On September 8th, Rihanna’s highly anticipated Fenty Beauty cosmetics line was released worldwide, offering an incredibly ambitious and diverse 40 shades of foundation in the 90-product line. A quick scan of Fenty Beauty’s website shows that the first wave of products is all about skin. It’s a brilliant move for several reasons; celebrity cosmetics brands tend to focus on eyes, lips, and fragrance, but skimp on the skincare aspect of makeup. Musician-inspired capsule collections lean heavily on lip products—a look at MAC’s collaborations with singers like Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, and even Rihanna herself confirms that point. So for Fenty Beauty to come out of the gate with a strong emphasis on high quality foundations at a mid-tier price immediately distinguishes it from its other celebrity competitors. With the help of drag performer Bella Muerte, we decided to take Fenty Beauty for a test run.
Staley Sharples (Saint Audio) purchased her products from Sephora, Fenty Beauty’s official retail partner in the US and most European and Asian countries; in the UK, the Kendo-owned brand is distributed in Harvey Nichols. Bella Muerte ordered products via the Fenty Beauty website.
Bella Muerte‘s Products:
My skin type is very dry, with the occasional spot, and pores that sometimes like to resemble craters. I also tend to use makeup for Avant-Garde club kid looks, so I enjoy makeup that can be used for day and night use.
Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation in 150
Matchstix Trio in Light
Precision Makeup Sponge
Items I ended up buying are denoted with an asterisk. My skin type is combination (oily T-zone, cheek area prone to dryness). I have some acne on my chin, dark undereye circles, and redness in the skin near the cheekbone area. Prepare for very realistic selfies! I took all of them sans filter, no special lighting, etc. This is how the products really look on my skin, folx!
Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer
Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation in 170
Matte Matchstix in Mocha*
Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal
Mean Money/Hu$tla Baby*
Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer
Portable Highlighter Brush*
Staley Sharples: Much of the press surrounding Fenty Beauty is lauding its commitment to flattering every skin tone, and that they do. I was impressed by how diverse the range of shades were in both the foundation and the Matte Matchstix, as well as the Shimmer Matchstix—looking at the products in-store, it was clear that the range of blush and highlight shades were designed to cater to women of all skin tones. Some Shimmer Matchstix colors like “Unicorn” popped out to me as a beautiful, universally-flattering highlight for the winter months, whereas “Chili Mango”, “Ridiic”, and “Blonde” seemed perfectly suited to add radiance to deeper skin tones. The only Shimmer Matchstix I disliked was “Confetti”. A quick swipe of this stick distributed a chunky amount of glitter onto my hand, and not much pigment.
The quality of the primer and foundation blew me away. The Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer was dewy with a consistency that avoided being too viscous or runny. It gave my skin an even, brightening effect, and didn’t wash me out or cover me with a cheap glimmer, which I was worried about. Better yet, it held the makeup in place, all the way up until taking my face off for the night. The absorption of the primer seemed like it’d be a great fit for most skin types, as it’s mattifying on my oily spots but doesn’t make my skin look dull or, conversely, too shiny.
Bella Muerte: Initially, I had reservations about the foundation, as matte foundations tend to look dry on my skin and can be uncomfortable to wear. This foundation, however, set itself in a way that did not require much powder, and still retained a soft, dewy finish. The foundation also wore beautifully throughout a night of dancing at a rather sweaty venue without sliding off, and through a barrage of drunk students touching my face. Overall, the finish looks like skin, does not cake, and feels light. I have reached for this foundation every day since purchase, and will definitely be using it heavily in my kit on clients to come.
SS: At first, I was unimpressed by the Killawatt Highlighter. I’ve used a range of highlighter formulas (Benefit’s High Beam and Hourglass’s Strobe Lighting Powder being recent favorites), and at first didn’t like the thicker, more opaque texture and appearance of the cream-powder hybrid formula. The whole “highlighter as a giant stripe down your face” trend is not a look that I dig. However, as the day went on, I fell in love with this product. It’s become my favorite of the entire collection. I tested both the “Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal” palette (which I felt was too neutral and light for my skin), and the “Mean Money/Hu$tla Baby” (pictured). One of the nice parts of the Killawatt Highlight is the day-to-night options you have; you can layer the two highlighters atop one another for a more bold look, or use the color on the left for a more subtle effect. I love that the velvety powders seem to melt into the skin and work with your complexion to amp up the highlight, rather than wear off after a few hours of wear.
BM: The Matchstix Trio is a wonderful product. I purchased the trio in the Light range, which included the matte shades “Linen”, a fair with cool pink tones, “Amber”, a cool, taupe contour colour, and the shimmer stick “Starstruck”, an icy pearl. I do have a complaint with this product, as I feel the shades do not reach light enough to be used to sculpt or conceal under eye. “Linen” is one of the lightest shades in the line, yet seems a touch darker than the foundation shade I used; in fact, it seemed even darker than the shade of foundation itself. However, that is something that is easily fixed, especially as the brand has said that more shades are on the way. “Amber” had an incredibly cool shift and worried me that it would make me appear ashy. This worry, however, later proved unfounded, as the product blended beautifully into the skin, providing just the subtlest contour, perfect for day wear. The tones in the product complimented my foundation shade well and looked natural. The shade “Starstruck” is another new favourite to come out of this collection. I am not one for blinding highlights, as I feel highlights should be used to add a breath of life back into the skin, not be giant strips of metal along the cheeks. This product, though with an incredible amount of pearl, is not overbearing and catches the light in a beautiful way. Though stick highlighters tend to disrupt the products underneath, I avoided that by applying the product to the palm of my hand, letting it warm up for a second or two, and applied to my cheekbones by tapping and blending with my finger. This is also a great way to ensure your highlight is well blended with no harsh edges at all, and it is so easy to build up a highlight as well.
SS: I have similar levels of praise for the Matte Matchstix used as a contour, and I say that as someone who’s not great at contouring. This stick makes it easy, and you can change the amount of the product you apply by angling the tip of the product.
BM: The Precision Makeup Sponge has a unique shape, with multiple flat edges and harsh angles. I really enjoyed the feel of this in my hand, as it has a lot of give and spreads the makeup around beautifully. I have used it with multiple foundations since, most notably the Makeup For Ever HD Stick and Laura Mercier Candleglow, and have had no sacrifices in coverage or blending ability. The sponge is also latex-free, which gives me an option for use on clients with allergies.
SS: The brushes are a very reasonable price for the level of quality you’re getting, excluding the gimmicky Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush, which unevenly picks up and applies product. The portable brushes were my favorites, as they’re magnetic and attach to the Matte and Shimmer Matchstix, both of which are also magnetic. The magnetic packaging of the multi-use Stix and the brushes is a brilliant idea: you can toss your Fenty Beauty products in your bag for a quick touchup without having to turn your purse upside down to find your brush. In terms of the life of these brushes, I’ll be curious to see how long they last before any bristles begin to fall out. Let’s hope it’s for a while!
*Edited 6/15/2018: Ironically, the lip luminizer is now the one product from Fenty Beauty I tell everyone to buy. It is my go-to lippie and seriously flattering on everyone. Thank you to my friend Will for showing me the light. It might not look special, but it’s a product that over time, became obvious as a clear staple in my makeup arsenal. It’s extremely hydrating and got me through the winter months without any chapping on my lips. So, if you’re like me and don’t see how special this product is at first, take my word for it: you NEED it. The only product I didn’t like was the lip luminizer. It’s a pretty shade, but not an exciting one. Though it holds true to its claim of being very flattering to everyone, it’s an overpriced and forgettable part of the collection. Perhaps if it had better packaging I’d like it more, but the jumbo applicator and overall size of the package really turned me off. It also wore off my lips almost immediately. Granted, I drank some water, but it literally slid right off my lips. Don’t buy this one. I hope that the next wave of products will feature some more unique, better quality lipcolor.
BM: Overall, I was highly impressed with this line. The quality of every product was spectacular, with the only complaint being a slight shade difference in the trio. Every product blended well and had a gorgeous, skin-like finish. I am immensely happy that this line has proven that a brand can be effortlessly diverse, cater to dark skin tones, and that there is a market in deeper skin tones. The range of shades for the very pale is also incredibly welcome, as there has always been a middle range of shades that are catered to by nearly every brand, but those of us at the extremes of the spectrum have always had little to no options, or have had to resort to mixing our own shades. This line is honestly a challenge to the rest of the beauty industry to step up to the plate, and Rihanna must be commended for creating such a perfect line.
SS: With Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s showing herself to be more than just a musician: she’s a disruptor in all creative fields. The Bajan songstress spent two years developing the products, and each item was designed by Rihanna herself. She put in the work and it shows. Not only is Fenty Beauty well-made, it’s completely cruelty-free, and made without gluten, parabens, or phthalates. Many of the products are vegan-friendly as well!
Her cosmetics line is radical in its inclusivity and simplicity, giving all shades of skin a host of premium products for a reasonable price. Just as she burst onto the airwaves over a decade ago, Rihanna’s grand entrance into the beauty industry is one that we’ll be talking about for years to come.
Bella Muerte’s Recommended Products: Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Precision Makeup Sponge, Matchstix Trio
Staley’s Recommended Products: Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer, Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Killawatt Highlighter, Portable Brushes
You can check out the reviews of Fenty Beauty on dark-skinned people below:
Purchase Fenty Beauty online at their official site.