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Does Rihanna's Fenty Beauty live up to the hype?

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PERSPECTIVE | A professional makeup artist reviews the new line

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty hit the market with a clear message: Women everywhere should be included. She was inspired to create the line “after years of experimenting with the best-of-the-best in beauty — and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones.”

She launched her line “focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades,” the website says.

Many of the products, especially the Pro Filt’r foundations in the tan and deep range, and highlighters sold out immediately. Brown and black women were excited.

I’m a makeup artist with 13 years experience in red carpet, celebrity, bridal, commercial, personal services and men’s grooming, and when new cosmetic lines launch, I like to see what they are adding to the market from an artist and consumer perspective. The buzz around Fenty Beauty has been huge. Rihanna’s celebrity adds to the excitement.

Several of my clients are Rihanna fans, and that’s all the reason they need to support the line. Others were just over-the-moon happy about how many shades she released and how she seemed to consider everyone.

Various products for singer Rihanna’s new cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty. (Fenty Beauty/AP)

One of my clients shared, “As a consumer of makeup (but not necessarily a fan of Rihanna), it made me proud that a black woman would consider her community when creating a beauty product and not just imitate what’s out there. This launch included many more foundation options. Rihanna is on to something.”

I decided to see for myself if Fenty Beauty lives up to the buzz and if it really offers the range of shades it promised.

I called three Sephora stores to make sure they had products in stock. Two of the stores didn’t have any foundations or testers in the tan to dark range. The third store sold out of the same colors, but they did have the testers on display. I spent almost two hours touching, feeling, swiping, testing and playing.

Rihanna didn’t just put her name on a brand but instead developed a line that has a lot of products. The liquid foundations are available in 40 shades, the Match Stix matte contour sticks in 20 shades, and the Match Stix shimmer sticks and Killawatt highlighters in 10 shades each. There’s also a primer, blotting powder, gloss, brushes and tools. I loved the density of the foundation brush.

I like that the products feel lightweight, airy and are easy to layer. You don’t feel like you’re wearing a lot of makeup and it leaves your skin looking like skin. There is a consistent quality across all of the products, and the price point is a winner.

There were some elements of the line that unmoved me. I thought the foundation primer and lip gloss wasn’t necessary. There’s nothing special about them. Some of the products have fragrance which could be an issue for consumers with sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea. The highlighters are very glittery. My personal preference is highlighters that have more of a glowing effect.

Despite the broad range of foundation shades, the deeper tones seem to have a lot of red to the undertone, even if the shade is labeled as neutral and cool. The pigment separates a lot in the foundation, so you have to shake well before applying. Two consultants told me that the foundations oxidize (turn a shade or two darker) and to let it sit 30 to 60 seconds after applying to see if that happens. That wasn’t an issue with the foundation color I wore out the store.

In my experience as a makeup artist, Fenty Beauty doesn’t add a lot more to what is currently available to me. There weren’t any products that I had to have personally or professionally in my kit. I like that it offers an inclusive range of foundation shades, but many lines have been making an effort to cater to all skin tones well before Fenty Beauty.

Fenty Beauty isn’t breaking or redefining the rules when it comes to makeup, but it is giving consumers another option for quality products at great pricing for their beauty needs.

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