Nothing has been more highly anticipated in the beauty community over the past year than the Jaclyn Hill x Morphe palette. Jaclyn announced over a year ago that she was working on something huge, which many people thought would be her own beauty brand. We later learned that she was referring to an eyeshadow palette collaboration with Morphe, which was supposedly two full years in the making. I won’t get into all the drama that’s unfolded over the palette the past several months, but let’s just say that it’s made more headlines in the beauty drama community than any other topic I can remember in recent months. The drama has been due to both Jaclyn Hill’s involvement (issues on her previous brand collaborations) and also Morphe’s reputation as a company that produces low-cost eyeshadow palettes from China. For the purpose of this review, I prefer to ignore all the drama and review the palette on its own merit… for the most part.
I spent a full day and night working with the shadows on various looks, testing the various shades, observing how they blended, and testing the wearability throughout the day. However, keep in mind that since the palette is so large and has so many different shades, it would take around 1-2 weeks to fully test it out and observe the performance of all shades over time. Most of the YouTube reviews you see are made after the influencer swatches each shade on their arm, and then they create one single look using standard colors, without truly testing out how all the shades wear on the eyes. Because of that, reviews for this palette have spanned the spectrum between an excellent palette that is highly recommended and just plain crap (depending on who the review is from). Perhaps mine may fall somewhere in the middle, but I’m definitely leaning more towards one end of that spectrum. To find out which end, read on a little further.
Covering the Basics
The Jaclyn Hill x Morphe Palette is a large eyeshadow palette consisting of 35 eyeshadows, in a layout of 5 rows with 7 shades each row. Jaclyn named each individual eyeshadow shade, but the names do not appear on the palette itself. They are printed on a small postcard that comes with the palette. Evidently some customers didn’t receive the shade card while others did. It would be nice to have the shades printed on the palette for those who like to follow tutorials. I recommend taping it to the inside or back cover to prevent losing it.
A standard 35 shade Pro Morphe palette retails for $22.99. The Jaclyn palette retails for $38. I would expect a small price increase to help Morphe cover additional costs related to a collaboration and palette customization, but this is quite a bit more than any of their other eyeshadow palettes. Whenever I pay almost double the price for a similar item in the same brand, I would expect something really special such as upgraded packaging, extra items, and/or an improved formula. Jaclyn initially stated that this palette contained an all new formula, then somewhat backtracked to say they were just all pressed differently, then we heard it was a different formula again. The way eyeshadows are pressed is nothing special. Different pigments have to be pressed at varying levels to achieve the desire despite effect, as no two pigments behave the exact same way. When Morphe published the ingredient list of this palette to their website, it was exactly the same as all their other pro palettes… until they were called out by customers on social media. They then updated their website with a revised ingredient list, but customers soon found the revised list was very similar to the smaller Morphe eyeshadow palettes. While I prefer to stay out of “drama,” this is somewhat important since we are looking for a justification for the higher price, other than the fact that Jaclyn has to be paid for her part.
The packaging is different than the standard 35 shade Morphe pro palette. Their regular pro palettes have a hard black plastic shell, have Morphe Brushes (or just Morphe) stamped on the cover, do not have a mirror inside, and do not have the shades listed on the palette or on a separate card. They honestly look like all the plain generic 35 shade palettes sold on Aliexpress.com for just a few dollars. The Jaclyn palette comes in white cardboard packaging with silver writing on the cover that says “Jaclyn Hill Palette” on the center and “Morphe” on the bottom, right corner. The inside top cover has a message printed that says “This palette is dedicated to all my loving subscribers xo Jaclyn.” That’s nice, but a mirror would have been much nicer and made the palette more convenient for travel. After just a week or so, I’m already frustrated with the matte white cardboard palette, as it attracts every speck of loose makeup or other stuff that is laying around. While some stuff may wipe off, most makeup products won’t… as I’ve already found out after having a huge portion of the backside stained. It stains very easily. I wish they had spent a few cents extra for a glossy coating over the cardboard to prevent it from soaking up makeup and staining. The packaging is OK but nothing impressive.
My Test and Detailed Impressions
I started working with the palette by doing the standard finger swatch test on my arm, then using a brush to swatch each shade the same way I would apply them to my eye (but without primer). While this method of swatching can give hints about the amount of pigment and blend-ability of each shade, it’s not an accurate representation of how any eyeshadow will perform on the eye. I have had eyeshadows that swatched horribly on my arm but looked amazing on my eyes. Always take swatches by a grain of salt. With that said, the majority of the shimmer / metallic shades swatched nicely with the finger, but they don’t work with a brush at all unless you wet the brush. Even with a wet brush (sprayed with Fix +), most of them didn’t apply with very much pigment on my arm or my eye. The matte shades were very inconsistent. Some of them are soft and have kick up, which makes them blend a little easier. Others are hard and dried out, and they apply horribly patchy no matter how you try to apply them (brush and finger).
The next phase of my test was to create several different color combinations directly on my eyes. This is where I got very frustrated. As long as I was working with the top 2 -3 rows of shades, I could create pretty nice looks. The shades in those rows are very standard nude looks, although there’s not much variety. The quality of the shades on the top section were nothing phenomenal or worthy of me personally justifying the purchase of this palette, especially since I have a multitude of other nude palettes. Some of the shades were too similar when applied to the eye. There are subtle differences in some shades when viewing them in the pan, but those differences don’t really translate to the eyes where they would create distinct unique looks. The only way I could get the shimmer shades to pop on my eyes was to use my fingers for application. I tried a variety of different brushes with differing density to apply the shimmers, as well as dampening my brushes with Fix +. While a wet brush helps the color transfer to the eyelids a little better, it’s not vibrant unless applied with the fingers. As mentioned previously, the matte shades have a little “kick up,” but it’s nothing compared to the Anastasia Beverly Hills Renaissance or Mario palettes. I actually prefer softer shadows because they have a reputation for blending out easier on the eye. These didn’t. The lighter shades blended out decently, but I had some serious issues trying to blend out some of the darker shades. Honestly, ColourPop pressed shadows beat the quality of this palette by far.
Let’s chat a moment about the bottom section of the palette. Jaclyn surprised many of us by adding shades or “pops of color” that are much brighter and not found in other nude palettes. That is what makes this palette different, as the intent is to have one palette that you can create a multitude of completely different eye looks in without them being the same old nude shades we have seen in every other palette. However, what is meant in theory doesn’t always translate in actuality. I found most of the brighter colors to be extremely dry, chalky, streaky, and difficult to apply and work with. There was only one shade that applied nicely and looked good if I used my finger for application – Pool Party. If you’re looking for it to be extremely vibrant and really pop, it won’t. However, it does provide a very pretty wash of color when you want to add something a little different. The only problem I experienced with Pool Party is that it stained my eyelids green. I used eye makeup remover to take it off, but my mobile eyelid was stained for a day. Unfortunately, the corresponding matte shade Jada is one of the worst matte shades in the palette (not the only “worst” shade but it’s near the top of the worst list). The absolute worst shade award goes to Twerk, which is supposed to be a shimmery purple shade that goes on almost see-thru, completely patchy, and is impossible to make look good. Perhaps you can try using it as a smudged eyeliner. I didn’t try that because it’s not a shade I would typically wear as an eyeliner myself. Another shade I was disappointed in was 24/7. It’s a beautiful shimmer in the pan, but I could barely get that shade to apply anywhere on my skin, with a finger or brushes. I’m not sure if I just got a bad one or if they’re all like that. The black shade called Abyss is not a deep solid black but rather a little patchy or streaky when spread out on the skin with a brush. However, I found that it works nicely as an eyeliner when pressed into the lash line with a small shader brush. Most people don’t use solid, stark black eyeshadows all over the eyes, but if you do, you will need to find something outside of this palette.
As far as wearability goes, the eyeshadow lasted several hours without transferring or disappearing. I have no major concerns about the performance during the day. Just one note about this – I accidentally fell asleep wearing my eye makeup. Oftentimes when I do that (I don’t make it a habit), I will wake up and still have a substantial amount of eyeshadow on my eyes. Sometimes, depending on the brand, my makeup will still look freshly applied when I wake up since I don’t rub my face in my pillow. These shadows were very different. I hardly had anything left on my eyes the next morning when I woke up wearing these shadows, and they had transferred across my under-eye area. This obviously isn’t part of my test, but I thought it was worth mentioning just as an FYI.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
By this point you could probably sense that I’m not a huge fan of this eyeshadow palette. I was frankly very disappointed. My expectations were very high for this collaboration, especially since Jaclyn stated she had 100% full creative control of everything, including the shades, textures, how they were pressed, and the packaging. Most collaborations don’t offer the influencer creative control with the formula; they can only select the shades, but this was very different. Considering the fact that Jaclyn spent 2 years supposedly perfecting her palette, I expected something damn near perfect, and that’s not what I got. I feel that at least 3-4 of the neutral shades (top 2 rows) are so close in color that it’s overboard and ridiculous to have them all. I would have preferred that some of the puke/brown shades be eliminated in favor of some soft matte peach, pink and rose toned shades. Jaclyn’s attempt to add brighter pops of color was admirable in theory but fell short in quality and delivery.
While watching Jaclyn create demo eyeshadow looks with the palette, as well as other YouTubers, I realized that they all kept their looks extremely simple, using only 1 or 2 shades in the same tone/range (look at her collab video with Kim K as an example), and there’s definitely a reason for that. This palette isn’t as versatile as it would seem to be on the surface, especially after you eliminate the shades that perform poorly. I outright don’t believe that some of the swatch photos I’ve seen on social media weren’t enhanced with filters or created using sprays, primers, and other tricks. I could flat-out not get my palette to create swatches that were remotely similar in quality to the ones that Jaclyn and her close friends published online. Just keep in mind that some YouTubers have an invested reason to push this palette (as well as many other products they recommend) because they are top Morphe affiliates who profit substantially whenever customers utilize their discount code so for purchases at Morphe.
Do I recommend this palette? NO, I absolutely don’t. There are much better palettes that outperform this one by a mile, for the same price range. If this palette were in a Sephora store or other store where I could actually play around with it in the store or return it after a 30 day assessment period, I wouldn’t own this palette right now. A good alternative palette to check out within the Morphe brand (for less money) is the 35F (fall palette) or 35W (warm palette), both comprised of mostly nude shades in both shimmers and mattes. To be blatantly honest, I will probably never again pick up the Jaclyn palette to use again. However, if you’re a huge fan and supporter of Jaclyn Hill, who am I to tell you not to grab it? You may absolutely love it, and that’s the beauty of makeup. Makeup is never “one size fits all.” One person’s “oh no!” may be another person’s cherished treasure.
Did you get your hands on the Jaclyn x Morphe palette or is all the drama and hype keeping you away? Comment below and let me know or head over to my Instagram page and let’s chat!