Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Open Letter to Le Métier de Beauté/On the Coast Eye Kit


As you probably know, Le Métier de Beauté recently released a few exclusive kaleidoscopes to celebrate their debut at Saks Fifth Avenue. Out of the three, I purchased the saks.com exclusive On the Coast

You all already know I am a die-hard fan of the company. I've heard three people in the past weekend telling me that I cover Le Métier de Beauté too much on Messy Wands, and I defend my choice of doing so because frankly, I can't help it. The quality of the eye and lip products (and skincare! but we haven't had this conversation) are simply fantastic, and I haven't had anyone contradict me on that front before. And well, if something is working well, why try to fix it?

That said, as a consumer I sometimes get peeved about the abundant exclusives that the company doles out. (If this sentiment triggers comments, I hope everyone will be level-headed and respectful about it. What I hope to facilitate is a discussion, not finger pointing.) It's perfectly understandable to want to celebrate a debut, or a once-a-year event, or anything justified at all, really, but as someone who owns perhaps two-thirds of the kaleidoscopes they've created (this is not factual. I don't actually know how many kaleidoscopes they've made), the exclusives usually make me feel a little sore. I would purchase it thinking it looks amazing, only to get it and find out why I thought so: there are usually a few dupes of existing colors I already own in those new exclusives. If this was a one-time mishap, I wouldn't think much of it. But I've had this happen to me on four different occasions by now. 

I know the logical next step is to be level-headed about exclusives, maybe wait a little for swatches, but it's difficult with these things, knowing how limited in amount they are. I mean, On the Coast was sold out in mere hours after it went online! As a fangirl, I would have hated missing out on Smoldering Embarkment and Antiquité Poupee (to this day I get emails from readers asking if I know of a way to get one), both of which were produced in limited quantities, and the latter was sold out a day after it reached counters. I don't blame the company for the tiny amount. Sometimes I forget that Le Métier de Beauté is an independent company and relatively new to the beauty market. But if budget was really the issue, why make so many exclusives in so many spots? 

I have to bite my own tongue for saying that, because I realize some of my favorites are exclusives curated by Dustin for Bergdorf's (full disclosure: I purchased and fell in love with Smoldering Embarkment even before I met him). Though in my defense, in the past his exclusives are released in conjunction with the year-end holiday season. I also realize that many people won't have my problem encountering dupes, since they don't own something like 18 eye kits and counting. It's just that the company has set the bar at an utmost high regarding quality and creativity, and I just wish it were applied to every single one of its creations. I also understand that the company maintains that it's the interaction between the color that counts, and even if some colors are dupes the layered result might be different. But I'll just put it this way: hypothetically, would you prefer getting three exclusive kaleidoscopes containing some dupes, or just one with never-before-seen shades? 

Clockwise: On the Coast (1st and 2nd shade), Cherry Blossom (1st shade), Splendid Frost (1st shade)

L-R: On the Coast (3rd shade), Devotion (first shade - it looks darker irl), Capitol (3rd shade)

*I don't have an exact dupe for the third shade of On the Coast.

In the end, I know it's a marketing strategy on the company's part, one that I can't fault if I look at it from the business end of things, since it seems to work extremely well. As a consumer, however, I wish for quality over quantity (and by this, I mean less kaleidoscopes that end up looking same-ish and more experimentations with color – the eyeshadows in every kaleidoscope are on par with their usual excellent formula). It pains me that every time the company releases an exclusive collection they receive so much flak and backlash from loving customers because they weren't able to get their hands on the kaleidoscope. Then after all that, I receive the kaleidoscope only to be disappointed with it because I already own the exact same colors. It's the kind of thing that slowly whittles away your love for a brand, and I hope this does not persist with the one company that made me want to start a blog in the first place.


All that said, since I own three out of four of the colors of On the Coast, I decided there is really no reason for me to hold on to it. I was going to return it to saks.com (it is completely unsullied. The only thing I did was take it out of the box and photograph it), but I thought maybe one of you might have wanted it and missed out when it was available. If you're interested in purchasing On the Coast, send me an email at messywands [at] gmail [dot] com and we can work out the details. For swatches, visit Creature of Design's post here.

33 comments:

  1. I say this as a huge fan of the company PLEASE STOP IT:) I really love the fact that LMDB does things differently and has fun with their offerings. But as an obsessive follower of all things they create I am disappointed when things come out that are a spin off of something they already have. I have felt since day one that they should have the lip/kaleidoscopes something that can be put together at the counter. That way if I live in Idaho (I don't lol) and I want the shades from the On The Coast set I can go to the counter and get it put together in a "set" for me. Their individual shadow colors are beautiful and can stand on their own and sell on their own because of the quality. From a business standpoint this may not be the best idea but customers and fans wont be disappointed! Just my two cents...

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  2. I was told of dupes in on the Coast to Antiquite Poupee and the Oscar de la Renta palettes. Since I'd resisted purchasing those I felt fairly safe with my pre-order of On the Coast. Now I hear that the taupe is a dupe again to Splendid Frost which was already duped before in another counter exclusive (can't remember the name because I sold it without using it once I realized the dupes). I agree. I will never stop my adoration of Le Metier de Beaute because their products are exceptional but the counter exclusives are frustrating enough without the additional hit of them containing dupes especially considered the lengths some of us have to go through to get them. I'm sorry this didn't work out for you. I'm contemplating cancelling my pre-order. More money saved to build on my collection of outstanding Le Metier de Beaute single eyeshadows!

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  3. I saw your post on Twitter about this and went to look at mine since I do have Cherry Blossom and Antiquite Poupee. Luckily I have a friend who wanted On the Coast and was unable to get one (she's new to LMdB, I'm an enabler LOL) so she's buying mine from me.

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  4. The debate over the extensive number of dupes in so-called exclusive sets has been raging for over a year now, but LMdB is not listening. I was one of the first to sing the praises of LMdB but my attitude towards the eye Kaliedoscopes has become one of indifference and ennui.

    I've always firmly believed that repromotes should be labeled as such and most brands are very good about supplying that information. Why should LMdB be any different? If LMdB would use a consistent numbering or name system for the various shades, then the consumer could easily see what the Kaliedoscope contained and make an informed decision should there be dupes.

    It's pretty obvious that LMdB is just riding their current wave of popularity and have lost their true innovative and adventurous spirit along the way. They still make such outstanding products, but the abundance of dupes in the eye Kaliedoscopes has gotten out of control.

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  5. I'm happy to see someone finally speak out, and done in such a professional manner. I'm a huge LMdB fan and fell for all the "get it before it's gone" hype as much as the next guy. It has consumed so much of my life, watching Twitter, Facebook and all the blogs to make sure I don't miss out and it's turning me off to the kaleidoscopes completely. I do love the Lip Cremes, and wish they would come out with new lip colors . . . I don't think of LMdB as new anymore so unless they change their marketing, they'll lose a lot of customers.

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  6. It's strange that a makeup company does not seem willing to supply basic information such as individual shade names, when virtually all other respectable companies do it for every palette that they release. This lack of complete information makes the company look like they are being less than upfront with their customers, which is never a good strategy to follow.

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  7. Hm I'm a new LMdB customer but already the possibility of dupes bothers me. I have cherry blossom and will be receiving on the coast soon. For a new customer with very few kaleidoscopes (3 so far) to face dupes when LMdB is known for some really excellent colours is disappointing. Moreover, it's not just 'dupes' -- I get the feeling that some of the older kaleidoscopes are more unique than the combinations of the current ones. So it almost feels like dupe + less special combination. It's a feeling, I suppose, that LMdB is trying to recycle ideas. A nagging feeling that each kaleidoscope somehow looks familiar.

    It also doesn't help that there have been some reports of kaleidoscopes that arrived in tattered boxes or with missing shadows, nicked shadows, huge thumbprint on lip colour -- all these coupled with the fact that LMdB appears to have done _nothing_ about them spells doom to me. I'm new and yet I already get the feeling that the company is trying to survive on hype, recycled colours and poor quality control.

    Eh. I don't know. I still love my uma paro <3 and my lip cremes and the colours I have. But no doubt, I'm not impressed by all the other stuff. And sometimes that's enough to stop purchasing from a brand :)

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  8. I completely agree, and to be honest, I enjoy purchasing their individual shades over kaleidoscopes (even know they are a better bang for your buck). A long time ago, I stopped buying into the hype of exclusives from many beauty lines mainly because they ratherly they seemed to be worth it or live up to the hype, IMO. I've grown to love LMdB and the quality of thier eye, lip and face product (<3333 their Blonzer for Spring/ Summer) but I hate the possibility of getting dupes. Before I let myself get pulled into the hype, I made a promise with myself tha tI would only purchase kaleidoscopes that were more unique and are unlike the colors I owned form their single eye shadow line. I would suggest that they only do exclusives once or twice a year and make them available at all their locations, but in limited quantity (getting with the exclusivity of it all). I did always want to mention that I can understand them doing the "On The Coast" Saks exclusive because it was the launch of their brand to a completely new store. IMO, they took it too far with having two extra kaleidoscopes that were store specific. Anyway, I say all of that to say I personally would be much happier if they stuck to seasonal collections and did suprise exclusives a few times a year.

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  9. I completely agree with your sentiments! I honestly prefer the single shadow line to the majority of the kaleidoscopes that are released. Though I haven't seen On The Coast in person, from swatches and pics it looks very similar (not dupes, but similar) to the kaleidoscope being released for summer.

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  10. Really well written post, Xiao. I think you nailed the problem in a really respectful, clear way. I only own a couple products from the brand, and no kaleidoscopes, but I love reading about their releases on blogs and definitely understand the frustration that collectors/fans have. I wish they would focus more on their permanent line-up and less on rehashing LE stuff, and while I understand that it may be a better business choice to do the latter right now, it can't last, since they're alienating their best customers. Anyways, awesome post, as usual! Here's hoping they take note.

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  11. Hi Xiao,

    I don't post often, but I love your blog, and I especially appreciate your candor on this topic. I may not be up to 18 kaleidoscopes at this point, but I am not too far behind. At this point, many of them are just blending together, which is disappointing.

    I think there is a bit of a lack of truthful advertising in the fact that they don't name their colors consistently across the palettes. If they did, this would certainly help with the problem.

    Also, I am an incredibly loyal LMDB customer -- both makeup and skin care. I think the similarities are especially problematic for people like me who own * a lot * of the line. I wish they would enable people to build palettes on their own to fill in -- and even sell a single sheet to put all the colors in so that it is easy to mix and match and duplicate what they have.

    I have already spent thousands on this line and I don't plan on going anywhere, but I think they could serve the people like many of us a bit better.

    The hype associated with limited releases will get old very soon and they are going to push their most loyal base away without a different marketing strategy. Please be honest about the repeat colors and think about how to market to the people who have helped build this company.

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  12. I agree with most of the things that have been said! I see so many exclusive kaleidoscopes on beauty blogs that I would love to get my hands on, but its way too difficult to get ahold of them, so I normally just pass. With an almost $100 item, I want to be sure that I'm going to love it, use it, and that I dont have something just like it. I would rather them just do one each season w/ a collection that is truly unique and beautiful. I tried to write some feedback on their website, requesting that they come out w/ DIY kaleidoscopes, but there was a glitch in the program and I couldn't get it through. Thanks for this post...I agreed with everything you said!

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  13. I don't own a single thing from this company and have rarely been tempted to look twice at their offerings (I've only seen one LMdB item in person anyway)... but I enjoy your coverage of the brand because of your enthusiasm and passion for their products. It really comes through in your writing. I'm confused as to why people would tell you to stop or at least slow down covering what you like and saying what you want in your own blog. Rock on with your bad self and do what you want!

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  14. For one, I have to say if you prefer to review LMdB items, that's your right, you don't have to review everything out there and anyone who thinks you are obligated to do so is mental.

    shhh I only own one kaleidosope - Penelope which I think is great. I haven't really been inspired since to buy any of the new ones that came out and actually if something will take so much time and effort to buy, I usually pass on it. I can't get stuck in the buying frenzy. I have bought a few single shadows which make me happy and I don't have to worry about dupes.

    I'm totally with you that I'd like to see kaleidoscopes experimenting with color. Those I might indeed buy. :)

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  15. Well articulated, Xiao. In my own case, I'm more focused on the "story" that each kaleidoscope tells instead of the individual shades themselves. At the same time, I do find myself worrying that the company is oversaturating the market and diluting the kaleidoscope "brand."

    Thanks for linking to my swatches - I hope some found them helpful! I've had a chance, by the way, to put up my EOTD featuring OTC. I like how it looks on me.

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  16. I have never used anything from this company as it is too hard to get from uk and I have no idea how great it is to be able to creat such a hype.
    but i personally really dislike a company seems very focusing on selling v limited edition only,
    to me, that look kind of sad like they are trying to catch as much money as they can possibly do for the moment and for as long as the company last.
    and I am very surprised to see this from such an expensive company as normally this is from a cheap y company ex Mac, UD etc...
    but in another way I can understand why some company strategies is to focus on new lovers. They are young and fresh in this world and will queue up all night to buy anything you offer on the table. and the best thing is they will always come anyway. Money is Money the end of day, it doesn't matter if it is from exiting loyal customers or the new and young crowds year after year.. :D

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  17. This was a good read Xiao :) At the prices they are charging per palette, I would expect them to be a little more exclusive and perhaps special. Knowing that they may ultimately look alike some day is a bit disappointing. But still, I'll wait to try my 2 palettes first. I may not need another, by the sounds of it ;)

    p/s Might I say that this was a most riveting read?

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  18. As someone who owns just 3 eye kaleidoscopes(Splendid Frost, City Girl-HK exclusive, and Penelope) with OTC as the 4th, I could not justify getting a 3rd pan of the taupe color(though it's probably my fav color in each kaleidoscope I own). But because of this, I've just canceled my Saks order.

    I'm just going to stick with individual shades for now, esp. since I buy based on swatches online and have a relative ship the orders to me because I live in Asia. I don't have hard feelings with the brand because I know I am also guilty in part in getting sucked into the "limited" hype. I'm glad my kaleidoscope was back-ordered so it was much easier to cancel my order.

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  19. Thank you for the well written post and thoughtful perspective. I was hoping that On the Coast would be my first LMDB kaleidoscope, and was extremely disapointed to find I was too late to order one online. I can understand that the hype created by limited editions helps build sales but its hard on the loyal fans. As a loyal fan who is also shelling out some serious money for these products, you want to feel that you can get in on these "exclusives". Why they don't offer some sort of loyalty program for this is just a mystery to me. Most major brands do this and ensure their loyal fan base gets preferred treatment for exclusive deals.

    To echo another commenter, the more concerning thing about LMBD is the quality control. I'm extremely careful with my cosmetics and don't even travel with some of them to limit any possible damage. I've seen more quality control issues with LMDB than any other high end brand. Two lip cremes I've purchased from this brand began leaking from poorly designed cases. Two! I ordered an eyeshadow only to discover that the box that arrived was labeled correctly - but the product inside the box was not the product I ordered. Also, an SA at a local LMDB counter was extremely careful to remove my new lipsticks from the packaging to ensure the lipstick was "ok". While checking the one I would have happily walked home with, she discovered the lipstick had been damaged and had to get me another one. I was grateful for her diligence, but sad to see this.

    I've never had that kind of quality control issue with any other luxury brand.

    In a world of disposable everything, part of the joy in purchasing luxury cosmetics is the feeling that you are getting a high quality product. The feeling of luxury should extend to every aspect. The joy of finding that perfect color, the experience of purchasing it, the packaging, the look and feel of it, the experience of putting it on, the longevity of the item. If a company compromises on any of these points, then the result is quite simple - its not luxury anymore.

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  20. That was an extremely well written article from someone who clearly loves the line and is friendly with the MUAs.

    I, like you, own about 18 of the eye and about 7 of the lip kits. For about a year now, I have been very upset and very vocal about the dupes. I have said many times, that while I am upset about the dupes, I am more upset that LMdB RENAMES the shades so the buyer cannot know before they track down the kit and pay for shipping. I don't know how a company that promotes products they deem as unique creations by a team of such talented artists can seemingly only have one taupe shade in their collection. Seriously? Crystal ball aka burlap surrel aka Tawni Taupe aka whatever else they have decided to call it in the other Ks they have released. It isn't that hard. Whether or not Chanel, MAC or others repromote. They have dozens of shades of browns, taupes, blues, greys etc. that they have in their collection. I wouldn't care if these shades were close but why are they the same? I appreciate this post as it is going to save me some money when I cancel my preorder for the kit. I am waiting for Shades of Short Hills but am worried that it is going to be a conglomeration of shades that were already "LE".

    While I can't say this with 100% certainty, I am pretty sure that renaming something without full disclosure is a deceptive trade act. Regardless, yes, LMdB has taken up too much of my time trying to hunt down LE kits that turn out to be dupes and/or damaged when I get them. I have spent thousands on the products but I backing away from the line.

    I agree with April that I have never had the same kind of issues with other lines that I do with LMdB. I have many cracked pans of eye shadow that cracked just from sitting on my counter waiting to be used. Not to mention the 4 or 5 Kaleidoscopes that I had shipped in only to find them damaged and then I ate those shipping charges.

    The company seems to have quality control and creativity issues. So to echo the above comment, it isn't luxury for me anymore.

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  21. Hi Xiao
    Thank you so much for the post. I hope that LMDB will listen to you as many people follow your blog.

    I have collected about 13 kaleidoscopes over the past year and have also been frustrated by the repeat shades. It's hard to believe that this could be intentional, but it's also hard to believe that at this point, with so much grumbling on different blogs, that they can still be unaware of the problem.

    I do differ in opinion about "on the coast" kaleidoscope however. Although the second taupe shade is the same taupe that has oft been repeated, the 3rd shade is unique (and my favorite) and the fourth shade is unique as well. More importantly the way the shades layer is phenomenal. This is probably my favorite of the 13 kaleidoscopes I have owned. Although that is not to say that I am not completely miffed about the repeat shades.

    Concerning to me is that the upcoming Chauvet Pont D'arc kaleidoscope looks to have at least 2 repeat shades, again...sigh...

    I have also had several quality control issues, with the splendid frost kaleidoscope. Temptalia today on her blog noted a problem with the lipsticks she has received.

    It will be interesting to see how LMDB grows as a company and handles these issues, especially as its fan base increases. I for one have already stated that if they handle another release they way "on the coast" was handled, then that in combination with the repeated shades will be enough to turn me off being such a devoted fan. I may still get the occasional kaleidoscope, but I won't be going out of my way to find their products.

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  22. Thanks for such a fascinating post which elicited some equally well thought-out comments. I'll be the first to say that poor quality control turned me off Le Metier back when they still had physical counters in the UK. A more serious issue for me, which hasn't been raised so far, is that they sell totally different single shades under the same names in different markets: having visited their counters in the UK, Paris and Hong Kong to swatch and buy for friends, and coming across Jojo's which range from bronze to lightest gold to petal pink(!) makes me wonder what on earth they're thinking.

    For example, here's a shot of their eyeshadow shades in Hong Kong:
    http://img.makeupalley.com/7/6/1/7/2090801.JPG

    For a line which already makes its customers jump through hoops and buy blind to beat the LE frenzy, it's especially cheeky.

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  23. Everyone, thank you for sharing your thoughts in such a respectful and well articulated manner! I am so glad that we're having this conversation and I believe the company is listening :)

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  24. Thanks for opening up a forum for discussion on this. I agree with your post entirely, and eventhough I do not mind having dupes of Crystal Ball, its just ridiculous how many times its been repeated now.

    Also, they have set a precedent now of re-releasing kaleidoscopes (Antiquite Poupee, On The Coast). So why not release fan favourites (i.e. Smoldering Embarkment, Devotion) once more? I know that a lot of people (myself included) would jump at the chance to purchase those. I'm only sorry that I found the brand much too late to be able to procure it.

    Cindy

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  25. hi there,

    admire your courage to pen this letter openly, esp when you are on talking terms with their staff.

    really hope the company's reading these feedbacks, do u think they are?.. if u have a way to link them to this article and all the heartfelt comments that follow..

    from my own small collection of the brand's eye kaleidoscopes, i've 4 of the same taupe from splendid frost, come one come all, antique poupee and on the coast.
    granted it's one of the most gorgeous taupes, but who in the right mind will knowingly buy 3 backups of the same shades?! especially at such prices!
    'antique poupee' and 'come one come all' were even released simultaneously, around the same time!

    and 'come one come all' was released near to 'silk road', and they share the same 2 bottom colors, the brown and plum! so again 2 identical browns and plums.

    i also have 3 identical peachy champagnes from 'on the coast', 'cherry blossom' and 'come one come all'

    so 4 identical taupes, 2 browns, 2 plums, 3 peachy champagnes, just from my small collection.

    and i wonder about the new 'golden gate girl' and 'short hills', and even the summer 'chauvet' kaleidoscope. out of these 3 new kaleidoscopes, how many of the 12 shades would be repeats from previous releases? it may turn out to be another huge embarrassment!

    half of my LMDB eyeshadow singles have wobbly lids as the covers are not fastened properly. 3 of my moisture core lipsticks arrived in less than pristine condition, tips gone and one stick completely detached from the holder when held upside down to read the label sticker.

    i'm not sure how much wrist power i've but one of the covers on my creme blush cracked into pieces when i screwed it on tightly.

    not to mention the loose pans in the kaleidoscopes and scraped surfaces of the newly arrived shadows!

    i'm not sorry for this long rant, i live in south-east asia and for every item from LMDB, i've to pay overseas shipping costs and sometimes overseas phone bills to secure the limited editions! given the different time zones, i stay up till 3am to wait to call the counters. and i can't do exchanges without further costs or sell the dupes as the brand is not well-known in my country.

    i wanted to venture further into their skincare but my confidence in the company is dwindling. shall we accept and tolerate more of this? i see little reason in staying on..

    Eunice

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  26. The only reason I searched for and stopped by the Le Metier de Beaute counter was because of your blog! Other bloggers who've swatched LMdB products, have never prompted a desire in me to seek out LMdB products mainly due to their fair skin color. Your enthusiasm is what led me to one of my favorite eye color shades, Nutmeg.

    Cover what you want. It's your blog.

    Without personally viewing all the kaleidoscopes, I have noticed a recurring theme in the recycled colors from swatches posted online. I'm wondering if it is lack of R&D, resources, laziness, LMdB's layering concept or a combination of reasons that has restricted their creativity. I'm no color expert, but throwing together four different colors on top of each other could ultimately accomplish a similar muddy color despite the individual contributing colors. And, isn't that the main marketing purpose for purchasing their kaleidoscopes? Perhaps they need to free themselves from focusing on a layering concept. Blendability (is that even a word?) is important. Their eye shadows blend beautifully. But, does 4 colors really need to be layered, one over another, to be harmonious? LMdB, stop it. just stop.

    I'm so new to this brand that I've thankfully not encountered poor packaging. And, I've only purchased products at the counter. The only broken palette I've purchased has been a Dior quint. However, from the comments, I do hope LMdB takes notice and makes improvements before more people distrust them.

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  27. I would first like to thank you for introducing me to this brand and for referring me to to my favorite MUA Dustin. I agree to many exclusives all over, I get it in NYC or LA or even just to one division or a store but DC, Maryland, New Jersey...? I have noticed if I stick to the seasonal kaleidoscopes Im in the clear and enjoy them very much! Also the only few that seem to be well executed are the ones that come out in NYC. I still love the brand and look forward to all the new seasons and wait only for the Bergdorf exclusives. To bad I live so far from there. lol

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  28. I'll admit I only randomly visit your site, so although I've noted that you post a lot LMdB products, it certainly doesn't bother me. It's your blog, go nuts!

    Other than one nail polish, I have been underwhelmed by their products, and i've sort of felt like tapping people on the shoulder at the parade and asking if I'm the only one who thinks the emperor's new clothes just look nude. Burberry Cosmetics feel more luxurious to me, so I lean towards their stuff. Cosmetic pricing always makes me feel like a tool, though.

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  29. I just received my blush kaleidoscope yesterday and noticed that the pans are loose causing damage to the product by opening and closing it. I am a relatively new lmdb customer and not sure how long I will be if this is what $95 + tax gets me. I have been a loyal Chanel customer for years and never had any problems with their quality or packaging.

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  30. Their new counter release kaleidoscope, Oak St Beach, is basically 50% the same as On the Coast. the 1st and 2nd tiers of OtC are in it; I can't believe that they would release two kaleidoscopes that are so similar in such a short period of time.

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  31. aside from their dupes on many of their kaleidoscopes...they have just been creating lazy limited edition collections. i haven't reviewed them in a while because of it. It's a shame that as of late, their stuff hasn't been calling to my personal attention.

    hopefully this post caught their attention and will get them to create more special items.

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