What is a beauty review doing on SparkUp? Aside from my non‑opposition to writing a story about my (possibly unhealthy) love affair (or obsession, if you’re a normal person) with makeup, I wanted to see if the formulations live up to the (arguably) chic packaging. After all, H&M Philippines generated 869 million Swedish krona (around ₱5.38 billion) in 2016, and it obviously aims to raise its sales by bringing in beauty products. A truly smart buyer (a.k.a. you) should know if the amount you’re bringing to cash registers is money well‑spent, so we’ve taken that duty upon ourselves to review your future purchases (you’re welcome).
We’ll be going through most of the shebang: from base products, to color cosmetics, with day and night options.
Might as well make something out of my obsession, right? (Don’t answer that.)
As I’ve already found my Holy Grail full coverage foundations (in Giorgio Armani Power Fabric and Dior Airflash), I deluded myself into thinking I now need sheer coverage for when I’m pretending not to care about perfection. Available in seven shades, the Natural Finish Foundation (in ‘Honey,’ ₱899) offers slight color correction, evening out complexion and lessening redness. It’s sheerer than MAC Face and Body, Make Up Forever Waterblend, and even Glossier’s Skin Tint, although these four are very very similar. This is not for people who are looking to be Insta‑perfect or Insta‑gratified. The product is really best for those who need just a touch of coverage. Best massaged in with fingers, two coats can give a light coverage with (what else) a natural finish. It sets very quickly and can get streaky and patchy when buffed in with a brush or pat in with a sponge.
It’s neither hydrating nor mattifying, nor will it perfect texture or minimize the appearance of pores. If you have dry, patchy skin, it can emphasize texture. If you have oily skin, it will not aid in oil control. It seems that this formula is made for those with minimal marks and redness and a point‑blank normal type skin.
In the photos above you can still pretty much see all the bits and pieces on my face although slightly improved with two coats. Spot concealing is necessary. Don’t bother trying to build up the foundation as it will pill up and rub off resulting again in patchiness. I prepped my face with moisturizer and added the NARS Smooth and Protect Primer to get the smoothest possible result, but still had difficulty in achieving a non‑patchy finish. I did feel like it gave me a “fresh” look, and I’d really only use it on a day when I want something that looks like nothing.
EYES + BROWS
On the flip side, H&M knocks it outta the park with eye and brow products. Their Easy On The Eye Colour (in ‘Frou Frou,’ ₱499) is actually so easy to use with full, shimmery, creamy pigment deposited with one swipe on the eyelid. It’s also easy to blend with fingers (or a blending brush), and sets just in time to avoid creasing during application.
It lasts for around 8 hours before fading and there isn’t any noticeable creasing on my incredibly oily lids even without primer. With 5 shades ranging from champagnes to silvers to deep blacks, you can use one or a combination to create day and night looks. I use ‘Frou Frou’ on the daily because it offers subtle contouring and a sophisticated sheen. You know, so I can be alluring when pretending to know the answers at recitations and work meetings. Bonus: you can also use the stick as a highlighter (pictured in the cheek area below)!
A great and more affordable dupe for Benefit’s Precisely, My Brow Pencil is the Superfine Browliner (in ‘Natural Black,’ ₱499). You can really draw on hair‑like strokes without the tip breaking or fill in your natural shape without using too much product. It’s not too soft (which is exactly what she likes) either so it minimizes the chances of you rubbing it off. If you want to secure the color and hair in place, the Brow Shaping Gel (₱349) does that well. It protects the hair from sweat but the hold isn’t that long lasting or strong. My brow hairs shift back to their original position after four hours. That’s fine by me though, since I use it primarily for color protection. I can also use the gel without the pencil for that brushed up look so I longingly wait for the day the colored gels arrive in the country.
The High and Mighty Mascara (~₱599) is average. It slightly lengthens and is pretty good in separating the lashes, but doesn’t offer any additional volume. It also only slightly lifts the hair and doesn’t really prolong curling. What’s kinda cool is that it doesn’t flake and there’s minimal smudging, lasting through a gym session. It’s also easy to take off, which is great if you don’t like your lashes balding.
CHEEKS + LIPS
My favorite product on H&M’s roster is the Powder Blusher (in ‘Cameo Pink,’ ₱499). The nude colors in the range provide a hint of color and are best suited for those who have a heavy hand or those who are afraid of clown cheeks. Being a blush freak, I picked up three shades, Cameo Pink (pictured), a very light brown‑pink, Warm Desert, a deeper brown with pink undertones, and Imperial Red, a warm bright poppy red that’s perfect for Igari(a blush placement to emulate a drunken flush). The more vibrant colors need a lighter hand during application as it’s easier to build up than blend away. The pigments of blushes like Imperial Red are full enough to use as eyeshadow, which is a good or bad thing depending on who you ask. The best thing about H&M’s blushes is that you can actually use your fingers to deposit color on the cheeks and it will still be even and diffused. I also pat the powders on my lips sometimes when I want to achieve a monochrome/analogous color story, and can’t wait for the cream formulas to be released.
Their lip products are impressive as well. For the day look I just traced my natural lip contours with the Lip Liner (in ‘Choc Therapy,’ ~₱249) and diffused the edges with my finger to eliminate the harsh lines. Choc Therapy is great for achieving a very 90’s supermodel lip without the discomfort of an ultra matte lip pencil. The pencil glides on the lips without struggle due to its creamy texture but the caveat is that you end up using a lot of product with and need to sharpen after every use.
You can really amp it up by using their single shadows like the Infinite Impact Eye Color (in ‘Sun Worship,’ ~₱349). Their singles range from mattes, to shimmers, to glitters, and are easy to work with. They’re soft but not powdery, pigmented but won’t overload the eyelid, and add a lot of dimension to the eye even with just one shade. I can use the same technique of blending with fingers and get a look appropriate for events, with an addition of a black kohl (or black eyeshadow) on the outer corner of the eye to create a smokey effect.
Lastly, you can add a lip color like the Matte Lipstick (in ‘Route 66,’ ₱599) to make it through meals and drinks (and other lip activities). H&M’s matte lip formula is great in that it deposits full pigment without the drying feeling, although the bullet is a little hard without the presence of body heat. This formula can actually compete with higher end lipsticks and comes in about 19 shades. (Cream forumulas exist too.)
There’s really something for everyone in H&M’s beauty line, and the best come in the form of their cheek and eye products. I’m quite hesitant to try other base products from this experience, especially with concealers and powders, whose formulas are harder to perfect. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to try more from the brand.
Drop me some comments if you wanna see a part 2 featuring hair care.