Beauty Writer and makeup artist Jay Pinxie gets to grips with new high street makeup brand Essence in this in depth review… Proof that you can create gorgeous makeup without the price tag!
Created by COSNOVA, Essence is a makeup range soon to be available in Wilkinsons, Westfield and the Arendale centre in Manchester. It is also available online. Essence launched in 2002 in Germany, quickly becoming market leaders and the number one retailer in Europe over a period of five years. I was lucky enough to attend the launch and find out what it’s all about.
Following a video presentation there was a demo by the fabulous makeup artist Kenneth Soh. He had two models, on one model he used his personal kit, of which the total value of products was £250.00 and on the other model he used Essence products of which total value of products was about £15.00. It was almost impossible to tell the difference.
I quizzed Kenneth quite closely and the verdict that came out was that he was seriously impressed with the makeup. He said the foundations were easy to use and worked well, being able to layer up and make the skin look stunning. He used a pencil version of a gel liner and then put a black liquid liner over the top. The density of the black was incredible. Another thing that impressed me were the lips. After lining them he used a matt lipgloss in red (I know – a contradiction “matt gloss”) with a red lip colour over the top. The result was incredible, the flat depth of the matt base and the finish of a red lipstick worked so well.
The other product Kenneth fell in love with were the concealer duo’s. As a working MUA the problem with finding concealers that don’t crease or go dry and cakey is immense, but, these sat on the skin beautifully and needed no setting with powder after application so therefore did sink into the fine lines around the eye.
After the demo we were let loose on the makeup stand to pick and chose products as we wanted. I was looking from a makeup artist prospective but quickly realised how amazing they are for you lot wanting inexpensive products that really do the job. When I say inexpensive I am not exaggerating! Lets say the most expensive mascara is under £3.00. The different types volumise, curl, three levels of dense black, waterproof, separate and define….the list goes on. The shapes sizes and tricks of the mascara brushes was endless.
They have a gel eyeliner in a pencil which is blacker than black and you can draw a really fine eyeline and it stays put being waterproof. Much easier to apply than the regular gel eyeliner pots.
The waterproof liquid liner is a dense black with a nice brush,. As its in the lower price range I did not expect it to be so deep in its blackness but boy was I surprised.
I have not trialed the foundations yet but there are many kinds, soft and natural, mousse, and heavier cover. I got a couple in my goody bag so I can test these out. I tend to believe Kenneth Soh when he says they are easy to use, blend well and are impossible to tell they are not an expensive product.
Some time has passed since this launch and I have been using the products and asked friends to try things. Here’s a review from a good friend:
“Thanks for the BB all in one Cream I really like it. It’s obviously great to wear everyday cause not as heavy as foundation but still hides & evens out my skin enough to wear it on it’s own. Unlike other tinted moisturisers all-in-one BB blended nicely with no streaks or orangey tones that some makes have to give you that “tanned” look :-/ I also love the fact it’s spf 30 so on those rare sunny days I feel like I’m taking care of my skin. Plus it’s fragrance-free even kinder to your skin.”
This inexpensive range is available in Wilkinsons and online at wilco.com They also have a pop up kiosk in Westfield London and Arendale centre in Manchester. I have looked in my local Wilkinsons but as yet I have not found them for sale. You can do a store search on the website.
Compared to the products I have in my working kit I have to say I am not convinced to swap many but there are some that I have added. I think that they are brilliant for the general public and teenage girls will love them.
Some of my favourite products are the pencil gel liners, these are sharpenable pencils so you can keep a nice point on it to draw a fine or thick line. The control on this is great and the density of the colours is really good, the black is blacker than black. They definitely are waterproof and are much easier to apply than gel liner from a pot. I also really like the sharpeners which come in a couple of cute colours.
Upon testing i liked the liquid liner, it is easy to apply and very dark black, it dries quickly but with enough time if you need to correct anything, this was worth putting in my kit.
The eyebrow pencils are amazing. I am always hunting for a brown pencil and so many times they are too warm in colour. This is a perfect shade, not too dark and very definitely brown…not ginger. The lid has a brow brush built in which is really handy.
There is a chubby pencil called “Big bright eyes”…an easily blended creamy pencil which, when applied in the corner of the eye, gives that little “pop” which opens up the eye. It also looks lovely applied under the brow bone. This pencil saved my bacon at the last wedding I did as I had lost the other product I normally use for this job. I used the Big bright eyes and it lasted all day.
Also for the bride I used a little pot of gel mousse called Colour Sorbet over the ball of the eye which twinkled perfectly and held the glitter on the eye without dropping.
Sadly the waterproof mascara did not completely hold back the tears so I had to clean up and when I re-applied it went crumbly.
There is a Curl mascara with a gimmick wand which had to be tested on myself for hygiene reasons, the wand is manually turned as you use it to encourage curl. I was warned not everyone gets along with the applicator and I was one of those people. I think this is because I need a magnifying mirror to apply makeup as I wear glasses. I just found the whole experience of focussing with a twirling brush a bit much to cope with!
However there was a fantastic mascara for a working makeup artist called Lashes Go Wild. Make up,artists use individual mascara wands for each client to minimise germs with no dipping into the mascara and no using the wand. Essence have a mascara which comes in a squeezy tube, you can dispense this mascara and dip a wand into it meaning you can really load the wand with product to get great build up, always a difficulty otherwise. BRILLIANT invention.
With 18 types of mascara, not including the colour flash choice it’s easy to find one to suit you. If you don’t get on with one I think for less than £3.00 to chose another is no hardship, in fact you could try them all!
Another thing I kept for my kit were the easy dispense blotting papers, perfect for absorbing grease from a shiny skin which means for a long shoot the skin always looks fresh because I don’t have to keep applying powder which can dull the skin and make it look tired with build up.
To round up what is available but not necessarily what I would keep to work with in my kit I will give a brief run down on other stuff.
For the skin there is a great selection of mattifying primer, moisturisers, many kinds of BB creams and foundations. The mousse is excellent for contouring as it blends beautifully.
There is a huge range of eye shadow palettes including Smoky eye sets, neutral colours, bright colour mixes and shimmering . Some people may find it easier to buy a ready to go set to achieve something like a smoky eye, this has three colours, black, grey and a highlighter in a small handbag size.
The blushers have strong pigment so a light hand is needed when applying but the colours are lovely.
The false lashes are good and they have a couple of sizes of individual lashes which you can apply just at the outer corner. There is a lash glue which is black, which I prefer to use as it dries invisible with black mascara and eyeliner.
If 14 colours of lipgloss is not enough choice for you then choose from the mini lip gloss sets. The long lasting Matt gloss are easy to apply with a flat applicator and your lips stay moist and coloured for hours.
The nail varnishes are so cheap and they have a huge range of colours including pastel, glitter, quick dry spray etc.
There are all sorts of preparation products for your cuticles and nails including tools and accessories. They also have a Gel nail varnish set with a small UV setting machine.
I feel this is definitely a makeup range targeted for the younger end of the market being so affordable with clear packaging and bright colours, but with so many products in the range there is something for everyone.
Words : Jay Pinxie