Celebrity make-up brands are 10 a penny these days – from Rihanna and Victoria Beckham to Harry Styles and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – but launching a range now is about so much more than just slapping your name on a product.
Instead, these collections are labours of love, born out of years of sitting in front of some of the world’s best make-up artists, learning their tips and tricks and noticing what’s missing or what needs improving.
A brand that’s been generating a lot of interest since its initial US launch in September 2020 is Rare Beauty. Created by singer, songwriter, actor and influencer Selena Gomez, it’s a fairly extensive line of products – including everything from foundation and concealer to blusher, highlighter, primer and even eyebrow powder and eyeshadow palettes. It sits in the mid-to-high-end bracket, with prices starting from around £10 for a mini mascara and going up to £26 for a foundation. The brand is available to buy now online at SpaceNK, and will be available in stores from 22 February.
That said, our initial impressions – based on the quality of packaging and general feel of the products – were that the prices seemed fair. But how do the formulas fare? We got our hands on eight bestselling items to test – keep scrolling to find out whether or not Rare Beauty is worth spending your hard-earned cash on.
How we tested
We incorporated the products into our daily routine, switching out our existing go-tos for those in the Rare Beauty range. We wore the products all day in order to see how they lasted, how they looked on our skin at the start and end of the day, and took notice of the levels of pigment and the texture, alongside the ease of use.
Rare Beauty always an optimist 4-in-1 mist
We’re a big fan of a mist so were pleasantly surprised to see one in the line-up. Billed as a four-in-one product that hydrates, primes, sets make-up and refreshes skin, it’s got bold claims – and although we were sceptical about the idea of it being able to minimise the look of fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles, it’s a solid choice when it comes to adding a dewy glow and hydrating tight-feeling skin.
It’s worth noting that it does have a strong scent – Rare Beauty calls it a “botanical blend of water lily, gardenia and lotus” and while it is nice, it’s undoubtedly heavy on the white florals and tends to linger, so that’s definitely something to take into consideration. The misting mechanism was pleasing though, creating a fine enough puff to lightly spritz over the skin without leaving obvious traces of water or risking any smudging on top of make-up.
Rare Beauty always an optimist pore diffusing primer
The first thing to note here is that our tester isn’t a fan of silicone-laced, smoothing primers – which is exactly what this is. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Although blurring, it doesn’t have that telltale velvety finish, instead feeling fairly lightweight compared to similar products. It also seemed to melt into skin rather than sitting on top of it. It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate, along with green tea extract to soothe and nourish skin and vitamin E to act as an antioxidant. Foundation gilded seamlessly on top; it didn’t cause any pilling and it did appear to help extend the life of our base.
Rare Beauty perfect strokes matte liquid liner
The shape of this liner’s packaging is good – it’s pointed, a bit like a fountain pen, so it feels quite familiar, making it easier to keep a steady grip during application. The colour is an intense black, and it does take a while to dry down which could be seen as either a good or bad thing depending on your liner skills.
Interestingly, although the name says it’s a matte finish, we found it to still have a slight sheen – which is preferable for us, but if you’re looking for a solid matte black liner, you might be disappointed. Once the product dried, however, it didn’t budge – we did notice it faded slightly throughout the day, but not super obviously. The nib is like a felt-tip pen, and it’s quite soft and flexible, as well as very inky and wet on first use. Chances are it will dry out slightly over time, making it easier to use, but liner novices may find it hard to control.
Rare Beauty soft pinch dewy liquid blush
A warning: a little bit of this blush goes a long way, and it is so incredibly pigmented that you’ll only need the smallest dab of product to cover both cheeks. Available in eight shades, ranging from bright red and orange through to light pink and deep purple, there’s definitely a hue to suit everybody.
We tried “joy”, a happy coral shade with a slightly radiant finish. We definitely used far too much on our first attempt, but once we’d learned from our initial mistakes, it got better – we found it best to either apply a small amount of product directly onto the cheeks and then blend outwards, or apply onto our hand and use a brush to blend. The colour pay-off was incredible, and there is enough play time before the product “sets” in place. £19 feels like exceptional value too, especially when you consider how little you need each time.
Rare Beauty lip souffle matte lip cream
No celebrity beauty line is complete without a matte red liquid lipstick, and Rare Beauty’s doesn’t disappoint. Part of the lip souffle range, which comes in 12 muted tones, the formula is brilliant. It’s comfortable on lips, and, although matte, it doesn’t make lips look flat or dry. We tried the shade “inspire”, which is a warm-toned medium red that lasted well. While it did need a little top-up in some places – mainly towards the centre of the lips – the lightweight formula meant that was easy to do without any cracking.
Rare Beauty stay vulnerable glossy lip balm
Available in five muted shades, we tried this balm in “nearly netural”, which is a warm-toned brown that offers a sheer wash of glossy colour for a “your-lips-but-better” finish. It feels comfortable, hydrating and not at all sticky or heavy, and it was shiny but not overly so – it still looked natural. It didn’t last for long once on the lips, but that’s usually the case with this sort of product, and not something which put us off. If you wear lip gloss regularly, you’ll know full well that it’ll require fairly regular top-ups.
Rare Beauty perfect strokes universal volumizing mascara
This is the product we were most excited about – it has incredible reviews online and so we were intrigued to see if it really did live up to expectations. The brush (which features two bristle lengths) was surprisingly small in comparison to the chunky packaging, but considering our tester prefers smaller brushes, that was no bad thing. The mascara claims to be ultra black and promises to curl, volumise and lengthen without clumping.
First impressions were good: the formula doesn’t feel too wet; the size of the brush meant it was easy to wiggle it from root to tip without any problems; and it really did work to lengthen and curl. It was easy to layer with no clumping, but we found one coat was more than enough for defined, everyday lashes.
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The verdict: Rare Beauty
Overall, we were incredibly impressed with Selena Gomez’s line – it feels like real passion has been put into every product. The shade ranges are impressive – from the 48 skin-true foundation and concealer colours through to the wearable blushers and muted lipsticks – and everything feels like it belongs. We didn’t try any dud products; the formulas deliver and the pay-off and blendability is excellent. The pigments can be built up or worn sheer depending on either personal preference or on the occasion, plus the packaging is chic.
The outer boxes look and feel like they should cost a lot more than they do, and the pale pink colourway seems grown-up, while the names of the products themselves could verge on cheesy but, actually, it all just works. We think the hype around the UK launch is fully justified.
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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.