Do not skip the Three beauty counters if you have the tiniest opportunity to approach them.
By the way, their brushes are made by Chikuhodo and the only reason why I did not get any is because at the end I also had a budget to stick to and they aren’t cheap.
I purchased two of the 4D palettes in Japan, 04 Art of Parties and 08 Spirit Light, very recently I ordered the 09 Star Guitar.
My first reaction at the counter in Tokyo was not that exciting, I noticed too much glitter -in everything. The pencils, the eyeshadows, the pigments… I was hoping for a little less sparkle and a little more coverage but actually, Three is more about transparency and translucency which actually today is what I am really interested in.
The picture with flash may scare you, it shows that there is a lot of sparkle going on in there!
Today I would like to share my thoughts on these palettes, what I love about them or what I don’t, see if this can help you somehow. I know the access to Three is not easy and without swatches or online reviews it’s not easy to take decisions, believe me, even at the counter I could not see myself wearing them at all and had the feeling I was making a mistake trying to. I bought them more for the sake of trying something new more than for having fallen in love at first sight, at that time I did not see the Star Guitar (not released yet), that one would definitely not have me hesitating.
When I was back from Japan and tried the 04 and 08 I wasn’t that impressed, I thought the textures were difficult to work with and way too sparkly for daily use. Not enough time to spend in disciplining those sparkles into a wearable look and the daily stress did not put me in the mood of experimenting. Kate (Drivel about Frivol) describes the textures really well and has stunning swatches of them here and here. Haru (Rouge Deluxe) has also a fantastic Three introduction and gorgeous look here.
Some shades deliver more coverage, or are more or less loaded with sparkles. The 08 Spirit Light has two pans that are just made of sparkles, I cannot manage to layer any base color with these two 08 sparkle pans.
The Three palettes shown here have a brown shade, looks similar from the distance but as you see in the swatch below, they are clearly different. The one in Star Guitar is in my opinion the best of all, looks like an airbrushed texture, stunning and easy to work with, the finish is my favorite ever.
The brown in Spirit Light is … light, a bit too light unfortunately but at least it doesn’t have sparkles and it does a great job in turning any of the Three cream-like texture into a different interesting taupish colour.
The brown in Art of Parties is more shimmery but not over the top, goes well with the whole palette, brings warmth and contrast.
My first attempts with the 04 and 08, were “ok” but not quite that excited about it, then when I used the newest 09 Star Guitar I entered Wonderland by the big Star entrance. You have to be willing to step out of the neutral comfort zone to be able to fully appreciate the effects, after one year in a very neutral phase I struggled. I have been wearing these palettes everyday for a week now, yes I do sparkle but with the 09 it is acceptable for me, it’s not a metallic shine that makes my eyelids look heavy and that emphasize my age, their texture definitely helps with the wearability factor.
When I saw Kate’s looks with 09 Star Guitar I was intrigued by the possibilities. She has excellent taste and she is absolutely freaking gorgeous in Star Guitar, not only in that palette but you know that already. We all want to recreate her looks, she is an inspiration to many, a muse with many talents, beauty and speech are just two of them. When I tried to recreate one of the looks she was wearing, I had a moment and heard Angels singing 🙂
I do think that Star Guitar’s “4D” naming is appropriate, when you come from a neutral flat dimension it requires a little bit of bravery at first but whatever the result, I always saw a balanced combination of mystery and comfort.
The first time I was wearing in a very subtle application, when I apply my makeup is 6:30am, it’s still dark outside, my lighting is not good and I am always afraid to overdose it. The day after I decided to do the same thing, just less subtle. Either way they performed really well but the final application with the darkest shade of Star Guitar is not striking like the pan is, on the eyelids it won’t be overly sparkly, it won’t be that distinctively “burgundy” and you will have to work it to get very dark results, BUT, it does look very beautiful at the end.
Since I was so happy with the Star Guitar, I decided to further experiment with the other 2 I had.
The 08 Spirit Light was not a success, definitely too sparkly and the sparkles too volatile. The only way I can make it work nicely is to apply the dark shade as a base all over the mobile lid with or without the brown shade on top. I think I still have to work on it to appreciate it, for now I don’t.
The 04 Art of Parties was a great surprise. Tried different looks with it, I love to apply the violet in the inner corner of the lid (~1/3), with the brown as gradient transition until the outer V, where I apply the dark cream shadow. I also use the dark cream to thickly line the lash line (bottom and upper). The stunning conclusion is that after 10 hours the gradient application is still visible and you can still appreciate the effect and the violet is clearly there, when you can claim that a sheer shadow like this violet can last the whole day looking awesome, that means they created something amazing.
This violet shade is not that easy to dupe, I show it to you near other shades and you’ll see it’s very different and so much more interesting.
I love the little Shu Uemura trio, the shades have a more satin-airbrushed finish, looks gorgeous applied but you see that the Three is so much more complex.
I am comparing the two browns from the 04 and 08, I could not find exact dupes but I do love the Make Up For Ever 127 which appears to be in between the 04 and 08 in terms of opacity and finish.
The RBR Gracious Arasari is very sheer almost invisible on my skin if I don’t swatch it heavily and the Bohemian Waxwing much more shimmery in comparison to the others.
I was very interested by the Coral shade in 08 Spirit Light but since it’s just sparkles, that is not that interesting at the end. On the other hand, the Three duo Love Connection has a beautiful gold coral, still sheer but you can get a base color.
Unless you are really in love with sparkles in 08, probably the duo will be more handy for most of us.
The burgundy in Star Guitar is beautiful in the pan, you see very clearly the complexity of this shade but as I said before, on the eyes, at least on mine, the complexity is not that obvious.
I shared in the past that I love the Shu Uemura Raspberry and Mocha palette, now you know why… 6 shades with different textures in the same palette, extremely well pigmented and the one I am swatching here is no exception.
The Shu Uemura Prestigious Bordeaux is not that stunning for me, my favourite shade in this palette is the tiny red brick, the colour of this blush is the reason why I don’t regret the purchase of the palette. If they had a full size blush of this shade, I would run get it right now.
I’d say the closest could be the Burberry Mulberry which is a must have. I took a picture of the stains while removing the swatches, the Shu Raspberry and Mocha does last really well, but now you see that this 4D palette has fantastic lasting power, although it doesn’t set, it fades very slowly and evenly throughout the day.
The brown in the Star Guitar is a gorgeous texture and colour. The Shu trio is fantastic, when I found that one I had to run across London to find a counter that still had it…I am quite happy that the Three is even better, the Shu is more sheer and less complex but still matches my definition or perfect texture (=not powdery, not overly shimmery, pigmented but buildable).
5 of the most amazing browns I own, I am not always after complexity and these are interesting since they are easy to wear for ageing eyes, with satin shine as opposed to shimmer/metallic finish.
The sparkles of the Star Guitar do have a base color, that I cannot notice when I use it but they do. When I use Star Guitar I use every single shade and I apply the sparkles in the inner corner of the eye, always. I do not feel they are too much at all but I just apply a few of them, as many as you can grab with a Koyudo C011 or a Tom Ford pencil brush with one swipe, not more.
The only two sparkle pans that have a base colour are the Charlotte Tilbury and the Three but on the eyes I cannot make the base colour show anyway.
The pink shade of Star Guitar adds the *ooooomph* to the final application, looks totally blah here but it’s stunning. With the right light you can see how it dresses the look with a stunning subtle coat of magic shine. I wear it on top of the whole look or as a base, it’s just luminosity in a pan.
When you swatch a normal white goat brush you see the amount of color it picks yet it’s nearly invisible on the eyes.
The textures are a bit more tricky, the creamy can be used as base or liner or just to add depth in the outer V. To apply the creamy pan as a base I prefer the fingertips to layer it (pat, blend, pat, blend..) but a weasel or kolinsky brush would very nicely do the trick, I just find that the fingertips are the fastest and more gentle way to work with these, the burgundy is not that easily buildable but the advantage is that the capacity of gradually building it allows more flexibility. Even at full layering it does not look over the top.
If you are just going to apply it near the lashline, then better to use a small weasel brush (or kolinsky), or even the Mac 239… I just prefer weasel or kolinsky with the cream textures, I find they apply more evenly and softly.
If you are going for an outer V application with the cream texture, the longer crease brushes (s141 or bp036) are a bit too flexible, better get a pencil brush the size of the TF 14.
When I want the cream shadow to be applied on the outer V and dragged inwards, I use the TF 12, vertical with the tip of the brush, you just need a firm and dense brush that can pack color.
I don’t use the burgundy as thin liner because I use the Tom Ford defining pen on a daily basis but I do line the bottom lash line and upper lash line in a thick application and for that I use the G5514 or C011.
As for the violet pan in 04 Art of Parties, I like it heavily applied so I use the Mac 239 in sideways motions, not pat-pat-down but windshield rub-rub 😛
The browns are workable with any brush, I use the Nars 12 or TF13 but any would do the trick, the denser and thicker the bristles, the more coverage you’ll get.
The pink in Star Guitar can be applied with any base brush or blended over with any blending brush.
The sparkles I pick them up with the C011 because it’s still dense at the top but soft enough to not poke the delicate skin in the inner corner of the eyes, it’s firm enough to place and press lightly.
This is how I use these textures but the little brushes that come with the compacts are usable, not that great but if you don’t have anything else they will get the job done.
Difficult to see if these palettes will work for us without being able to swatch and try them before. Some have more sparkles than others and if you don’t like sparkles it’s going to be a bit more selective.
If you have to start with something from Three I would recommend you the Star Guitar. I am fully enjoying the Art of Parties and Star Guitar and I think that with these two I have a wide range of possibilities.
Haru mentions that in Tokyo they are available in Isetan and Odakyu in Shinjuku, Seibu in Ikebukuro and Shibuya, and in Ginza they are in the big Mitsukoshi.
I believe that online they can be found at Ichibankao.
I hope this was helpful and I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on them!