These are face palettes with 5 wet/dry eye shadows and a Convertible Color in a stylish and sleek compact with magnetic closure. There were 5 palettes available but #1 Lovely in London looked too red so I skipped it and went for the other 4 instead: #2 Stylish in Seoul, #3 Vibrant in Vancouver, #4 Rockin in Rio, and #5 Sensational in Sydney.
All pictures taken in natural light without flash.
So, the packaging. I like how thin it is, but not how wide. I love the chic drawings but not the fact that it's magnetic closure, which isn't very secure considering the cream convertible color at the bottom edge by the closure. Also, putting powder eye shadows and cream cheek/lip pans together in the same compact is a bad idea, because the eye shadows get all over the cream color :(
It goes without saying that I love Stila's convertible colors, even if I only use them for the cheeks, so I won't bother with these. On the other hand, I have lots to say about the wet/dry eye shadows. Having own a few, I've noticed that the eye shadow singles (except for Jewel Eye Shadows) are much much better than all other eye shadows, including the trios and those in palettes.
Other than the Jewel Eye Shadows, I loved the Stila single shadows I have. I think the trios were okay, but I definitely wasn't impressed at all with those in palettes. For me, the trios were hit and miss, with the hits more on par with the shadow singles: super smooth and silky, pigmented, and with a nice finish, i.e. metallic, semi-metallic, or at least shimmery. Of course these are my criteria for "hits" and yours may be very different, so what works for me may not do a thing for you.
As for the eye shadows in palettes, I think they're a lot more miss than hit. Aside from these City Palettes, I also own the Daydream and the Dream in Full Color Palettes released winter 2011, and my experience with those was the same, unfortunately a lot more miss than hit. I haven't reviewed the dream palettes and I won't because they're overwhelming and simply too much to swatch and photograph. Stila eye shadows are wet/dry, remember?
So that's a really meandering way of saying these City Palettes are also more miss than hit for me. Sad, right? They look gorgeous in the pan! What's so "miss" about them? Well, first off many of the shadows perform significantly better in terms of color, pigmentation, and finish when used wet than dry. As explained in this post, this wet/dry bait-n-switch is my biggest pet-peeve. Second, there's at least one matte shade in each palette, which is a huge disappointment for me because I loath mattes. Third, the texture varies wildly among the shades, some are smooth and silky (the base/highlighters at the center), and others dry and dusty like chalk (the lid shades at top and the liners at the bottom).
- 2 Stylish in Seoul: the biggest draw in this palette for me is the eggplant liner (Empire), which turns out to be matte :( Also, the base and highlighter (Zen) is frosty and unwearable. So this would have been my favorite palette of the lot were it not for those two shades. That said, it's still a better palette than the others, and all the colors are smooth and well pigmented.
- Azalea, cheeks and lips: a gorgeous translucent and yellow based red with some coral in it. It also has extremely fine shimmers that you can't see unless scrutinizing under a direct source of light. So it goes on pretty much shimmer free.
- Zen, base and highlighter: pearl and medium intensity (dry), metallic pearl and high intensity (wet). A pearly pinky peach, which sounds pretty but in reality I can't wear this color at all. As irony would have it, a pigmented base and highlighter makes for a bad base and highlighter. It's supposed to provide an even canvas to layer on colors but it screams out attention instead with its frostiness and opacity.
- Dynasty, lid: shimmer, low intensity (dry) and medium intensity (wet). A translucent peachy nude beige. As you can see, when dry it pretty much disappears on my skin, standing out and gaining some opacity only when wet. The problem is that I don't use it wet...
- Palace, medium: metallic, low intensity (dry) and high intensity (wet). A pretty silvered taupe that's translucent when dry but becomes intensely metallic and opaque when wet.
- Empire, liner: matte, high intensity (dry and wet). A beautiful deep eggplant liner that's buttery smooth, probably because it's completely matte T.T Why???
- Midnight, crease: satin and medium intensity (dry), shimmer and high intensity (wet). A deep blackened taupe that's dark enough to be used as liner in place of the eggplant. When used wet the silver shimmers become apparent and very pretty.
- 3 Vibrant in Vancouver: I have such high hopes for this palettes but boy does it burn me. This turns out to be my least favorite palette and no, I've got nothing against Canada. Let's just say the only thing I like in this palette is the base and highlighter (English Boy, har, har), sad, no? I'm so very tempted to depot Zen from #2 Stylish in Seoul above and trade it with English Boy here. Hmm... I'll tell you why I don't like this palette: it's got not one but two matte shades -- the medium (Granville) and liner shades (Coal Harbour) *sniffs*, the lid (Cypress) and crease shades (Seaplane) are gorgeous but with atrociously crummy and gritty texture *cries*, and the convertible color (Tiger Lily) has a strong old-lipstick smell and a much softer and wetter texture than the usual solid cream. I thought it'd gone bad or something so I tested it on myself but got no reactions at all (don't try this at home, kids)!
- Tiger Lily, cheeks and lips: a lovely translucent yellow based red with some orange in it. This color is shimmery that lends to a soft focus glow on the cheeks. I know it looks similar to Azalea above but there's a lot more orange in natural light, versus the coral in Azalea. But then I couldn't figure out why this convertible color has a strong smell and much softer texture than the others so I'm a bit weirded out.
- English Boy, base and highlighter: shimmer and medium intensity (dry), metallic and high intensity (wet). A pretty shimmery peach beige with a slight pearly sheen when dry but turns metallic and opaque when wet.
- Cypress, lid: shimmer and low intensity (dry), semi metallic and medium intensity (wet). A gorgeous gold khaki that's unfortunately applies rather dull and lackluster despite the shimmers. It's a lot better when wet, turning semi metallic, but I can't get over its crummy grittiness. Urgh.
- Granville, medium: matte, medium intensity (dry and wet). A buttery matte nude that's a few shades darker than my natural skin tone when dry. When wet it lightens up greatly, although is still matte and boring, appearing more concealer than eye shadow. I'm not sure what the purpose of this shade is for other than to muddy my lids :( Do not want.
- Coal Harbour, liner: matte, high intensity (dry and wet). How ironic that this shade is named "coal," because it looks like brown coal to me. Buttery coal, but coal nonetheless. Do not want.
- Seaplane, crease: shimmer and medium intensity (dry), metallic and high intensity (wet). A shimmery olive green when dry and gains a gorgeous metallic golden sheen when wet. Yes, the crummy and gritty texture ruins this shade for me also. Argh!
- 4 Rockin in Rio: this palette is decent even though I'm quite scared of the electric blue crease shade (Ipanema) ^.^ The lack of mattes gives it a huge boost with me, and 4/5 colors are soft and smooth as well. I especially love the liner (Carnavale).
- Freesia, cheeks and lips: a translucent neutral pink with micro shimmers that don't really show.
- Copacabana, base and highlighter: satin and medium intensity (dry), metallic pearl and high intensity (wet). A creamy ecru that's really pigmented for a base and highlighter. It's satin when dry but turns very frosty when wet. Good thing I don't use it wet :P
- Samba, lid: shimmer and medium intensity (dry), metallic and high intensity (wet). A pretty golden beige that's again lackluster despite the shimmers. What's going on here? It does become beautifully metallic and opaque when wet, but I don't plan on using it exclusively wet so what's the point?
- Bossa Nova, medium: metallic, low intensity (dry) and high intensity (wet). A taupey silver has an interesting brushed metal finish when dry. The problem is that it's also translucent. When wet though, it does a 180, turning intensely metallic and opaque.
- Ipanema, crease: shimmer and low intensity (dry), metallic and high intensity (wet). An eye-popping (quite literally!) but translucent electric blue that becomes a metallic and opaque electric blue when wet. Talk about unique! I don't have anything like this in my collection, probably because I go out of my way to avoid avoid similar colors ^.^" I mean, it's pretty but l'm chicken shit and there's just no way I can pull it off. It's also the driest and chalkiest shade in this palette, not sure why because the shimmers are really fine in comparison to those in Carnavale below, and yet Carnavale is much softer and smoother. Odd...
- Carnavale, liner: shimmer and high intensity (dry), semi metallic and high intensity (wet). An awesome blackened denim blue and my favorite color in this palette. It's very pretty dry or wet, although when wet the silver shimmers become rather prominent on top of the semi metallic finish.
- 5 Sensational in Sydney: this palette looks warm in the photos below but is actually neutral on me. It also took me by surprise -- I expected to like it the least but ended up liking it the most ^.^ It goes to show my biases and assumptions when it comes to certain color schemes but would always lean towards the neutral ones (read: boring). Of course it helps that pretty much all the colors in this palette are soft and smooth. That said, the palette isn't perfect. In fact, it has 2 major faults: the liner shade (Harbour Bridge) is a matte-based with floating shimmers, and the convertible color (Sugarbrush) also has a strong old lipstick smell as well as the softer and wetter texture, very much like #3 Vibrant in Vancouver's Tiger Lily.
- Sugarbrush, cheeks and lips: a lovely translucent ruby red pink with extremely fine shimmers like those in Azalea. So this one also goes on pretty much shimmer free. Now as for the smell and the texture, I honestly don't know what's up...
- Bondi Beach, base and highlighter: satin and medium intensity (dry), metallic pearl and high intensity (wet). A cream that's pretty much identical to Copacabana above when it comes to wet/dry finishes. So I don't use it wet to avoid the frostiness.
- Aussie, lid: metallic, medium intensity (dry) and high intensity (wet). A really pretty metallic champagne and my favorite lid shade in all 4 palettes. It turns intensely metallic and opaque when wet.
- Koala, lid: satin and medium intensity (dry), metallic pearl and high intensity (wet). Satiny pinky peach when dry and metallic pearl when wet. I just stick with the dry version ^.^ Also, this color's supposed to be a "medium" color but it's too light. So this palette turns out to have 2 lid shades.
- Harbour Bridge, liner: matte based with floating shimmers and high intensity (dry), semi metallic and high intensity (wet). In theory this is a pretty neutral brown with gold shimmers, but I hate that it's matte base. It does become semi metallic with a glistening sheen when wet, but I don't use it wet. Sad...
- Opera House, medium crease: metallic, high intensity (dry and wet). A beautiful bronzy gold that's metallic and pigmented either way and I love it! Why can't all the colors be like this one? Yes, I know a palette should vary in texture and finish to be interesting, but I'm totally allergic and prejudiced against mattes :P