I recently found out that one of the local pharmacy chains here in Montreal carries the German brand Essence Cosmetics. Essence is a line that has products ranging from eyeshadows, concealer, nail polishes, mascara, and the whole shebang. Best part is that everything is super affordable (each individual product retails for under $4, I think!). The eyeshadows retail for $2.99 each but I found them for $2.49 at my Pharmaprix. I know in the US you can find Essence products at most Ulta stores.
I first picked up the blue colour (“Happy Hour”) to try it out, because I couldn’t see how something so inexpensive could actually work properly. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the eyeshadow is of decent quality and pigmentation (view swatch below). It seems, though, that the eyeshadows appear most pigmented when applied with a finger, instead of a brush. Actually, there is almost no colour payoff when using a brush (I tried with an elf brush, which work fine for most shadows). For me, this is isn’t much of an issue because I tend to apply most eyeshadows with my finger anyway for the very reason that I get a darker colour that way.
I haven’t had any issues with chalkiness or powder fallout with the shadows. I went to a different pharmacy after having bought the first eyeshadow and there I picked up the other two colours. I got the green (“Kermit Says Hello”) because it reminded me of Nars “Shimmering Chartreuse.” I got the purple-grey colour because purple is probably my favourite eyeshadow colour as it goes with almost anything and looks good on anyone.
I find they go on much, much darker when using an eyeshadow base underneath (such as a NYX jumbo eyeshadow pencil).
Another view with different lighting: