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I don’t believe that any beauty product is inherently bad; there is no worst product (or best product, for that matter). Experiences with makeup can be broken down into the three P’s: preference, purpose and price. Now that you understand my stance, here are some of the my luxuries that became letdowns.

Luxury Letdowns

Tom Ford – Brushes

Tom and I – we have a turbulent relationship. Intrigued by the masses of beauty addicts proclaiming their love for the TF brushes, I picked up a bunch to determine if they were ‘worth the hype’.

Things you need to know about Tom Ford brushes:

  • They’re comprised white goat, no idea if they are laser cut
  • They’re all VERY dense
  • They’re robust, wash well and offer enough resistance to be used with cream products
  • They’re expensive. No sh*t, a given.

Let’s return to the concept of the 3 P’s, sadly Tom Ford brushes are not aligned with my preferences. Only after this expensive experiment did I discover that I’m not fond of very dense, natural fibre face brushes.

Luxury Letdowns

Both the Cheek and the Cream Foundation brush seem to suck the moisture out of liquid foundations, which made my skin look dehydrated. The Cream Foundation Brush was too large for my cream contouring preferences and I rarely use cream foundation so it was the first to go. Occasionally I use the Cheek Brush for powder blush and bronzer and it performs well but has the tendency to rouse redness on my delicate skin; perhaps the density, perhaps the goat hair, who knows.

The Eye Shadow Contour Brush is perplexing – so little flexibility that you could practically mash it into a brick wall (and the brush would come out on top!), excessively stiff for my delicate lash line. The only TF brush that I use frequently is the Eye Shadow Blend Brush, as the density aids in buffing out cream shadows… but if you read my original review, you’ll know that it’s still not quite soft enough for my tastes.

Again, this letdown is a reflection of my preferences and objectively, I can say they’re beautifully constructed brushes.

Zelens – PHA Bio Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads

Generally speaking, I’ve had positive experiences with chemical exfoliating pads – the Stridex Red Box and First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads are firm favourites in my beauty arsenal. So one day, I was browsing CultBeauty for a splurge (I’d been good, okay?) and I recalled Lisa Eldridge raving about the Zelens Pads in a skincare video.

Why not.

Because the alcohol content is so strong that the fumes burns my eyes? Tears streaming down my face, I squint to read the ingredient list and whaddaya know?

Luxury Letdowns

Man, there is no need for alcohol to read so high on that ingredient list, pity because I like the mix of acids. Back to the Stridex and First Aid Beauty, I can’t even bring myself to give these to family or friends because it might be a skin disaster waiting to happen. ~104USD, too! Ouch.

SUQQU – Eyeshadow Quads (kinda)

If you’re unfamiliar with the SUQQU eyeshadow formula, they differ from typical western eyeshadows: a certain degree of transparency, muted colour stories and low impact yet complex shimmers. There is something about my face that eats up the complexity and rejects the understated shades… the shadows register as quite dull on me, to be frank. It’s entirely possible that my tastes are too garish for the likes of SUQQU – I want impact and shimmers and colour and for the most part, SUQQU fell short.

Luxury Letdowns

I noticed this most with quads Mizuaoi (right) and Ginbudou (left), both appear rather cloudy and blah on my eyes. Perhaps it’s just me, look at them on Kate! Totally vibrant and complex!?

The two exceptions are Sumiredama and Matsukasa, the former is all duo chrome and impact (right, limited edition and not a accurate reflection of the regular SUQQU offerings) while the latter is a collection of warm browns (left, I can’t say no to warm browns, regardless of formula).

Luxury Letdowns

Will you mesh better with SUQQU quads? I’m afraid you won’t like my answer: try one. I’m confident that you’ll immediately be able to determine whether or not the subtleties float your boat.

What are some of your luxury purchases that became letdowns? On another note, if you’d like to see my top luxury picks, click here!

Complete list of products mentioned

Resurfacing Facial Pads
Resurfacing Facial Pads
Eyeshadow Contour Brush
Eyeshadow Contour Brush
Cream Foundation Brush
Cream Foundation Brush
Cheek Brush
Cheek Brush
Blend Brush
Blend Brush
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest with my reviews :)

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  1. Drool over really pricey make up so quite heartening to learn that they have faults too. I have been going to buy Nars Orgasim blush for months now but not quite justifying as I have about 8 blushers on the go…but the sun is out and space NK not too far away! I am loving recent purchase of Sunday riley effortless breathable tinted primer, it’s gorgeous and another quite recent purchase clarins , hydra quench tinted moisturiser that I think is quite ordinary and won’t finish it! love your blogs, thanks really good info Jane x

  2. Hi Karima, great hearing your thoughts on these products! I’ve been wanting to try out the Suqqu eyeshadow quads – because they look absolutely amazing and complex! However I do need to purchase these online and now I’m a bit more hesitant – how do you think they work on the whole (not including color payoff πŸ˜‰ ), texture and longevity?
    Would love to hear what you think πŸ™‚ As always you give great advice and the products you love seem to be the ones I love as well – so you’re a great guide for me on what to buy next haha! Kindest regards, Esther

    1. Hey Esther!

      Are you very, very pale? SUQQU shadows tend to read better on the palest of skin tones. The texture is on the thinner and dryer side (when compared to RBR and Urban Decay, for example) and the longevity is pretty standard (I rarely have problems with my eyeshadow migrating though).

      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  3. I agree with you about the Zelens pads. They were too harsh for my face too, although all other Zelens skincare ive tried has been terrific. Someone suggested using them on my shins, so that’s what I’ll do.

    1. LOL such a pricy product to use on the shins but y’know, I will try that! Or maybe my feet, lucky feet.

      I’m hesitant to try any other Zelens products now – what others have you liked in the line?


  4. Hi Karima, gosh i’m so glad somebody finally came out and proclaimed TF brushes overrated! I’m with you, so much $$ for goat? But having said that… i went one big circle collecting all the other nice Japanese squirrel brushes, and then realized that TF brushes really are great because they are so hardy. I don’t use any of them for their stated purposes though – TF cream foundation brush I use for cream blushes, the cheek brush I use for powder and blending highlighters, and the eye contour brush I use for defining the outer V of my eyes.

    As for those SUQQU quads, again i’m with you. Some of them are downright fab, but most others are just kinda meh to me. And yikes on those zelens alcohol sanitizer pads!

  5. I am so glad that I am not the only one who can’t find the magic in Suqqu quads! They are absolutely beautiful in the pan, and they are so soft and wonderful, but I can never achieve the color gradation that Kate the Driveller does so well. Unfortunately I went on an ill-advised Suqqu binge so now I have a collection of beautiful but unused quads.

    This blog post is such a good idea, and I hope that you will continue to do them – as well as the worthwhile splurges one. I think that sometimes we forget in the heat of the chase that some great products just don’t work on us no matter how beautiful or desirable.


    1. Hey Kathy!

      I feel your feels, are you very pale? I think SUQQU quads shine on the palest of skin tones. Sadly, I’m more a fair-medium.

      I’m pleased you liked the blog concept πŸ™‚ Let’s all be well informed consumers!


  6. Lisa Eldridge seems to love a lot of products with high alcohol content – for instance she loves the caudalie beauty elixer too and chanel vitalumiere aqua…

    Maybe it’s because she has oily skin, but both of those products are a disaster on my dry, flaky skin. I agree that high alcohol content in skincare is probably never a good idea whatever your skintype though.

    1. Fantastic observation, I’ve noticed that she likes products with high alcohol content, too. I’m normal but prone to dehydration and alcohol rarely sits well on my skin (unless mixed with lots of silicone and emollience).


  7. My luxury beauty item count is literally at zero at the moment, soooo…

    I could be wrong about this, but supposedly TF brushes are made by Hakuhodo. If that’s true, I’d rather order direct from Hakuhodo anyway.

  8. Holy shiz, denatured alcohol? I buy that at home improvement warehouses to use as fuel for my vacuum brew coffee maker! I’d never put that on my face!

    1. It’s in a lot of face products, actually! Less of a problem (for me) when lower on the ingredient list and mixed with silicones (an occlusive) but in the Zelens pads, it’s like sterilising the face :-/

  9. Wow, I thought I was the only one who felt SUQQU eye shadows are overrated. Good to know you feel the same! I guess we prefer shades with more pigmentation!
    And you totally talked out of the Tom Ford brushes!! I think Wayne Goss brushes (the face set)are great, even though they are made of goat too.
    You know why we love you? Cause you always provide honest opinions and original blog posts πŸ˜› (haven’t seen ppl doing a piece like this and I like this idea so much.)

    1. I think you and I are the only people on the internet who are less than impressed with SUQQU shadows πŸ˜› Or at least it feels that way!

      You can probably skip TF brushes, especially at that price point. I’d go Chikuhodo or Wayne Goss over TF any day of the week.

      So pleased you like the post πŸ™‚ I was compiling my thoughts for like… a month lol.

  10. American living in Thailand- I pass the Suqqu counter all the time at the local high end department store here, slowly trying all their products (started because of your rave reviews of the eyebrow pen), love this post you’ve done. I’m curious to hear your opinion on their gel eyeliners (in a pot), their lipsticks and lastly…. their sunblock/face protector as I know you have a soft spot for Japanese sunblock. Please don’t stop with your posts and videos- LOVE!

    1. Hey there πŸ™‚

      I actually haven’t tried the gel liners because I heard they were rather dry. I like their lipsticks… the Bright Ups are in soft and not bright sadly, I much preferred the creamy Glow formula (discontinued) because they had stronger pigment and stronger payoff.
      I do own the sunblock and it’s a bit greasy for my liking, to be honest. If you have very dry skin, you might fare better.


  11. Thanks for the post Karima. I was sh*tting in my pants for not buying Suqqu eyeshadows when I was in Tokyo recently. But… if you are doing a blog sale, I may snatch them up to try them!!! xxx

  12. Hi Karima! I was on holiday and come back to this new, beautifuly designed site. Good job! *round of applause* When you have the time, it would be great to hear your thoughts on the Wayne Goss and Rae Morris brush sets. And maybe one post about sunscreens? I think sunscreens are the most difficult product to buy (if you want good protection, good texture, no white cast and good makeup application) while being the most essential for many of us. I have read Japanese sunscreens tend to be high in alcohol content.

    1. Obviously I am not Karima (in fact I’m Catalina too! Catalina two I guess haha!) but I wanted to rudely butt in here to suggest Skinceuticals! They make really lovely high SPF sunscreens. My fave is the sheer physical SPF 50, no white cast, light texture, broad-spectrum physical filters. Not sure if that is useful at all but thought it was worth a mention πŸ™‚

      1. HAHA would you believe that there are two Catalina’s commenting here?! Such a strange coincidence considering it’s not the most common name. This confuses me all the time, I won’t lie πŸ˜€


      2. Hi Cat! It is very useful, thank you! I really strugle with sunscreens and my face *really* doesn’t like the sun (sun alergies)… I will try the Skinceuticals now. I had heard good things about their powder ones (which seem like a good idea to apply over makeup in really sunny conditions). Thanks for the help, hugs from one Catalina to another πŸ™‚

    2. Hey Catalina πŸ™‚

      I’m glad you like the new site πŸ˜€ The pictures are massive so hopefully you’ve all enjoyed my pores πŸ˜›

      I’ll be doing an entire video on the Rae Morris set! I will probably do a blog post on the Wayne Goss but I do love them, too.

      I’m rusty on my sunscreen knowledge and I feel like it’s a topic in which you need a PhD in order to conquer but I’ll get reading again πŸ™‚


  13. Hello Karima!
    Thank you lovely for doing this post. Please continue to do lots more and continue sharing your highend/luxury finds!:)
    I personally found the LaPraire line is almost a waste of money…or at least the products I tried were a complete waste of money.
    Also, I bought Trish McEvoy brushes couple years ago but I found them not as soft as they were advertised to me and they shed like crazy πŸ™ I recently made an order from beautylish for couple Wayne Goss and Chikuhodo. I’m sure I will love them given all the rave reviews:)
    I’m a huge TF fan but I was never convinced to buy his brushes I don’t know why.

    1. Hey Ayat πŸ™‚

      I actually recall trying only one or two La Prarie products and I don’t remember much about them so must not have been too impressive! I also have a Trish McEvoy brush that I don’t really like (the 29 blender brush) so I’m with you on that one, too.

      Wayne Goss and Chikuhodo brushes are fantastic for the most part, I’m sure you will adore them πŸ™‚


  14. Rant here: I’ve really been wanting to try the Suqqu quads after hearing raves. However, there never seems to be a clear cut review of this. There’s talk of complex shimmers but I personally want to know about pigment, texture and flexibility (How many looks can be created, does it work for all skin tones?). The average eye look that I do cares not for complex shimmers and layerability. One reason I like the TF quads is that reason. I do different and simple to complex eyelooks with one quad. I know Kate hated these in favor of the Three and Suqqu and they look amazing on her but she is also super pale in comparison to my NC 44/45 skin. I do like shimmer but from some of the reviews of suqqu, it seems like it will impart almost no pigment on my skin tone. When people describe an eyeshadow as natural and good for a layerable effect (whatever that means), I get red flags simply because natural to someone lighter means no pigment for me. I had this experience when I was swatching Chanel quads that I just walked away.

    1. Daisy, I have yet to meet a Suqqu quad I did not love, but like Kate I am also extremely pale. Ok, not quite like Kate, but still extremely pale. I have heard complaints from darker skinned friends that Suqqu is hard work for them because most shades won’t show up unless they pack it on like they’re going out of fashion. I’ve a few makeup items that I have a similar problem with, too much work for the effect they impart, so in the end they remain unloved in a corner. So I understand where you are coming from, and while I do believe that these Suqqu shadows are a beautiful product, I can understand why many would not think much of them, and they would be totally right. X

      1. Thanks for your reply Cat, but yeah for us darker skinned ladies, It’s all about pigment. I’d rather have too much pigment than none. You can always dab away the excess but there are products I sit there layering and layering until I just want to fling it out the window (looking at you old formulation of clinique eyeshadows. They’ve since reformulated but my goodness.)

    2. Hey Daisy,

      I tried to keep these reviews short and sweet but to answer your question: the pigment is strong (but has a translucent quality that registers better on pale skin tones), the texture is on the thinner and dryer side (when compared to RBR and Urban Decay, for example), and I’ve found them to be not so flexible (work best on pale skin tones, I can only conjure a few looks with a palette since there are only four shades).

      If Tom Ford shadows float your boat, SUQQU will disappoint. TF shadows are impactful, dense in texture and opaque (SUQQU is the other side of the spectrum on all accounts).

      As Cat said below, SUQQU shadows can register as very subtle on deeper skin tones. Based on your preferences, I don’t think they’ll impress you.

      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  15. Hi Karima! (long time no comments from me!)

    I feel your pain – I have a few not only luxury but fairly hyped beauty products in my collection that just didn’t do it for me! Off the top of my head (at work, can’t raid my stash lol) back around March for my b’day I decide to treat myself to an Eve Lom splurge (around the $200AUD mark) and the only item I liked/worked for my was the muslin cloth. Yep, that’s right the hey-I-have-these-in-my-kitchen-for-fancy-recipes-already cloth >.<

    P.S love the new blog format/theme, looks dope!

    Bambi x

    1. Yeahhh Eve Lom never really appealed to me, the ingredient list looks a bit meh for the price :-/
      I do like a good muslin cloth though πŸ˜›
      PS: Thank you! It’s Adrian’s work, I’ll pass on the compliment πŸ˜€