The "holographic" label had me intrigued. If you're expecting an actual holographic effect, then you'd be disappointed. The eyeshadow doesn't flash different colours or have an iridescence to it as the name might suggest. Mystic Lemon is a luminous pale yellow gold with a slightly warmer gold pearl. It's not shimmery, glittery or frosty, rather the effect is relatively subdued and it imparts more of a subtle sheen. theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer is glowier, more concentrated, closer to a pale champagne with very slight peach tones. It's significantly superior in texture — much smoother, creamier and softer than the Essence. Mystic Lemon is harder and drier to the touch, but still manages to pack a punch if built up in pigmentation. The packaging is unsurprisingly cheap and flimsy and the plastic hinge crumbled and broke apart when I was taking photos.
l-r: Essence Mystic Lemon 1 swipe, 2 swipes, 3 swipes
I normally apply Mystic Lemon with the fingers to the tops of the cheekbones and browbone. You can control the desired intensity depending on how many layers are applied. I need at least 2-3 for it to look anything like how I imagine NARS Albatross would on my skin, with its distinct yellow tone. I doubt that Essence could rival NARS in terms of quality, but at least Mystic Lemon is a means of seeing how a pale yellow highlighter looks like on me before shelling out for the real deal. I'm not really head over heels with it, but chances are I'd be much more enthusiastic about Albatross if I ever decide to get it. For now, I'm content with my existing highlighter collection, though Dior Ultra-Shimmering All Over Face Powder in Amber Diamond remains the only one I'd pounce on if given the opportunity.