Friday, August 24, 2018

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Reviews

Charlotte Tilbury is a talented makeup artist, no doubt, but between her using the word "pop" a few too many times in her videos and her Into the Gloss interview that described wearing makeup to bed so her husband doesn't see her bare-faced, I've found it a bit hard to stomach her as a person. For a time, those feelings were transposed to her makeup line. I held off trying it for a couple of years.

Now that I have tried several products from the range, I have to admit that I'm impressed. Is every product as revolutionary and unique as she claims in her tutorials? Of course not; sometimes, a black eyeliner is just a black eyeliner. However, most of the range seems solid, and while there are some definite duds, there are also a few standouts that I would wholeheartedly recommend. So it's time to give them their due and write some mini reviews. (I've already written a full review of the Light Wonder Foundation, which you can read here.)

I purchased the Beauty Light Wand from Nordstrom earlier this year, and I gotta say, the hype is real. It's a beautiful champagne gold highlight that maintains a wet, glossy look even after drying down. It looks amazing in photographs and always garners compliments in real life. I've also used it on my eyes without any irritation or issues--your mileage may vary. I am a bit weirded out by the sponge tip applicator because you can't really clean it, but I like that you can lock the tube so it doesn't leak in your bag. It has become one of the stars of my highlighter collection.

The other three products mentioned in this review were sent to me by Influenster in preparation for Charlotte Tilbury's big Sephora launch. Let's start with the Hot Lips lipstick, which I expected to get in a more muted shade like Secret Salma and instead received in the very nude color Kim K.W. This is one of two satin shades in the range, and if by satin they mean "not matte," then okay, I'm fine with it. But for me, "satin" has always been between a true matte (with no shine) and a glossy, rich-looking cream, ie, most of the Besame Classic Color lipstick range. Charlotte Tilbury Kim K.W. has more of that plush look I associate with cream finishes.

Quibbling aside, it's a good lipstick. It feels comfortable on the lips, it isn't drying, and it photographs really well. It can look a bit smeary on me in real life, but I think that's just because the color is so light, and using a darker lip liner around the edges of my mouth definitely helps. That said, I won't spend $34 on another tube unless they make a shade I desperately want. It doesn't beat the aforementioned $22-a-tube Besame lipsticks, so it's not worth the extra $12 to me.

If any of the Charlotte Tilbury makeup products disappointed me, it was the Colour Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil, which I received in the shade Champagne Diamonds. It's not awful, it's just...very meh. Based on the name and the description ("mineral, soft-focus effects transform and enhance eye color for a range of looks"), I expected something complex and versatile. What I got was a pretty but plain champagne color with some flecks of glitter, which looks ordinary and one-dimensional even in the above macro shots. Eh.

That said, the actual formula of the eyeshadow pencils is just fine. It's a bit dryer than I expected, but it applies smoothly and evenly, and it definitely sets. I had no issues with creasing, and I didn't notice any of the glitter dropping down on my face. Again, this is not something I'd purchase with my own money, but I'm not opposed to wearing it or recommending it. It's a wonderful product for long days at the office, for instance. I just expected a little more shade complexity from a $27 eyeshadow called Color Chameleon. I'll stick with the cheaper Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses for now.

Now...let's talk about the Magic Cream. I'm trying to be more restrained with my skincare snark, since I've gone through half a dozen bottles of a $24 cleanser that is objectively rather basic. But I think a $100 cream that claims to contain "patented anti-aging, hydrating, and youth-boosting ingredients" that can "fight the aging process" needs to back up its claims with more than run-of-the-mill cloggers. I'd joke that reading this ingredients list gave me nightmares if it weren't all so generic. Butylene glycol and glycerin are cheap-as-dirt moisturizers included in most affordable options. Dimethicone is a form of silicone, and it's often used in skincare to make it seem smoother and more softening than it really is. Shea butter is a lovely ingredient, but it clogs my face like crazy. So on and so forth. Basically, it's $100 worth of hype based off of a mixture of other moisturizers Charlotte used to slap on runway models' faces.

Even if I weren't rolling my eyes a little too hard at this cream, I wouldn't be impressed. As expected, it didn't patch test well on my face, but I could use it on my neck and hands. It was a wholly average moisturizer with a thick lotion texture that took some time to soak in, then provided adequate moisture. And that's it. I'm sorry, but for $100 a tub, you'd better make my dry-as-a-grilled-chicken-breast skin plump, soft, and super-hydrated.

The only thing I liked about Charlotte's Magic Cream was the soft baby powder scent that reminded me of my mother, and I only liked that smell when it was on my hands. I certainly wouldn't want my face to smell like that.

I know that three out of four mini reviews ending with "I wouldn't spend my money on it" sounds like a lot of negativity. It's not: the makeup is usually good, sometimes great, occasionally shit, just like most other brands. It's just that I have found cheaper products I like just as much (Besame lipsticks) or better (Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses), and in those cases, I'm always going to save a few dollars. The Charlotte Tilbury makeup products are still worth recommending, say, if you want a nice nude lipstick or a quick and easy eye color for work.

The skincare range? Not so much. I've looked at some of the formulas for other products, and I'll take a hard pass on trying those in the future.

Charlotte Tilbury products will be available at Sephora on September 13.
This product was sent to me by Influenster in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I'm really drawn to the CT branding - Old Hollywood glamour is not usually my vibe, but it totally resonates with me for some reason. I got my first lipstick from the brand before they launched in North America - I went to Selfridges in London and I just couldn't resist. I felt so fancy. I do like the lipsticks even though I know they're overpriced... probably wouldn't buy another one, though, unless they release new, more interesting colours. I want to try the Light Beauty Wand - I've only heard rave reviews! I wasn't a big fan of the Magic Foundation, though - and, yeah, the skincare is unjustifiable.

    1. Gold packaging doesn't really do it for; I've always been more in to the sleek, simple black packaging from brands like NARS and Sleek. But the textured lipstick packaging is definitely vintage-inspired and beautiful!

  2. Ya, I’ve never purchased a CT product and don’t plan to. It seems like over-hyped, over-priced average products. Am I the only beauty junkie who doesn’t really give a crap about packaging beyond its functionality? Love the BL eye glosses too. Have you tried their new highlighter? I’m tempted.