Yes, I am late to the Fenty Beauty party. Rihanna’s makeup collection dropped almost two months ago and this post has been sitting half-written in my drafts… because I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this much lauded brand wasn’t cutting it for me. Is something wrong with me? Isn’t Fenty Beauty the game changer that the entire makeup industry has been waiting for? Am I the only person who can’t make it work?
Apparently not. I finally crawled out of my shell and started talking to other makeup lovers. And it seems many others also have problems with RiRi’s eponymous brand. Not to throw shade but it’s a fact that Fenty Beauty has super-large marketing and advertising coffers. Self explanatory enough?
So, you have all the media biggies lauding the exclusivity angle. And that one’s definitely real. But what about the way the foundation wears? How do the brushes stack up? Is the gloss truly universal? Is the texture of the Matchstix day-friendly? Is the primer really effective?
My thoughts after almost two months of trial-and-wear.
Full points for the inclusivity angle. There is really no debate on that. Not only does the Pro-Filt’r Foundation come in 40 shades, there are also a variety of undertones. Hence, there’s a 95% chance of getting a better match with Fenty than most other brands. Especially if you are on extreme ends of the color spectrum or have yellow/warm undertones as these shades are the toughest to find in most ranges.
Then there’s the Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer, which is my personal favorite. Any hesitation about a gloss that vaunts the one-size-fits-all claim quickly dissipated with one swipe of caramel-meets-rose-gold goodness. Super-glossy, non-sticky and loaded with Shea butter for hydration, this is basically all you need for day or night. A full 10/10 here.
The Invisimatte Blotting Powder is another win-win. Best applied with the included sponge – you absolutely don’t need to spend $24 extra on the Portable Touch Up Brush – it works like an Instagram filter for all skin tones. And if you’re going to buy the foundation, you will absolutely need this one (more on that ahead).
Fenty Beauty: The Meh
The Match Stix Shimmer Skinsticks are fun in a cool packaging, great color pop and high shimmer way. The fact that you have to blend them in really, really fast because they will dry down to a budge-proof streak otherwise: Not so great.
Ditto for the Match Stix Matte Skinsticks, which conceal or contour, depending on the shade. Just a little too dry and just a little too difficult to blend. I have seen way better concealers and contour sticks from other brands and wouldn’t hang my hat here.
Fenty Beauty: The Ugh!
Now we come to the biggie: The Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation.
At the risk of being skewered, this much lauded foundation simply doesn’t cut it for me. Why? Let me count the ways.
Firstly, the color matching.
When you buy one of these lovely millennial-inspired bottles (I do love the packaging), note that the formula oxidises to 2-3 shades darker with a little wear. I had a superb sales associate who knew this and directed me to the correct shade (#230), which looked too light at first go but settled into my skin tone beautifully in about 10 minutes. Left to my own, I would have bought something too dark, which is never a good look.
And if you like online shopping as much as I do, remember that the foundation shade finder may not take into account undertones and oxidation, resulting in a not-so-perfect match. Ugh!
Then there’s the problem with dryness. And I am talking serious, serious dryness.
Unless you have an oil slick of a face, the Pro Filt’r Foundation is not a great bet. I have combination skin and it goes on really chalky and streaky. Then it goes a step further and settles right into the pores, literally sticking to their walls and making them look much bigger. Now I don’t know about you, but I like my makeup to hide my imperfections… not shine a spotlight on them!
And you have to blend it in really, really fast and with some serious elbow grease. It sets too quickly, which is not so good if you can’t move at supersonic speed.
And the Pro-Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer doesn’t help much either. In fact, it dries skin further with copious amount of talc an is a complete miss in my book.
Initially, I attributed all this to the Full-Bodied Foundation Brush. So, I switched up application with a damp Beauty Blender and there was some improvement but not enough. Then I tried my failsafe trick of mixing a drop of Rodin Olio Lusso Face Oil in the foundation before applying… usually this makes the foundation more glow-y, natural and easy to blend. With Fenty, it turned into a mess. It wouldn’t blend at all and I had to ultimately wash my face and start afresh.
Finally, I used just my fingers and there was some sort of redemption here. The result was more blendability and less cakiness but I still needed the Invisimatte Blotting Powder on top to hide the streakiness.
The only way I could really make it work? Massaging my skin with a big dollop of Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream for about 10 minutes, a technique that I’ve seen used backstage. But that takes more time and effort that I am prepared to put into my makeup routine on most days.
And in the long term, it actually dried out my skin, making it feel tight after 2-3 days of wear. I was actually scratching it halfway through the day and that never happens to me!
Oily skin people can’t all rejoice either. Because the Pro’Filtr may cause you to break out. I did with my combination skin, my friend did with Tundra-level dry skin and another one did with oily skin. The reason? Let’s take a look at the ingredients list:
Water, Dimethicone, Talc, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Polypropylene, Isododecane, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Glycerin, Magnesium Sulfate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Aluminum Hydroxide, Methicone, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Propylene Carbonate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Parfum/Fragrance, Silica, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Paullinia Cupana Seed Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sorbic Acid. May Contain (+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI77499).
See the second ingredient: Dimethicone. Then note how many times it appears in the rest of the formula. Dimethicone creates an occlusive layer over skin, which traps bacteria, dirt, grime, sebum and dead cells to create skin congestion and cause breakouts.
To be fair, Dimethicone is present in several liquid foundations. But usually not in such high quantities, or so prominently. There’s just too much of it in the Pro-Filt’r, it seems.
The good part: Pro-Filt’r offers pretty good coverage. Because of the blendability issues, I am using a light hand but still get medium-to-full coverage with about three pumps. More than enough to cover hyper pigmentation spots without the need for a color corrector. But it’s got low wearability and just seems to slide right off my skin after 4-5 hours!
Fenty Beauty: The Final verdict
Ultimately, I think Fenty Beauty is created by people who love, understand and need stage makeup. The elbow grease needed to blend it properly, the super-matte effect, the necessary skin prep beforehand, the high-shimmer quotient, the medium to full coverage: Perfect for those who take the stage and rule the cameras. Not so perfect for mere mortals who don’t have the time/energy/money/resources for an hour-long makeup session before stepping out of the door.
It’s also great for those who find it difficult to get a shade match in other brands. And/or have oily, non-acneprone skin.
The rest of us probably need to wait for Fenty 2.0: Same inclusivity, more user-friendly textures.
I am waiting.