Two-Buck Chic: Have You Tried $2 Essence Eyeshadows Before?

Published in: Drugstore Beauty Finds, Makeup, Product Reviews

And here I thought the most fun I could have for $2 would come from a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck. πŸ™‚


Oh, but that was before I met these Essence Eyeshadows. They come in 18 colors across three different finishes (matte, shimmer and holographic), and each will set you back a mere $2.

The different finishes have varying levels of pigmentation, with the shimmer and holographic shades generally depositing more color than the mattes.

Here’s a quick look at six of them. Right now I’m on the fence about these, but I’m really interested to hear what you think.

Back to Khaki

Mystic Purple

It’s Up to You

Blue Mission

Knock Out

Ultra Violet

Swatches from the left: Back to Khaki, Mystic Purple and It’s Up to You

Blue Mission, Knock Out and Ultra Violet

I’m a little concerned about their wear time, as they conk out after about five hours on me. Say half a day. Mind you, I don’t think that’s awful, but it could be better. As for texture, they feel great, like cake flower, but they’re so powdery that I get them all over the place. Starting with a good eyeshadow primer like Urban Decay Eden Eyeshadow Primer Potion or NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base helps them in the wear time department, and some carefully administered eye makeup remover takes care of any mess.

It’s hard to go wrong when you price products at $2. You get some extra credit with a price like that. πŸ™‚

PRICE: $2 each
AVAILABILITY: Available now at Ulta stores and also online

They grow up so fastÒ€¦

I’ve been a little emotional this afternoon because today’s my little brother’s 30th birthday.

Well, he’s not so little anymore. I remember the day my folks brought him home from the hospital, and it’s hard to believe that same little boy who drew me pictures and asked for hugs all the time is all grown up now.

Please excuse me while I bawl my eyes out for the fifth time todayÒ€¦


While I was sifting through old pictures, I found this one of us from back in 1988. Observe the stylin’ Esprit outfit — I’m wearing culottes, good gawd! — and bangs.

Do you have any siblings? If you do, are they younger or older than you?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 57 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Vijaya says:

    I’ve tried these before, but the pigmentation wasn’t as good against my dark NC50 skin. =[
    Vijaya recently posted … Chanel Lilac Sky Le Vernis

  2. Jessi says:

    Happy birthday baby Karen! Haha, i don’t know your brother’s name, so he’s baby Karen to me!

    I really like Essence’s products. I’ve had a lot of good luck with them, especially their limited edition collections.
    Jessi recently posted … Lipstick Swatch Spam with Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipsticks

  3. Instant Karma says:

    Ahh, I can’t deal with fallout. I am just too lazy to clean up after my eye shadow…

    Aww, that’s such a cute photo of you two (also, your childhood bangs looked a lot better than mine were — they were tragic, lol). I totally understand the feeling, though. I’m an only child, but a friend of my family’s daughter just graduated from high school, and I remember when she was born when I was in first grade. She’s going to start studying physical therapy in the fall, and I’m used to thinking of her as a nine year old! Time flies, doesn’t it? Even though it’s certainly strange to watch people grow up, you get the opportunity to observe them develop as individuals, and you get to be proud of who they are and what they’ve accomplished. Your brother’s lucky to have such a great big sister who clearly cares about him very much :).

  4. Zeadelle says:

    I thInk the colors great.

    And yup, I have to younger brothers, 15 & 6.
    Im 16 though πŸ™‚

  5. Heidi says:

    Back to Khaki looks nice, but I was hoping for a lot more pigmentation from Mystic Purple.

    Only child here, but I can see how one can get choked up seeing how fast the time goes with siblings growing up.

  6. Naj says:

    How does a hologram finish look like? This is my first time hearing the term.

    Also, I do have 2 elder brothers and a younger sister. But what I cant believe is that I’m suddenly turning 20 this year. Where did all my teen years go? πŸ™

  7. Stef Smith says:

    These are pretty, and you can’t beat the price, but I think I’ll stick with Urban Decay, I like the pigmentation. And I have a twin brother, aged 36!, and a younger sister, 34.

  8. Kate & Zena says:

    Aside from my baby brothers and sister doggies, hamsters AND guinea pigs, I have one squat baby bratty brother. He’s younger than me by 22 months, so needless to say, I don’t remember his birth. Apparently I tried to kill him numerous times. My mom said she’s surprised he lived past four year’s old without any major damage done to him considering what I all did to him (and trust me, I did EVERYTHING to kill him aside from taking a gun and shoot him or a knife and stabbing him.)

    Not every child is happy with a new addition, y’know.

    Two days ago was hard for me, except mine was a lot different than yours. I had a grief night. Some people sit down sometimes and just cry over missing a person; me, I sit down and cry over missing my dogs because I’ve A) never really lost a human close to me and B) I’m closer to doggies than to humans. I just had to sit down and cry about my childhood dog Porsche, my greyhound. She’s been in Heaven for over ten years, but there are just times when I miss her a lot. She was an original dog and I had her for seven years so there’s a lot of memories of her. We decided to put her out of her pain because she had bloat and paw cancer; she couldn’t do anything she loved anymore. It’s hard to think that it’s been ten years and I still grieve over her. Weird, huh? I don’t grieve so much over Kimo or Joseph, but Porsche is a constant process. I’m not sure why. It’s really weird.

  9. gio says:

    I’m not a big fan of Essence eyeshadows, they are powdery and don’t last long. They make some pretty shades though,
    gio recently posted … QOTW- Do You Prefer Natural Or Bold Looks On Yourself

  10. Beth says:

    The light Essence colours are good for highlighting – since my office is strict, the pink provides just the amount of pink I can get away with, and any pigments generally last a year on my eyelids. I like their nail polish better, though.

  11. Christina says:

    Those are some gorgeous shades! While I do think it’s a bummer that they get all over the place (I can be a bit of a klutz when applying make-up so I can see it getting eveerrryywhheerreee) I can totally forgive that for the price and the color variety! I’d definitely give these a try!

    And awwww, happy birthday to your brother! πŸ˜€ I’m actually an only child but I always wished I had an older brother/kuya.

  12. Dao says:

    Happy birthday to Karen’s brother! I hope he spoils Tabs a lot πŸ™‚

    Have you tried Essence mechanical pencil liner before? Gio (who commented above) sent me one and it’s awesome. Smudge-proof and does not move an inch after you line your eyes.
    Dao recently posted … One Dollar Wonder- ELF Plumping Lip Glaze in Baby Doll

  13. Tessa says:

    Happy hirthday to your brother!
    I have a little brother who is 5,5 years younger then me, and I really see myself doing the same thing in 19 years time (when he turns 30, lol). We’re really close and I love him so much!

  14. jenn says:

    At first I got really excited seeing a $2 red eyeshadow, but then I saw the pigmentation…=/

    But happy birthday to your brother! πŸ˜€
    jenn recently posted … Photo

  15. Chris25 says:

    With the except of It’s Up To You, these look skippable. Knock Out looks sort of like NYX Algae.

    I am the oldest of five! A younger sister, a younger brother, one half-sister, and one half-brother!

    Speaking of boo-hooing, my brother turned 21 recently. I was in shock for about 2 days. Seriously? Little Mikey is old enough to drink?

  16. Kate Williamson says:

    My Dad had the same fridge when I was growing up, as well as the giant rice cooker. Ah, how I miss the Esprit outlet in San Francisco. It was there that I discovered the ultra hip look of two polo shirts layered together. I recently made a trip home and that area where the outlet used to be is the new It area. Who could have predicted that 3rd St. would ever be trendy? My brother is ten years younger than I am and my sister is seven years younger. Now that we are all adults, we really enjoy each other’s kooky personalities. A little part of me wishes that we were all kids again living in my Dad’s house. We all stayed at my Dad’s house during my visit and I kept getting these weird deja vu moments during my visit. As I was driving away to go to the airport at the end of my visit, I looked back and saw my sister and my Dad crying and waving at me from the house that I had spent the first 23 years of my life in. I suddenly had a flashback to when I first moved away from home. I was driving away in my car that was jam packed with all my belongings, and as I looked back in my rearveiw mirror, I could see my dad and sister waving at me as I drove away. They were crying then too.

  17. Paris B says:

    Ah in a bit of international synchonicity, I discovered and posted about Essence makeup too! πŸ˜€ I passed on most of the single eyeshadows (wasn’t terribly impressed) but I did pick up one palette that I swatched and found quite decent. Not as sheer as the singles so fare much better.
    Paris B recently posted … Previewing Essence Cosmetics – Budget Makeup That Does Not Break Your Bank

  18. Advah says:

    I really like the Back to Khaki colour! I expected chalky colours but not with this one. Not cool about the ‘all over the place’ part though, I curse at my Nars’ Calanque palette every time for that.

    And happy birthday to your brother! Does he live close to you or on the other side of the country?
    I’ve a brother and a sister (7 and 10) years older than me; one’s in the US and the other still in France. We get along really well and all miss each other like crazy, despite frequent and long (over an hour most of the time, my flatmates were shocked hehe) phonecalls it’s still difficult feeling we’re missing chunks of each other’s life.

    Also, that photo’s priceless! All the food’s got me hungry!

  19. Elle says:

    You should try some essence colour and go nail polishes. They are amazing. Quick drying, big colour selection..

  20. Marian says:

    I have 2 younger sisters.( in their 50s) They live together in Florida and I haven’t seen them for years. They were always joined at the hip and don’t seem to need anybody except each other so unfortunately, we were never close.

  21. Kim says:

    I like the design in the pan, as usual. πŸ™‚ Actually, I find It’s Up to You to be pretty interesting. I don’t think such a red shadow would be flattering on me but I’m sure it works for some people.

    Happy B’day to your little bro! You are definitely stylin’ in that picture – and I have a couple of things to make you feel better (hopefully). I was rocking that look as a Junior in HS at that time, so at least you weren’t almost an adult during the big bang days. Also, I know it makes you nostalgic to remember your brother as a sweet, little boy. But, just think, you guys have had 30 years to grow together and will hopefully have many decades more. Your relationship will change, just like you will both change, but he’s always going to be your baby brother. I hope he reads your post and draws you a picture and asks you for a hug again soon. PS I love his castle!

    I have a little sister – 3 years younger. We couldn’t be more different, but I love her dearly. πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      I remember rocking that outfit and thinking I was the ISH back in the day. Seriously… somebody should’ve stopped me.

      Do your sis live nearby? My brother is in SF, which is about 40 minutes away, and I don’t see him as nearly as much as I’d like.

      • Kim says:

        She lives in Brooklyn now, so about a 6.5 hour drive. We usually only get to see each other once or twice per year. The last time we went to visit her, she was in DC, so this is a big improvement (travel wise). πŸ™‚

        Have a great weekend – I’ll be off very shortly to the Relay for Life to walk all night. And sing some very bad karaoke, of course. Yay!

  22. marciepooh says:

    hmm, $2 eyeshadow – I just might have to check that out. I don’t wear makeup much and am always hesitant to buy expensive stuff that’ll just sit in the bag until baby sis comes over and ‘borrows’ it.

    I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters! They are (or will be this year) 58, 54, 54, 52, 39, and 13. (I’ll be 35 in a week and a half.) My older sister would have been 54 this fall. No twins, the oldest 5 are half sibs and the youngest is my biological niece. Don’t ask me to draw a family tree.

  23. kalcedon says:

    I’m quite an Essence fan (it’s so in my price range), but I never really got to try the shadows (only one duo and a palette, which I’m quite content with). The red one seems nice, though. I like their lipsticks (they are not the best pigmented ones out there, either, but for that price, they’re ok).

  24. Aww…Back to Khaki looks so nice on pan but it’s so sheer on the swatch…sigh. I have been lusting over LM Black Karat.
    Beautiful Canvas recently posted … FDAs New Law for Sunscreen Manufacturers

    • Karen says:

      It’s one of the most pigmented in the bunch, believe it or not. It’s nice for a wash on the lid… add some black liner and mascara nad you’re good to go.

  25. Cheech says:

    I have Back to Khaki and it’s a really pretty color. I wouldn’t buy a ton of these shadows bc they don’t last long but they’re not bad for $2

  26. says:

    omg they carry essence in the us? they are huge in hungary as they are super affordable. i havent tried the eyeshadows, but i heard good reviews… also they have good nail polishes, and some equipment like nail polish removers, fast drier etc. i have bought the eye pencils in purple and dark green and the purple is amazing!! simply amazing! after wearing it today for more than 8 hrs it didnt smudge at all!!! i am so pleased with the color, its more dark purple, than violet, and sososo pigmented! i can recommend the eye pencils πŸ˜‰

  27. Barb says:

    Hi Karen. I’ve never tried these but they look nice enough. I mean for $2 a pop, it’s a good deal πŸ™‚

    I am the oldest and the only girl. I have 2 brothers, one is a year younger than me and the other is 4 years younger. I have very vague memories of him coming home. My mom tells me that I was trying to be nice and put a big metal Tonka truck in the bassinet for him to play with. Almost hit him in his head with it!

    I have two boys with a big age gap. They are 11 and 24. My 11 year old adores and looks up to his older brother.

  28. Liza says:

    These look great, especially for just $2 a pop! Oh and your pictures are so cute:)
    Liza recently posted … Petite Fashion Challenge 8- Spinning the Favorites

  29. maryinwonder says:

    Essence is a so-so brand. We have them in every drugstore and I go for the LE stuffs most of the time. The eyeshadows are either utter crap or greatness. Anyway, a good primer is a must! Without that they are unusable….for other products, you can find true gems, but avoid lip products…they won’t show! The permanent line also has good stuff. Anyway, I can only recommend the brand. You’ll definitely find shit among them, but for the price, who cares =)
    maryinwonder recently posted … HABA G-Lotion Pure Roots

  30. Rosie says:

    Hi Karen! happy Birthday to your baby brother. I am 44 and I am still called baby sister. I have 5 older brothers & 3 older sisters. One of my brothers passed away last year. I didn’t feel old until then. My parents are 83 and I never thought they were old until their son died. It’s hard to grasp even today. I have 2 kids, 5 nephews, 5 nieces, 4 great-nephews and 6 great-nieces, including one born today!! I love to read your column, whether it’s about make-up or not πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rosie,

      Congrats on your new great niece! That’s so exciting!

      Awww, it must be nice to still be the baby sister. The youngest ones always get away with everything. πŸ˜‰

      I’m very sorry to hear about your brother’s passing. It must’ve been hard for you and your family.

  31. Barb says:

    I love them, but I’m lighter than NW15 and over 40, so I really appreciate they are on the sheer side. The price is great and I can experiment with new hues without feeling guilty for the price. The colors are gorgeous and they last all day with no fallout or smudging without primer. For that price they are worth a try.

  32. BeckBeck says:

    The only one I could probably swing is Back to Khaki, but I’ve put myself on a no-buy for single eyeshadows that aren’t MAC pro pans/depottable – I never use them because quads or palettes are faster for me than rooting around for individual pots.

    I have a brother 3&1/2 years younger. I asked if he could be returned when he was a couple weeks old; apparently the return policy on little brothers is a bit stricter than most retailers’ for cosmetics. Now (at 28 and 24), though we don’t have a lot in common, we each know the other has our back.

  33. Nicky Bromow says:

    I bought Sephora Colorplay palette and have to deal with fallout, but nothing a good fan brush can’t take care of.

    I have a younger brother, he just turned 22 and he means the world to me. He moved 10hrs from my place and I never see him nor talk to him on the phone now, all I can do is follow his life on facebook and I miss him like crazy!

  34. Stephanie says:

    The pigmentation is good for people who don’t really like bright colors on their eyes.. I like the brand, I love their nail polishes(I have a lot of them), but I don’t like the shadows.
    Stephanie recently posted … Tutorial- Graffiti

  35. Danielle says:

    Aww—I turn 30 in August and I’m the baby out of my sisters πŸ™‚

    Have you tried Black Radiance eyeshadows? They are AWESOME! I think the duos are about $2 and the quads are like $4. They are very pigmented and last long but the only downside is you can’t find the brand everywhere and there isn’t a huge range of colors, but the ones they have are nice.

  36. Iris says:

    I like essence, they have a few things I like ( especially the LE), but where I live (the Netherlandswe have another budget brand,which is very good. It’s called Catrice, they just renewed their whole collection and the quality overall is quite good.

    I have one sister, she’s aslmost 2 years younger (19)than me. We have a very thight band.

  37. bagaela says:

    Oooh, I love essence, I didn’t realize they carry it in the US until I saw the products on Your blog!

    It’s my favourite budget make up. I have the green Knock out and the blue mission shades, I love them with a good base, as thay are matte, the color is buildable and strong!
    bagaela recently posted … The ultimate lip-plumping must-have

  38. Mandy says:

    $2 is tempting but the mattes look a bit chalky. Perhaps if applied with a fixative of some kind they would be worth our while?

  39. Tanya^^ says:

    Oh I did try those as well. In my opinion single eyeshadows are good for the price. But keep away from quads…no pigmintation…quatros( I think thats what they are called) r not too good as weel…but do try their new smokey lashes(or eyes) mascara, its pretty good and the price is very affordable.^^

  40. Grace says:

    I agree that they’re worth a try for the price.

    Only child here but I can imagine the memories and bonds that are created with siblings. πŸ™‚

  41. Nina says:

    im the youngest, and my sibs are way older than me. im whats called an afterthought baby haha!

    you and your brother look cute together!

    i was looking at the essence display at my local grocery store yesterday. i couldnt dawdle because the hubs was waiting but id have to say — very promising!

  42. Lizzard says:

    karen! where did you find these? i saw this brand when i went to germany in the spring but i’ve NEVER seen them in the US and actually bought an eyeshadow for my friend thinking “oh how cute i’ll get her a pretty shadow with a unique non-US brand” HA!
    Lizzard recently posted … Free 5×7 Folded Card for Mothers Day

  43. Kirstie says:

    While Essence is completely great in general for the teeny prices, the shimmer solos tend to be better than the mattes definitely. The shadows are probably the thing I like the least but if you happen to see Party all Night on your travels, it’s worth buying. It’s a lovely old-gold shade that’s really pretty on.

  44. Kirstie says:

    Oh! and I have two sisters!

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