How Will You Look When You Emerge From the Pandemic?
As Covid restrictions loosen, a lot of women are finding that the carefully applied makeup they once relied on, pre-pandemic, now seems overdone, even a bit alien. Instead of full-coverage foundation, lipstick and blush, they’re choosing cosmetics with a softer look that’s more relaxed.
“Women are wearing plenty of makeup, even on camera, but it has a different sensibility,” said Patricia Saxby, who oversees the beauty selection at Bergdorf Goodman. “It is more toned down, for sure, and natural.”
For lips and cheeks, a popular option is a lightly textured tinted balm or stain. These products are frequently formulated with conditioning ingredients, like apricot oil and shea butter; their subdued finishes don’t require precise application or much effort.
“That’s what everybody wants,” Ms. Saxby said. “They want easy, quick, ‘put the product on your face, look instantly better.’”
An assortment of new lip products promises exactly that. Take, for example, Gucci’s Rouge de Beauté Brillant Glow & Care Shine Lipstick, introduced last month. Encased in a slender, vintage-look tube, it leaves a thin wash of color. (Like many of these products, the shades appear considerably more saturated in the package than on the lips.) The Tinted Lip Balm from Byredo, which came out earlier this month, is offered in three sheer, low-key options that suit many complexions.
Hermès recently added Rosy Lip Enhancer to its makeup line, in three pink-based versions that deliver a soft, pretty hint of pigment. (It’s pricey — $67 per tube — with luxe touches like the trademark Hermès orange box as part of its packaging.) Guerlain’s KissKiss Shine Bloom Lipstick, which was released in April, comes in 20 hues, most of which are quite neutral; one, My Kiss Glow, is a pale pink that adapts to the pH of each wearer’s lips to create a natural-looking tone.
Illamasqua’s new Hydra Lip Tints also offer a subtle slick of color. They look a bit edgy in the tube but blend into a quiet veil of plum, mauve or pink.
“There’s no fuss, and there’s no major transformation that you have to think about,” said Gucci Westman, the makeup artist and co-founder of Westman Atelier. “It’s just like, ‘I want to enhance myself.’” In April, her company released Squeaky Clean Lip Balm in muted, transparent shades of beige, pink and red; later this month will come the Lip Suede compact in Les Nudes, with four emollient colors that can be smudged together and applied with a brush or simply a finger.
Ms. Westman said her goal was to create “a civilian level of approachability and achievability.” Like most other products of this sort, they’re easy to apply, even for mere mortals. Some, like her Lip Suede colors, work on cheeks as well. Ilia’s Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm, which comes out next month, can be put on without a mirror, according to Sasha Plavsic, the Ilia founder.
The simplicity of these cosmetics is part of their appeal. “A lot of women can still be intimidated by makeup,” Ms. Saxby of Bergdorf said. “They might not have had that comfort before.”
They also target shoppers who are leaning toward beauty products with fewer artificial ingredients. Dior Beauty has reworked its popular Dior Addict Lip Glow, which is now made with 97 percent natural components, like moisturizing cherry oil. The blend in Ilia’s new balm, also a reformulation, includes salicornia, an edible sea vegetable that’s a natural hydrator.
“We’ve certainly seen more of a push for natural, for clean, for getting rid of those ‘bad’ ingredients and really looking at those clean formulations,” said Lauren Goodsitt, a senior beauty analyst at the market research firm Mintel.
Their multitasking mix of tint and hydration is appealing, too. According to a recent Mintel report, 42 percent of women who wear makeup wish their cosmetics also had skin-care benefits.
Similarly toned-down products are arriving for cheeks as well. Vanish Blush Stick from Hourglass Cosmetics blends easily; it comes in six shades. In June, Giorgio Armani Beauty is adding Melting Color Balm to its Neo Nude range. Benefit Cosmetics’ new iteration of its popular Playtint cheek and lip line is a summery pink that flatters many skin tones. It comes out in June, too.
These products also have appeal to those who prefer lighter makeup as it gets warmer. “Even if you’re going outside with a mask, when you take your mask off, you would still like to have a kiss of color,” Ms. Plavsic, of Ilia, said.
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