So I’ve finally managed to get my hands on one of Kylie Jenner’s notorious liquid lipsticks and will be reviewing it soon. As I started my review I realised a lot of what I have to say is about the brand rather than the product and so I decided to split it out -hello new blog feature- and discuss the brand separately.
I’ll add here that I don’t hate Kylie Jenner or the Kardashians, I’ve seen every episode of KUWTK and still watch repeats. I’m stating this so it’s clear i’m not coming at this from the perspective of hating the Kardashian empire but I’m also not a crazed fangirl.
I’m just a girl with questionable tv tastes, £25 down, reflecting on my experience.
Kylie Cosmetics didn’t start off on a great footing if we’re looking for transparency from a brand. Kylie’s transformation from teenager to Kim clone got a fair amount of press with a large proportion focusing on her new lips which were -incredibly obviously- enhanced. Rather than be open about it, Kylie tried to hide it by suggesting she over-lined her lips prompting some pretty terrible 90s-esque makeup from fans and more disturbingly, the Kylie Jenner challenge which saw teenagers sucking shot glasses to disfigure their faces, resulting in lots of injuries.
At some point the Kardashian PR team clearly concluded this had to stop and so an exit strategy was shoehorned into an episode of KUWTK. Having seen the mass hysteria which Kylie’s lips had caused, someone smelled a business opportunity and Kylie Cosmetics lip kits were born.
A Kylie lip kit contains a liquid lipstick and lip pencil, everything you need to get massive lips like Kylie, excluding the vials of Juvederm. The original launch included three neutral shades which were available in very limited quantities.
Like the iPhones of old, Kylie Cosmetics market themselves as a startup, only capable of producing short runs. This is a clever strategy as it creates panic amongst customers who would happily wait for the restock time to frantically be one of the few who successfully gets their hands on the product. This would be all well and good, if Kylie wasn’t a multi millionairess who could clearly self fund her own venture, whose name alone would secure backing if that wasn’t the case.
These products aren’t cheap, the liquid lipstick I purchased which wasn’t part of a kit was $18 (£13.50 GBP) with shipping of $14. I’ve read a lot of bad reviews about the customer service and ordering experience, but personally I have no complaints there. Whatever teething problems they had I think they’ve corrected, as I had a notification of ordering, shipping and delivery. Yes, the bare minimum I would expect but I thought I would state this as others haven’t been so lucky. It took 2 weeks to arrive which wasn’t bad and I didn’t have to pay any customs charges.
The price point of these products -which aren’t available in-stores and have high shipping costs even in the US, so I suspect some extra markup is being added there- puts them out of the drugstore category and positions them alongside other “high end” liquid lipsticks. This is I feel where the brand puts themselves in the firing line, as they’re judged alongside higher end products and brands, used by professionals and enthusiasts who expect more. If Kylie Cosmetics was a collaboration with Revlon, it would be a different story but Kylie presents her formula as original and something which she has been working on for two years.
This is a major issue, as it’s simply not true, it’s not even close to being true, it’s a bare-faced lie. Kylie Cosmetics are white-labeled, meaning Kylie has no lab and she hasn’t been beavering away on her formula for two years, she’s simply rebranded someone else’s product. Lots of makeup startups do this, but it’s hard to swallow when Kylie has the means to do things properly and when she charges so much for what is essentially a minimum viable product.
Kylie Cosmetics pencils and lipsticks are effectively white-labeled ColourPop products. This has been discovered by comparing the formulas (which are identical bar a few extra minor ingredients that ColourPop have) and the fact Kylie has posted photos from within the ColourPop lab, where she stated she was visiting her ‘friends’. The owners of ColourPop own the lab where Kylie Cosmetics state they are made, so everything considered it’s not difficult to conclude that Kylie has tweaked the colours and stuck her logo on a $6 ColourPop lipstick, before selling it for more than double the price.
Worse still, this wasn’t always the case. The original product used a formula with not only got good reviews, but which seemed original to Kylie. At some point when the demand was realised, they swapped it for a more cost effective formula which is what we have today.
This is clearly a really unethical way to operate. Paying for a name is a familiar concept and I don’t doubt that if ColourPop brought out a Kylie line at the same price point, it would still sell out. However the issue here is transparency, or a lack of. Much like Kylie trying to pass her lips off as natural, this product is being passed off as something she’s cultivated for years and personally developed, something only available in super limited batches and something with such cult status, customers should accept shoddy customer service and issues. In reality it’s a drugstore lipstick which never sells out, is easily accessible in the UK and which will set you back a fraction of the cost whilst being available in multiple colours.
I didn’t order one of the more neutral shades which I would wear all the time, instead I waited for a metal matte as the formula would have to vary -even if only slightly- given it’s black and metallic. Now I’ve finished ranting about Kylie Cosmetic’s brand ethics, I’ll review this product honestly on it’s own merit.
I do own several ColourPop neutrals which I’ll review fully at some point but generally I would say that when it comes to neutral mattes unless you really want a lipstick with the word Kylie on it, save your money and get a ColourPop liquid lip instead.
This week Kylie is launching new colours and saying goodbye to the short runs, by fully stocking her store. I hope that this marks the start of a more transparent way of trading, but we’ll have to wait and see.