20180515

5 Beauty Brands That Excite Me & 5 That Don't


I feel as though the beauty world has exploded over the past five years in terms of indie brands coming out, US companies being available in the UK and the sheer volume of new releases. I've seen a lot of YouTube videos around this sort of topic so wanted to do something different today and share my thoughts. I'm going to talk through the brands that I'm excited to go and browse the website of or always stop by their counter just for a look, but also the brands that just leave me feeling a bit 'meh'. I didn't want to sit and complain about products I haven't tried so I've bought products from all of these brands! This is intended to be a chatty post but I'll link my reviews, swatches and whatever else down below.


Brand that excite me

ColourPop

I definitely take the point that there are a lot of new releases with ColourPop and it can be overwhelming as they don't let a collection breath before dropping a new one. I'm on their mailing list but still sometimes go on their site and see a load of products I've never seen or heard of... Having said that, there's something that always makes me click on the email just to see what the latest launches are, which says something. Plus, I think people use this to not give this brand the credit it deserves in and of itself; they have a huge variety of high-quality products that satisfy everyone from the neutral-lovers to colour fans at such a low price-point. Even if I don't spend enough for free UK shipping (or do - and have to pay custom fees!) their products still only work out to cost about the same as drugstore brands in Boots and Superdrug for better, more interesting products! 

Their pressed powder eyeshadow palettes are incredible quality and there's something in there for everyone. The Super Shock Shadows come in so many different colours and have such a unique formula - I love the Pearlised and Metallic finishes. The Pressed Powder Face Duos are also fantastic. I use the Ultra Satin Lips and Matte Lippie Stix at least once a week and they only cost me around $6 each, which is insane! I know I'm not the most adventurous person in the world (5 days out of 7 I'm working at the office so it just seems ridiculous for me to own colour palettes and green liquid lipsticks - which aren't my thing anyway!) but ColourPop have some beautiful products that bridge that gap between 'outlandish' and my personal comfort zone. When the products are this affordable, you can try something a little different without the fear of wasting a load of money.



You can check out a rundown of my favourite products from ColourPop here.

Juvia's Place

I actually only have one palette from Juvia's place but I am interested in their blusher palettes and the new Warrior Palette caught my eye (I'm going to wait until it's on Beauty Bay to give myself a cooling off period and make sure I really want it) - obviously it's nothing dramatically different for me but I know I'd wear it, I love this formula and the brand as a whole just speaks to me! It's an American-based female-owned brand that's intended to provide colour products that are more inclusive. I think a lot of people take for granted that it's not just foundation and concealer that excludes people of darker skin tones but a lot of 'nude' eyeshadow palettes, blushers and highlighters are created for fairer complexions.

The price-point is pretty reasonable - even here in the UK you can get their products at Beauty Bay without any crazy mark-ups (most of the palettes are £20-30). I also just love the design of their products - the packaging is just cardboard, which obviously helps keep the cost down, but so much research and artistry goes into creating the imagery and shade names. They're all inspired by different African cultures and historical periods. The shades also go from warm neutrals to fun colours. The product I have sits somewhere in-between; the Saharan Palette (review) is a jewel-toned eyeshadow collection with both wearable and more interesting, colourful shades that tie in together beautifully. I just love the quality and consistency of these shades too - even the bolder colours (traditionally harder to work with formula-wise) blend beautifully.



Cover FX

This is a brand I've actually been a fan of for a while - from my beloved, now-discontinued BB Gel to their latest launch I have my eye on: the Power Play foundation. Originally their hero product was the Custom Cover Drops* - the original of all of those colour-adjusting drops you can see on the market now. They have a vast shade selection in a range of undertones, so you pick your perfect shade and use it to adjust that amazingly-formulated foundation that wasn't quite the right colour or to mix your own custom cover with a moisturiser or simply use these alone. I'm not 100% sure I fully have the hang of these or have really mastered all the ways of using them but I do value them in my collection.

Following on from that success they launched the now super-popular Custom Enhancer Drops* - a range of highlighting drops (they also have some bronzing shades and a glitter version) that can also be used in different ways. You can apply them as a traditional highlighter over foundation or underneath for something more subtle, as well as mixing with your primer or foundation for an all-over glow. I think this brand has quietly been doing a lot of good things for a long time (such as having a wide shade range) and has actually originated a lot of trends such as colour-adjusting drops, highlighting drops and now priming oils. They're always innovating and interesting, which keeps me plugged into whatever Cover FX is doing.



You can read my brand overview of Cover FX here.

Zoeva

I'm a long-time fan of this mid-range beauty brand. They first gripped me with their stunning and amazing-quality makeup brushes - I still recommend the original Rose Gold Set to anyone looking for a starter kit. However they also do some makeup, which has been equally impressive. Although their prices have gone up in recent times, their eyeshadow palettes are still a purse-friendly £18 for fantastic quality in lovely packaging.

This is a German brand and their products used to not be that accessible in the UK but they've since cropped up at my usual haunts including Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Selfridges. I think they're starting to get more love now, but they still seem to fly under the radar a bit! They do eyeshadow palettes, blusher palettes and liquid lipsticks in a range of colours from workday staples to bold festival colours. My heart always does a little skip when I see them tease a new collection on Instagram - they release just about the right amount of products to keep them on my radar and get me excited about every single launch. They're all beautifully-themed as well.



I've done a ton of posts on Zoeva and you can have a browse of them here.

Huda Beauty

This brand was seriously hyped when it first launched, but I waited for it to die down and for the reviews to come in. It turned out they were good, so I picked up a few products and haven't looked back since! Huda Kattan is essentially the OG beauty YouTuber and a couple of years back she launched a collection of false lashes. They sold well so she released her Lip Contours and, well, the rest is history... She's consistently grown her collection since it's launched, diversifying it without bombarding us with constant new launches. This has allowed each addition to get beauty fans excited. The quality of her products has been fantastic in my experience - they eyeshadows are stunning (although I lean towards warm tones, she does offer cooler ones and more colour in her range) and the Liquid Mattes have an incredible formula with such a wide shade range.

I really haven't been disappointed in any of the Huda products I've tried, which obviously means I'm going to be at least a little bit intrigued by whatever she releases next. Whilst the Desert Dusk definitely comes with a hefty price tag, you can try the formula with the mini Obsessions* palettes for £25. She also does highlighter palettes* and there's a bit of something for everyone in there - a colourful one, a frosty iridescent version and three that are more pinky-gold (for light, medium and deep skin tones). I haven't tried her foundation yet but it comes in a good shade range and I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually. I think the only products that haven't caught my eye are the lashes (I rarely wear them so wouldn't invest so much in a pair) and the lipgloss, due to personal preference.



I did a round-up on Huda's products, which you can check out here.

Brands that don't

Kylie Cosmetics

When this brand first launched it was at the peak of people being obsessed with what lip colour Kylie Jenner wore and the hype machine was in overdrive. If you wanted the products you'd have to set an alarm for the launch time and hope you could check out before it 'sold out', which was always within a few minutes. And don't even get me started on the atrocious customer service, quality control issues and insane international shipping costs! For whatever reason, I found myself getting sucked into the vortex; I knew the products couldn't possibly be worth it but something in me just had to try them for myself. So, after a few glasses of wine, I placed an order. Mine showed up within a reasonable amount of time with everything in order, which meant I'd passed the first hurdle. However I just wasn't impressed with the quality of the products. The liquid lipsticks were flaky, drying and unflattering - all unforgivable in my books! I actually got nude shades, which you could definitely now dupe from Huda's range (with easier access, a similar base cost and good customer service). I actually sold the two liquid lipsticks I got on Depop but you can see my original review here. Whilst I kept hold of the Dirty Peach liner and do like it, you can get similar products elsewhere - again I'd recommend Huda's Lip Contours.

This is a brand I think is running on almost pure hype - I haven't tried their eyeshadows but have heard they're pretty good. But the formula doesn't sound out-of-this-world enough to be worth the effort of ordering when I can just hop on Cult Beauty or head over to to Selfridges to buy amazing products from Too Faced, Zoeva or Huda Beauty. The colours are also a bit 'whatever' to me; if everyone didn't already own these shades or if this formula was considered one of the best, then maybe the Extended Bronze would be of interest, but I just don't think we needed this! The little Kourt x Kylie quads just don't appeal to me - I think the packaging is too cheap and kiddie-looking and there's nothing special about the colours that I couldn't get more easily and probably at a cheaper price elsewhere. They have a few others too that to me just look like the same shades repeated over and over again with a different single coloured shadow stuck in there. I also don't care about the numerous family-themed collaborations coming out every month. Kylie's products don't interest me in terms of the colours and I just don't think the quality is there. I just don't see why I'd buy any of these products when I can get better quality more easily elsewhere.




I actually used to have a lot more products from Revlon before I moved out of my family home and had a big declutter - I've mainly tried their lip products but also a foundation. I was trying to think whether I've used anything else from them and genuinely couldn't remember because all of their products are so generic! I feel like they're what you pick up in the 3 for 2 mix and match because they're inoffensive and you can't find anything better. Their packaging is very boring to me and I honestly don't think it's changed in the 10 years I've been buying makeup for. Along with the dated packaging (which can be forgiven), the product inside just doesn't excite me. I do wonder if maybe Revlon is aiming itself at an older age bracket than me, but to be honest - aren't most drugstore products more for young teenagers who don't have a lot of money to spend? I just can't see this appealing to them. Even L'Oreal, which is a similar higher-priced drugstore brand, switches it up and does different collections in themed packaging (Miss Manga, Crushed Foil, the new summer collection etc.) but Revlon remains a snooze-fest.

I feel like the product range is also quite stagnant. They did recently release some stick foundations, blushers and highlighters, which were something a bit different for Revlon, but the packaging and the shades just don't make me want to buy them. I'm not saying the products are all rubbish - I do appreciate that there are some bits in there that can be everyday staples for people - it's just there's nothing that excites me in there. Bobbi Brown catches some flack but I think they're a brand that creates classic products without being a dull. I can get an everyday lip colour or cream blusher from Fresh Beauty or Glossier or any other brand that interests me, so I just don't feel the need to browse the Revlon stand.


Clinique

Clinique is another brand that's stuck staunchly to its guns in an ever-evolving beauty world. Their packaging and marketing have pretty much stayed the same since I was a child playing with the skin type finder whilst my mum had a browse. Stila is a brand that's been in Boots for a similar amount of time and they've totally nailed the concept of changing and innovating to produce new products for a new market whilst still honouring their classic products (like the shade Kitten which is in most of their palettes and you can buy in the glitter formula). I actually almost chose Clarins for this post but then remembered that, even if it was two years back, their Summer 2016 collection was really good! (I reviewed it here.) I just don't think their skincare is anything special for the price-point - I can get all of the French Pharmacy brands in Boots now and if I feel like ordering online I have the Ordinary (even Niod costs a similar amount to Clinique). 

They do have some cute makeup - obviously the Chubby Sticks are a classic for so many people (something I've also reviewed) but the only products in about the past 5 years I've actually felt 'this has to be mine!' about from them were the Cheek Pop blushes (reviews), which are fantastic. I do like their Stick Foundation (review) and Eyeshadow stick (review) as everyday staples too. I also got a little sample of their Beyond Perfecting foundation, which I'm enjoying well enough but probably won't purchase. However I feel like these are products I've discovered despite Clinique seeming to make a concerted effort to be unappealing! I think my main gripe with Clinique is not that their products are bad (as I mentioned, there are several I like and use) but that they rely on older customers purchasing their hero products and a big helping of nostalgia to stay afloat. However a lot of those products were released when there weren't really many alternatives - Dramatically Different now needs to stand up against moisturisers from Embryolisse, Glossier and so on. Whilst there are always those people who've used Clinique for most of their adult lives and aren't about to change that, I just don't think they're winning many new fans and it'd be nice to see them switch it up a bit. 



Benefit

This is one of the few brands in the 'pass' category that I think is actually trying to be different and innovative, so I guess they deserve some points for effort, however I think they sometimes try a bit too hard and end up missing the mark. I often feel as though Benefit releases all these products trying to solve problems that don't exist. Take the Big Sexy Eye Kits - it's a set of eyeshadow duos (with pretty boring colours, to be honest) with this ridiculous foam ball applicator. The idea is that you swipe across the pan in a line then apply that right onto your lid. It just sounds like it could go easily wrong and look a total mess, and even if it worked I feel like you'd need to do some blending anyway. By which time surely you could, I don't know, just apply two eyeshadows separarely with a brush? All of their products are just mildly eye-roll-worthy at this point for me. They recently launched the Bad Gal Bang mascara which I'm not sure anyone asked for. I wasn't interested in it and I do actually like a few of their mascaras. Then there was the whole controversy about sending a ton of influencers on an exotic holiday to get them to hype it up and I was still just sat there like: 'but it's a mascara?!'

Their products are also kind of over-priced - I used to have a few staples I'd always repurchase from Benefit but I've slowly replaced them with cheaper products from brands that excite me more. Instead of Gimme Brow*, I use Glossier Boy Brow, Instead of the Porefessional, I use Touch in Sol No Poreblem and I opt for Maybelline mascaras over Benefit's now. I do like their brow products (review) but outside of that I just think there are better options. Why would I spend £25.50 on a bulky Benefit boxed blush when I can get one from Becca for £26? Why am I going to spend £30 on Benefit's 'white skin only' foundation when I can get Nars for the same price or Fenty for £26?



YSL Beauty

To be honest, I really don't have much interest in fashion houses who have beauty lines - on the whole, I find you're paying for the name and I can get luxury products from makeup-specific brands like Charlotte Tilbury and Hourglass. The only real exceptions to this rule for me are Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs. To be fair, Chanel and Dior could easily have sat in YSL's place here, however I don't own any of their products so didn't think I could give a balanced view on the topic talking about those brands. Like the rest of the world, I own and love Touche Eclat (review) and the cream bronzer (review), but the rest of their range kind of leaves me cold. I have a nice lipstick from YSL and can see the luxury appeal but overall the shades and formulas don't speak to to me. I also find that L'Oreal has a lot of similar products - whilst they aren't identical, why would I pay more if I can get similar products at the drugstore for much less?

I think the only product I've taken note of in recent memory from YSL has been the All Hours foundation, but I still feel a bit like 'I have my Nars Radiant Longwear and L'Oreal Pro-Matte, do I really need this?' Plus the shade range doesn't look great! In terms of the colour products, overall it's the kind of 'bright pink lips and emerald green (or bright blue) eyeshadow' vibe that just doesn't appeal to me. Why would I spend £35 on a YSL blusher when I can get Hourglass for that or £45 on a tragic quad when I can get a whole palette full of amazing shades from Too Faced or Anastasia at the same price-point? Sorry, but I'd just rather spend my money on brands founded by makeup artists and on a passion for beauty.






How do you feel about the brands I mentioned? Which brands get you excited and which bore you? 


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Disclosure - products marked * were sent to me for consideration however all opinions remain my own. All professional product photos are from the relevant brand's own website.

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