They’re Cheap, But Are They Good? (Or Nah?)

Good Or Nah?

This ‘ere post shall be our finally entry in the “so what’s the deal with AOA Studio’s house line, is it fine or trash” series … uh, at least until I buy more stuff from them. LET’S GET TO IT.


Since I’m now on a pressed powder shadow kick, I picked up two from AOA Studio / A2O Lab. Alas, their color selection is pretty limited, at least right now — they have a LOT of similar shades to ColourPop’s current range (high on neutrals/pinks/warm tones, low on my go-to blues/greens/greys). But at a hilariously inexpensive $2.50 each, I figured they were worth at least a formula test. And while I was browsing, of course I found some cream shadows too, and y’all know damn well one of them went straight into my cart. This one’s from Starry, who makes the best of the four cheapo liquid liners I tried out a while back. It was AY DOLL-AHR. (!)

The A2O Lab shadows come in a nice little no-frills packaging with an outer cardboard envelope and inner cardboard sleeve. I picked up a mid-toned matte and a light-toned shimmer — the matte is M17, the shimmer is L9. They both appear to be gone from single-product listings now because of course, but they’re both available in palettes/bundles if you just search the shade name. Sigh.

A2O Lab pressed shadow in M17

A2O Lab pressed shadow in L9

The Prism Cream Eyeshadows are available in eleven shades — six brights, and five neutrals. The brights were VERY BRIGHT INDEED, so I just grabbed the black one since A) black is always useful and B) I figured there was a good chance it’d also be the most challenging to apply or the most likely to be subpar, and thus the most challenging one to test.


Both of the pressed shadows feel quite nice! Many brands often have a disparity between their shimmer and matte formulas, and that’s true to some degree here — the sparkly L9 does feel much creamier than matte M17. But the matte is by no means the hard dry dusty crap I half-expected! In fact it is quite nice! This particular shade — sort of a light faded oxblood, or pink sienna — wasn’t exactly challenging to work with on me, since it shares my skin’s pink undertones. But it felt smooth and slightly silicone-y on my finger, and also worked well with a number of different brushes (as did the shimmer formula). The Starry “Prism” cream shadow is in a little tube much like MUFE’s Aqua XL paints, and has a similar thick creamy mousse-like consistency.  It also went on surprisingly easy with both fingers and brushes and, WONDER OF WONDERS, was much more responsive to blending efforts than I expected!


Left to right, that’s L9, M17, and Starry Prism “Black” in cool/neutral/warm light. All three applied to bare skin, no primer, using finger only. L9 is metallic as HELL, M17 is a pretty easy/workable semi-neutral shade for my skin tone, and the black Prism does a much smoother blend than it has any reason to at ONE DOLL-AHR. Two notes on that one : yes, I did apply a second coat on the right side of the swath to build it up to true black, and yes, it does have some teeny silvery glitter in it! It’s not a straight-up glitter shadow by any means, as the shimmer is relatively sparse, but if you were hoping for pure matte black, womp womp.


Here’s a quick kinda half-assed look I did using just these three colors — this really obviously could’ve used a transition shade in between the black and the light oxblood, but I wanted to use only these three, so. Applied with brushes over Wet N Wild eye primer :

I TOLD you L9 was metallic as hell, and that’s a light application with a brush. Also, I’ll note that the diffused edges of the Starry black did look better IRL at normal viewing distances than they do here.

Six and a half hours later! And, um, not to be gauche or indelicate, but that six and a half hours included some Physical Activity Wherein I Got A Little Sweaty, and no it was not jogging. The liner (I don’t even remember which one this was — probably Tarte Sex Kitten?) crumbled a little bit at the outer corners, but the shadows look very much like they did when I first applied them. Which, that’s basically what I expected for Decent Powder Shadows Over Primer, but I totally assumed the one-dollah black cream to lose its damn mind and end up as chunky cracked stripes. It did not! That shit clung on like a mofo! Listen, when I did the arm swatch pics, I gave the black a couple minutes to dry down and set and then ran my finger over it — HARD, and multiple times. It did not budge. Seriously. (Note that it was also a little harder to remove than “normal” shadows – I have to hit it with a bit of my makeup remover or just squalane oil etc on a tissue to get the last dregs off.) The bonus? None of these irritated my stupid sensitive eye skin, at all.

THE VERDICT : A2O Labs will have more of my money as soon as they release more pressed powder shadows in colors I’ll actually wear. Starry is without question going to get more of my money because I’m buying ALL of these cream shadows — or at least the ones that aren’t unwearable (for me) colors or ones I have dupes for. Which, screw it, I’ll probably get those too, they’re A DOLLAR. Yes, the black Starry Prism played a big role in the NYE makeup look from yesterday, and this is now my go-to black — it’s a cream so there’s no fallout, it’s not nearly as hard to blend as you’d expect, it’s buildable to blaaaaccck, and it wears like a damn tattoo. ACES.

Tried ’em? Gonna? Discuss!