One of the more interesting phenomenons of the current makeup landscape is the growing emergence of indie brands. More and more makeup enthusiasts are turning to small, independent, brands for innovative new products. While it’s extremely difficult for any brand to distinguish themselves in an oversaturated market, indie brands, like Sydney Grace Co. has managed to carve out a niche for themselves, offering products you won’t find from major cosmetic giants.
Sydney Grace is an independent cosmetics brand owned by two sisters, based out of California. Their website describes their brand as “High quality, cruelty free cosmetics” and they’ve been gaining popularity, specifically for their eye shadow formula, with most of their shadows scoring an “A” from Temptalia.
As per the brand all of their products are formulated and produced in Northern California and they claim not to outsource any of their products.
Their line first launched in 2015 (under a different name) and has grown beyond their extensive range of single shadows to include cream shadows, loose pigments, and pressed glitters. They offer several face products such as setting powders, pressed and loose highlighters, and pressed blushes as well as a line of lip creams.
Sydney Grace Co. Review
As an indie brand, Sydney Grace has many unique features that have helped them gain popularity over the last few years.
The fact that the pressed powder products are all sold as individual pans coupled with their wide range of both shades and finishes, leaves a lot of room for customization, and enables users to create their own palettes.
Their website does a good job of breaking down their products based on finishes and color family which is super helpful, especially when building your own palette. Their blushes and highlighters are categorized according to skin depth and their range is broad enough to be inclusive of all skin tones.
I found it particularly interesting that Sydney Grace offers their setting powders in two formulas, the difference being the talc or mica bases. The brand says that the difference is mostly preferential as the performance of both versions is largely the same. It’s not something I’ve seen offered by any other brand, where they create the same product with two different ingredients to cater to different preferences, and it seems to be another key example of how the brand is setting themselves in a category of their own.
Another unique feature of their website is the descriptions of the ingredients listed alongside many of their products. Almost all brands just list their ingredients and call it a day, perhaps relying on the uneducated consumer’s inability to determine the nature of additives that they can barely pronounce. By contrast, Sydney Grace provides a coherent description of both the composition and function of many of the key ingredients below the ingredient list. I think providing ingredient transparency was quite a savvy decision, as more and more consumers are educating themselves and becoming more discerning in their purchasing choices.
Their website provides swatches for the majority of their line, and they also have photos of many products swatched next to similar colors, something I found very useful when selecting the items I wanted to purchase. I also appreciated that the swatches seem less edited than the promo photos we’re used to seeing from a lot of major brands. Those tend to be useless in determining the actual product color due to heavy photo-shopping.
While I haven’t tried everything from the brand, I was intrigued enough to order a few of their products which I’ve reviewed below.
Sydney Grace Eye Shadow Review
The Sydney Grace pressed eyeshadows seem to be their most popular products and for good reason. They’ve got a wide range of colors that are available in three different finishes, matte, shimmer, and pressed pigment (metallic). The shadows are categorized first by finish, and then by color family so if you’re browsing the site you can select from blues and greens, purples and mauves, pinks and reds, etc.
The shadows are sold as individual pans which are the same size as an average mac eyeshadow and contain 1.8 grams of product. Sydney Grace does sell empty cardboard magnetic palettes in sizes that will fit either 9, 12, or 48 eyeshadows.
A feature of their website that I thought was really clever is their section labeled “Palette Comps” where they list the grouping of shades in their line that are similar to some very popular palettes by other brands. I don’t think this would be practical for duping an entire palette because it would work out more expensive to purchase the individual shades than the original palette but I think it is helpful if there are only one or two shades in a palette that catch your eye and you’re looking to find them as singles. It’s also helpful for those that already own a large collection of Sydney Grace eyeshadows and you’re considering purchasing one of those palettes.
Matte Shadows [$5]
The mattes that I’ve tried all had a fairly consistent smooth texture and a medium level of density where you can dust off the top layer of a swatch but there’d still be a good amount of color remaining. The pigmentation remained strong across the board with the shadows applying true to color both in the swatches and on the eye.
While the matte shadows blend really easily, some shades kick up quite a bit of fallout so I’m careful to tap or blot the excess off of the brush before applying. To compare them to some of the softest shadows on the market like ABH’s or Lorac’s formula, the Sydney Grace mattes are slightly less soft and are more tightly packed, which I prefer because I think it makes it easier to apply and blend without dusting away and I find the longevity is better as well. I’d say the formula is pretty comparable to that of Colourpop’s single mattes which is one of my favorites although I find Colourpop’s pigmentation to be slightly denser resulting in increased wear time.
I’d say if you like your mattes on the softer side but don’t like having to build up the color too much you might really enjoy the Sydney Grace matte formula but I don’t think it’s the most unique thing in their range and you can find similar products from other brands.
Shimmer Shadows [$5] and Pressed Pigments [$6]
The shimmery shadows are what really stand out to me, specifically the pressed pigments. Both formulas are beautifully shiny, the difference being that the shimmers have a smoother, more subtle finish while the pressed pigments are true metallics with an intensely reflective, almost textured shine. While you could blend a shimmer up into your crease, the pressed pigments are most suited for a targeted application on the lid, lower lash-line, or as an inner corner highlight.
The texture of both the shimmers and the pressed pigments is incredibly creamy and dense,and though the shimmers are definitely thinner than the pressed pigments, both formulas have fantastic pigmentation. The color in the swatches matches the appearance of the shadows in their pans perfectly.
While both can be applied with brushes as well as fingers, the pressed pigments have some fall out when applied with a brush and I had to really press the color into the lid. In some cases I found it helpful to go back in and build up the shine which lost some intensity after I had blended in all the surrounding colors.
All in all while it’s not the most low maintenance formula, the finish of the pressed pigments is unique and stunning enough that I’ll continue to use the shadows and enjoy them. The shimmers, while beautiful aren’t something super unique to my collection so I wouldn’t actively seek out more of them unless it’s a shade I haven’t seen before.
If intensely foiled metallics are what you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed with the Sydney Grace pressed pigments.
For me, equally as impressive as the texture is the color selection. I’m always looking for colors that are off the beaten path to function as my updated version of neutrals, shades that will show up as distinct color, but still retain an element of neutrality to where I’d feel comfortable wearing them on an average day.
Sydney Graces’ eye-shadow line fills these criteria beautifully. Their vast selection of shadows contain so many unique shades that I had a hard time deciding which ones to purchase. Some of my favorite color families to use on my eyes are pinks and mauves and there are so many to choose from in the line. It’s not difficult to find palettes containing warm pinks and reds but it’s far less common to find such a wide range of cool-toned mauves, especially in the unique finish of the pressed pigments. Based on the shades I own, I’d definitely be excited to try more.
Pros of Sydney Grace Eye Shadows
Gorgeous and vast array of shades
Smooth, soft textures
Shadows blend easily
Range of finishes
Incredibly reflective finishes on the pressed pigments
Cons of Sydney Grace Eye Shadows
Mattes kick up a lot of fallout
Textured finish of the pressed pigments results in fall out and the shadows lose some intensity when blended
Pressed pigments require more effort to apply
Sydney Grace Blush Review [$9]
The blush was actually the product that introduced me to the Sydney Grace line. I saw a swatch for their Paris Skies blush and the color struck me as so different from anything I’d ever seen that, before I knew it, I had a whole cartload of products and was clicking “place order”.
The blushes are sold as individual pans, each containing 7 grams of product.
Currently, there are twelve colors to choose from and while the collection tends to lean on the warm side, there are some uniquely cool toned mauves and neutrals that I really haven’t seen from other brands.
The range includes both matte and shimmer finishes, the one I’ve tried is a shimmer and the sheen is quite pronounced.
The formula feels very similar to that of their shimmer shadows, it’s dense and creamy with a smooth sheen that retains its shine even once blended out.
While I love the icy mauve tone of Paris Skies, I don’t like how the shimmer looks on the cheek. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good shimmery blush, and when done correctly, it’s actually my preferred finish. Instead of a lit from within glow however, this blush leaves me with very visible product on my cheek. The finish seems to highlight the skin’s texture (and my cheeks really don’t have that much texture, to begin with).
It’s not that it applies patchy because the color does blend well. The issue is more that the color doesn’t seamlessly melt into my skin, but rather sits on top of it in a very obvious way. It’s almost like the product has a hard time sheering out, which might be great for an eye shadow but not so much for blush.
This leads me to wonder if the shimmer blushes aren’t the same formula as the shimmer shadows, which would explain the issues with the application.
Personally, I also wasn’t a fan of the packaging. The blush comes in a single pan which makes it easy to add to a palette. I, however, really prefer my blushes in compacts and I had a hard time finding an empty compact that could fit it.
It’s too small for a Colourpop empty compact. From what I can tell it’s the same size as a standard Mac blush (44mm) but I haven’t found a cheap and streamlined compact in that size that’s easily obtainable.
If you plan on adding it to an empty palette or you don’t mind putting it in a compact that’s too big then it should be fine. For me, I wish the brand would have an option to purchase a thin, empty compact like Colourpop does.
Overall I was kind of disappointed with the Sydney Grace blush that I purchased. I get what they were trying to do in terms of a pigmented shimmer blush but it really didn’t translate well on the cheeks and I probably wouldn’t purchase any more. I will say that I am impressed with the shades they chose and I wish more brands would get creative with their shade selection.
Pros of Sydney Grace Blush
Range of finishes
Inclusive range of colors
Cons of Sydney Grace Blush
Shimmery texture emphasize texture on the skin
Blushes are almost too pigmented, product remains very visible on the skin, instead of seamlessly sheering out.
Lack of a compact makes them a pain to store
Sydney Grace Cream Eyeshadow Review [$8]
The Sydney Grace Cream Eye-shadows are available in thirty-five colors and claim to provide intense color all day long with no creasing. The shadows come housed in a squeeze tube and contain 10 grams of product.
All the shades appear to contain at least some shimmer with the more intense ones being downright metallic. The shade selection ranges from neutrals to bright, bold, reflective colors. The more metallic shades give a highly reflective, almost mirrored finish but without any glitter.
The texture of the cream shadows is like a thin mousse that really thins out as you blend it. I found the texture almost too thin. It felt like the color would sheer out completely as I was blending but it actually remained pretty opaque once it set. You could definitely build these up as well, which although not necessary, does intensify the metallic finish.
Despite its wet texture, the product dries down fairly quickly and once it dries it does set. These kind of remind me of the now discontinued Mac Paints, so if you were a fan of those you may find these are a good replacement.
It should be noted that the shadows are in no way water-resistant. They’re designed to wash off easily with water so the slightest drop of moisture causes the shadow to break down and run.
How To Apply
I applied these with my finger, though you could use a brush which would give you more precision.
I found these easier to work with than many other liquid shadows like the Stila Shimmer and Glows. For me the moussy formula was much easier to blend. Once it dries down the texture of the shadow is also surprisingly smooth. They don’t flake off the way so many liquid shadows are prone to do. If you rub your finger across your eye you can pick up some color but it’s a smooth transfer. Unless you’re really going at it, it won’t affect the finished look of the product.
I prefer to apply these before the rest of my eyeshadow rather than as a shimmery pop on top. I’d be uncomfortable blending the wet texture over other shadows. You can blend matte shadows over it like on the outer corner without affecting application and it won’t diminish the shine on the part you leave open.
Overall I’d say these perform pretty well as long as your eyes don’t get watery too easily. I don’t love how thin and wet the texture is when you first apply them but they do set opaquely on the eye and I like that they dry to a smooth finish. If you love mirrored metallic shadows but struggle with powders and liquids that flake, I’d suggest giving these a try. They’re surprisingly easy to use and the colors are beautiful.
Pros of Sydney Grace Cream Shadows
Huge range of shades
Highly reflective finish
Dries down to a smooth finish that doesn’t flake off
Plays nicely with powder shadows as long as you apply it first
Cons of Sydney Grace Cream Shadows
Breaks down very easily with water
Texture can feel a little too thin and wet while applying
Sydney Grace Enduring Love Palette Review [$52]
The Enduring Love palette is a permanent premade palette in the Sydney Grace line. The palette comes with fifteen shadows and each shadow contains 2 grams of product. So they’re slightly larger than the standard full-sized Sydney Grace single shadow.
The shadows are housed in a metal palette that contains a mirror and is pretty compact in terms of size. (It’s roughly 7″ x 5″ and half an inch thick.)
The palette is pretty much split down the middle. Seven of the shades are matte and the rest either a shimmer or metallic finish.
In yet another example of the brand’s inclusivity, Sydney Grace released the palette in both a light and deep version. As you’ll see though, there’s very little difference between the two. I purchased the deep version because I preferred the shades that seemed different in the deeper palette.
Enduring Love Light Palette vs. Enduring Love Deep Palette
The color story is mostly basic matte neutrals paired with some deeper jewel-toned shimmers and a few metallic neutrals. From what I can tell, the only shades that are vastly different between the two palettes are Romeo, Juliet, and Cherish. The rest of them were either exactly the same or had minute differences in terms of depth and warmth. These changes weren’t enough for there to be a noticeably dramatic difference once applied.
As far as I can tell the major differences are as follows.
Romeo Light is a pale, warm shimmery pink while Romeo Dark is a shimmery golden peach.
Juliet Light is a pale, pinky, nude matte while Juliet Dark is a very warm, brown toned pink.
Cherish Light is a very light, neutral brown matte while Cherish Dark is a medium, neutral brown.
I think Syndey Grace did a good job of putting out two versions of the same palette. The only drastic changes they made are in the basic blending mattes that do noticeably vary based on skin tone. Yet they managed to leave the color family largely the same.
The only difference choosing the deeper palette made is that the palette lacks a shimmery inner corner highlight shade. I could use John but it’s really more of a metallic. I can’t say I really mind, however, because I really like the peachy tone of Romeo Deep. It works well all over the lid or on the inner third, probably better than Romeo Light would have. What’s still missing for me is a matte pale neutral to blend on the brow bone. From the swatches, I think JulietLight would’ve still been too dark so I’m glad I chose the deeper option.
This color story really appeals to me. I like that there’s a wide range of matte mid-tones in warm pinks, neutral browns, and a cool gray. It offers a lot of versatility in terms of what direction you want your look to go in. I think the metallics are fantastic, creamy, beautifully reflective shadows. The shade John is a metallic silver that almost leans a bit gold or green. Albert is a taupey lavender, Devotion is a bronzey rose gold. I also appreciate that the deepest shade is a dark charcoal rather than a true black because I find it makes my look more wearable.
Texture-wise, all the shadows seemed consistent with the formula of Sydney graces singles. They all performed the same as the permanent collection shadows.
To me, the Enduring Love Palette is another example of wearable color. It incorporates shades that are not your basic neutrals without being too crazy or bright. It’s the type of palette I’d enjoy using every day and I think it’s a great choice for someone who generally sticks to neutrals but wants to move out of their comfort zone.
Pros of the Sydney Grace Enduring Love Palette
Quality is consistent with the permanent line
Contains a wide range of neutral mattes that can take a look from cool to warm
Range of finishes
Two versions available to suite both light and deep skin tones
Cons of the Sydney Grace Enduring Love Palette
Some matte shades kick up fallout
Metallic shades require more effort to apply
While cheaper than buying individual shades, palette is still on the pricier side.
Other Products in the Sydney Grace Line
Sydney Grace does carry several other products, with some of their most popular ones being their pressed and loose highlighters. (In particular, the shade Pumpkin Spice Latte which sold out a few years back. It was even featured in an article by Allure magazine in 2017.) I can’t speak for the quality of the loose highlighter as I haven’t tried them. (In general loose highlighter really doesn’t appeal to me.) The line seems to lean on the lighter side though there are a few shades that cater toward deeper skin. I also wonder whether the formula of the pressed highlighters is the same as their shimmery blushes. If so, they may have the same issues as the blush.
Sydney Grace Loose Highlighters [$8] available in seven shades.
Sydney Grace Pressed Highlighters [$12] available in nineteen shades.
Sydney Grace Loose Setting Powder [$13-$14] available in four shades in both the mica and talc formulas.
Sydney Grace Loose Eye Pigments [$6] available in five shades.
Sydney Grace Lip Creams [$10] available in eighteen shades. These appear to be an opaque lip gloss.
What I found confusing while browsing their website is the absence of several products that were available just a while ago. For example, their pressed glitters and their multi-chrome cream and pressed shadows. In some cases, there was only one shade available although the comparison photos showed several shades. In others, the category was listed but there were no products available.
I don’t know if this means the brand is reformulating or discontinuing the products but I sincerely hope they do bring them back, particularly the multi-chrome cream shadows which seemed like the same texture as the cream shadows but with an intense color shift. As I recall they were priced at $25 as opposed to $8 which was why I didn’t purchase them when I made my initial order, so hopefully they’ll bring them back at a lower price point.
Cruelty-Free and Vegan Status
The Sydney Grace website states that they don’t test on animals and neither do any of their suppliers. They don’t ship to China where animal testing is required by law.
Most of the products in the Sydney Grace line are vegan. Their lip creams however, do contain lanolin and some of their products contain carmine. The full list of the products containing carmine can be found here.
Where to Buy Sydney Grace Cosmetics
Sydney Grace products are available exclusively through the Sydney Grace Co. website. While they don’t offer free shipping, there are coupon codes available periodically. The brand does ship internationally except for China where animal testing is required by law.
So overall I’d say Sydney Grace is definitely a quality brand. Each of their products seems to be well thought out. And I think they’re very creative in terms of inclusivity and the variety of options they offer.
The high points of the brand are without a doubt the metallic eye shadows, both for the formula and the shade range. And I am overall, impressed by their shade selection of shadows. I’ll keep using the shadows and I’m excited to see what the brand releases in the future.