My Thoughts: First impressions of the NIGHT LIFE Palette from .EM Michelle Phan

Friday, August 16, 2013

YouTube sensation Michelle Phan has finally launched her new cosmetic line called EM Michelle Phan. EM Michelle Phan is in conjunction with the L'Oreal Group which also owns Maybelline, L'Oreal, Lancôme, Giorgio Armani along with numerous other lines.

I've been aware of the new cosmetic line since January or February of this year however I had suspicions of it since later last year when Michelle was asking her readers to name various products. At first I and others thought it was for a new Ipsy cosmetic line since Ipsy/MyGlam had previously branded items such as Andrea's Circus polishes and MyGlam brushes in the past. Nothing came of it in 2012 and so most people forgot about it.

In February, on the Michelle Phan website a survey was done revealing the EM Michelle Phan cosmetic line. The survey showed every single item ranging from foundations to powder to lipsticks to eyeliners and the Life palettes. Among the questions asked was the price as the Life palettes were going to be priced at $75 each and this is what the palettes are selling for. Personally I thought then as I do now that is overpriced and considering that Michelle's demographics are teens and college students to me many of them won't be able to afford her line. Sure there are those who can but the comments I'm seeing on my FB wall, on MakeupTalk and even on the EM wall is that it's too high of a price. I just don't get how this can be a luxury brand yet at the same time a social media site while catering to teens and college students (majority of the profiles I've seen are for girls between the ages of 13 and 25).

I was and am excited that Michelle's line has finally launched because I've been dying to see what the final products looked like. I was hoping that they weren't going to go into the designer/luxury pricing since (I'm sorry but) I don't think luxury when I think L'Oreal. The prices are what's keeping me from making an actual purchase however I was sent the Night Life palette as a gift.

The palette packaging is fairly large. The exterior box is approximately 8 3/8 x 8 3/8 inches while the interior palette is 7¾ x 7¾ inches. It's a good size palette. Which leads to a problem for me - it's too big especially for travel. EM solves the too big to travel by having a smaller travel size palette (currently free with purchase of a Life palette) which fits one quadrant of colors from a Life palette. I was not sent the travel palette but judging from the photo on EM the travel is a replica of a single quadrant.

Each Life palette contains 24 eyeshadows, 4 blushes, 8 lip pans. The colors are broken down in what I'm calling quadrants and each quadrant having it's own individual look and name. For example, in the Night Life palette that I was sent the quadrants are City Glitz (top left), First Date (top right), Happy Hour (bottom left) and Dinner at Eight (bottom right).

All of the colors in the palette have names which at this time I have not cross referenced to the names people gave Michelle in October2012. I've attempted to cross reference on one of the pictures but the winners choices were deleted.

My first thoughts of the cosmetics BEFORE I received it was that the prices are way overpriced. The lipsticks are $16.50 and are pretty much the same price as Lime Crime's lipsticks ($15.99), less than Urban Decay's Revolution lipsticks ($22) but over a dollar more than MAC ($15). The lipstick prices actually don't bother me as much as the prices on the palettes - specifically the Life palettes. I just can't justify the price of $75, I've tried since the set up looks like you're getting four different palettes in one plus a travel palette to break down the colors into a smaller palette but honestly I can't justify the price! (Note: The travel palette is currently free however down the road this may no longer be offered.)

I did think, "well if they sold a single quadrant for $25 then it is a deal at $75 since it's like buy three single palettes (one quadrant) and getting one free". BUT! I remember that I bought the Stila Ultimate Color Palette for my eldest daughter; it had 4 blushes, 39 shadows, 15 lip products and best of all I paid $20 for it! The Stila brand is a fantastic brand and that particular palette is basically 75% less than the EM Life Palettes! (Note: Stila sells those types of palettes during the holidays and only during the holidays.)

The overall weight of the Night Life palette is 26.8 g / 0.948 oz. Now compare this to Urban Decay's Book of Shadows IV, Sephora's Shades of Natural palette or their Precious Metals palette and it's roughly the same weight size.

Urban Decay's BoS4 contains 16 shadows at 0.8 grams each / 0.03 oz (total 0.48 oz) plus waterproof eyeliner (0.25 oz), SuperCurl mascara (0.18 oz) and a mini primer (0.13 oz). If I recall correctly BoS4 was $64. The two Sephora Pantone palettes were $48 if I recall correctly. The Shades of Nature (white box) contains 35 shadows each 0.024 oz (total weight 0.84 oz) and the Precious Metals was 0.042 oz each pan (total weight 1.47 oz). To me while you get more shadows/blushes/lip products from EM than BoS I feel that compared to the overall package that the UD was a far better deal.

As for the actual size of the products in the Life palettes, well here is where it gets tricky. There are four blushes, eight lip products and 24 shadows HOWEVER the shadows are not the same size - there are 12 large pans and 12 small pans. Each quadrant contains one blush, two lip pans, three large shadows and three smaller shadow pans. For comparison purpose I put the items against other items that I own.

Top left: Saucebox Cosmetics Creme de la Creme palette. This contains six pans that contain 5 grams of product. Retail: 39. Bottom left: a pan from Creme de la Creme against Candlelit (blush from the Dinner at Eight quadrant). Both are roughly the same size - 5 grams.

Top right: various 26 mm pans from Makeup Geek, Mirabella and Flirt Cosmetics along with in the small Glam RX palette Yaby cosmetics shadows and concealer plus Coastal Scents mini shadow pans (sent by Ipsy). Bottom right: Side by side comparisons with Yaby items on the top line, EM in the middle line and Coastal Scents / Mirabella on the bottom line. (The EM items are Nude Attitude lip pan, Mini Skirt shadow and Get Ready shadow. The Mirabella is SemiFormal. Yaby are Sand Dune and So Vein [least I think it's Sand Dune].)
Top left: em michelle phan Get Ready vs Mirabella Beauty Semiformal. Bottom left: EM's Mini Skirt (shadow) & Nude Attitude (top line). Yaby refill pans Sand Dune & So Vein from Ipsy. Top right: EM's Mini Skirt (shadow) & Nude Attitude compared to a penny and quarter. Bottom right: Comparison of all four against the penny and quarter.

I have no idea what the individual weights are but judging from the comparisons the lip pans and mini shadows from EM are approximately 3 grams each since that's what Yaby's are. When I did a DIY tutorial to show how to make Yaby's pans fit into a magnetic pan I used washers that are 3/16. The larger EM shadows are smaller than the standard 26 mm / 1" pans which are the size of MUG, Mirabella, Flirt Cosmetics, BH Cosmetics (full size/individual), Coastal Scents (full size/individual) pans. The blushes are at least 5 grams each based on the comparison to Saucebox Cosmetics' shadows.


So, bottom line. Would I buy more palettes? Most likely no. Would I buy other items from EM? Most likely no (though the lipstick in Hug Me is calling my name). I just can't see myself spending that kind of money on products I've never tried and can't try in a retail setting. Right now they're doing various promo codes to encourage Ipsy members and Michelle's fans to buy from EM Cosmetics but I just can't justify spending that much money on her products at this time. Yes it's easy to spend $35 for free mascara or $60 for free eyeliner but I just can't justify spending that kind of money on two or three items. My opinion could easily change once I DO use the Night Life palette and I might end up kicking myself for not taking advantage of the promos going on but right now as of this post I just can't see myself spending $35 for a couple of lipsticks or $60 for a powder foundation and a couple of lipsticks much less $75 for a 2nd palette so I can get the travel palette.

I reserve my final judgement to once I actually DO try the Night Life palette. Who knows maybe I'll change my mind about the prices.

Disclaimer: Gifted to me by Michelle Phan's PR.


  1. Great review, cand u post some swatchs so we can see the pigmentation?
    I honestly would not pay $ 75 for this palette, the package looks cheap,every time I see them I remember ELF palettes.
    I'd rather spend that money on a palette from Chanel, Dior that this brand that just comes out and no one knows whether it is good or bad.
    overall prices are high, I think for this company recently launched exaggerating a little makeup prices. I'm addicted to makeup, and I spend money on good brands but neither would spend that money in this line.
    Great review, i hope u can post some swatchs :)

  2. wow this is one detailed review you have not shown any swatches and are those colors pigmented? please post a review on them soon. Also I thought the prices are too high like who would like to spend 75 on a makeup palette while there are many other luxury brands to compete from Michelle needs to understand its target market which is on mass level and the product she is offering is for niche market.

  3. I completely agree. I can see what Michelle is trying to do here, give us more colors to play with (she is an artist after all) but seriously, you can buy TWO nice pallets from already known high end brands than spending this much money on L'Oreal supported brand. I'm sure most of the colors in her pallets are already dupable, so year. I probably won't buy either.

  4. I completely agree. I can see what Michelle is trying to do here, give us more colors to play with (she is an artist after all) but seriously, you can buy TWO nice pallets from already known high end brands than spending this much money on L'Oreal supported brand. I'm sure most of the colors in her pallets are already dupable, so year. I probably won't buy either.

  5. Can you tell us a bit more on the ingredients? I'm a tarte, Josie Marian, natural kind if this line for me?

  6. Can you tell us a bit more on the ingredients? I'm a tarte, Josie Marian, natural kind if this line for me?

  7. Can u tell us a bit more on the ingredients ? Im a tarte, Josie Marian kind of girl...

  8. L'Oreal tests on animals and Michelle has deleted critical comments and banned people from her channel regarding this issue so I hope people who care about animals and about ethical business behaviour will a) spread the word about Michelle's dishonesty and b) NOT buy this line!!!!! I'm so disappointed that she is behaving this way, obviously it's all about money for her, not about the fans and defo not about the animals!

  9. You did a really good job with this review. Thank you for the effort you put in.

  10. You don't associate L'Oreal with luxury? Um, wait what? Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, La Roche-Posay, Kérastase -- hell even The Body Shop, are all L'Oreal Luxe division. And guess what, big surprise, Urban Decay - who even gets a mention in this article - is L'Oreal! =)

    1. Yes, the L'Oreal Group, parent company of L'Oreal Paris and EM Cosmetics, does indeed own those luxury brands you listed but the fact is that the vast majority of those brands were acquired AFTER the lines were established. They just purchased Urban Decay late last year and almost destroyed UD's reputation with their attempt to launch in China.

      EM Cosmetics appears to have been created based off the L'Oreal Paris formulas as some of the EM products have INCI that are identical or near identical to their L'Oreal Paris (drugstore) brand. This is why I do not consider L'Oreal (Paris) or EM to be luxury because EM is appears to be L'Oreal Paris products in different packaging or with a few modifications. Example of a modified L'Oreal Paris product - the primer. All but two ingredients are identical to L'Oreal Paris' L'Oreal's De-Crease except the EM is devoid of a colorant and has paraffin instead of beeswax and caprylyl glycol instead of propylparaben. The EM primer is dissimilar at all to UD's primers and Lancome's primer when compared side-by-side. The EM lipsticks INCI are identical to L'Oreal's Colour Riche® Lipcolour.

      The Picture Perfect Day video Michelle did in 2012 shows her using L'Oreal's True Match yet in an EM video she says she was secretly using the EM Love Me For Me Powder despite holding the True Match powder. To this day the Picture Perfect Day video states in the video and in the description box that it's L'Oreal True Match so the EM video is either a complete lie or the Picture Perfect Day video is a complete lie OR EM's LMFM powder really IS L'Oreal True Match's powder only repackaged which proves it's not a luxury item. - EM video showing Michelle holding L'Oreal's True Match and claiming it's actually EM's Love Me For Me. - Picture Perfect Day original video. Still listed in the description "L'Oreal True Match Powder".

      Finally, EM Michelle Phan is not listed on the L'Oreal Groups website as L'Oreal Luxe or even listed at all despite that we know it's owned by L'Oreal USA Creative, Inc.


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