Em Cosmetics Beach Life Palette Sampler: Review, Swatches, Pictures

Michelle Phan recently launched her own cosmetics line, “Em Cosmetics” under L’Oreal Luxe. While the full size Life Palettes contain 4 blushes, 8 lip shades, and 24 eyeshadows for $75, the sampler comes with 3 eyeshadows (16mm and 22mm) and 1 lipgloss (16mm) for $10. All pans are smaller than a typical MAC eyeshadow (26mm).

As always, these are my honest and unbiased opinions. The quality of the products is utterly disappointing with the exception of the largest eyeshadow shade (which is actually a dream to work with). There are no words for how lackluster the rest of the sampler is. The medium and dark brown shadows are, by far, the worst eyeshadows I’ve ever tried. They are incredibly hard and it’s difficult to pick up any pigment. It’s remarkable that anyone can screw up an eyeshadow formula this badly. The lipgloss is a shimmery peachy pink in the pan but applies almost clear even when built up.

Edit: After looking at how pigmented other online swatches are, I thought I received a dud. However when looking through my pictures, I noticed a significant difference between a brand new product swatch versus a used palette swatch (below). This is because it got stiffer, drier, and more difficult to use after continued use. There is no way I can achieve the same level of pigmentation I did when I initially opened it.

Price: $10 at emcosmetics.com
Pigmentation: Sheer
Texture: Varies with shade
Pros: 1 eyeshadow is pigmented, blendable, and finely milled
Cons: 2 eyeshadows are stiff, dry, and barely shows up; lip shade is a clear gloss
Overall: F, If this trial sampler is at all representative of the quality of Em Cosmetics then it’s not even on par with drugstore brands (let alone luxury cosmetics). Even though the life palette averages to $2.xx a shade, you’re better off with ELF or dollar store makeup. While the concept is appealing, I don’t know how a makeup powerhouse like L’Oreal could mess up the quality to such lengths.

Don’t be fooled by the rest of the design – it’s purely a print out to help visualize how the rest of the palette would look like.

Used Palette Swatches
Brand New Palette Swatches
See the skid marks on the bottom of the Bali Sands swatch? That’s how unblendable the shade is! The pigmentation doesn’t build up and gets harder to pick up after continued use. I’ll post a comparison tomorrow with Em Cosmetics shadows and other brands’. Stay tuned!


  1. Sunny says:

    Hey Jane, thanks so much for the post! The quality does look shockingly bad here across the board! I’ve seen some pretty positive reviews, so I’ll just wait and get more opinions. In any case, I have no access to the brand here in Belgium, so I have a lot of time to consider before I hassle a friend into getting me some from the US :)

    • Jane C. says:

      I was hoping it’d be better because of the positive reviews. When I swatched the good shade, I was like “I can’t wait to tell everyone it’s like Urban Decay eyeshadows!”…then that quickly turned around after swatching the rest. They’re offering international shipping in 2014 so you’ll have time to review Fall 2013/Spring 2014 goodies in the meantime! :)

    • Jane C. says:

      I guess it’s pretty unanimous that the packaging is…lacking haha. Even the outside box looks better! I don’t mind it as long as the products inside are good but they’re not :( At least not from what I’ve seen.

  2. NĂºria says:

    Negative reviews like yours help us (customers from abroad) have a broader view of this product, in case we wanted to buy it . These weatches clearly show what you state in the review. It really sucks that EM products, that had so much expectations, have these bad pay-off. I hope they learn from their mistakes and improve future products.

  3. jenn f says:

    i’ve been watching a few of the reviews on youtube and they’ve been a mixed bag. in generally it seems like there’s a lot more reasons to skip than to buy which is unfortunate. the high price point wont help either.

    • Jane C. says:

      Exactly. I don’t mind the high price point but it’s gotta be worth it. I feel bad about the entire thing really. L’Oreal knows how to do a good job so I can only hope that they fix this in the future!

  4. Catherine @ bcrueltyfree says:

    Thanks for showing the review… I always find it more difficult to write negative reviews (they’re not as fun as raving about a product) but I’ve been meaning to purposefully include more on my blog, because I realize how helpful they are when I read them on others’ blogs. These look really, really terrible… too bad. Weird how she would allow them to be released

    • Jane C. says:

      I completely agree with you Catherine. I also find it easier to form opinions about really good products as opposed to those that are just ‘meh’. Can’t wait to see your reviews!

  5. Savannah says:

    Just wondering – did you any kind of $10 coupon towards purchase of the full Life Palette with the sample palette? I bought the sample and when I did, the website said “Try it, and if you love it, get $10 off towards a full size life palette on your next purchase!” but my sample didn’t come with anything…I’m wondering if I am missing something here lol

    • Savannah says:

      Update: I went on live chat with a beauty guru to ask what happened to the $10 off coupon. She said if I bought the Life Palette right then and there and gave her the order number, then she would take the $10 off. So, I did. Lo and behold…I got charged the full price! I sent customer service an e-mail and hope they resolve it soon. Lots of glitches in their system right now I think.

  6. Coco says:

    I was truly curious, hoping the eyeshadows would be pigmented at least (considering I have a bunch of problems with the packaging). what a shame, they swatch terribly. Thank you for reviewing!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I never noticed you didn’t actually get a smaller size of one palette in the sampler, but THREE small ass eyeshadow and one lipgloss. The print is so deceiving lmao, nice EM… nice.

  8. Teri Belle says:

    I’m so glad I found this review. I was actually planning to purchase the full thing, so you’ve saved me, not only money, but also the disappointment that would have no doubt occurred. Love your reviews, as I believe they truly are unbiased. That’s what I look for when searching out reviews on new and, in particular more pricey, items.

  9. Julia says:

    Thank you for this, Jane! I’m pretty disappointed with the way these seem to have turned out. They don’t sound worth the money, especially due to the texture.

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