The best high street makeup products


I didn’t expect to enter 2020 without Bourjois, the 156-year‑old French cosmetics house once helmed by the owners of Chanel, then by Coty, the US company that announced in the run-up to Christmas that Bourjois would withdraw from the UK market. I didn’t see it coming, and that’s essentially the problem: we take iconic brands for granted, comforted by their constant but unassuming presence, like the hum of an extractor fan or Huw Edwards. But how often do we buy them? When was the last time you browsed their macaron‑like pastel pots of blusher and shadow, or tried their best-in-category Healthy Mix foundation?

There are a number of reasons why the mid-price, high street makeup brands, such as Revlon, L’Oreal Paris, Rimmel London and Bourjois, are jostling for our attention in the UK: a surge of interest in skincare ingredients; an explosive growth in the market; the rise of very cheap makeup (Revolution, MUA and so on) and the simultaneous boom in high luxury, cult and vegan products. But, as much as I’m instinctively excited and intrigued by cool new brands, I often find the products to be not a patch on their heritage equivalents.

If Rimmel London Jelly Blush (£7.99) cost three times the price, there’d be a stampede for it. This odd but idiot-proof, bouncy-to-the‑touch cheek colour (imagine poking your finger in a jam jar, only without the stickiness) glides on smoothly to give a very pretty, slightly dewy flush. Melon Madness is perfect with a nude lipstick.

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Revlon’s new Colorstay Brow Tint ( £7.99) is truly brilliant. The brush is perfectly shaped and sized to fill in brow gaps naturally, hair by hair, without the maddening ink‑flow problem you get with many brow pens (I’m broadly a fan, but am forever stopping, mid‑stroke, to return them to a vertical position and shake frantically). The ink itself is unmovable – no smudging or fading until you do a substantial cleanse. I’d like more shades though, please.

As for Bourjois, at the time of writing, some stock remains online. If you are bereft without the lauded Healthy Mix foundation, the nearest equivalent – in terms of the thin formula, light coverage and dewy, healthy, hydrated-looking finish – is (the superior, in my view, and racially inclusive) Mac Studio Face and Body Foundation. It seems much pricier at £30 for 120ml, but actually, when you look at the cost per millilitre, is cheaper than Bourjois and its high street stablemates.


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