In February 2020—right before the world took a sharp, downward turn—Selena Gomez announced that she was stepping into the beauty world with a "special project" of her own. We now know that this was Rare Beauty, a makeup line that Gomez conceptualized, formulated, and curated from the studs. You can credit the brand's smash success to the founder's star power or the aesthetic packaging, but I'm in the camp that these intuitive products are making a splash in the makeup space for the simplest of reasons: they do what they say they will, and more.
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez
Founded: Selena Gomez, 2020
Based In: El Segundo, CA
Best Known For: Easy-to-use, shade-inclusive products in modern packaging
Most Popular Product: Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation, Soft Pinch Liquid Blush, Lip Soufflé Matte Lip Cream
Fun Fact: With the launch of Rare Beauty, Gomez also launched the Rare Impact Fund, which will raise $100 million for mental health services over the next 10 years.
On August 28, just three days before the reveal of Rare Beauty, I had the opportunity to sit down to a virtual interview with Gomez herself. I admit, I had the same thought a lot of people might be thinking—not another celebrity beauty brand. But within the first minute of listening to Gomez gush about the brand, it became extraordinarily clear that she poured her entire soul into these little rounded-top vials. With Rare Beauty, Gomez wanted to create a beauty brand for everyone. That's why she launched with 48 shades of foundation (and concealer), and formulated each product with ease of use in mind. "The texture of my entire line is very flexible," she said during our interview. "You can move it around; I wanted every single person to be able to find their perfect shade." You don't have to be a makeup artist to use these products or to identify your perfect shade; you can just focus on being you.
And while the price point is fair, you can feel good about every purchase knowing that it's going towards the $100 million that Gomez has pledged to raise for mental health services over the next 10 years via Rare Beauty's Rare Impact Fund. "I have struggled very openly about anxiety and depression and mental health," Gomez said. "[But] the time that I've taken for myself has actually just reflected in everything that I've been releasing. I don't know if anyone can tell or cares but you can just see the amount of happiness that I have with what I'm given and what I'm blessed with." If anything is reflected in Rare Beauty, it's Gomez's care and intentionality—her way of identifying a gap and filling it with something rare and luminous.
I love Rare Beauty and I know you will too—read on for my full review of all the products in the initial launch.
Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation
Available in 48 shades, Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation is one of the most diverse shade ranges on the market (even topping the Fenty 40). This is a true liquid foundation—and I mean liquid. The consistency is comparable to that of a serum (or even a face oil), miraculously without compromising on pigment. While the brand created a foundation brush as part of its initial launch, this foundation is easy to apply with just your fingers. (When I chatted with Gomez ahead of the launch, she told me that fingers are her application method du jour.) As for coverage, this product is pretty customizable, like most Rare Beauty products. Dab on a few dots for a BB cream-like result, or build your coverage up. Apply the formula as is for a more matte finish, or mist before and after application if you prefer to be dewy. Either way, the formula truly feels weightless, just like the product name says. As far as the packaging goes, the design is clearly gorgeous, but the functionality is even more impressive. Take a peek inside your tube and you'll notice there's a smaller hole below the main mouth of the jar. This pulls excess product off of the doe foot applicator as you unscrew the top to prevent product waste.
This isn't an oil-free formula, so some degree of separation is natural. Give your bottle a good shake before opening each time.
Lip Soufflé Matte Lip Cream
As a beauty editor, I see a lot of lip products describe themselves as "velvety" only for the formula to dry out my lips and start flaking off mid-day. This one is truly velvety. Lip Soufflé goes on as smooth as brownie batter (that's what I think of when I use shade Courage), but somehow dries down to matte with the perfect amount of slip. Just be sure to give the formula ample time to dry; it takes a few minutes but never dries completely.
Soft Pinch Liquid Blush
When a coworker first asked me what I thought of the blush, the first thing that popped into my head was "this is blush for people who are afraid of blush." And it's true. As is the case with the majority of this line, Soft Pinch blends like melted butter, which means it's virtually foolproof. During our interview, Gomez told me she's a fan of the draping technique, something she picked up from her longtime makeup artist Hung Vanngo. To apply like Gomez, swirl the tiniest bit (seriously, the tiniest you can) onto the apples of your cheeks, then pull the pigment upward and outward into your hairline. You'll find that Soft Pinch is aptly named; it gives you the most natural flush, almost as if your Grandma just gave you a little pinch on the cheek.
With Gratitude Dewy Lip Balm
With Gratitude, because I'm so grateful this product exists. Think about your absolute favorite non-sticky lip balm, plus your favorite lipstick. If those products had a lovechild, it'd be With Gratitude Dewy Lip Balm. I have a row of With Gratitude swatches on my arm as I write this (an arm that's been pressing up against my white t-shirt for the last 15 minutes) and there's zero transfer.
Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer
I have a complicated relationship with this concealer. Just like the foundation, the concealer from the Liquid Touch family also features 48 shades, but it's a thicker, creamier consistency. Your foundation shade and concealer shade are meant to match up, with the concealer being a slightly lighter shade than the foundation (as is recommended by most makeup artists with concealer). I'm a 170W in foundation, so I was recommended to use 170W concealer. The numbers likely offer a true match for most users without targeted under-eye concerns, but this was where I ran into a little bit of trouble. I have deep-purple tones in the inner corners of my eyes, so I usually opt for a concealer that's a bit warmer or peachier than my foundation to help cancel out these hues. If the same is true for you, don't buy the same concealer shade as your foundation.
Although the shade was a bit off for me, the formula is a creamy dream and was a breeze to blend with the brand's sponge (I don't recommend using your fingers for this one). If under-eye circles aren't a concern for you and you're more interested in using the concealer to cover breakouts or even-out your skin tone, your perfect concealer shade is likely the same as your foundation. And before you judge the formula at first swipe—let it dry and be amazed.
Brow Harmony Pencil & Gel
This brow product features a pencil on one end and a pigmented gel on the other. Rare Beauty really nailed the shade for blondes (I'm a blonde, so this is the only shade I can speak to). Historically, a lot of "blonde" shades are too warm (they look borderline auburn against my cooler toned hair), but this is the perfect taupey hue for my brows. The spooly applicator for the gel is very narrow, which makes it easy to fill in the tail of your brows without getting the gel on the surrounding skin. I was so pleased with the filled-in, brushed-up appearance the gel delivers that I didn't see any need for the pencil end. But it's there if you need it.
Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit
This is one of the most unique products from the launch, and also one of the smartest. This "palette" is about the size of a cell phone, with blotting sheets on one side and a powder puff on the other. But instead of having the puff sitting in a bath of setting powder that's bound to explode in your purse, the puff is actually infused with powder. I use the oil blotting papers to soak up oil and sweat, then the powder-infused puff to mattify shine. Here's something that isn't clear from the packaging though: you need to tap the puff on the back of your hands 5-10 times to "activate" the puff. Once you see powder coming off of the puff with a tap, it's ready to go. After your first use, you'll only have to tap the puff on your hand 2-3 times to get it going. This product is also refillable, so you don't have to purchase an entirely new Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit when you run out—just a new puff and/or blotting sheets.
Pro tip: Even with the puff and blotting sheets inside, this case is large enough to carry a spare mask. If you've been experiencing mask-related breakouts, it doesn't hurt to carry a fresh one if you're going to be wearing a mask for an extended period of time (like on walks or grocery shopping).
Positive Light Liquid Luminizer
This one is not for the faint of heart. These highlight shades are all hyper prismatic and the packaging features a super-sized doe foot applicator. I'm personally a fan of the dewy, wet-skin look, which this product definitely delivers. These pigments are borderline electric, making it look like you're standing in incredible light 24/7. Be warned: If you prefer to lay low when it comes to highlight, this probably isn't the product for you. But if you want to look like you're wearing dew from the moon then you won't be able to get this on your face fast enough.
Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner
Let's put it this way—this liner makes me want to learn how to nail a cat eye. In my unskilled hand, this product can only do so much for me, but Gomez and the Rare Beauty team clearly poured a lot of energy into getting this formula just right. For starters, the pigment is jet black and 100 percent matte. The precision tip was inspired by a Japanese caligraphy brush, and features over 1000 vegan bristles. Once you've perfected your wing, Perfect Strokes will not budge, smear, or feather in the slightest. You can rub your eyes, splash your face with water, or keep it on through your sweatiest workout—you can trust me, because I tried all of these things. This stuff isn't going anywhere, so make sure you have a quality cleansing balm or micellar water on hand to remove it when you're ready.
Always an Optimist 4-in-1 Mist
Primes, sets, refreshes, hydrates. You can apply before makeup, after makeup, and even between makeup steps to give matte products a dewier finish. Will this product transform your entire look? No. But it does what it says it will. Always an Optimist (someone give the Rare Beauty copywriter a raise) is functional as a primer or setting spray and absolutely delightful as a mid-day, hydrating mist. Just spritz this about an arm's length away from your face—any closer and the droplets don't have time to actually dissolve into a mist (and you're left with a wet face).
Always an Optimist Illuminating Primer
The Rare Beauty foundation is normal-to-matte, so if you found your perfect shade but wish the formula was a bit dewier, this is the perfect primer to pair it with. This feels almost like a water-cream; it absorbs quickly and hydrates deeply, leaving behind the softest pearlescent glow. Sometimes I wear it alone without the foundation—it makes me feel like I'm standing under soft candlelight.
Liquid Touch Foundation Brush
One of the key characteristics of the entire line is that everything is "spreadable," as Gomez described during our interview. So you don't need tools to apply them—the warmth from your fingers should do it. With that being said, some people simply prefer to apply foundation with a brush. No method is better than the other, so it's great to see Rare Beauty catering to a multitude of tastes. Especially in the age of Coronavirus, you might not be too keen on touching your face, and this brush is the perfect tool to reach for instead. Personally, I like to use my hands to apply this product, but I still love the brush for baking my concealer (the curved angle is perfect for packing on powder). The vegan bristles are densely packed, and it feels more like expensive suede than a makeup brush. Every square millimeter of this brush is incredibly thoughtful and intentional, from the marquis head to the lightweight handle.
Liquid Touch Concealer Brush
As far as I can tell, this brush is an exact copy of the foundation brush—just smaller. (Which isn't inherently a bad thing, by the way.) The concealer brush features the same angled dome head, lightweight handle, and suede-like feel you experience with the foundation brush, just smaller. There's nothing wrong with this brush, but I prefer a sponge to apply my concealer under my eyes (that's just my personal preference). Instead, I use the Liquid Touch Concealer Brush to blend my foundation around tighter corners like my nose and mouth, or to clean up lipstick that's bleeding outside the lines of my lips. You do you, because that's what this line is all about.
Liquid Touch Multitasking Makeup Sponge
At $14, this is cheaper than a Beautyblender ($20) and just as effective. The unique shape features a precision tip for detailed work, four flat edges for quick blending, and a rounded bottom to buff and soften harsh edges. This sponge needs to be water-activated, so be sure to run it under the sink or spritz it with a mist before you even think about blending.