|i see you over there, sexy lady|
people had very nice things to say about it, but what's a girl gonna do? move to england just to be able to buy makeup? [pros: arsenal, mild winters, cool accents; cons: no fluevog store, high cost of living, david cameron]
then the brand came to the united states, because that is where all the sexy new euro brands go to get really famous.
having a beauty brand available in the united states and not canada is like being permanently passed over by the object of your affection in favour of your hotter, more popular friend. understanding the choice doesn't make you feel any better, and you get to hear your friend talk about how awesome your beloved is all the time.
then this year, charlotte tilbury finally made her way into canada, specifically into holt renfrew. that has precisely no impact on the lives of most people in the country, because holt's has nine locations in all of canada and, as they did with tom ford, chantecaille, burberry and others, they've made the brand available only at their flagship toronto store and one or two counters in the west.
so actually getting to touch and play with the products in person isn't going to happen for a lot of us. so sad.
but wait! at the same time, charlotte launched a canadian version of her web site, featuring prices in canadian dollars, free standard shipping from a warehouse in canada [no customs delays or additional charges!] and, most importantly, access to her complete line of products. [bonus cool points: the site accepts credit cards and paypal.]
i'm so excited and i just can't hide it.
it took me a few months to place an order on the site, not because i wasn't interested, but because it took me that long to decide what i wanted and because i was waiting for the launch of her much-loved matte revolution lipsticks. when i plunged, however, i didn't mess around trying out the shallow end. i'd managed to whittle my list down from "is there a bulk discount if i order more than 300kg of product?" to "i believe i shall allow myself to go just slightly mad, but no more".
i've been sitting on these products for a while now [not literally], trying to figure out how to handle reviewing them and now i've reached the point where i just need to review them already, which means that this is another lengthy post, where i try to keep things as brief as possible, only to find out that it's not possible for me to be very brief.
but there are swatch photos, so you can just look at those if you like!
my overall impression of the brand is very, very good based on what i purchased. i went with a good cross-section of things and there wasn't a single one that i found let me down. there are rumours around that ms. tilbury was one of the principal consultants for tom ford when he developed his über-luxurious cosmetic line and people have specifically noted similarities between the cream eyeshadows and the blushes. i can't comment personally, tom ford being one of those lines that's dating my hotter, more popular friend america and only dallying with toronto outside the relationship. i'm just putting that out there, because i've come across the comparison often enough that i think there might be something to it.
before plunging into the reviews, i do need to mention how impressed i am with the service. standard "5-7 day" shipping reached me in less than 48 hours. granted, i'm in a major city in central canada, which reduces transit time, but that still indicates an incredibly efficient order processing system. my order arrived in a lovely fit-for-gifting box, well packed, with my invoice folded and placed in a sturdy company envelope, rather than just jammed in the box. i'm glad to say that i didn't need to refer back to the invoice, because nothing was missing or damaged, but it felt like things had been handled with care. the combination of class and thoughtfulness wouldn't have made up for bad products, but if you're going to spend money for higher end products [although charlotte's prices are a little less than prestige brands like chanel and armani], it's nice to see that level of effort.
so onward to the reviews! i've ordered these from least to most loved, but the scale basically goes from very good to fantastic.
eyes to mesmerize cream shadow :: veruschka
i usually avoid cream shadows because i'm often allergic to some of the ingredients, but this strange, murky colour just looked so amazing that i couldn't resist. these shadows were launched this year and the collection is made up of usable neutrals with one shimmery emerald green that's a dead ringer for armani "emeraude".
the formula is wetter than i was expecting. there's a lot of slip to the product, which means you have to be cautious when applying or it. will. get. everywhere. i found it worked best when i applied thin layers with a flat, synthetic brush [urban decay ones are good] and built up to the desired intensity. i had no trouble getting it to blend with other shadows as long it was still somewhat damp. once it was set, the lasting power was very good and there was very little fading. bonus that applies only to me: it didn't irritate my eyes.
if you have hooded eyes, as i do, you're going to want to do whatever is necessary to keep those folded lids flat while the product dries, because it will crease. i also noticed that, while there wasn't a lot of fading in the colour, i did get some faint creasing. that's the other reason that i have a difficult relationship with cream shadows. i'm not built for them.
"veruschka" is inspired by the model of the same name and is meant to mimic the smudgy, smoky, sexy eye look she so often sported. it's a complex colour that will look more green, brown or grey depending on the undertones of your skin. i get more grey, although the complexity grows more apparent the more the shade is built up.
|l to r :: veruschka, benefit skinny jeans|
verdict: a little tricky to get used to, but i like it enough to learn.
matte revolution lipstick :: lost cherry
much like cream shadows, i have a tricky relationship with both corals and matte formulas. i find most matte lipsticks very drying and a lot of corals that are supposedly universal pull much too orange on me and make me look a bit sick. i'd heard good things about this formula and the colour looked pink enough to work for me, so i figured i would give it a shot.
it's remarkably light for a matte lipstick, which i wasn't expecting. it's like a whisper of silk on the lips and, indeed, it does not make my cranky, hypersensitive lips feel the worse for wearing it. the formula is exceptionally thin, but very pigmented. it looks very refined, but if your lips aren't in the best shape to begin with, it can be a bit patchy in application. applied on regular, smooth lips, it went on fine. probably worth the effort to exfoliate gently with sugar and olive oil.
the finish is one of the popular new "luminous mattes" which is a good thing if you're me, but not a great thing if you're looking for the ultra-flat finish you normally get from liquid lipsticks.
"lost cherry" is a coral-pink definitely pink enough to work with neutral-to-cool skin tones, but also appropriate for warmer complexions. it looks very bright in the tube, but the colour isn't acid-bright when applied. i'd say it's medium-to-high in saturation, a good choice for people who find something like mac "fusion pink" or guerlain "girly" to be out of their comfort zone, but still want something bright and clear.
|l to r :: dior montmartre, lost cherry, guerlain attrape-cœur|
luxury eyeshadow palette :: the rock chick
i want to take this moment to thank ms. tilbury's web team for putting swatches of their eyeshadow palettes on three different skin tones on their web site. and that's live on skin swatches, not photoshopped approximations that often do more harm than good. i wish this was something they did for all their products. hell, i wish it was something everyone did for all their products. there should be a law or something. get on that, government people.
charlotte tilbury's eyeshadow palettes are four coordinated shades with varying finishes. they are all made with the same "pattern" of colours, laid out clockwise from the upper left: a lighter "prime" shade that can be applied all over the lid, a medium "enhance" shade for deepening the crease and outer angles for daytime wear, a darker "smoke" shade to add some intensity and drama and finally a "pop" shade, which is usually very sparkly, meant to add a hint of glamour. the idea, in the brand's own terms, is for a single palette to take you from desk to dusk to disco, by starting simple and building.
"the rock chick" [all charlotte's palettes have iconic personalities] is a cool, smoky combination of greys that might look like it's been done lots of times before, but which is actually quite surprising.
the "prime" shade is stunning. i think i would have bought the palette for this colour alone, it's that damn lovely. it's an iridescent medium oyster-beige that's a little dirty and has a slightly pink tinge. it's smooth and creamy, applies flawlessly and looks complex on the eye. it's too dark to work as a highlighter to me, but it gives a wonderful soft luminousness applied to the lid.
|the rock chick prime|
|l to r :: the rock chick, chantecaille basalt [d.c.]|
|the rock chick enhance|
|l to r :: the rock chick, guerlain les fumes|
|the rock chick smoke|
|l to r :: the rock chick, guerlain les fumes|
|the rock chick pop|
now, in case you come from a planet where glitter does not exist, let me explain something: there is no such thing as glitter that stays where you put it, unless you use something to stick it in place. cosmetics companies manufacture such things, with names like "glue" and "epoxy", which sound a bit scary, because we all had that one kid in our elementary school who was desperate enough for attention that he superglued his eyelids open when someone dared him to and he ended up in the emergency room and didn't come back to school for a week, which should serve as a warning that stupidity totally pays off, at least when you're a child. ahem. what was i saying?
if you're not comfortable with the idea of glue on your lids, you should consider how you feel about stray glittery bits on your face before applying this shade. there's not a lot of "migration", but, yes, there is some. interestingly, while the particles look like they'd be fairly substantial, they aren't, and if you're in a situation where there's low lighting, the stray bits won't be noticeable. if you're at the office, however, be prepared for people to think you did the walk of shame/ stride of pride from the club in order to show up at work.
charlotte recommends pressing the "pop" shades from her palettes onto the lid with your finger. my advice is to just listen to the lady, because she knows more about makeup than almost everyone and for certain knows about her own makeup line. but from the experience of someone who feels the need to question everything, you're wasting your time if you go at this with a brush. maybe a very dense synthetic brush could yield better results, but generally, a brush will leave you with a few stray sparkles and not much else. to get the full effect, including the base colour, use your finger. that's what the swatch above was done with. your fingers are your friends.
overall: there is not a single one of the luxury palettes that i don't want. not a single one.
cheek to chic swish & pop blusher :: love is the drug
one of the products that seems to have gotten the most love from the line are the powder blushes and while there are only six shades, it's a very wearable range and every one has two colours in it: a large circle that is a softer or lighter colour with a small circle on the inside in a more intense colour. so you swish your brush around the larger circle for a softer, all-over colour and then pop your brush onto the centre circle for a pop of brighter colour right on the apples of your cheeks. or just play around with them until you find a way that works for you.
now, a common criticism that i've heard is that while there are two colours, it's virtually impossible to apply one or the other, so you end up with a mix of the two, which is really only one colour. i'm sure that everyone has their own way of working these things out, but i don't actually have any problems getting two separate and distinct colours. my nars yachiyo brush fits nicely in the central circle and can be swished around the perimeter without too much trouble. an angled brush like my mac 168 also works nicely on the outer circle. a fine choice for both parts [i'll get to why later] is something like the mac 188. now, i can't say that i'm getting 100% of one colour and 0% of the other, but i can assure you that i get two different shades. your mileage may vary.
i have a think for bright, clear pink blushes, but the real reason that i chose to buy this particular shade is because i have a soft spot for the roxy music song of the same name. yeah, that's how i make my decisions.
the outer ring of "love is the drug" is a medium coral shade, not too orange, not too pink, but more pink than orange. it's neither delicate nor bold, so it's the sort of thing that can easily be worn for a natural look. it does brighten the complexion and give a healthy glow.
the inner circle is a stronger coral-pink with a cooler undertone than the outer shade, but still fairly warm [keeping in mind that it's pink, which never reads entirely warm to me].
together, they look pretty much exactly like you would expect from those descriptions: a warm coral pink with a fine, radiant sheen that adds a hit of colour and brightens the complexion.
|l to r :: outer, inner, blended|
|l to r :: benefit bella bamba, love is the drug [as above], guerlain blush g [l.e.]|
now, a word about pigmentation: there's a lot of it. i've used this blush multiple times and i still find myself accidentally going overboard. i suspect that the lighter blush shades won't have this problem [or that it won't be as visible], but these are tremendously pigmented powders. remember what i said about the mac 188 being a good choice to go with these blushes? that's because not only does it fit in either circle, but it applies colour in lighter, sheerer layers. so if you're a bit clumsy like i am, that's a good place to start.
i absolutely lurv the finish on this blush, which looks radiant and healthy, doesn't get snagged in pores and doesn't get patchy as the day wears on. i lurv it so much that i don't even like to apply a highlighter or finishing powder over it. and that's surprising, because...
filmstar bronze & glow :: light to medium
this is the product that has garnered the most hype from the entire charlotte tilbury line. i wasn't that interested at first, but i do love me a good not-too-shimmery highlighter and this is the year that i've discovered i don't entirely hate bronzers. what can i say? i gave into the hype. or let me put it another way: i'm lucky i gave into the hype. because this is one spectacular product.
the bronzer shade is a soft, warm amber-brown with a low-level shimmer. it looks almost matte on my skin, which is nice, because it's too dark to work as a cheek product for me, but it makes an excellent contour. it goes on smoothly, blends perfectly and makes it look like i have the cheekbones i always wished for but never developed.
the highlighter shade is what i'd describe as "linen white": warm but light enough that the warmth doesn't translate as heavy on my cool[ish] complexion. it's a finely milled powder that doesn't have a high shine unless you build it up and buff it a little. it masks pores [which shinier powders tend to emphasize] and brightens wherever it touches.
|filmstar bronze & glow|
"radiant light" is lighter and peachier than the "bronze" shade.
|l to r :: hourglass radiant light, filmstar bronze|
|l to r :: filmstar glow, hourglass dim light|
|l to r :: radiant light, filmstar bronze, filmstar glow, dim light|
whew! are we there yet?
almost. here's a look incorporating all the products listed here except "veruschka", which we saw above. that includes every shade of "the rock chick" and both shades of "love is the drug", applied as per charlotte's instructions.
everything here can be purchased on charlotte tilbury's web site and, in an ironic twist, holt renfrew has finally got its online store up and running, so you can order it there too.
having been so mightily impressed with everything thus far, you can bet your sweet, delightfully sculpted cheeks that i'll be going back for more. and probably more after that. i'm already looking forward to seeing what she'll be coming out with next and to trying out some of the products i didn't cover in the opening round. more to come, most definitely.
now, here's a little 70s flashback to take us out...