Between dropping her album “Rare,” filming for her HBO cooking show “Selena + Chef,” recording her single “Ice Cream” with BLACKPINK, and founding her own makeup brand, Rare Beauty, it’s clear that Selena Gomez is having a better—and busier—2020 than most of us.
If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the 28-year-old actress-singer, she started her career in front of the cameras at age 10 alongside everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur “Barney” and later blew up on The Disney Channel with the likes of the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato. Along the way, she became the most followed person on Instagram for about three years for both her professional achievements and personal life (she was Justin’s original Belieber).
What is Rare Beauty?
Gomez’s line, exclusively sold at Sephora, includes 14 makeup categories with products for the face, cheeks, eyes, and eyebrows, as well as tools like brushes and a sponge to help the application process along. The products range from $5 for a refillable 100-pack of blotting paper sheets to $29 for a foundation, making it on the affordable-to-average end of brands sold at Sephora.
What exactly does the company say you’re getting in that price range? “Rare Beauty uses unique formulas to create breathable and airy makeup that go on easy for adjustable coverage and a fresh finish, without hiding what makes people unique,” the press release states.
The line, which is inspired by Gomez’s time sitting in the makeup chair for her various TV shows, movies, and music videos, emphasizes its mission is to inspire confidence in its wearers. “I’m so excited to release beauty products that not only feel great, but also celebrate what makes each of us rare,” Gomez is quoted in the press release. “These products aren’t about being someone else, it’s about being who you are, whether that’s rocking a full face of bold makeup or barely any makeup at all.”
One percent of all sales from the line, and all funds raised from partners, go to the Rare Impact Fund, which has a goal to “raise $100 million over the next 10 years to help address the gaps in mental health services for underserved communities.” (That’s about 344,827,587 of those liquid foundations!)
How did I test Rare Beauty?
I got my hands on a smattering of items to put to the test: the foundation, concealer, blush, liquid highlighter, liquid eyeliner, both of the lip products, and the touchup kit. I used every product how I normally would—applying my foundation with a sponge, tapping the liquid blush in with my fingertips—and then also tried other techniques (like using a brush to apply my foundation or liquid blush) to see how the products would blend and look with different application methods. I received two to three shades in each product type (excluding eyeliner, as there is only the black color) and tried each one to see the consistencies across the different shades and to, well, play!
Without further ado, here’s my take on the products I tested and whether they lived up to their claims, from best to worst.
1. Soft Pinch Liquid Blush
What it claims: Available in eight shades ranging from a soft pink to a deep purple to a bright coral, the Soft Pinch Liquid Blush comes in both matte and dewy finishes. It claims to be a lightweight, “airy” formula that adds a hint of color to the cheeks and stays all day long. It also promises that the application will not mess with any makeup already on the skin.
What it’s like to use it: I’ve used a few liquid or cream blushes—the mega-popular Glossier Cloud Paints being one—and this is my favorite formula and application process. The blush, which I tried in the shades Joy (Selena’s favorite that has a dewy finish) and Bliss (a matte finish), sits in a small round divot in the doe-foot applicator and you only need one dot the size of the applicator for major pigmentation that’s easy to sheer out over the cheekbones. This product blends seamlessly into the skin and when you only use a tiny amount, looks like a natural flush of the cheeks. With two or so dots, you achieve a beautiful but intense pop of color. The difference between the dewy and matte finishes is very subtle on these, especially if you add highlighter, bronzer, or powder in the area that changes the appearance. These are stunning and a must-try for anyone who never skips blush or anyone who wants to try a liquid formula.
2. With Gratitude Dewy Lip Balm
What it claims: The With Gratitude Dewy Lip Balm, which comes in eight shades, has a fool-proof application and deposits sheer color to the lips. It claims to blur the look of fine lines in your lips without setting into them and it contains shea butter to moisturize.
What it’s like to use it: These lip balms tied with the blushes for my favorite product from the entire collection. I tried the shades Honor, Blessed, and Empathy, and all of them glide on the lips just like any creamy lip balm would, but they have the deeper pigmentation of a lipstick. These are the best of both worlds: a hydrating balm you can apply without even looking in a mirror but the done-up look of a lipstick. These get my “keep one in your purse, desk, and anywhere else” seal of approval.
Get the With Gratitude Dewy Lip Balm for $16
3. Lip Soufflé Matte Lip Cream
What it claims: With 12 shades, the Lip Soufflé Matte Lip Cream uses a whipped formula to create a lighter feel on the lips. It claims to offer a slight blurring effect to make the lips look fuller and smoother. Despite being moisturizing, it’s supposed to stay put all day.
What it’s like to use it: I usually glance over anything that resembles a matte liquid lipstick, as they dry out and emphasize the lines in my lips and any flakiness, but these lips creams are the exception. If you’ve ever tried the cult-favorite NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams, these feel identical to those during application with a velvety-smooth texture that glides over the lips to create an even, pigmented layer of color. They are comfortable and feel as hydrating as a lip balm—you can still roll your lips together without causing the product to crust up or flake off—and the darker tones leave behind a subtle stain that won’t leave you with a stark contrast of tinted to bare lips as the color fades gradually without reapplication. All three colors I tried (Energize, Brave, and Transform) were stunning and equal in application and performance.
4. Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner
What it claims: This Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner uses over 1,000 “vegan” bristles to create a flexible brush tip that Rare Beauty claims won’t skip or snag on the eyelid, even over eyeshadow. It’s designed to be waterproof and long-lasting.
What it’s like to use it: I admittedly have not worn liquid eyeliner in years, but it used to be part of my everyday makeup routine, so while I’m out of practice, I know what to look for. Aside from my own bumpy reintroduction to the challenge of creating matching wings on each eye, I have no issues with this product. I love the pen-like packaging and how the tip tapers to a precise point that’s perfect for hugging the edge of your lash line. You can customize how thin or thick you want your eyeliner to be just based on how you hold the “pen,” and the liner is a rich matte black that goes on glossy before drying down. No complaints here!
5. Positive Light Liquid Luminizer
What it claims: Available in eight shades ranging from an icy silver to a bronze shimmer, the Positive Light Liquid Luminizer is designed to create a “lit from within” glow on the skin that’s buildable from a light shimmer to a striking sheen. It claims to go onto the skin without disturbing other makeup and last all day without fading, creasing, or setting into fine lines.
What it’s like to use it: Given that this is liquid and it looks intense in the bottle, your instincts may tell you to use a light hand with this. In my experience though, you need two to three dots onto the tops of each cheekbone to see this catch any light. When I tried to apply a tiny amount (one dot) to get the “lit from within” look, I couldn’t even tell I was wearing any highlighter and my roommate (who I asked to inspect my makeup) agreed. What stops this from rating higher in my book: Even when I use a damp sponge or my fingers, this “luminizer” picks up my foundation and blush and looks textured and patchy on the skin. You won’t notice this from far away—you instead see a beautiful glimmer on the high points of my face—but that’s enough reason for me to opt for other highlighters. Of the two colors I tried (Enchant and Outshine), Enchant worked better for my fair skin tone, but the shade match (or mismatch) didn’t add or detract from my unimpressed thoughts on the formula of the product.
6. Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation
What it claims: Available in 48 shades ranging from light to deep in warm, neutral, and cool undertones, the Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation claims to feel “weightless” with a medium-to-full coverage finish. It also claims to last all day long without drying your skin out, looking cakey, or changing colors. And according to Selena, “It just melts onto your skin, so you forget you’re wearing anything.”
What it’s like to use it: Weightless is accurate. This creamy foundation runs off of its doe-foot applicator. Just a few dots on each cheek and on the forehead is enough to cover my whole face with light to medium coverage. I tried blending it out with my own Real Techniques brush and with a Real Techniques sponge (I didn’t receive the brushes or sponge from Rare Beauty), and preferred the finish of the sponge. Initially, the foundation gave my skin an even, satin finish, but it also emphasized some rough texture around my mouth. After an hour or two, it looked a little dry on my normal-to-dry skin, which disappointed me because I expected a foundation this watery to hydrate and smooth my skin. Still, it looks nice when I’m not inspecting my face in the mirror, and I like that it doesn’t feel dry, tight, or powdery on my skin.
7. Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer
What it claims: The Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer, also available in 48 shades, claims to banish blemishes, dark circles, redness, and fine lines and leave you with a natural, “skin-like” finish. It promises medium coverage that’s buildable without cakiness or settling into fine lines. It also claims to be long-lasting and sweat-resistant.
What it’s like to use it: After testing 31 concealers for Reviewed, you could say I’m a tad picky about what I use to disguise dark under-eyes and blemishes. This concealer has a unique doe-foot application that’s shaped like a trapezoid to get right into the inner corner of your eye to deposit product. The wand holds more product than I think necessary for first application—I like to start with a thin layer and build up coverage from there to avoid a gloppy mess. However, once blended out, the darkness under my eyes, especially in the inner corner next to my nose showed through, requiring another coat. A second layer builds just fine and blends where the foundation meets the concealer, but I noticed this seamless look didn’t stay throughout the day. Despite its claims of creaseless coverage, the concealer started settling in fine lines within a couple of hours and without applying more, my under-eyes looked noticeably darker. I wasn’t surprised by this, as I have this problem with most concealers, but where this really failed for me was that it took away a significant amount of coverage as it settled.
8. Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit
What it claims: This Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit includes a book of 100 oil-absorbing sheets and a powder-infused puff that is replaceable. The puff claims to control shine and create a “soft blurring effect” on the skin.
What it’s like to use it: The puff perplexes me. It supposedly has powder in it that minimizes shine and with a few dabs, but I don’t see any powder. I shook it into the air, patted it into my skin, dabbed it, rolled it, and basically did everything but cut it in half to try to see the powder. No dice! I don’t doubt that the puff contains (or contained?) powder, but it seems to me that what’s taking away the oil on my skin is the absorbent puff itself. As for the blotting sheets, these work just as fine as any other sheet set you can buy from E.L.F. Cosmetics or Clean & Clear. If you have oily skin or tend to see unwanted shine as the day goes on, I suggest buying a pack of those and maybe a pressed powder instead of spending the cash to carry this larger-than-most compact around.
Should you buy from Rare Beauty?
Overall, I’m impressed! There are some hits, some misses, and some products that aren’t quite my taste, but Rare Beauty is not a vanity brand riding solely on Selena Gomez’s name. Of course, her name helps, and many of us wouldn’t jump to try it without her endorsement, but it’s clear that a lot of thought went into the development of this makeup. And the collection aligns with what Gomez preaches: “Makeup should be accessories to complement what’s beautiful about you.” Each of these products can stand alone as a pop of color or shine, or work cohesively to create a full glam look—it’s all your preference and how you want to style the “accessories” in this line.
Even the products I didn’t love weren’t total fails—the concealer, for example, may work better for someone who usually sets their makeup with powder, which might prevent the creasing I experienced—so if anything appeals to you, it’s worth trying it on your skin, keeping your own makeup preferences in mind. I don’t think anything I tested will majorly disappoint you, and at best, you could find some new favorite products from this line. As a beauty writer and Selena fan, I’ll keep Rare Beauty’s new releases on my radar, for sure.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.