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making faces :: essential cargo

cargo is one of those brands that i've been meaning to explore forever, but just never get around to. it doesn't help that they're not widely available in stores here in canada, since i'm as guilty as the next person of giving into immediate temptation rather than thinking about what i'd like to get over the long term. i received a sample of their lash activator mascara in a gift bag from murale and was mightily impressed, but somehow i've just not gotten around to exploring other things.

but i finally did succumb a couple of months ago and pick up a smart little eye shadow palette called "the essentials". it's a collection of twelve neutral shades, along with a black eye liner and a dual-ended brush. although laid out a bit differently, i'd say it's about the same size as the urban decay naked palettes and is clearly aimed at the same type of consumer. it's a go-anywhere-and-everywhere kind of palette with a mix of matte and shimmer shades, the sort of thing that's perfect for traveling, aside from being sort of a morning rush no-brainer. 

there have been dozens of ersatz naked palettes in the last few years and there are brands who were making a living from them [bobbi brown, anyone?] before urban decay decided to make it a big deal to have an all-neutral eyeshadow combo. what makes this one distinct from many of the ones that i've seen is that it's, well, neutral. there are shades that lean a little cool and others that lean a little warm, but for the most part, these shades fall right in the middle of the colour temperature spectrum. since the overwhelming majority of neutral palettes lean warm, this is a welcome relief for those of us who don't.

l to r :: uptown, district, city hall
uptown :: this is a slightly-warmer-than-pure-white highlight shade with a subdued shimmer. it looks soft in swatches but appears brighter on the eye. it's not a unique shade, but it's a really nice version of a highlighter that applies well and lasts well, although it does fade after about the five or six hour mark.

district :: this is a warm-leaning shimmery peach that makes a lovely all-over lid colour. it's neutral, but a little livelier than a straight grey or beige. i like the fact that the shimmer doesn't read as very frosty. i got good wear with this one every time i tried it.

city hall :: a matte bone shade that can work as a highlight or lid colour. there's something about it that reads as a little muted, especially when compared to uptown. it's not ever going to look really bright, nor do i think it's supposed to. it's just a workhorse kind of colour that you can use on its own or to blend other colours. this one does kick up a fair amount of excess powder [which equates to wasted product] and its consistency means that it can blend out a little too easily. still a very functional shade.

l to r :: urban, rush hour, plaza
urban :: this is a really interesting shade. it's another light matte, but where "city hall" leans perhaps a little warm, this one is cooler. it's like a very light grey, with just a touch of pink to it. this one was probably the worst offender when it came to powderiness, but it applied well. it did fade faster than i would have liked and the fading robs it of its uniqueness. after a few hours, it just looks like a greyish neutral.

rush hour :: another really interesting shade, like a light terracotta with a matte finish. this one is very pigmented and was one of the best-lasting shades in the entire palette. it's probably the warmest of the colours, but it still falls squarely within neutral territory. it held together better than most of the other mattes.

plaza :: a neutral-lover's neutral, this one. it's a soft putty kind of shade that works as a lid colour or for getting that nice sculpted crease look. it's a matte shade again and while it's not as powdery as "urban", i found it a bit difficult to get it built up to what you see here. that said, once i did get it where i wanted, it lasted very well. i'd buy this shade as a contour product in a heartbeat.

l to r :: downtown, industry, metro
downtown :: this is a blue-tinged black that doesn't swatch terribly well, but applies and lasts exactly as you'd wish. it blends very well, but doesn't blend away, which can be a problem with some softer black shades. i believe this one is matte, but the blue cast makes it appear a little more like a satin, like it has a slight sheen.

industry :: a shimmery cool steel grey and the closest thing to a full-on frost that the palette has, this one looks just gorgeous when swatched, but it's unfortunately rather quick to lose its luster. within a couple of hours, it becomes a flat grey and your guess is as good as mine as to where the shimmer gets to. ironically, the base colour is tenacious, blends well and doesn't crease. it just doesn't end up resembling what it looks like in swatches or on initial application.

metro :: a soft, medium reddened-brown with copper tones and an understated shimmer, this is another one of the palette's best performers. it looks amazing with blue eyes because of the orange tones and would complement warmer complexions very well.

l to r :: brownstone, hub, facade
brownstone :: without a doubt the best matte shade in the palette. it's a deep, cool-leaning brown that applies smoothly and is extremely pigmented. it lasts well without fading. it blends easily with the other shades but holds its own with aplomb. well done, brownstone. well done.

hub :: no neutral palette is complete without a taupe shade, but i like the fact that this taupe is a little bit different. it's cool and neutral looking, but it has a copper sheen that makes it appear warmer when the light hits it. definitely one of the better performing shades here and one that can hang with either the warm or the cool shades.

facade :: urgh. that squelching sound you hear is my heart getting squished under the weight of the expectations created by swatching this colour. it reads as a dark matte grey, but when you see it separately, it's actually a very dark indigo-purple colour, a characteristic that comes out when you see it around cooler shades. it applies with such dense pigmentation that it's almost a little scary. there's no need to worry, though, because this, my friends, is the goddamned kaiser sose of eyeshadows. you look around and *poof* he's gone. if you try blending him with other shadows, he just dissipates. if you pat him in place and leave him be, he starts to fade within minutes. it's just not fair.

so as you can see, this palette is a bit of a mixed bag. i got it by redeeming some of my shoppers drug mart optimum points, meaning that it was basically gratis. at full price, it's $50cad, as compared to $67cad for the urban decay naked palettes. so it's significantly cheaper, but there are more shades that miss the mark.

and now, a word about talc: one of the reasons that these shades are powdery and blend out too easily is because the formula is talc-heavy. for me, that meant that they tended to make my eyes itch, particularly the matte shades. for some people, talc isn't an issue [it normally isn't for me], but if it is one for you, then this palette is a serious no-go.

here's a quick look at a warmer and a cooler version of looks i did with different shades:




this one includes uptown, district, city hall, rush hour, metro and brownstone [getting some company from colour pop "prance" on the lower water lines]. the lip gloss is mac "pink lemonade", worn over dior lip and cheek glow.




in this one, i'm wearing urban, plaza, industry, uptown and facade. i'm pathetically proud of the fact that you can still see some of the shimmer in "industry" and that there is a darker shade at the outer corners of my eyes, which is where i placed "facade". this is less than an hour after i did my makeup, so this is really as good as it gets.

i'm wearing guerlain jolie teint in "blond clair" on my cheeks and the lipstick is nars "angela".

there are other products from cargo that i'm interested in exploring, but for the time being, i think i'm going to limit myself to ones that i can get on sale. i don't dislike the "the essentials", it's really hard to dislike something that has so many practical shades and applications, but for the moment, i'd rather save my pennies and complete my urban decay naked collection. 

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