Brand Breakdown: Illamasqua

IllamasquaIt was hard to choose which brand to look at first in an in-depth way because there are so many great ones, but I have chosen Illamasqua a)because it’s new, and b) because it’s ace.

It’s a UK brand (the first UK beauty brand to launch in 16 years!) that launched in November in Selfridges in London and has done so well that this week alone they have opened counters in Dublin, Newcastle and Glasgow. The next move is to open in the US, but until then our American cousins can buy from their internet site, (as of today!) at

One of the things I love about it is that it’s such an extensive range – 842 products, to be exact. The pigmentation is quite frankly unrivalled as the products have the heft of a theatrical product but amazing blendability – plus the color selection is extraordinary. If you are a fan of a MAC, you seriously need to check out Illamasqua. To my mind it’s what MAC used to be back in the day before when they first started – remember those rugby scrums on counter to get a Spice lipliner? Good times!

The line itself has been designed to go as far as you want to go with it. It has quite a gothic, sub-culture bent which lends itself to extreme makeup, so you know whatever you’re looking for you will find. The creative director is the amazing makeup artist Alex Box and she brings to the line her painterly approach and unique editorial eye. Alongside her work with Illamasqua  she can be found shooting magazines like Vogue, W and Visionaire with photographers like Karl Lagerfeld and Nick Knight, and doing shows for Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen, so she really knows what she is doing!

Her sensibility comes clearly through the line in her extensive use of color and the rich pigmentation. They have fabulous eyeshadows (and if you’re a bright eyeshadow fan, is this the place for YOU!), great blushes, amazing lashes, a nailpolish range designed by manicurist to the stars, Glenis Baptiste that will seriously rock your socks off, and matte lipsticks that are both creamy and dense, plus they come (apart from the normal stuff like red, pink, orange etc), in black, white, gold and silver. Makeup happiness found here!

The star product from their new Sirens collection for me would have to be the Liquid Gold, a shimmering gold crème. What I like about it is that it’s not too yellow, it’s more of a burnished color – none of that nasty Goldmember business!

illamasquarangeThe foundations and powders I have yet to try but what I do love about them is that the foundation comes in 21 shades from purest white to almost black, and I do love a line that recognizes that not everybody is the colour of a melted Barbie doll and has something for everyone.

The coverage on the foundations and powders is definitely on the fuller side as the range was designed to be a night-time, going out range. My style is generally more about seeing the texture of the skin, but when you are doing a very full makeup it is necessary since the style of Illamasqua makeup is almost reconstructive. It’s not about enhancing your natural prettiness as much as it is about creating a brand new face – whatever that fantasy face might be! For editorial work though the Rich Liquid foundation has better coverage than MAC Full Coverage foundation, and the Light Liquid is like a heavier version of MAC’s Face and Body (which I love). And a lot of the color products (like eyshadow, blush and lipstick) are matte, which is wonderful as you can always add shimmer but you can’t take it away. They do lovely shimmer pigments and creams which can be added to any of the makeup (including nailpolishes), but it’s nice to have a range that wasn’t designed with a disco ball in mind.

Basically it’s pretty much makeup nirvana!