The best thing a cosmetics brand can do to get me interested in the gazillionth launch of the month is to actually offer something new. New to me, but also new to the brand, a product that's not a recycled idea from seasons ago, because guess what? I was here all those seasons ago and might still have that Chocolate palette or the eleventieth compact inspired by Mademoiselle's Chinese screens. Laura Mercier has knocked it out of the park big time with the new Editorial Eye Palette Intense Clays.
It was hard to gauge what we were dealing with from online promo pictures, so holding it in person and digging in was the way to go. This is a palette of thick cream shadows, three mattes (top row, l-r: Blackened Black Clay, Blackened Blue Clay, and Blackened Brown Clay), and three metallic clays (bottom row, l-r: Metallic Platinum, Metallic Pewter, and Metallic Rust). The "clay" designation is very apt. It's so densely packed that you can feel an almost putty-like effect. The best description I can give until you have your own fingers in the pans is that if you've ever touched Colourpop Supershock shadows it will make you think about taking the Colourpop pans and and compacting them to the densest, tightest version of themselves. Colourpop has this slightly whipped texture. This is the opposite.
The seventh pan in the Laura Mercier Editorial Eye Palette Intense Clays compact is the white Air-Light setting powder. At first glance one might mistake it for a light-diffusing, shine-inducing, jewel effect kind of topper you pat on the eyelid to intensify your eye shadow. It is not. It is also not meant to be uses with a heavy hand/dense brush, as I've demonstrated in the swatch below. This is a super light and fine setting power meant to set and increase the wear and longevity of the clay eye shadows. Laura Mercier does powders extremely well, and this is no exception. But you must used it right: once your eye makeup is done (but before liner and mascara) pat a teensy tiny amount of the Air Light with your fluffiest small blending/crease brush over the clay colors. I prefer any of my Hakuhodo or Chikuhodo squirrel brushes (S142 is a good one), but Suqqu M, Edward Bess, and even various MAC brushes will do. Just don't overload it, or it will look chalky.
Laura Mercier has released the new Clay Smudge Brush to go with this palette (purchased separately). The thing is, that while this is an excellent and surprisingly unique brush in terms of shape, proportions, and performance, it is not the first tool you'd want to use when creating a look with the clay shadows. Your pinky finger is a decent tool to pick up the putty, manipulate it into an even and thin layer and place it on the lid, blending carefully. A flat synthetic brush (for concealer or eye shadow) is even better. You can take advantage of the way these brushes are shaped and cut: more tapered, pointy, or round to get the desired placement, reach under the lower lashes, or create a gradient effect. The clayes blend beautifully into each other with less than minimal effort, and offer loos from neutral to heavily smoky, light to sultry blue. The mattes are obviously designed for lining and smudging, which is where the new Clay Smudge brush comes into play You can also add them with a light hand and blend into the metallic colors. One day last week I went all out blue, using the Metallic Pewter (more silvered cadet blue, really) as a base on the other third of the lid, closer to the lashline and outwards, and then topped it with a touch of that magical matte midnight blue.
When you want the look to hold all day/night it's advisable to use the setting powder (lightly. Have I mentioned that?). If it's just for a couple of hours and mostly taking pictures you can skip it. The clay shadows look more vibrant on their own and hold nicely over a primer (my lids are not oily and the weather is still very cold here).
You'd think that someone (me) who's been collecting makeup brushes for decades would find a twin to the new brush that would make the purchase unnecessary, but to my surprise, Laura Mercier Clay Smudge Brush is quite unique for a synthetic smudge brush. I compared it above to the classic MAC 219 for perspective. Obviously, the LM is not a pencil brush. It's domed, not pointed, and while it's slightly denser and fuller than the It Cosmetics for Ulta No.124 Airbrush Precision Smudger, it's far smaller than the two I have from Urban Decay, so I skipped that comparison.
Bottom Line: for anyone who gets a real joy from playing with new makeup textures and combinations.
Laura Mercier Editorial Eye Palette Intense Clays ($48, made in Italy) & Clay Smudge Brush ($30, made in China), are available at Sephora, Laura Mercier counters everywhere, and lauramercier.com.