We all know what it is, we've seen it everywhere since launch, and we all know it's getting rave reviews. But is Fenty Beauty, created by Robyn Rihanna Fenty, the game-changer that everyone says it is?
Like thousands of others, the night of September 7th I was on the Sephora site just watching the clock. When Fenty Beauty finally went live at midnight September 8th, I refreshed and was directed to the black page of doom...the queue. After a 30 minute wait, the virtual doors of Sephora opened to me – and I kid you not – it was like being let into to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
I ended up with a decent amount of the products from Fenty Beauty's initial launch and a gaping hole in my wallet. Here, I'll be dishing about my impressions and experiences with Fenty Beauty over the past few weeks.
The Fenty packaging is absolutely stunning. End of story. It's some of the nicest packaging I've seen in awhile and it just exudes a modern high-end look and feel. The colors, the shapes, the materials are just fan-freaking-tastic. The FB pressed into the highlighters just pull it all together.
The line was designed for functionality by implementing magnetic packaging that all fit together, creating a gorgeous honeycomb effect should you buy a handful of the Match Stix. The Invisimatte Blotting Powder compact is also magnetic in order to hold the Portable Touchup Brush which is sold separately. I appreciate conscientious design and it's obvious that the time and effort put into designing the packaging in of itself was paramount.
The compacts are pearlescent white which was a nice surprise since online they just looked like white compacts. I love the dusty pink color of the primer and the the Match Stix as well as the mirrored cap and clear tube for the gloss. When you first open the products and take them out of their urban-chic boxes, you feel your money has been well spent even before using.
I honestly cannot pick a favorite out of the products I bought, and let me just say that I'd be all over some matte lipsticks in Match Stix tubes in the future.
I really like this primer. For oily skin, this primer is gold. It mattifies without leaving your skin feeling dehydrated, and it greatly extends the wear of my foundation and controls oil. I typically shy away from mattifying primers because they make my foundation feel mask-like or leave my skin feeling like all the moisture has been sucked from my skin. This primer doesn't do any of those things.
The Pro Filt'r primer is a peach cream consistency that is dispensed by a pump. It's not too wet, not too thick...it's honestly a perfect consistency that blends out effortlessly. It seems to blur pores and lines, but the most noticeable aspect is just how freakin' soft my skin feels after applying this primer. It almost feels like a moisturizer but it doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy or heavy with residue. It does not have a silicone feel to it at all, which I'm absolutely here for, and it dries down to a demi-matte velvety finish.
I didn't pick up the foundation because of how insanely extensive the shade range is, and I thought better of trying to choose a shade online. I wanted to try it out before purchasing anyway, since again, I tend to steer clear of mattifying products. That being said, I did get a sample bottle in my order so I was able to try it out.
The foundation is really nice, but it didn't work for me. It looks fantastic when you're applying it but it also sets crazy fast. Each time I've used it I've felt like I'm in a race to blend it out before it sets. Because of this, application with a brush tends to look rather streaky but application with a dampened sponge is very sheer. The foundation itself is extremely lightweight and the sponge ends up sucking it all up. I ended up having to use almost three times the amount I normally would use when applying it with the sponge.
Unfortunately, the foundation oxidized on my skin to a shade almost two times deeper than it was after application. The sample shade I chose was 150, and it was a pretty decent match for my NC20 skin initially, yet as the hours went by the deeper the shade became.
I've seen that the oxidization issue is quite a common complaint by other reviewers, so before purchasing I'd test the shades in store, leave, see how it wears on your skin and if it oxidizes, and come back a different day to make your final shade match. I don't feel that there would be ample time to make a determination on the right shade before choosing one and purchasing since it took a few hours to reach it's final appearance.
My biggest issue with the foundation is the way it wore on my skin. For some reason it clung to all my pores, even after the primer. It didn't pool into them...it stuck to them and made them look fuzzy. It was extremely unflattering in natural light. Mind you, my skin was exfoliated, hydrated and primed.
From a distance, the foundation looked great and though my skin appeared a bit more tan than usual my skin looked smooth and even. Up close was another matter all together. Creases were accentuated and it became patchy on my forehead (typically my oiliest area due to my bangs) and my nose and chin were textured and fuzzy looking. It looked very heavy and powdery, but it did control the appearance of oil (not oil itself) and lasted through the day.
I'd likely limit use to nights out when I want to ensure my coverage is on lock through the evening, but as a daytime foundation it's a pass for me.
I think Fenty needs to get the oxidization issue in check and make the foundation a little easier to work with and blend out. If they come out with a dewier formula in the future? I'm totally game.
The Invisimatte Blotting Powder is a universal mattifying powder that...well, mattifies. There's really nothing groundbreaking here and we've all seen products like this from other brands such as Urban Decay. Honestly, I feel like this powder is a little drying and even though it works alright, I don't feel like the effects are long lasting whatsoever. It just really isn't anything super special and I don't feel drawn to using it on a consistent basis. It's not my go-to powder by any stretch of the imagination and I'd skip on repurchasing.
I opted out of buying the separate Touchup Brush and I just use my own little travel kabuki with it which works just fine, even though FOMO sets in when I see my lonely compact. The compact does come with a little flat sponge applicator. It works, it's fine, it's just not as useful with the formula as a brush.
The powder is lightweight and finely milled but it's not soft or buttery and it ends up looking a little powdery on the skin. Though its dubbed as a “universal” shade I still notice a white cast on my NC20 skin when I apply it. I really have to buff it in with my kabuki and it's hard to tell how much product I'm applying because I don't feel that the powder is picked up very well at all.
I like the concept behind it and I get it, I just don't think it's necessary over the hoards of other powders on the market. If you get oily throughout the day...go for it. You may like it more than I do.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of lip gloss. I was obsessed with gloss in my 20's, but these days the texture just drives me cray. Give me a matte liquid lipstick or a tinted lip balm any day and I'm golden. Despite my aversion to gloss, I felt I had to pick this up and I'm really glad I did.
This glittery rosy-nude little number is meant to look good on any skin tone and from what I can tell, it does. I absolutely adore how this gloss looks on my lips, and surprisingly it doesn't make me want to wipe it off within the first 10 minutes of wearing. The shade is subtle and gives my typically pale lips a rosy appearance that looks glowy and natural.
I'm obsessed with the scent, I'm not gonna lie. To me it smells like strawberry Starburst (the best one, amirite?). I love the fatty little wand because I don't have to keep dipping in for more product and it's large enough that it applies to my lips without thought or struggle.
The formula is pretty nice as far as glosses go. It doesn't have that extremely heavy and goopy feel to it, even though it does still have a stickiness to it. The slip on the lips feels nice and moisturizing and it lasts for quite awhile without the need for reapplication. Though the intensity of the shine wears down after awhile it wears down to a pretty sheen. It looks so pretty when light hits it and I just can't stop applying it.
I can feel the glitter in it, but for some unearthly reason it doesn't bother me at all. If texture drives you bananas, you may want to give this a pass. As for me? I'd repurchase Gloss Bomb in a heartbeat.
The shade I picked up in the Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick is Trippin, a peachy-coral shade with a gold shimmer shift. In retrospect I should have gone with something like Confetti (a pearlescent highlighter type of shade), but we live and learn. Don't get me wrong, Trippin is a pretty shade (and I love the name) but it just doesn't do much for my complexion. My initial thought was to use it as a blush but expectation rarely mirrors reality.
The formula of these cream sticks are rather dry and though it's pigmented it's incredibly difficult to blend out evenly while keeping the shade intact. When used as a blush it ends up making my cheeks look like I've been slapped instead of producing a pretty flush. Once I get it sheered out without any harsh lines the shimmer seems to disappear and leaves fine glitter behind.
I love the packaging of this so much, ugh! Unfortunately its a product I'm going to be returning and the formula will likely prevent me from trying another shade.
The two tools I picked up are the Precision Makeup Sponge ($16) and the Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush ($32). I passed on the foundation brush because I already own a few high end foundation brushes that I'm perfectly happy with thankyouverymuch.
The Precision Makeup Sponge, in my opinion, is just too small. I appreciate the design and flat top but again, it's nothing that we haven't seen before. For $16 I was expecting a lot more from this sponge. When it's damp I feel like it retains too much water and it doesn't expand enough for my taste. It's a bit too soft and I find it difficult to stipple my foundation with it as it almost collapses due to how soft it is and it doesn't provide much resistance.
In my experience the sponge soaks up more foundation than other popular sponges, resulting in sheer coverage and more foundation needed for application. For me, this sponge is a pass since there really isn't anything extra it provides.
The Cheek-Hugging Highlight brush was something I went back for. After seeing a few reviews I decided I needed it in my life since I'm always down for different, oddly shaped, innovative brushes. The bristles of this brush are shaped to fit the contour of the cheek, providing precise pigmented highlight application.
The handle is gorgeous and feels like a high end brush. The bristles, however, feel rather cheap to me – sorry to say. They're soft, but I expected them to be much more dense. For a high end brush with a high end price, the bristles are comparable to cheaper novelty brushes I own.
The shape of the bristles are very uneven. I almost feel like I could have created the same shape had I taken a brush and cut the bristles myself. In the photos you can see what the bristles look like when wet and after washing. You can see how choppy and uneven they appear. Expertly beveled bristles should not look that way. It reminds me how Barbie's hair would look after deciding she needed a haircut.
As far as function goes, it does what it claims. Highlighter applies to my cheek perfectly with this brush, but it's a little too wide of an application for my nose. The pigmentation created with this brush is pretty impressive (regardless of the highlighter used), so despite how I feel about the construction of the brush it does indeed get the job done and create a beautiful highlight. Ultimately, I don't regret purchasing it but I do feel the price is a bit steep.
The time has come to talk about the most hyped product from the Fenty lineup – the Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter and Highlighter Duo.
Now, don't freak out but I did not pick up Trophy Wife (the bright metallic gold). I know, I know, but hear me out – gold highlighter on my skin just doesn't look fantastic, especially golds with a very strong yellow appearance. I chose not to order Trophy Wife because I knew that as much as I may like it as a product (that's assuming I would) that it would sadly sit in a pile with all the other highlighters I own that are too intense or crazy for daily use. Instead, I went for Metal Moon – a much more subdued gold that appears white in the pan.
The color is really pretty, but it's subtle where I feel it needs to pack more of a punch and it packs a punch with the glitter where I feel it should be more subtle. For some reason, Metal Moon looks very powdery on my skin and it has a tendency to accentuate the pores on my nose and chin, so if I wear it I can only apply it to my cheekbones.
The real problem is that Metal Moon is much too sparkly to look like a natural looking highlight. This is my issue with the Killawatt Highlighters altogether, including the two sided duos.
I prefer highlighters that have a finely milled frosted shimmer or iridescent shift that produce a glow rather than highlighters that are full of glitter. For me, glitter highlighters are just not practical for everyday looks. I can't go grocery shopping looking like I'm going clubbing. I mean, I guess I could but I don't want to. It just doesn't work for me or translate into my daily life. Not only that, the older you get, the less glitter looks cute on your skin. It's just a fact.
Girl Next Door/Chic Phreak
I bought two duos – Girl Next Door/Chic Phreak and Mean Money/Hu$tla Baby. The duos look more like blushes than they look like highlighters in all honesty. The left side is meant to be a subtle glow and the right side is the poppin' blinding side. The colors are insaaaaanely pretty, but the subtle side is a little too subtle and has almost no pigment or payoff (especially Mean Money), and the blinding side has chunky glitter.
Mean Money/Hu$tla Baby
The color shifts of the supercharged shades are simply cosmic and it annoys me to no end that
these colors look beautiful on my skin but the glitter deters me from using them! Why RiRi?! WHY? It honestly breaks my heart that I can't use these as much as I'd like and really hope that Fenty releases shades with less glitter in the future.
If you like your highlighter to be uber sparkly...go for it! You will love these, no joke. They really are spectacular when all is said and done, even though they may not be practical for me in real life.
Worth The Hype?
Rihanna has dominated the music industry, the fashion industry, and now she's about to dominate the beauty industry with just as much heart and determination as her other endeavors. She's a badass renaissance-woman who has now shown the beauty industry that she knows what's up.
For a brand to create 40 shades of foundation to be as inclusive as possible is no easy feat and deserves to be applauded. Fenty Beauty will certainly resonate with women and men across the globe (in 150 countries!) by inviting everyone to take part in Rhianna's vision for the future of beauty – and it's definitely something to be excited about.
Though I may not have personally liked every product from the initial launch, I cannot wait to see what Fenty Beauty comes out with next. I can guarantee...I'll buy it.
Brigid Anderson has been a makeup addict for over 15 years and has worked as a freelance makeup artist and stylist for fashion labels and music videos. When she isn't writing about and using beauty products, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog Ivan, hoarding vintage clothing and vinyl records, and binge watching 'Game of Thrones'...repeatedly.