I've always heard positive things about theBalm blushes, so I didn't mind picking one up even though I already have close dupes of pretty much every single blush they've put out. I decided against Hot Mama (too shimmery, looked very similar to Sleek Rose Gold) and CabanaBoy (I don't think I get along with these deeper, plummier blushes as they tend to make me look bruised and drained, plus I already have NARS Sin, Benefit Dallas and Rimmel Genuine Plum in that colour family), so it was a choice between the pink DownBoy and the peach FratBoy. I've always struggled with certain pink blushes as they end up looking ruddy and unflattering on me (hello Illamasqua Naked Rose), so I decided that FratBoy would suit my yellowish complexion more than DownBoy, which might be better for paler skin.
The packaging calls to mind a more streamlined Benefit, with the same cheerful, flirtatious, vintage vibe and attention to detail. The football field surrounding the mirror is a cute touch that ties in nicely with the name of the blush. It's housed in cardboard which I can't help but feel is a bit cheap, but at the same time it looks well made and is compact and lightweight. FratBoy is your typical warm, medium pinky-peachy-coral shade. There's a minuscule amount of gold shimmer that's barely detectable on the cheeks. It's basically a matte blush on me. The colour is quite deep and heavy even when I apply it lightly, unless I make an effort to really sheer it out and buff away the edges and over the blush to soften it. It has a strong, earthy tone that I'm not convinced looks entirely fresh and 'peppy' on face. It's very similar to NARS Deep Throat (though Deep Throat has the shimmer factor) and Australis Paparazzi Perfect High Definition blush in Screen Siren (which is a touch darker and more red). While very smooth and pigmented, I was expecting more with the lasting power. This only lasted around 4 hours or so and by day's end had more or less completely faded.
l-r: Caught in the Act Courtney, Feisty Felicia, Insane Jane, Bossy Bobbi, Makeout Mary, Just This Once Jamie, Mischievous Marissa, Tempting Tara, Devilish Danielle
ShadyLady Vol. 2 is my first foray into theBalm's eyeshadows, and the swatches speak for themselves. These are by and large soft, buttery shadows with vibrant colour payoff. They're the kind of shadows you could apply and blend with your fingers. No brushes required. The only exceptions are Caught in the Act Courtney and Feisty Felicia, which are much drier, slightly chalky and apply very patchily, requiring several layers to build up pigmentation. Feisty Felicia looks like such an alluring deep eggplant shade with reddish glitter, but it's closer to a straightforward black (and not a good one at that). I thought Caught in the Act Courtney would be a rich, deep bronze, but it's too sheer and dark to sweep all over the lid for a fuss-free daytime smoky eye.
My two favourite shades (predictably) are the silvery taupe Insane Jane and purplish grey Just This Once Jamie. I find the two look better paired together, as by themselves they're either too grey/cool or warm/violet. I don't see myself getting much use out of the last two highlight shades, and the other three (Bossy Bobbi, Makeout Mary and Mischievous Marissa) are frankly too colourful for me to wear on any regular basis. As pleased as I was with the texture and pigmentation of these shadows, there were two notable exceptions (one of which was particularly disappointing as I was hoping it'd be a standout) and the majority of the other colours simply aren't up my alley. If only the free palette was NUDE'Tude instead.