Darlings! This is not #SponCon - we just really wanted to try it. Amid the hype of the famed makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s beauty line arriving in Aotearoa at Mecca today, we tested out some of her cult products to see if they were as good as everyone says they are.
One of the world’s top makeup artists, Charlotte is known for her ‘bombshell’ take on beauty - and emphatic use of the word ‘darling’. She loves a hyperbole statement - “Give everyone the right make-up and they can conquer the world” is a favourite - and her husband has, apparently and ridiculously, never seen her without a ‘bedroom eye’.
A contributing beauty editor to British Vogue, she is the woman that people like Kate Moss and Amal Clooney turn to for those moments when they need to look their very best (Charlotte did both the wedding makeup for both; the supermodel is godmother to Charlotte’s sons). It’s that experience - and those connections - that led her to launching a namesake beauty line in 2013; last year, she sold a majority stake of the company to Puig for an estimated £1billion. So it’s a big deal - many of her makeup and skincare products have become cult items in the beauty space. Including some of the things we tried, below!
Disclosure: Ensemble co-founder Zoe was sent this complimentary product as part of a Mecca PR pack.
Charlotte’s Magic Cream, $136
I tried this on what felt like day 323 of Auckland’s level four lockdown, when I was feeling like a mess mentally and physically and my face was breaking out in the usual stress/hormonal spots. So I really did put the ‘magical’ claim of this moisturiser through its paces. I was also pretty dubious about the claims on the box of it being “the magic dew of youth and luminosity in a jar” and an “instant turnaround moisturiser”.
This is one of CT’s superstar products, with the brand saying that a pot sells globally every two minutes. That’s a lot of pots! The legend goes that Charlotte created this concoction backstage at fashion shows as a way to ‘transform’ the tired and dull skin of the models she was working on (a genius marketing spin, tbh); using a combination of eight ingredients including bionymph peptide complex, hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, rosehip and camellia oil, shea butter, aloe vera and frangipani flower extract. It’s one of those cult products I’ve wanted to try for a while now so despite my cynicism, I was excited to get my hands on it.
My skin is very dry, so it quickly drank up this very rich cream. And I think it worked? My skin did look and feel better each time I applied it. The weighty glass pot feels very luxurious, and the heavy, scented cream itself reminds me a little of an old-school cold cream. It’s great for those with dry skin like mine, and also as a primer. ‘Magic’ is a hyperbolic claim; I would say ‘pretty pretty pretty good’.
(Another cool thing: the 50ml pot size is refillable!) - Zoe Walker Ahwa
“Social media filter, bottled” says CT of this product, which I must admit, immediately put me off. Such filters have helped create a damaging beauty standard of faux perfection where skin imperfections and pores don’t exist; similar to the ridiculous photoshopping that some magazines still continue to do, though now the beauty myth has shifted and we are encouraged to do it to ourselves. Okay now that I have that mini rant out of the way… I loved this. I don’t wear much makeup and actually think I look worse when I do wear foundation (I know that I am lucky in that I have clear skin except for the aforementioned hormonal breakouts); I generally just use Glossier’s Skin Tint and Stretch Concealer which don’t really do much. This reminded me a little of the Skin Tint, mixed with Glossier’s Future Dew (which I found too sticky and didn’t love) - worn on its own, it covers uneven skin tone and adds a bit of ‘glow’ but isn’t heavy. - ZWA
I first worked with Charlotte Tilbury on my first season doing London Fashion Week, and had only been told of her fabulous status backstage from my British peers - it is an instant introduction into the high class society that is London fashion when you are from Aotearoa and quickly learn who all of the important people are on the spot! You heard Charlotte arriving backstage before you saw her saucily strut in, with her fabulous air kissing and 'darlings' to everyone. She wore ridiculous heels and full cleavage to show direct - I loved her instantly.
Her line of makeup has always been synonymous with a sexy rock ‘n' roll style, so I have always rated her eye products for the colour payoff and ability to create the perfect smudgy, smokey eye.
Her Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes mascara is a great formula. I'm particularly fussy about mascara wands and this one is a dream - fine bristles to separate the lashes, a flat side to lift the lashes up and a really nice wet formula to lengthen. I won't lie, this long-wearing formula was actually quite hard to remove without an oil-based cleanser, but it's really, REALLY nice to use a good 'old-school' dramatic black mascara that just does it's job without all the gimmicks. - Kiekie Stanners
This is designed to make 'mesmerising eyes' easy with the colour-coding instructions. I feel like we have perhaps moved forwards from 4-step eye makeup with so many tutorials available online. The matte shades in this palette are good colour payoff, however the frosted tones left me flat. Sadly not rich enough in opacity or creamy enough to provide a good champagne shine. - KS
Airbrush Bronzer, $81
This is one of those 'must have in your kit' staples for professional makeup artists. It is classed as a matte bronzing 'filter' for face and body, and I can vouch for the formula being one of the best bronzers in a powder form as it is silky smooth and blends like a cream. The shades run a little on the warm side however, so go easy on the amount of product you pick up on your brush. The refillable packaging was one of the first in bronzers, so nice to see that it's still around and still looks cute/luxe in today's competitive market.
Since beauty is being driven so heavily by a tween generation on TikTok right now, I asked my beauty-obsessive 12-year-old niece (hello Sofia Schwarzkopf-Tilbury in the making) to give her two cents.
The luxe packaging of the Airbrush Bronzer was a hit, but she thought overall the range seemed a little 'old' and 'not aesthetic' and I can't help but agree - with beauty moving so fast, sadly the Charlotte Tilbury packaging falls flat for me. The product formulas are still really good, but I wish the design could have a rebrand so it doesn't feel like I'm using my mum's makeup. -KS
Oooh this is lovely! I really like that it can be used as a lip conditioner by day and a lip mask by night. It has a magical looking clear crystal rollerball as an applicator, and is cooling and calming. The formula is not too heavy or sticky, and the consistency and hydration remind me of that Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil that I splurged on a few years back. This is colour and fragrance free, super hydrating and fun to apply! I wouldn’t layer this over lip colours, as I feel like it would muck up the applicator - keep this as a base. If it feels too slippy to apply something over it, blot gently with a tissue first. - Tanya Barlow
Matte Revolution Luminous Modern-Matte Long-Lasting Lipstick in shades ‘Pillow Talk’ and ‘Pillow Talk 2 Medium’, $54 each
I’m not a stranger to Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks… What I enjoy most about this collection is the shape of the lipstick bullet - it has a flat rounded rectangular panel on the top, which means there are way more edges to use. You can use these crisp edges to get a beautifully neat application, which hugs your lips along the lip line and cupids bow. These lipsticks are incredibly pigmented, so a little goes a very long way. You could even pat a little on your lips, blend with your finger and once again top with some lip balm or gloss. - TB
Lip Cheat Re-Shape and Re-Size Lip Liner in shades ‘Pillow Talk 1’ and ‘Pillow Talk 2 Medium’, $38 each
Lip liners tend to be skipped or forgotten about, an extra step that doesn’t feel necessary, but they can help define your lip line, as well as helping your lippy stay put. These liners apply smooth and velvety and both have matching lipsticks! I like to try and keep my lip line sharp by drawing an “x” at my cupid's bow before starting on the inner corner of a top lip and filling it all in - this helps prime the lips before lipstick, or you could apply a lip balm or gloss right over it. I’m relatively blessed in regards to my lips, so I didn’t resize them, personally!
The shade ‘Pillow Talk’ is the lighter of the two, leaning towards a dusty rose with the tiniest hint of peach. A great neutral. ‘Pillow Talk 2 Medium’ is a little more my speed - it’s deeper, browner with a hint of brick, and gives me all the ‘90s feels. Will be busting both of these out once I can head outside without a mask again! In the meantime, ‘Pillow Talk 2’ will be my Zoom lippy of choice. - TB
I’m not a big foundation wearer at the best of times and to be honest the thought of an ‘airbrush’ finish that ‘stays all day and night’ sounds like a real turn off to me. Even more so when you consider it’s the first time I’ve applied any makeup in five weeks. All those disclaimers aside, I really like this product. A little goes a very long way, which is exactly how I prefer my foundation. I just buffed a little over my skin with a foundation brush and really worked it in to make sure there were no tell tale brush lines on my face. My skin looks great. It’s clear, fresh and glowing. A more elevated version of my usual self. I should’ve thought of this weeks ago, considering I currently spend all day looking at my face - a little ‘airbrushing’ of it is a great idea. - Rebecca Wadey
There are some bold claims made on the box of this serum; among them that 93 percent of users agree it makes their skin look younger, and that over 90 percent of users saw their lines and wrinkles appear reduced, that their facial contours appeared lifted and their skin appeared firmer. I can’t address these claims after just four days of using it but I will say it did hydrate my skin really nicely and it has a lovely nostalgic scent that makes me feel like I’ve raided the shelves of an eccentric eldery wealthy grandmother who has a wallpaper covered vanity in her bathroom. I’m into it. - RW