Forever 21 isn't exactly a store you'd equate with great makeup. Instead, it's the most popular purveyor of cheap, uber-hipster clothing in my neck of the woods, a store full of see-through crop tops and spandex shorts for $20 or less. That's not to say it's BAD--some people can really rock those shorts--but the vibe doesn't lend itself to makeup.
But Forever 21 does, in fact, sell a wide range of makeup and beauty products, all of which seem to be from a brand called "Love & Beauty." I'd heard that some of these products were incredible for the price point, namely the eyeshadows and lipsticks, so I decided to take a $20 and check it out.
For the record: all of these products were $3.80 when I purchased them with the exception of the cream blush, which cost $0.99.
The Liquid Eye Liner
My my my. If you want to talk about something that's the stuff of my nightmares, the Love & Beauty liquid eyeliner would probably be the top candidate.
First, the good: the brush tip applicator is actually quite well-made and easy to control. I didn't have to deal with any splayed hairs. Also, I didn't pick up any odor.
...annnnnd the good stops there. This was one of the most watery, messy liquid eyeliner formulas I've ever dealt with. While it was easy to draw a straight line with the brush tip, said straight line was a mixture of "blah gray" and "oh there's no makeup here!" It also took its sweet time drying, which left me with a few smears to clean up. I realize that the header image for this post is a little misleading, seeing as the eyeliner shown in said image is quite solid and black. That's because I refused to let that hideous Love & Beauty crap shine through in a FOTD-type picture, so I went over both eyes with the Wet n' Wild Mega Liner.
The difference is night and day. Fun fact: the Wet n' Wild liquid liner is roughly the same price as Love & Beauty's similar offering, and it works ten times better. So just go for that bad boy.
The Cream Blush
I didn't have very high expectations for this cream blush, mostly because my experiences with bargain basement cream blushes have led me to believe that they are Just Plain Crap (tm). With the noticeable exceptions of the NYC Blushable Cream Sticks (which are better than most HE cream blush sticks and were discontinued shortly after they were brought out, WTF) and the NYX cream blushes (great drugstore option for those who like an emollient formula!), all of the drugstore cream blushes I've tried have had a waxy texture, stupid amounts of chunky glitter, and/or zero pigmentation.
The Love & Beauty cream blush does contain some pointless sparkle, but the actual product itself isn't all that bad.
Here's two layers of the cream blush over a sheer foundation. As you can see, there are some sparkles that don't really do anything (the slight glow you're seeing is just the natural glow I get in the summer, AKA sweat), but they're not particularly chunky or obnoxious. The pigmentation is decent. And the formulation is quite comfortable: it reminds me of the Lipstick Queen Oxymoron Matte Glosses insofar as it's dry in the pan, but quickly warms under the heat of your fingers and is easy to blend. This blush lasted for about 5-6 hours with minimal fading.
I'm not overly impressed with the shade; to me, it's just a standard pink that neither brightens nor muddies my complexion. But because it's cheap, has good staying power, and is easy to apply, I'll probably throw it in my makeup bag. It'll work in a pinch, and it's not a financial blow if it gets lost.
You'd think I'd have the best handle on this part of the review, seeing as I'm a lipstick fanatic who reviews pout paints regularly. But I'm not quite sure how I feel about these lipsticks, to be honest. On the one hand, they perform impressively, especially for a bargain lipstick; on the other hand, they have some characteristics that drive me batshit insane.
The most obvious problem? The packaging.
Notice our special guest?
This is what happened to Matte Fuchsia's cheap plastic packaging the first time I tried to open the tube. No, really: all I did was take the cap off, and it fell to pieces. I've experienced some truly faulty packaging, but this go-boom incident really blew my mind. How would this thing survive in a purse or makeup bag? (Hint: it probably wouldn't.)
The explosion only happened with Matte Fuchsia, but the packaging for all 3 lipsticks I purchased was flimsy, and none of the lids felt particularly tight.
Matte Fuchsia: blotted vs. applied thickly
Still, I gave each lipstick the good college try, and I was simultaneously impressed and annoyed. Straight off the bat, the matte lipstick formulation has a somewhat silicone-y feel, so it sits comfortably on your lips (I didn't experience any dryness or tightness), but it's just about impossible to get a strong lipline. Even when I applied with a lip brush, I felt like the matte lipsticks always had a "blurred" look around the edges. This isn't a deal-breaker for some people, and I actually liked the softness when I wore the shades blotted. But when I tried to do a full-on layer of lipstick, the smeariness irritated me.
The creme formulation is, of course, more glossy. It's also a little less pigmented, though I still got decent color payoff. Both formulations lasted for about 5 hours before needing touch-ups, and the matte lipsticks stuck it out with next to no fading through eating and drinking. However, those matte formulations also stain a bit, especially the fuchsia shade.
From left to right: Matte Fuchsia, Creme Coral Pink, Matte Red
Which leads me to my next problem: the shades. Do I just have a weird personal color scheme, or is that Matte Fuchsia lipstick more berry than fuchsia?! Fuchsia, to me, is a cool, hot pink with hints of purple; this shade was far more purple and dark than I would expect. The Matte Red is okay, but pretty uninspiring. Coral Pink Creme is the most aptly named and attractive in terms of color, but the matte formulation is more impressive to me.
I don't think I'll buy more of these unless they come out with a super-unique shade, and I'll be getting rid of the red for sure (my other reds are far more impressive). But...I'm not so sure about the other two. Coral Pink is different, shade-wise, from anything else in my collection at the moment, and Fuchsia looks rather nice blotted down. I'll have to think about those two.
There were hits and misses here, which is the case with any brand. Over the years, I've learned what I like and what works for me, and most of these products don't fit the bill as perfectly as other products in my collection. But you know what? With the exception of the Eyeliner From Hell, they're not that bad. Actually, they're quite nice and affordable. I could easily see buying a lipstick or an eyeshadow palette from this brand for a younger child who's just getting in to makeup, or if you want cheaper options for your travel makeup bag. And if you're on a tight budget? Eh, it's worth a try.
LIQUID EYELINER: 1 out of 5 (props for the brush)
CREAM BLUSH: 4 out of 5
LIPSTICKS: 4 out of 5