We Tried It: Celeb Beauty Lines
From the pricey (Goop!) to the pretty affordable (Illuminate!), we tried our favorite celebs' latest offerings
Stars spend countless hours sitting in the chairs of some of the most sought-after makeup artists, skincare specialists and hair stylists in the world. And that means they also learn everything there is to know about beauty straight from top experts. So who can blame them for wanting to take what they’ve learned about quality, technique, color and formulas and apply them to their own product lines? So many stars have started their own beauty businesses, it could practically be its own section of Sephora. But are they worth the (Kylie Lip Kit-level) hype? We wanted to find out.
From high-end face creams to affordable drugstore gems, celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and more have made a major impact on the beauty market, even replacing some beloved oldies-but-goodies with their new classics. Here at PeopleStyle, we see our fair share of beauty products, so we put these celeb-launched lines to the test to see if they held up among our existing faves.
The Brand: Illuminate
The Celebrity Behind It: Ashley Tisdale
Who Tried It: Kaitlyn Frey, Style & Beauty Assistant
To put it quite simply, I was completely blown away by the quality of these products. Everything I tested cost $15 or less (and actually, everything in the entire line falls in that price range), so I was totally surprised to discover these products work just as well as some of my luxury makeup. The warm, sun kissed shades in Beach Goddess palette won me over immediately – it not only includes every shade you need to create either a simple daytime look to a dramatic smoky eye, but also includes a bronzer, blush and highlighter to finish the rest of your face. Fair warning: the shadows are so pigmented and soft, I did experience a little fallout with the metallic shades, but not nearly enough to turn me off from continuing to use the palette daily.
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I tend to never use cream blushes, but was pleased to see the Cream Cheek & Lip Tint didn’t feel overly greasy or waxy, and blended out into a soft flush of color with ease. I used the large stipple brush in the brush set (which by the way, includes one of the best eye shadow brushes I’ve ever used) to tap, tap, tap and blend, blend, blend the mauve-y shade on the apples of my cheeks. But being completely honest, the Illuminating Shimmer was probably my least favorite out of the bunch. I like my highlighter to give the ‘glowing from within’ look, whereas this one applied a bit too chunky and glittery for my taste.
The Brand: Goop Beauty
The Celebrity Behind It: Gwyneth Paltrow
Who Tried It: Alex Apatoff, Deputy Style Director
Ever since I watched Gwyneth Paltrow eat her beauty products on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, I’ve been simultaneously skeptical of and fascinated by her super-clean, USDA-certified organic, food-grade beauty line. Skeptical, because this is a woman who swears by bee stings in the name of good skin, and because it ain’t cheap. Fascinated, because, um, have you seen Gwyneth’s skin recently? But since they sent over some products, I agreed to try them out, you know, in the name of science. As a pregnant lady, I’ve been trying to move towards more “clean” beauty anyway, and this seemed like as good a place as any to start.
Well, darn you anyway, Gwyneth, because your products are really good and now I’m hooked on a ridiculous tiny bottle of $110 face oil, the ceramic bottle of which I promptly dropped and shattered on my tile floor and I now must replace because I can’t live without it. The melting cleanser, which my beauty icon Jackie Fields told me was actually worth the hype, was spot-on – it really does “melt” makeup off (even my amazing-but-stubborn mascara that won’t budge for anything) and it makes your face feel clean, but not stripped bare or dry. Those two were far and away my “oh God I’m going to have to buy these” favorites, though I liked the exfoliating facial too, which does make your face tingle a little so you feel like it’s working. I’d splurge even more on all of these if they could house them in some kind of earth-friendly but idiot-proof packaging so I don’t watch $110 of deliciously-scented face oil spread all over my bathroom floor.
The Brand: Nuance
The Celebrity Behind It: Salma Hayek
Who Tried It: Kaitlyn Frey, Style & Beauty Assistant
The first time I washed my face with the Nuance Glycolic Cream Cleanser, I recognized its scent from somewhere, but just couldn’t place it. The it hit me: spray tan. While I am one of the weird minority that actually likes the scent of a fresh spray tan (don’t ask why), the fragrance could be quite off-putting to others. But that aside, this cleanser-exfoliator does the job just right. The microbeads are gentle enough for sensitive skin, yet I can still feel and see a difference in my skin after using. The Color Protect Hair Mask made my damaged, dry ends feel silky smooth when I woke up the next day, and I even swear my blonde balayage looked brighter after using it (or maybe it’s just in my head).
Next I tried the Blur Perfection Primer to see if it could really smooth out my pores. This one has a very thick, gel-like consistency, and be forewarned: a little goes a long way. I only used a pea-size amount, rubbed it between my fingers and then tapped it only on the areas of my face I wanted to smooth (forehead, cheeks, chin, etc.). Then I moved onto the liquid foundation, which gave me medium coverage, but truly felt like there was nothing on my skin. Plus, I’ve gotten compliments about my skin and makeup every time I wear it!
The Brand: Flower Beauty
The Celebrity Behind It: Drew Barrymore
Who Tried It: Lindy Segal, Style Social Editor
Drew Barrymore is one of those people who just gives off a gorgeous aura, so I was determined to capture a bit of that glow with her Flower products, which, surprisingly, I had never tried before. The first thing I tried was the mascara, which I was immediately drawn to because — wait for it — the brush is adjustable. It’s fascinating! Essentially you twist the cap to and fro until the bristles reach your desired density. I usually go for length over volume, but I tried it a bunch of different ways, because science. Cool trick aside, the mascara was great. It didn’t clump one bit, and the brush really does work according to your wishes. It’s definitely my favorite Flower product I tried, and one I’d be happy to add to my makeup routine permanently.
Next I tried the foundation, which isn’t so much a foundation as it is a moisturizing primer. Nomenclature aside, I loved the feel of this product, and it made my foundation go on super smooth. I put it on before a night out, and when I got home (on the later side…) my skin looked fresh as a daisy. The same night, I used the blush brush for my highlighter and it was super soft and got the job done (and I’m always down for animal friendly brushes!). Last but not least, the lip butters felt great when I applied them, but didn’t last as long as I would have liked. All in all, I was impressed with Drew’s offerings, and felt like I did embody a bit — if not all — of her her happy glow.
The Brand: Kylie Cosmetics
The Celebrity Behind It: Kylie Jenner
Who Tried It: Jillian Ruffo, Associate Beauty Editor
When Kylie Jenner first released her lip kits, the beauty world went insane. Not only was it impossible to get your hands on her products, but the reviews weren’t the best — with delivery issues and pigment that wouldn’t come off anyone’s lips. But fast forward to today, and the 19-year-old star has created her own beauty empire, with everything from liquid lipsticks to eyeliner and eye shadow. The best part? She’s been keeping her inventory pretty well-stocked lately, meaning you can freely shop her site – which is what I did as soon as I figured that out.
My favorite product that I got my hands on was the burgundy palette. As someone who loves copper and red-toned eye shadows, I was pleasantly surprised with the shade range in this palette, as well as the size of the pans. What’s better is that they apply evenly, blend easily and don’t budge throughout the day, a true win in my mind. The shadows in the bronze palette have all of the same perks, but I simply didn’t love the shades as much as the burgundy ones – just personal preference.
I’m not an eyeliner person, but because KarJenner makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic has said that he uses the Kylie’s brown shade, I had to give it a try. The kit comes with a pencil, gel pot and a thin brush – and upon using them, I could see why he’s a fan. The pencil goes on smooth and is easy to smudge, which is typically the only way I ever use eyeliner. The gel formula was a little too soft for me, but the brush is easy precise and easy to use, which was a definite plus.
I wish I could say I loved the lip kit as much as I did everything else, and not just because Candy K definitely isn’t for me. I’m all for fun scents, but the cupcake-like whiff that the lip kits deliver are a bit too strong, and the formula is flat-out drying. However, Exposed was one of the only shades that I’ve tried that work for my very fair skin tone, and when applied with my finger on top of lip balm, it’s definitely a fair bargain.
The Brand: Elizabeth and James
Who Tried It: Colleen Kratofil, Style Writer-Reporter
Growing up, I always wanted to be like Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen. (I mean, who didn’t?). I needed tinted sunglasses like theirs in Billboard Dad. I started wearing bandanas nonstop after watching Passport to Paris. And tried and failed many times to get their perfect beachy waves in So Little Time. So when I had the opportunity to embody my longtime style idols by testing the beauty products from their line, Elizabeth and James Nirvana, my 8-year-old self definitely freaked out a little (okay, a lot).
The line contains four fragrances, a candle and a dry shampoo, and it’s safe to say I reached a state of Nirvana living in an Elizabeth and James fragrance fog for a few weeks. I ended up wearing the two lighter perfumes a lot more often because I couldn’t get enough of their clean, feminine scents. I loved the sophisticated notes in Nirvana White and appreciated that Rose wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. The other two fragrances, Nirvana Black and Bourbon have much more masculine feel than what I normally wear, so I deemed those my “night-out” scents thanks to their sensual notes.
The Nirvana Black candle has become my favorite thing in my apartment. It’s all-black design is so sophisticated and chic, the scent isn’t overpowering (a quality I hate in most candles). And the Nirvana Black Dry Shampoo is so good, my coworkers thought I got a professional blowout when I came to work with two-day-old hair. (True story!) It not only absorbs oil, but volumizes my roots so there’s bounce days after my last wash. All in all, I have to say, the Olsens still have me captivated by their style all these years later.
The Brand: IMAN Cosmetics
The Celebrities Behind It: Iman
What We Tested: Luxury Concealing Foundation
Who Tried It: Jackie Fields, Beauty Editor
Celebrities get a bad rep for slapping their names on products just to cash a big paycheck. But Iman is not one of those celebrities. In 1975 at just 18, the college student (she was studying political science at Nairobi University) was shooting for Vogue when a makeup artist asked her, “Did you bring your own foundation?” It was a perplexing question for the budding model then, but it was immediately clear why he inquired: after applying a mix of what was in his kit, she looked like a “gray” not a “brown” girl. That moment led Iman to test literally every pigmented product on cosmetics shelves at that time. Fast forward to her retirement from modeling, and Iman, besieged by makeup questions from women of color that she encountered, cemented her next step as a cosmetics guru.
This year, Iman launched a new foundation — her fifth in that category, which includes there award winners already. So while I am currently on a no-makeup kick, I jumped at the opportunity buff it on, particularly because this formula was created to conceal blemishes — and every once in a while I do like to look in the mirror and think, “How great would it be to not be able to play connect the dots with these hyperpigmentation marks?”
When the range arrived I pumped out the tones on my palm and began swatching my face. While no one color was the perfect match (in fairness, there’s no such thing in any brand), I found three that nicely complemented lighter and darker areas as well as my neck. As I blended, blemishes disappeared and face was still spotless hours later (although having oily skin I could have benefited from a spritz of setting spray) and all I could think was “Iman, you are not only a supermodel, you are my super hero.”
Which one of these celebrity beauty lines are you dying to try? Tell us below!