"I need to drop by Watsons," I informed the boyfriend the moment we set foot outside the hotel.
"Anything else?" he asked, grinning.
"No! Watsons! Need! Now!"
Realising that this was not the time to tease, he guided me straight into the nearest Watsons. It was near People's Square in Shanghai. It was sheer and utter madness. The sales promoters were shouting about their respective brands like fishmongers. Swooping down on the most taupey palette I could find at the L'Oreal counter (it seemed like the most reliable drugstore brand) I was stopped from whisking it off to the counter by a determined sales girl.
"??????!" she ordered me in mandarin.
Inwardly cursing my banana-ness I made her explain to me, with gestures and halting English that I had to pay for the palette FIRST and then return to collect it.
Flustered by the complete paranoia displayed by Watsons Shanghai, I asked her to write up a bill of sale for me while I tried to procure a Maybelline Mascara. No dice. Even the humble mascara required the entire song and dance.
Clutching the order forms, I fought my way through the milling crowds to the counter, paid, and fought my way back to the cosmetic counters, by then, in a bit of a snit.
Clutching my purchases I burst gratefully into the clear, cold outdoor air.
The palette seems pigmented enough when swiped with fingers but little of this pigment transfers to the eyelid I'm sorry to report.
"Eyeshadow primers and good quality shadows have really spoilt me," I thought as I tried with brushes, fingers and even the useless little sponge applicators to shade and contour my eyes.
The dark brown shade was good enough as a powder liner but the lovely taupey shade was terribly sheer, as was the mid-brown. As for the highlighter, it was reduced to a loose collection of sparkly bits.
In winter, the eyeshadow lasted the day on my oily lids well enough, but I shudder to think how it'd do in summer.
Eventually I got used to the sheerer lighter look but really, I admit I expected far more from L'Oreal than this poor performing shadow quad.
When I got home, I tested my primer theory out by using the palette over trusty Paint Pot and the colours were just beautiful. Richly pigmented, shimmery and with depth they acted like totally different eye shadows. While I'm grateful that I can use this palette, I still think shadows shouldn't rely on a primer to perform! If so, then makeup brands should provide a little well of it in the palette.
Drugstore shopping in China is a downright traumatising experience where the shop assumes you're an evil thieving reprobate. I never want to repeat this experience again. Plus, L'Oreal was hideously overpriced at RMB150 (or thereabouts).
The lesson I've learnt from all of this is to have doubles of everything I can't live without in my travel makeup bag. It was left out till the last minute because I needed to pop in my Paint Pot and concealer brush. I plan to simply double up on these old faithfuls now and pop the entire kit into my bag the night before!