Friday, June 15, 2012

UNII Palette: Old versus New Comparison


I have been on a depotting lark lately, and I showed my efforts in the last couple posts, in which I used the UNII palette (available at  UNII is a great system, and below is a brief video that showcases it. Note that all of the palettes in the video are the original UNII palette style.

Until now I have photographed only the original UNII palette, not the newer style. I have both: three originals in Snow, Coal, and Eggplant, and two new in Lavender and Honeysuckle.

The first time I opened my UNII palette in Snow, it was love at first sight, but when I started to assemble products in it and realized how small the palette really was. I don't own a Z-palette for comparison, but I have seen them online and the Z looks significantly larger. That said, I am perfectly fine with the smaller footprint of the UNII. It makes me think about what I really want to use every day. I'm not a makeup artist, so how many different pans do I need anyway?

Some of you have asked if the old UNII palette style is still available for purchase. It is not, I searched for other sites that might be selling it, but I could not find any. Then I stumbled back onto UNII's FAQ page where the answer had been all along:
Are your original UNII Palettes available?
We've been out of stock for some time now while we waited for our new UNII's to arrive. We don't have any plans to go back to the metal plate, since the makeup industry seems to be moving towards magnetic pans, especially those brands that offer refills.

Are the darker colors available? Will you bring them back?
Currently, we don't have plans to bring back the original (darker) colors. We plan to offer new colors regularly, please feel free to email us with your favorite color requests!
So that's that.

Other readers asked if there is a big difference between the original and new palette style. Not big, not anything you would notice at first glance, and if you had never owned the original UNII you would probably love the new style. But for those of us who have both, it's fair to say there's a significant enough difference and not necessarily for the better in the revised style.

Here's a comparison between the old and new styles. At the bottom of the post you'll find all the photos.

OLD style

  • Packaging: Origami-type fold with sticky seal. Instructions written on the inside. Comes with magnetic strip that you can cut to size and write on. (You can also buy 3/4" stick-on magnets online, at sellers like Stars Makeup Haven, which is what I did.
  • Color. Deeply-saturated colors with a glossy finish and UNII's 3-petal flower logo in the center of the lid.
  • Mirror. Full size of the lid.
  • Backing/inner plate. Non-magnetized plate that is color coordinated with the palette.
  • Gasket/seal. Airtight rubber gasket, which you can remove for cleaning.
  • Thumb grip. UNII 3-petal flower logo embossed on an acrylic square. Lets you maintain a good, solid hold on the compact, but it does use up precious space.
  • Dimensions. I can't find my ruler, but it appears to be the same footprint as the new palette. The one visible exception is the old style palette is a tiny bit deeper. See pictures below for a better comparison than I could describe.
  • Weight. 162 grams, 5 3/4 ounces.

NEW style

  • Packaging. Box with instructions written on it, which slips into a sleeve. Overall more trim, portable, and you can save the packaging more easily than the original Origami style; however, the new sleeve has instructions printed inside, and you would need to rip it apart to read them.
  • Color. Pastel, sheer colors with sprinkles of fine shimmer throughout the surface. The finish is glossy and the UNII 3-petal flower logo still sits in the middle of the lid.
  • Mirror. Full size of the lid, same as the old
  • Backing/inner plate. Magnetized plate that is color coordinated with the outer compact. Though convenient, not everything sticks to this backing, so it's not the strongest magnet I have ever worked with. Also, pans that already have a magnet will need to be moved around the surface until they find adequate polarization, which reminds me of a wall stud finder.  Comes with a sheet that looks like a magnet but isn't. Since magnets repel magnets, you don't want a magnet on the bottom of your pan, such as MAC. So you'll need to adhere a piece of not-a-magnet to the bottom of your magnetized pans.
  • Gasket/seal. Hard plastic that is not airtight. When I look at the side, I can see a gap into my palette. The new gasket is also not removable for cleaning. I suspect if I dropped my handbag and the new UNII palette was inside and its contents shattered, I'd find makeup residue on the inside of my bag. I haven't verified this because I don't want to destroy a palette full of makeup just to test.
  • Thumb grip. No longer square, it is just the shape of the flower, which is more space conscious, but also more flexible (entirely rubber?) and, thus, a bit less secure feeling. It is also a tiny bit less high, but it would have to be (see next point).
  • Dimensions. Outer dimensions : 3.7"D x 6"L x0.7"Thick / Inner dimensions : 2.8"D x 5.4"L x0.3"Thick.  I could live with the new seal that doesn't really seal, but depth is my greatest disappointment in the new palette. It's just not as deep as the original version.  I am guessing the new magnetic plate is thicker than the non-magnetized plate, and so it raises the surface. The same Chanel eye pencil still fits (albeit it is raised slightly above the surface) but a pencil with a cap that slips over it, like MAC, does not fit unless you remove the cap. 
  • Weight. 210 grams, 7 3/8 ounces.  Almost 2 ounces heavier than the old style, obviously from the magnetic backing; however, once you add magnets to the backs of the pans going into the original palette, I suspect things pretty much even out.

As for the gasket, UNII says they changed the design because they had problems manufacturing the rubber gaskets. They are currently planning to restore the original rubber gasket in a future palette design.

If you look at the Reviews page on the UNII web site, it shows only reviews for the original design, all of which are two or more years old. Up at the top of the page, the heading says: "Reviews (For our original design. New reviews coming soon!)" I suspect the reviews for the new style are not nearly as glowing, unless the purchases were made by people whose first introduction to UNII was through the new style.

To be fair, the new style is still a good palette. Both are travel friendly, and they hold a decent amount of product; I just don't think the new style is as high a quality as the old, but it seems UNII was making adjustments at the request of their customers, and they just have to work out the kinks.

If you have made it this far, congratulations for staying awake! Finally you get to look at pictures.

Original (Coal) and new (Lavender) UNII palettes

Origami-style packaging for original palettes with writable magnet sheet

New packaging

New palette (Lavender) with writable not-a-magnet sheet

Palette without the magnet. Notice the backing color coordinates with the palette color

Original style UNII palette (Coal) with coordinating backing color

Comparison of the two; they look nearly identical, yes?

Original and new thumb print

side view of the thumb prints

bottom of the thumb prints

Gasket comparison

Seal on new palette

Seal on original palette (switched to Eggplant for this photo)

Comparison of original and new palette depth

New palette backing isn't level, at least on mine

Bottom line: I prefer the original styling, but I like both and hope they improve the design (deeper pan and bring back the airtight seal) in future. That said, I probably won't repurchase because I doubt I will ever need more than the five I own!

Photo 1 and video from All other photos taken (c) Everyday Beauty


  1. Thanks for your review, ZuZu.
    I knew the problem with the seal, but I didn't know that the new palettes aren't as deep as the original ones. I'm sad to say that these two issues will hold me back from getting a UNII palette. *sigh* the pearly white Snow palettes are gorg.
    I think they have become infinitely more appealing to me now that I can't get one!

    1. Honestly, Poo, the newer version is still quite nice, especially if all you plan to put in them is pans. Since I am not using mine for travel, I'd actually never put eye pencils or a brush in them anyway. But for travel or a weekend away, I would definitely take the old style with me.

    2. Oops! I just realized I called you Poo.


  2. Clearly, the old style of palettes is way better. It's a pity they aren't sold any more :(

    1. I know they are working on the gasket issue, and I suspect they are well aware of customer concerns (and the fact that many are migrating to different systems). Given all the success UNII had in such a short time, I would be surprised if they weren't working very hard at improvements, much the way Ellis Faas listened to customer complaints about the pen clicks.

      I would still choose the new UNII style over a Z-palette

  3. I really appreciate the time you spent on this. I have and don't love the styling of the Z palette compared to my old Unii. Based on your review and comparison pictures, I don't want the new Unii palette either. I think I'm going to have to start trawling ebay or begging on Twitter for old style palettes. The change in depth is a major disappointment.

  4. Thanks for the great review, Zu! I really want one of the old UNII palettes instead. That gap in the new one would bug me-- plus I agree that the colors are divine in the old palettes. I sure hope that they bring back the old design. I think I might do the same as MB and try to hunt down an old one instead. There have to be some somewhere out there! I almost purchased a couple of them, but am so glad that I waited to read this review first!!

    1. What I want to know is how did you ever pass on them when they first came out?? Was it because you didn't think you would depot from the beloved packaging?

      I was of that mind, but honestly, I thought the palette was so damned cute I just had to have it! I also thought it would be a bit bigger than it is (I could have considered the posted dimensions more carefully, like with Hakuhodo). The UNII site and video show lots of pans inside, but they must be depots from quads and GWPs. Anyway I never regretted it, but I feel like a doof because I had not used the new ones. I assumed they were exactly the same with different colors, so I never realized how different they were until people started asking the other day. So there I was, standing up for the new style (in the other blog posts) when I hadn't really done a thorough comparison. So yes, what I found surprised me a little.

      If not for the gap/gasket, I'd be fine with the slightly less-deep depth.

      Oh, well. *sniffle*

    2. Because I wasn't into depotting then. Well, there would have been no real reason to have assumed that it would have been changed that much!! I like the idea of the added depth, but truthfully I think that you were right when you said that people who had never had the old style would probably be very happy with the new style!

      BTW-- As you know, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award-- and of course I in turn nominated you again because any award that I could win is an award that I would want to share with my you!

    3. I didn't know! See how far behind I am? Well deserved, of course. And I had a good laugh at your Denzel moment. :)

    4. Thanks! Yeah, I think I probably looked like a huge dork when I got a wee bit goofy when I recognized him!

    5. Well, you can certainly make fun of me forever! However, had you been there to witness the event you would have been a part of the event-- then we both would have looked like 9th grade dorks!! :-)

  5. Zuzu, thank you so much for taking the time to do such a great, in-depth comparison review. I'm so disappointed to hear that the new magnetic backing is not very strong. That's one of my problems with the old ones; even with magnetic backs on the product pans they slip and slide all over the place if the palette isn't jammed full. The decreased depth is a major problem too, at least for me. You've solved my debate, no more Unii for me. I can't even work up any love for the old style....and I have 7 of them. On to Z least one to try. Thanks again.

    1. My pleasure, Deb. Interesting that your backing on the old one isn't strong. I can turn my palette upside down and shake it and my pans won't fall out. I wonder if I ordered mine later than yours and they had improved the backing. Seven old ones, though! You must have every color, and then some.

    2. Hey Deb,

      I wonder if your problems are related to weak magnets or a sub-par metal sheet. If it's not too much work, you could try replacing your magnets with something better. If the issue with the metal sheet, you could replace it with a piece of thin mild steel which would increase the magnetic attraction. A while back I asked my fiancé to cut discs out of mild steel for me, which I glued onto depotted aluminum pans to make them compatible with my magnet-lined freestyle palette.

      I just asked him where you might be able to find mild metal sheets. (I'm giggling as I type this.) The guy was so into this idea that he went straight to his laptop and checked the McMaster-Carr website for you.
      "You can get a 30-thou thickness 6"x24" sheet for $4.45" he said. (What a sweetheart. He ignored my protests it was unnecessary to source metal size and price.)

      By the way, feel free to "unload" a white 1st generation UNII palette on me! :)

    3. You are a peach! As is your fiance. That truly was unnecessary for him to do...but so sweet. I had actually been thinking about doing just that and wasn't sure where to get started. The magnets I used on my pots of eyeshadows are the ones that came with the Unii palettes and they are very, very weak. That was another thing that turned me off to the whole Unii concept. The white 1st generation is yours. I will e-mail you privately and include my phone number. You can contact me back however you choose with where to send it.

    4. Your message came to me. ;) I can forward it to Boo. Boo is your email the one listed in our Goo profile?

      I agree that magnet strip that came with the UNII is awful. I ended up buying a bunch of 3/4" dots from Stars Makeup Haven, and they have a super-good grip. You might look into those, Deb. I've been very happy. One even holds my giant Jane Iredale powder compact in place. If you do, buy more than you need. I found I was fickle and sometimes put a depotted pan back into its compact, so I had to peel the magnet off. I think I bought 25 and that was WAY more than enough.

      Yup, just tested. I opened the UNII, tipped it completely upside down and shook it like a vodka martini. Nothing fell out!

    5. Yes, I think the listed email is my standard "public email".
      Also, if either of you ladies with first generation UNIIs need a new metal sheet, I can see if my fiancé can cut some to size. That way you won't have to get the metal and find a cutting tool. Just send me the dimensions. :)

    6. Hey Deb!

      Did you want to sell anymore of your original unii palettes? I'd be interested if you wanted to make an offer.

    7. I would be interested in buying an original Unii palette too, if you are still selling.

  6. thank you so much for the review. when i first got my unii palette months ago. i noticed its nothing like what i saw on their FB page or youtube reviews. now i finally know why. Mine is the new version. But the thing is , its black with shimmer! i have the same flexible flower and the fixed hard gasket. I remember watching a review on youtube where its removable & was puzzled why i cant remove mine lol. How i wish mine is version 1. The site could at least inform back then about the changes before i made the purchase. All in all, no regrets but what a shame that i didnt get version 1.

    1. I am quite certain they thought they were making changes for the better, likely having received lots of feedback about the former non magnetized backing. I guess they did not realize what an exacting, tough crowd we beauty-product lovers are!

      I do like both, don't mind the shimmer on the new, and I don't even care that much about the loss in depth. Where they missed the mark was in not making the new palette leakproof.

      Keep your eyes on eBay. The old style comes up often, but it goes just as fast.

  7. This review is very clear, informative and the well written. I've been looking at free palettes myself and I would LOVE on or two of the old/original Unii palettes. It really is sad that no one can seem to find them anywhere anymore. ://

  8. Thanks for a great review! I do want a unii palette but the old ones seem much better! Especially since I want to use mine for travel. *Sighs* Guess I'll wait until they fix the kinks.

  9. Wow this is so in depth. I've tried Unii, Mac and Z Palettes. Z Palettes are my favorite by far with the clear window and lid that folds all the way under.

  10. Thanks so much for this in depth review! It's black friday and they're $21 for 6+ and free domestic shipping O.o I live outside of the states but that's so much better than $25 for 1 but I was going to buy 5+, now I may think about only buying a few. They still seem like such a convenient/practical item even though there are many flaws in the new design. I have so many palettes that I get during Christmas and other exclusive ones in which have super bulky packaging -__- so I can't wait to depot and stick them in this little unii palette. But thank you for such an in depth review! Now I know what to expect :)


    1. Hi Val, I didn't realize two had come in and removed the dupe comment.

      As for UNII, even after doing the comparison, if I lost all of my version 1 palettes, I would still turn to version 2 of UNII before I bought anything else, such as a Z palette or rip out the guts of a x15 MAC. UNIIs are still the prettiest, IMO, and they seem to be the only totally customizable ones that have a full sized mirror (can't count Bobbi Brown or Laura Mercier, since only their compacts fit inside.)

  11. I use Stila shadows in my pro kit & would only be able to fit 7-8 in a unii. I'm hoping for improved product design & a larger size before I buy!!!

    1. I occasionally wish the palette were just a bit bigger, too. But I kind of like (in a tortured way) how it forces me to edit. Since I am not a makeup artist, I don't really *need* much (which never stops me from buying lots of stuff I don't need).

      In fact, I just updated my UNII with a new variation, including MAC, depotted Laura Mercier, depotted NARS, depotted EL, Prescriptives, and Inglot. And I can squeeze in my tiny Hakuhodo brow brush that can double as a smudgy eyeliner brush.

      UNII is a great system, and I am looking forward to their new version, whenever it comes out. Over anything, else, they need to bring back that rubber gasket.

  12. oh my god that not being level issues... I have six of the new palettes and only two of them are level... the other ones are not. I have no NO idea what causes this. It's very very VERY annoying. However it doesn't seem to effect anything other than just not being level. I really wish I would have been able to get the old style palettes I really wanted Air Tight containers. But it isn't the end of the world it's just all rather, annoying. Also seeing the old ones have more depth is just well, who thought it would be a good idea to take away these features? ::sigh:: It's my favorite palette to be sure. I need the security of a solid closure that unii supplies. But I wish I could take the thing apart and clean it. I will it was deeper. I wish it was air tight. Oh well right?

    1. Right. If I needed one and this new version was all I could get, I would not hesitate. Love the secure closure, and I am just not into cardboard palettes (like Z and Julie Hewett). Unless you keep them in one spot on your dressing table, they get beaten-up looking very quickly.

  13. Just read your review - thanks for the in depth review and yes made it to the end. I was looking through the Internet for a Uni palette but will wait to see what the new ones look like. I need it primarily for travel and the airtight gasket and deeper palette is a must for me. I would prefer the eggplant but any type of purple would work for me but lately I have been feeling white lol.


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