Sunday, November 6, 2016

Special Edition Anti-Haul: Glossier Black Tie Set

This is going to be a bit of an unusual Anti-Haul post, because I'm not talking both of us out of a purchase--I already own the set. However, I have a stupid amount of Glossier store credit because people apparently keep clicking my affiliate link (thanks!), so I didn't have to pay out of pocket for my set. I'm assuming most of you don't have the same luxury. Also, I kind of knew this was an unnecessary purchase from the start, but I wanted to add my (admittedly critical) opinion in to the hype swell.

We initially got the hint that new products were coming via Instagram posts from company owner Emily, who mentioned that a new Haloscope shade, Moonstone, would be dropping in a few days. I love my Haloscope in Quartz, and my friend really enjoys the tube of Topaz he pilfered from me, so I was excited to hear about a new color. Proof that I was thrilled:

But then Glossier announced that this new product was actually part of a four-piece set, and you could not buy Moonstone separately. Bummer. $50 isn't bad for a set, but I dislike gloss, I have a drugstore pencil liner I enjoy, and I'm so lazy that I'm lucky if my nails get painted even once a year. Then I got amped again when the set was released and the product page referred to Moonstone as an "opalescent glaze." OPALESCENT?! I can forgive the emotional "ugh why a set" roller coaster for an opalescent highlighter! I nabbed the set as soon as I finished teaching on the release day.

The Glossier Black Tie Set comes with a clear gloss, the Moonstone highlighter, a pastel pink polish, and a soft charcoal eyeliner. It's all packaged in a pretty box with a satin ribbon. Glossier suggests making the ribbon part of your outfit, but I don't think I'd make a great ghost story heroine. There's a little booklet that comes with this set as well. I'm normally very scornful of the stupid posters Glossier sends with every order, but I can't deny that this booklet has some pretty photos in it; I'm addicted to pictures of people putting on their makeup, so a couple of the pages might make it on to my wall.

As pretty as the packaging is, you're hit by the off-putting scent of chemicals as soon as you open it. I think it's the smell of the glue used to hold the box together. None of the individual products smell, though, just the box.

Here I am wearing all four products from the set, along with:
  • Beauty Blender-ed Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation in 012,
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly,
  • YSL Creme de Blush in Babydoll,
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance,
  • Wet n' Wild Brulee eyeshadow,
  • Makeup Forever Excessive Lash mascara,
  • and Colourpop Bangin' Brunette brow pencil.
 On the surface, it's a very soft and pretty look that's complimented by a feminine nail polish. But let's talk about how the kit actually functions.

We'll start with the lipgloss. It's thin and kind of sticky, but not overbearingly so, and it has a slight sweet scent. If you like a glassy finish, this will give it to you for a couple of hours. But it's just a clear lipgloss. If you wear gloss and you don't have a clear formula you already like, I'll be stunned.

Some people are upset about the eyeliner shade because it's not jet black, but I figured it'd be a softer color because they named it graphite. If you've heard of that stuff before, it's probably because you've used a number 2 pencil at some point: they're graphite, not lead. In the off-chance that you don't know what I'm talking about, here's what the mineral looks like:

Image yoinked from Wikipedia.

So there you have it! A slightly shiny, but not uber-dark, charcoal shade.

The pencil is retractable, which makes you feel like you're wasting less product since you don't have to sharpen it. However, it's kind of cheap: mine keeps slipping forward a bit in the tube, making me think the actual eyeliner is not firmly attached to the bottom of the tube. It's a very soft, smooth formula that glides on the lids easily without tugging, and it'll give you a smoky effect. It's pretty! But it doesn't have much staying power: it runs right off of your waterline and transfers from my lash line to my upper lid, even when I use a base under it. And again, is it worth splurging on for most people? No. You can get that same smudgy effect with your softest black pencil liner and a cotton bud. 

The nail polish is, again, serviceable but nothing special. It needs two coats for full opacity and can go on streaky if you aren't careful, which is the norm for pastel polishes. It has a pretty glossy finish and seems to be wearing well on me, with some moderate edge wear after 3 days.

The biggest disappointment, though, is the Moonstone Haloscope. Just so you can understand what a let-down this was, let's take a look at an actual opal:

Image taken from

Opals are some of the most beautiful stones you'll ever see. From a distance, they often look like a creamy white or jet black rock, but up close you can see flecks of varying colors. These colors shift as you turn the opal in the light. Right hand up to God, opals and pearls are the only two precious stones that make me wish I wore jewelry on the regular, they are that damn beautiful.

Moonstone isn't that complex. Actually, it isn't complex at all: it's a sheer, vaguely-silver color like so many cream highlighters before it. To make matters worse, it doesn't seem to be quite as fine as Quartz and Topaz; I notice more visible shimmer in this one. Also, I had to layer on far more than usual to get anything more than the oily shine from the base ingredients. (I actually like that oily shine because my skin is drier than a sandbox in summer, but at least Quartz gives me a bit of pigment to compliment it.)

Here are some swatches of the three makeup products. I know the Haloscope looks very pretty here, but to be clear, I had to layer on a shit ton of product to get it to show up that way, and even then, it's very basic. How many white highlighters are there on the market that look just like that? No, it's not terrible, but it's not as pretty as the permanent shades. And dammit, I was promised opalescent!

The gloss and the liner, meanwhile, are just a normal clear gloss and soft kohl liner. You'll probably use them--I know I'm going to do my best to go through them--but are they worth the splurge? No.

Here's the bottom line: this kit is not special and Glossier knows that. They included a new shade of one of their popular products and tossed in some private label extras with cute G logos stamped on them. They are aware that most of their consumer base is only interested in the highlighter, and they're willing to pay double for it if they can get a few more products wrapped up with a bow.

That sounds cruel, I know, but Glossier is a company, not your best friend. They're here to make money. And I don't think they're going to be too offended by little ol' me suggesting you take a pass on this set, either, since I've really enjoyed several of their other products and have written sterling reviews for them.

If you want to get the Black Tie Set as a gift, especially for somebody who doesn't have a decent makeup bag or collection to work from, that sounds great. If you honestly think you're going to use and enjoy the entire set, then I salute you. But my opinion remains: this is in no way, shape, or form a set that will wow most consumers, and it's never worth buying a kit just to get the one thing you really want. If all you really want is the Moonstone highlighter, check out any of the pearly white cream and liquid products saturating the market instead.


  1. Yeah, that's very blah. On the other hand, your natural lip color is lovely!

  2. Yep, this confirms all my suspicions about the set. I thought it was a huge red flag that ITG didn't post any closeups of the products, not even Moonstone. (They eventually put up comparison swatches of Moonstone and Quartz on their Facebook page instead of a higher-visibility platform like Instagram. And surprise, no opalescence.) A holiday set with Moonstone, an LE color of Generation G, and maybe the nail polish would have been so much more special.

    In related news, I swatched the Milk holographic highlighter at Sephora recently, and that shit IS opalescent. I can't bring myself to pay $28 for something that looks like a deodorant, though.

    1. WHY DID YOU MENTION THE MILK HIGHLIGHTER?! Ugh, do you know how long I've been resisting that thing? I might break down for this Sephora sale. I just might.

      A limited edition Generation G would've been SO nice! We should design holiday sets.

    2. Hahaha, sorry! I'm seriously tempted, too. :/

  3. Have you seen the Makeup Geek Moon Phase highlighter? Has a beautiful blue/purple shift. Temptalia said it was pigmented enough to be noticeable on the skin!

    1. I've heard of it, but I haven't paid a ton of attention because I don't really use powder products.