfully it's more pigmented than the other liner shades too!
- Middle: base/highlighter, shimmer, very sheer. A fleshy pink that's more or less identical to the base/highlighter shade in BR-2.
- Left: medium crease shade, shimmer, low intensity. A very pretty purple. Although it's sheerer than expected, due to the dark color itself it still works as a medium crease shade.
- Right: lid shade, shimmer, very sheer. A lotus pink.
- Bottom: sparkly top wash, shimmer, very sheer. An off white with slightly cooler pinky sheen. This is a sparkly top wash that's really not that sparkly. Yes, it is very shimmery, but it doesn't have the larger shimmer particles that are usually an abundance in the sparkly top washes, giving them that high wattage bling. This doesn't really hurt the palette in my opinion, as I have plenty other pink sparkly top wash to use instead ^.^