Maybelline New York Color Strike Eye Shadow Pen
Available in nationwide mass market retailers in 10 shades for $8.99.
When Maybelline New York started concepting a touchless, mono-shade eye shadow pen over a year ago, the team didn’t see a global pandemic on the horizon. Instead, it hoped to innovate in a category saturated with multishade palettes. “People weren’t using [palettes] and consumers weren’t responding to them,”said Amanda Griffin, vice president of marketing, eye. “We saw an opportunity to focus on a mono-format. Historically, monos were really basic in every sense of the word. There wasn’t a lot of innovation in the market.” So the team perfected a formula with a 12-hour-wear claim, not to mention both a precision brush and smudger for ease of application. “You can achieve really beautiful strokes, really easy lay down with minimal expertise,” Griffin said. While Griffin’s team had a lot of luck on timing (they narrowly avoided any supply chain disruptions), they are also seeing high bounce-back from the eye category overall. “From a performance standpoint, it has been the category that’s been the most resilient in the wake of COVID,” Griffin said.
Westman Atelier Eye Pods
Available in six shades as palettes of three at westman-atelier.com, $88.
As makeup artist Gucci Westman sought to expand her namesake line, Westman Atelier, she wanted to bring her trademark rigor to the product-development process, this time focusing on the eyes. The process took a little longer than usual, but the resulting Eye Pods were worth the wait, said Westman. “I always want to take a benchmark that feels super innovative and exciting in terms of performance and texture, and make that clean,” Westman said. Her goal was to achieve the texture and feel of a silicone-laden product without it. The resulting product uses coconut oil and fatty acids for silkiness and rice extract for a pillowy texture. “It’s makeup you can layer and choose to wear, it’s meant to enhance you and it’s not something too tricky, it’s uncomplicated, chic, performance-driven,” Westman said. The packaging is another point of difference: three miniature pots that stack and click together — “My son was playing with lids from products in our office, and it’s when we came up with the idea,” Westman said — making for both portability and ease of application.
Milk Makeup KUSH Triple Brow Pen
Available in eight shades at milkmakeup.com and Sephora, $22.
Making a brow marker both hydrating and waterproof presents challenges, but for Milk Makeup, keeping the formula as clean as possible to maintain its Clean at Sephora certification added extra hoops to jump through. Building off of its preexisting Kush Brow Gel, the Triple Brow Pen features the same hero ingredient, cannabis seed oil, as its predecessor. “The oil makes it hydrating and not crunchy. We wanted the hydration,” said Dianna Ruth, cofounder and COO at Milk Makeup. Ingredients aren’t the innovation, though: the three-pronged brush is said to achieve the effects of microblading. “We liked the effect of natural-looking hairs and how to mimic hairs,” said Ruth. “We didn’t have something long-wear and hardcore. We wanted to do the triple-applicator to mimic microblading with the intensity of a marker.” The resulting formula is available in eight shades and a little goes a long way, said Ruth. “It’s not your standard brow gel, it takes a little practice to get the right pressure. If you press really hard, you’ll get a lot of ink,” she noted. “You need to have a delicate hand to get your desired effect.”
Huda Beauty Legit Lashes
Available on Hudabeauty.com and Sephora, $27
Huda Kattan is breaking back into eyes. After starting with false lashes in 2013 and expanding, Kattan is launching its first mascara: actually, two. “You’re getting two full-size products in one for maximum effects. It was important to have a custom formula and a custom brush,” a spokesperson for the brand said of the double-ended mascara. “Many consumers were layering mascaras, and Huda didn’t want people to make combinations themselves, she wanted to combine formulas herself.” The brand said the combined result took five years to produce. Execs said it was worth the wait, noting that China is also seeing significant increases in the eye category, which it considers a harbinger of positive post-coronavirus sales.
Too Faced Melted Chocolate Matte Eye Shadow
Available in eight shades on toofaced.com and sephora.com, $21.
Jerrod Blandino, cofounder and chief creative officer of Too Faced, finds liquid eye shadows disappointing. “We were always overpromised and underdelivered,” he said. “The things we loved about liquid eye shadows was that blurred look, but they either creased or oxidized.” After seeing the ombré lip trend take off in east Asia, however, he had the idea of modeling a matte eye shadow after a matte lipstick, including the liquid format. The result — a waterproof formula with a 24-hour crease-proof claim — meets Blandino’s standards. The key was to include a primer for longer wear in eight shades. “We wanted to create a range of skin-centric tones to also be used as a tinted eye shadow base,” Blandino said. “It also gives you freedom to play and layer on top.” Blandino sees the world shifting toward a more monochrome, pared-back aesthetic, shifting away from brighter hues and back toward richer tones. Plus, the eye shadow’s chocolate scent is a clinically proven mood-booster, he said. “We’re going back to a base of neutrality. You don’t need to buy 40 different things, or spend two hours in the mirror. Most of us aren’t even wearing pants anymore.”
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