This Vegan, Latina-Founded Lipstick Brand Is My New Obsession

My honest thoughts on Patricia de León's beauty venture.

andrea devoto

The other day, I posted an Instagram Story asking my followers, who are mostly Latinxs, what the perfect lipstick should look/feel like to them. The answers I received were divided between two categories: a creamy texture with satin finish, and a smooth, thin texture with matte finish. But they all agreed that it should last long, shouldn’t transfer, shouldn’t dry their lips, and that the shade should look good with their skin color.

Straight to the point, right? Yet, there are so many formulas out there that sacrifice the feel for the look or the pigmentation for the texture, leaving us with a lipstick that might look good for the first selfie of the night, but not when we’re actually enjoying the party (ahhh parties, remember them? We’ll have them back soon). 

But for Panamanian actress and activist Patricia de León, there was no such thing as sacrificing one or the other when it came to creating her lipstick brand, PDL Cosmetics. First and foremost, she was creating a brand with Latinxs in mind, which meant that one size wouldn’t really fit all but she wanted all to be satisfied with her products. Unlike other brands, that was a challenge she felt it was necessary to take.

“Latinas, we love color,” De León tells Byrdie, “We carry a pride for our culture, a culture that is passionate, colorful, united, diverse, and it shows in everything from our festivities to the way we dress, our food, and our music.” She also understands that most of the modern Latina women go through a lot in life and we sometimes seek a boost of confidence through something as simple as the color of our lipstick. “Our lips are so powerful—we express through them,” she says. 

Being a lipstick enthusiast myself (and the fact that the lipsticks have been covered all over Latinx media), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on PDL Cosmetics’ lipsticks and bring Byrdie readers my humble and honest opinion on their formulas. Spoiler alert: They’re great. But keep reading to find out why.

PDL Lipsticks

Andrea Devoto

Shade Pictured: Azúcar Morena

About My Lips: A feature I love to highlight

My relationship with lipstick started from a very early age. I carefully admired how my mami applied hers all the time growing up and my curiosity only kept growing when I was allowed to try it out myself. Since then, I take my lips and my lipstick very seriously. When it comes to makeup, my lips are definitely a priority to highlight. I feel good when they stand out. So when it comes to the formulas, I agree with my Instagram followers: a lipstick should never rob my lips from all moisture, no exceptions.

PDL Lipstick
PDL High Powered Lipstick in Make Believe $18

The Formula: Matte, silky, and shiny

PDL Cosmetics currently has 3 formulas: Bold Aspirations Liquid Lipstick, which has a matte finish; High Powered Lipstick, which is a creamy stick with a silky finish; and Sexy Shine Lipgloss, which has a non-sticky formula and a high-shine finish. All of these are vegan and cruelty free, a priority for De León who has been a PETA ambassador for over a decade. 

The Shades: Meant to complement Latinx skin tones

De León also made color one of her main priorities in her lipstick line. The shades range from nudes to pinks to reds, all with warm undertones to complement the wide rage of Latinxs skin colors. It took two years for her to develop the formulas with her chemist. “I wanted to create formulas that would keep up with us,” she says. And to make sure they suited all, she “went through a process of having women of every skin color trying the colors before approving them.”

PDL Cosmetics

Shade Pictured: Scarlet Red

My take on the shades I tried:

Scarlet Red, from the Bold Aspirations collection: I like my reds on the darker shade range but this one convinced me that brighter reds can also work on my skin tone.

Azúcar Morena, from the Bold Aspirations collection: I am completely in love with this shade. This cool neutral rose shade is my new favorite nude lipstick.

Believe, from the High Powered collection: I literally said “wow” out loud when applying this one. The pigmentation is just incredible.

Pure, from the Sexy Shine collection: This is just clear, which I appreciate in a pool of lipglosses with unnecessary sparkles.

The Feel: Everything I hoped for and more

The Bold Aspirations liquid lipsticks are exactly what some of the majority of my followers who answered my Instagram query wanted. They’re a very lightweight liquid that's very smooth when it comes to the application, and they they dry down very fast. The lipsticks feel barely there, which is something that I really appreciate on liquid formulas.

When it comes to the High Powered Lipstick, well, it's hands down the richest and creamiest formula I’ve ever tried. It is a very satisfying feeling, not only from the moment you apply it, but also just having it sitting on your lips.

And last but not least, the lipgloss. I was very surprised by how comfortable this formula feels. It's lightweight, smooth, and not sticky at all! I’ve tried so many lipglosses before but I’ve never experienced the instant moisturizing feeling that this one gave me. 

PDL Cosmetics Azucar Morena
PDL Cosmetics Bold Aspirations Liquid Lipstick in Azucar Morena $20

How to Apply: Line, then fill in

For the Bold Aspirations formula, since the applicator is really thin, I go ahead and use the tip of the applicator to line my lips first. Then, I apply only one thin layer all over the rest of my lips. When I use the High Powered lipstick, since I don’t really use lip liner, I line my lips with the tip of the stick very carefully and then fill the rest in. To finish, I rub my finger very lightly on the outside of my lips to create a smooth edge, rather than sharp. The lipgloss is very straight to the point. However, there’s a catch that might not be pleasant for everybody: in order to get enough of the product out, you have to twist it in order to release an adequate amount of product. Just a little detail to have in mind.

PDL Cosmetics in Believe

Andrea DeVoto

Shade Pictured: Believe

The Results: Transfer-proof color

I’m happy to report that the Bold Aspirations formula doesn’t get smudged by or transfer to a mask. However, like all lipsticks (even the ones that don’t dry matte) you want to make sure your lips are already smooth. If not, you’re definitely not going to get the finish that you’re looking for in a liquid lipstick. Both the Bold Aspirations and the High Powered formulas have an amazing pigmentation and the shades worked amazingly with my skin color. They really are all you need when you want look polishedfor your unexpected Zoom meeting or add a glamorous flare to your everyday makeup look. When it comes to the lipgloss, the result is an incredibly shiny finish that works equally amazing by itself or on top of other lipsticks.

Our Verdict: Worth it

Would I purchase these lip products? Absolutely yes. Why? Because, not only the formulas are great for what I’m looking for, but I also appreciate when the founder genuinely cares about making products that modern women really want. And, coming from a Latinx founder, I can be confident I would find a product that fits perfectly with how I approach makeup: a tool to boost my confidence with a touch of color when I need it. 

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