Review: Shu Uemura Cosmetics Holiday MUSE Collection

Published in: Makeup, Product Reviews

All Roads Lead Back to Shu

“So, what are your favorite products?”


I love that question. Everyone has their own list of favorites, but there’s one brand I hear mentioned over and over again. Among people who’ve tried the brand before, almost everyone mentions Shu Uemura. People rave with rabid fanaticism about Shu’s famous eyelash curler (considered an industry standard) or their eyeshadows. Once, a gal even pulled a Shu curler from her purse and offered to curl my lashes in front of the Old Navy on Market Street. I politely declined.


But that wasn’t my most shocking Shu moment. At brunch with my good friend, Cindy, who never wears makeup, I almost choked on my pancakes when she produced a Shu Uemura eyeliner brush from her purse and proceeded to explain in detail why she loved it so much. The cult of Shu is all around us.

A high-end Japanese luxury line developed by Hollywood makeup artist Shu Uemura, Shu creates clean, no-nonsense skin care products, brushes and makeup. The clear packaging is refreshingly simple, conveying just how serious their products are about getting down to business.

There’s so much hype surrounding the line that when I recently got the chance to play with the new Shu Uemura Holiday Muse collection, I was worried my expectations would be too high to meet.

Unfortunately for my wallet, Shu did not disappoint. Their superior product textures and colors melted my heart faster that butter on hot toast.


Inspired by warm gold shades and candlelight, the Muse look is sophisticated and elegant, yet natural. It’s totally my makeup style, and one of my favorite collections of 2007.


Here’s the collection from left to right:

Chocolate Brown Nail Enamel – rich, warm brown with metallic effects ($16.00)
Gold Beige Nail Enamel – subtle golden sparkles ($16.00)
Dignified Grace Pressed Eyeshadow Palette – three shadows and one blush ($65.00)
Chocolate Brown Rouge Unlimited Lipstick – rich and elegant brown ($23.00)
Pink Beige Rouge Unlimited Lipstick – soft pink-beige ($23.00)
Gold Beige Rouge Unlimited Lipstick – warm nude-beige ($23.00)
Enchanting Charisma Pressed Eyeshadow Palette – three shadows and one blush ($65.00)

First Impressions of the Shu Uemura Color Line

What grabbed my attention and held it tight were the textures and colors of the eyeshadows and blushes.

You know how chalky eyeshadows and blushes sit on top of your skin and look really obvious? Imagine the opposite of that to the Nth degree. Shu Uemura’s shadows and blushes are so finely milled that they look seamless on my lids and cheeks.

Despite the richness of these colors, they apply evenly in a single layer. It was most obvious with shadows in the Dignified Grace palette. All three color shadows contain extremely fine glitter, and when I swept the colors over my eyelids as a wash the glitter almost magically distributed evenly over the entire lid. Neat, and a little freaky at the same time.

I was fascinated by how the blush and shadow formulas have such a high concentration of color. Highly pigmented products can scare me because when there’s a lot of color there’s less room for error, but despite their pigmentation Shu shadows and blushes still manage to look natural; the color is there, but you don’t look like a crazy lady who can’t lay off the rouge.

Although I liked the three lipsticks, I wasn’t as wowed by them as I was by Shu’s shadows and blushes. They do have a soft, slick texture on my lips and feel hydrating, which I dig, and I appreciate how the earth-toned colors from the Muse collection are easy to wear.

Rouge Unlimited Lipsticks

If you’re a fan of MAC Lustre lipsticks then you’ll love Shu Uemura’s Rouge Unlimited lipsticks, which have a similar lightweight texture.



There are 65 Rouge Unlimited lipsticks in the Shu Uemura color collection, and each has:
– an exclusive hybrid of pigments
– high color payoff
– rich texture, ultra-smooth application
– a ceramide shield for 8-hour moisture comfort

Can’t decide among the three Muse lippies? If you’re on a budget, then pick up Chocolate Brown, my absolute favorite of the three.

Pressed Eye Shadow Palettes

With three pressed eyeshadows and blush apiece, the two Muse shadow palettes are a great introduction to the Shu Uemura color line.



What’s behind the magic of Shu’s pressed eyeshadows?

– micro-fine powders with two different shapes that adhere firmly to skin for an even, long-lasting finish
– silicone-coated powder, resulting in truest color pay-off and a non-fading finish
– light capturing powders to absorb and reflect light for a multi-dimensional finish

Shu also carries different finishes — Matte (M), Pearl (P), Iridescent (IR) and Metallic (ME) — for each color of shadow. Imagine finding your holy grail eye shadow color and then being able to get it in a variety of different finishes, too! I think this is very cool.

Girl, you need to seriously consider throwing down the cash for the Dignified Grace Palette. I LOVE all of its eyeshadow colors and the peachy-gold blush gives my cheeks that J. Lo glow.

Face of the Day

Here’s the Muse-inspired look I wore today while Christmas shopping.



That’s the Dignified Grace palette on my eyes and cheeks and a mix of Chocolate Brown and Pink Beige Rouge Unlimited lipstick. Oh, and those lashes are courtesy of Ceramide mascara!


Shu Uemura Online Friends and Family Sale is ON!

Right now there’s a fatty sale on the Shu Uemura Web site. Enter promotion code code HOLIDAY07 at checkout to get 20% off all purchases. That’s a nice chunk of change. Be sure to register when you log onto the site, too, because if you register and spend over $75, shipping is free. Hurry, though, because the sale ends Monday, December 17th.

Are you done with your holiday shopping yet? Maybe you should reward yourself with a few goodies from Shu! πŸ˜‰

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 31 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. ponikuta says:

    Again, we don’t get Shu Uemura over here. This is too much torture. i absolutely loveee their fake lashes. I stock up on heaps every single time when i get back to Asia.

  2. nilla cookie says:

    Hey Karen,

    I’m SO embarrassed to say that the only Shu product I’ve ever used is their eyelash curler. I’ve never really heard that much about their products, except for their amazing lashes – and therefore never thought twice about it. Shame on me.

    Alas, I think I’m going to have to go take a peak, but not buy until next year because my wallet is really mad at me right now. πŸ˜‰

    PS – I really, really love your Shu look today. It’s so gorgeous – all the colors complement your skin tone and that sassy red sweater!

  3. Rowena says:

    I lurveeee lurvvvve lurrrveee Shu – I didn’t like the look of this collection so much though untill I saw this review!

    How are the shadows? I’ve found that when Shu do their special combined palette the shadows are a little gritty compared to the Solos – esp the ME Solos – they are like BUTTER! So maybe I’m just spoilt…

    Very lovely review!

  4. Karen says:

    Hi Ponikuta,

    I have a set of the fake lashes and I can’t wait to try them. OH! And the SF store has a lash bar that I’m gonna go to next month. I’m a mess when it comes to false lashes so I hope nothing goes awry.

    Did you have a good weekend?

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Nilla,

    Awww, thanks! You will love their shadows, I’m guessing.

    Believe it or not, I’ve yet to try that curler! πŸ™‚

  6. Karen says:

    Hi Rowena,

    I think the shadows in the palette are pretty awesome, not gritty at all. I have a few individual shadows to review so I’ll be able to compare/contrast further in a few days.

    I am looking forward to collecting a few blushes and more shadows. Can you recommend your favorites? I am gonna to freestanding store next month and hopefully will leave without burning at massive smoking hole in my wallet.

  7. ponikuta says:

    Yea I sprained my wrist and got drunk over the weekend. So I guess it was good fun.

    I always put on lashes to parties or events. They are like the killer weapon no doubt about it.

    But they can be a little pricey and a little tricky to start off with.

    So far I have no bad lashes falling out half way going out experience. I love the full fake lashes set but I still can’t put on the individuals one for some reason. Its just too hard !!

    How’s your weekend Karen? More shopping?

  8. Karen says:

    Whoa! I hope you didn’t sprain your wrist while you were drunk! It makes the beer bottle harder to hold, LOL.

    I tried putting on some fake lashes for Halloween and it was a MESS! I think I just need to practice. I worked with a woman once who wore them EVERYDAY from time she was 17 (she was in her 50s when I met her). She told me that she had an operation a few years back where the docs had to put her anesthesia, and she told the doctors that she was going to wear her false lashes to her operation, and that if sh*t hit the fan they were to NOT mess up her lashes. Yes, I think she was nuts.

    My weekend was pretty busy. I worked all day yesterday (on my projects, so that’s still fun) and most of today. I did get the chance to go out with the hub to watch the new Will Smith movie, “I Am Legend.” It was a’ight. A little corny, but not too bad.

    Anyway, do you use the Shu lash glue (say that fast five times, LOL) or get stuff from the drugstore?

  9. kia says:

    wow! look at you karen! i see the crease, outer v, lid, etc.!!! wonderful eyes and look =)

  10. Karen says:

    Thanks Kia! πŸ˜‰ Have a great week.

  11. Nikkia says:

    I’m loving this look. Very hot!!

  12. Rowena says:

    Hi Karen….

    What to recommend…geez….there’s so much!

    Eyeshadows I recommend –

    ME390, Bronzy Gold
    ME330, Yellow – the most amazing yellow-gold ever
    ME550, Green
    IR900, Rainbow V (Violet Iridecent)
    ME850, Brown – the signature shade! A gunmetal colour
    IR990, Black with silver glitter

    Erm, I’ll stop there so the hole in your pocket won’t be too big! Blushers!

    P Brown, 76 – Like a medium brown with goldy sparkles
    P Red 19D, A true red like Nars Exhibit X but with sparkle…erm, I like sparkle
    M Peach 44 – just a really lovely peach for everyday.

    Mmm their refillable liquid eyeliner is the best in the world?

    Oh and you need a Hard Brow Pencil!


  13. Brisa says:

    Hi Karen,
    How the heck do you always manage to get that luminous, glowy but not sparkly/glittery look on your cheeks on all your pics? I’m on a massive search for something that’ll do that.



  14. Karen says:

    Hi Nikkia!

    Thanks my dear! :)Are you a Shu fan, too?

  15. Karen says:

    OH ROWENA! I don’t know whether to love or hate you. I’m soo printing out your list when I go to the Shu store in the SF next month.

    What’s the deal with the hard brow pencil? Is it easy to use? I’m very clumsy, you know! πŸ™‚

  16. Karen says:

    Hi Brisa,

    I just use blush! In the pic above that’s the blush from the dignified grace set. I also think using a good blush brush makes a difference. I always toss the brushes that come with the sets because they never work for me (the color doesn’t get distributed easily and brush is always too small!).

    Other blushes I can recommend that are “glowy” are Nars Torrid and MAC Fab (from the Barbie loves MAC collection). Oh! Another thing I’ve been doing is topping a matte cream or powder blush with the Your Ladyship MAC Pigment. I use a 182 blush to apply the pigment in layers – I have to go slowly otherwise I end up looking like a disco ball. πŸ™‚

  17. Rowena says:

    Hard Brow is really easy – its very, erm hard, so it clings on to natrual oils in the brows and leaves some colour there. Which is good for me because I tend to press to hard and its very very natural. i hate over penciled brows! But you have to ask them to do the japanese sharpening for you because it looks oh-so-cool. πŸ™‚

  18. Mrs. Lynne says:

    Oh girl, this look is so naturally elegant on you. I dig, yo!

  19. Karen says:

    Hey Rowena,

    I’m not a pencil kinda girl but this intrigues me enough to check it out…and japanese sharpening? What the heck is that?

  20. Karen says:

    Mrs. Lynne,

    I think you’d love these shadows. I have a few colorful ones to test and will put those pics up in a few days, you’ll likey, I bet πŸ™‚

  21. Mrs. Lynne says:

    You know me and colors. I’m really digging the Enchanting Charisma. The swatches are very nice and look silky.

  22. Vicki says:

    Along with the blushes and eyeshadows has anyone been using the brush line? I’m in the market and can’t decide between Bare Escentuals, Sephora or Shu Uemura mainly because I live in a remote town without access to great stores. Wanna help an old girl out?

  23. Karen says:

    Hi Vicki,

    I haven’t used the Shu Uemura brushes, but I do have a good friend who has used them and swears by them.

    As for brush heads, I like squirrel and badger hair – they are the softest.

    How much are you looking to spend? I can point you in a few directions if you give me your price range.

  24. Karen says:

    Mrs. Lynne,

    I keep forgetting to tell you that I finally dug into the Enchantress palette and the bright colors are AMAZING! You’ll love em. πŸ™‚ Do you have access to a Shu counter?

  25. Mrs. Lynne says:

    Unless they have it at Macy’s or Sephora, that’s the only counters I can think of. Hmmm, or Neiman Marcus.

  26. Karen says:

    They should have it at Neiman Marcus. For sho’ check out the individual shadows sold in the pan. There are some bad ass brights and they perform wonderfully.

  27. Vicki says:

    Thanks for the reply Karen. Price really isn’t the issue. I’ve bought and thrown away so many brushes and now I just want to get something really nice. I’ve heard that InStyle raves about the Shu rating them as the best line.

  28. Karen says:

    Hi Vicki,

    I’m soooo sorry it took me so long to get back to you. This comment got buried amongst the new ones, so I apologize for my tardiness!

    I have never used Shu brushes myself but am looking forward to snagging a few when I visit the store. Right now I use both MAC brushes and Billy B. brushes (he’s a makeup artist who put out his own brush line; I’ll be putting up the review this weekend). I like ’em both for different reasons.

    MAC’s handles are long and they have weight, which I like. Plus, I’ve had my MAC brushes for YEARS and they are real work horses. I’ve used other brushes before where the life is about 2-3 years, but I’ve had my MAC ones for 5+.

    I’ll so some more Shu research and share what I turn up. πŸ™‚

  29. Vicki says:

    Hi Karen
    After your previous advice did some research on your “squirrel” and “badger” brushes and came up with a couple of “off brand” hand made brushes on-line. Take a look at the pure squirrel brushes at and the badger brushes at and let me know what you think. I’ve ordered an 8 brush Shu set and I’m really looking forward to receiving them. Looks like I’m going to have brushes coming out of my ears so will just have to bite the bullet and try them all to find my favorites!

  30. Karen says:

    Hi Vicki,

    Those look great – I really like brushes on the first site. I just wish I could touch them, that’s such a big part of the brush experience for me.

    Please let me know how you like those Shu brushes. I know I will be tempted to pick up a few brushes when I go to the store πŸ™‚

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