If you’ve been reading BaumBeauty for awhile, you know that I’m a huge e.l.f. Cosmetics fan. In fact, our very first post on this blog covered my all-time favorite e.l.f. products. The brand really fits in with our “beauty on a budget” motto. One of their latest additions is the Mad for Matte Holy Smokes Eyeshadow Palette.
Holy Smokes is the third palette in the Mad For Matte collection. The original Mad For Matte, now named Nude Mood, features a mix of cool and warm nude shades. The second palette, Summer Breeze, flaunts bold colors to create bright, fun looks. Holy Smokes – AKA Mad For Matte 3 – features fall hues that can be used for striking and subdued styles alike.
After seeing an e.l.f. teaser post about Holy Smokes on Instagram, I knew I had to try it. I ordered it on release day and started swatching as soon as it arrived in the mail. If you’re interested in this palette, read my detailed and unbiased Mad for Matte 3 review below.
Holy Smokes Palette: First Impressions
At first glance, I love the Mad For Matte 3 color selection. The tones are an even mix of warm and cool, so this makes the palette quite versatile. I’m all about convenience, so “all in one” products are a huge plus. My immediate favorites were the gray, green, and blue shadows. Cool tones are my weakness, and these ones are gorgeous. The orange-brown hue also piqued my curiosity.
The photos on the e.l.f. website differ slightly when it comes to a few palette colors. The brown shades appear just a bit warmer in person, but it’s hard to know without wearing them. Like the other Mad For Matte palettes, every shade has a true matte finish to them. I’m curious to see how everything looks once I swatch it!
Packaging and Design
Mad For Matte Holy Smokes is super sleek and portable. I’ve included a picture of it next to an Urban Decay palette for size reference. This e.l.f. palette fits easily in my makeup bag, and comes equipped with a mirror. The only downside to the Mad For Matte palette design is that it lacks space for a brush. It’s always really handy when brushes are included with palettes. On the plus side, e.l.f. does have a 6 Piece Travel Brush Collection that’s only $3 per brush.
Mad For Matte 3 Swatches
Below you’ll find Mad For Matte 3 swatches taken in natural light and taken using the flash on my camera. I swatched these using my finger and applied them to bare skin. As you may know, e.l.f. does not name each individual color in their palettes. This isn’t a problem for me, but it can make reviews a bit confusing! For convenience, I’ve numbered each eyeshadow. I’ll use these numbers throughout my review.
Natural Light Photo Of Mad For Matte 3 Swatches
Flash Photo Of Mad For Matte 3 Swatches
Overall, I’m pretty content with how the swatches turned out. But of course, there are a few good and not so good points to make. I’ll highlight the major points below:
- In general, the eyeshadows feel smooth and buttery.
- Shadow 8 is an exception to the statement above. It felt somewhat stiff and I feel it may be difficult to apply. However, I adore the color itself.
- I was pleasantly surprised to see how pigmented 2 is; a good light gray eyeshadow is hard to find. I’m excited for it’s potential.
- As I anticipated, colors 7 through 10 seem very pigmented, so I think they’ll be excellent for bold looks and lining.
- Though 1 is hard to see, I like how it looks in person. It’s likely great for a brow highlight.
- The brown eyeshadows (3, 4, 5, and and 6) are indeed warmer than they look on the e.l.f. website. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s something to be aware of.
- I think 4 somewhat leans toward the copper/orange side when it’s swatched versus how it looks in the the pan.
- 10 looks like it has a potential as a stunning matte black. I’ll be testing it using a liner brush in the “Mad For Matte 3 Looks” section below.
Mad For Matte 3 Looks
Below you’ll find five different looks using the Mad For Matte 3 palette. To keep the focus on the eyeshadow, I didn’t use products like eyeliner, highlighter/shimmer shadows, and so on. The photos feature solely the eyeshadow palette colors, eyelid primer, and one coat of mascara. I used a mix of flash photography and photos taken in natural light. Let’s take a look!
Simple Warm Style
Simple Warm Style In Natural Light
Simple Warm Style With Flash
Featuring Colors 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6: I’m admittedly a newbie when it comes to warm eyeshadow looks. They’ve just never been my style. After playing around with these colors, I’ve got to say that I’m a fan.. Here’s my take:
- 4 is a great coral/copper hue and blended well.
- I tried to create blend 3 and 4, but the colors muddled together. This was mostly an application error on my part, but I must say I’m not a fan of 3 so far. It’s a bit bland and was difficult to use with this look.
- I used 6 along my lower lash line, and I was pleased with the overall appearance.
- I used 5 along my upper lash line and was equally happy with the results.
- I used 1 to highlight my browbone and had to apply several layers to make it show up in photos.
Subtle Smokey Eye
Subtle Smokey Eye In Natural Light
Subtle Smokey Eye With Flash
Featuring Colors 1, 2, 8, 9, and 10: For this one, I tried out a soft smokey eye. I was excited to try out the light gray and potentially create a new go-to look. This style seemed to turn out better than the first one, but there were pros and cons. My feedback is:
- I was stoked to see that shadow 2 is as pigmented as it looks in swatches. I think this shade of gray is easy to play up or down. While I used it for a soft smokey eye, I’d absolutely use it for a more dramatic look, too.
- Once again, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about shadow 1. It’s just too sheer for my taste. On the plus side, the subtlety worked in my favor for this style. I used it to soften the crease.
- I applied shadow 9 on the outer ⅓ of my eyelid. I like that it blends seamlessly into the lighter gray. It’s more pigmented than it appears here; I just used a very light hand during application.
- I used shadow 10 as an eyeliner on my upper lids and the outer corners of my bottom lash line. Though I did use a light hand, it’s slightly less pigmented than I’d hoped for. For a darker look, I’ll try applying it with a wet liner brush.
Pop Of Color
Pop Of Color In Natural Light
Pop Of Color With Flash
Featuring Colors 1, 2, 7, and 8: I decided to have some fun with this one! The darker hues, 7 and 8, were used as jewel toned eyeliners. I used a light colored shadow on my eyelid to keep the focus on the brighter colors. I’d been looking forward to giving the blue and green shades a try. Here were the results:
- Colors 7 and 8 work excellently as eyeliner. I used a stiff liner brush (see product list below) for this look.
- Color 2 is very opaque and creates an even, flawless base. This light color is an excellent contrast for 7, 8, and likely the other dark shades.
- The color difference between 7 and 8 isn’t as noticeable as I hoped. They look very similar when applied. I’ve made a note to try applying them over white eyeliner later on. This may help the colors “pop” more.
- When applying 1 beneath my brow, I used a heavier hand and more product. This helped create an opaque finish. Unfortunately, it still took several layers to achieve the desired look.
Two Toned Warmth
Two Toned Warmth In Natural Light
Two Toned Warmth With Flash
Featuring Colors 3 and 4: I decided to work with these two warm hues again, but I went for a different look. Instead of blending them, I used them separately and every so slightly blended my eye crease. This turned out much better than Simple Warm Style. Here’s my feedback on the look:
- Color 4 is very pigmented and looks great as a standalone color. It’s a warm opaque hue that’s both classic and fun. It creates a soft look that’s ideal for fall but still manages to pop.
- I applied 3 around my upper eyelid and beneath my brow bone using a light hand. It’s very sheer and much more even when this way. I was glad to see it didn’t create a muddy look. I prefer it more than I did when I used it the first time.
- Overall, I have zero complaints about these two shadows used for this type of look. The colors compliment each other well, and the style itself takes mere minutes to create. It’s definitely perfect for a casual autumn vibe.
Dramatic Jeweled Smokey Eye
Dramatic Jeweled Smokey Eye With Flash
Dramatic Jeweled Smokey Eye With Flash
Featuring Colors 1, 7, 8, and 9: Since the green and blue hues worked well as eyeliner, I was curious to see how they’d look for a bolder look. I also wanted to see if the lack of color difference was an issue, too. Here’s what I found out:
- Unfortunately, it’s still somewhat hard to distinguish the difference between colors 7 and 8. I used 7 (jade green) on the inner ⅔ of my eyelid and 8 (sapphire blue) on the outer ⅓ . I really think that pairing this look with a white cream eyeshadow base would give it a ton of potential.
- I added a touch of 1 under my browbone and in my crease to soften the edges. The lack of pigment benefitted me once again. Blending it into the crease was a breeze and created the look I wanted.
- I used 9 to line my upper lash line and about ½ of my lower lash line. I was very happy with the results. It’s the perfect balance between subtle and smoky. I’ll definitely be using it again as a liner.
- I patted a very light coat of 1 on top of 7 and 8 for the photo with my eyes shut. Looking back, this wasn’t the best choice. As you can see, my closed eyelids look fairly different. Lesson learned here!
Additional Products and Brushes Used
- e.l.f. Studio Blending Brush
- e.l.f. Studio Crease Brush
- Real Techniques Definer Brush
- e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer in ‘Sheer’
- e.l.f. Hydrating Under Eye Primer
- NYX HD Photogenic Concealer in ‘Porcelain’
- NYX Beauty Balm in ‘Nude’
- Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
- Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in ‘Transparent’
- Real Techniques Base Powder Brush
- L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara
Mad For Matte 3 Pros
- Excellent price point – This palette is only $10, which evens out to merely $1 per color. It’s a very affordable option that suits most budgets. So whether you love it or hate it, you won’t break the bank for it. That makes it pretty risk-free to me.
- Diversity in colors – It’s easy to see that Mad For Matte 3 offers a great selection of shades. Many palettes feature solely warm hues or cool hues. Holy Smokes has both in a wide range of colors. You can easily create dozens of different matte looks. Again, an “all in one” palette is a huge plus.
- Most shadows are pigmented – The majority of the eyeshadows are highly pigmented and opaque when applied. This is crucial for high-quality eye makeup looks. I’d say that the light gray (2) is the most opaque. The green (7) and blue (8) hues come in a close second.
- Most shadows are smooth– Most of the shadows have a smooth, satiny feel to them. They felt soft while I was swatching them, and this didn’t equate to a lack of pigment.
- I experienced little to no fallout – Fallout – powder particles falling on your face – is my least favorite thing about powdered eyeshadow. Per usual, I lightly tapped my brushes before applying these. I had no noticeable fallout except when I created the final look.
- Palette is compact and convenient – The palette design makes it very portable. It easily fits in any makeup bag, making touch ups a total breeze. The full sized mirror in the palette also adds to the convenience factor.
Mad For Matte 3 Cons
- The blue shadow is stiff – I’m not sure why, but the blue eyeshadow (8) didn’t have that smooth feel to it. This is fine when it’s used as an eyeliner. But it was more difficult to use in general than the other nine shades.
- The green and blue shadows look similar – As you can see in my photos, the green (7) and blue (8) look very similar. However, I did notice more of a contrast when using these colors as eyeliner. Going forward, I’ll have to use a white eyeliner or base under these shades.
- The eyeshadows have moderate kick up – Most powder eyeshadows have at least a bit of kick up. This means the powder particles ‘kick up’ in the pan when you use a brush. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say Mad For Matte 3 falls right in the middle. Not too awful, but it’s worth noting.
- A few colors are not very pigmented – I was disappointed that a few colors lacked the pigment I expected. 1 and 3 are the least pigmented.
- Certain colors look muddy when blended – The brown tones (3, 5, and 6) didn’t blend well together. They sort of create one murky shade of brown if they’re all used at once. But I do have to admit that this could be due to user error. I’m not very experienced with blending warm brown shades. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.
Final Verdict: HOLY SMOKES!
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the Holy Smokes palette! I did run into minor problems here and there, but none of them were very significant. Compared to other palettes in this price range, the Mad For Matte collection really stands out. Mad for Matte 3 has endless potential when you factor in using it with eyeliner, shimmery shadows, and so on. If you want a great array of fall colors in one affordable palette, I think you should give this a shot!
Let us know about your experience and what you think about our Mad For Matte 3 review. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them whenever possible. To get the latest from BaumBeauty, be sure to join our e-mail list and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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