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The Beauty Counter

I Tried Halsey’s Nonbinary Beauty Brand and Honestly…

Okay, listen. Celebrity skincare and makeup brands are everywhere, and it’s pretty annoying. It’s especially annoying when said celebrities put the bare minimum of effort into what was clearly an afterthought/cash grab situation. 

But you know what? When celebrities get it right, they truly get it right. 

That’s why I’m here to preach the good word of Halsey’s new makeup brand, about-face beauty.

Now when I first came across this brand precisely one week ago, my first response was a loud eye-roll. Really? We needed another celebrity makeup brand? We’ve already got Selena’s Rare Beauty (boring) Rihanna’s Fenty line (good but overpriced, IMO) the Kardashian nude-lip empire, and Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories (basic.) None of these brands do anything especially well or uniquely, with the possible exception of Fenty’s color options for lip products. But the rest? It’s basically overpriced versions of things you could easily find at the drugstore.

But you know what isn’t at all like that? Halsey’s brand. And I’ll tell you why, by explaining some of the top mistakes celebrity skincare brands make and how Halsey avoided them with aplomb. Aplomb!

  1. Most beauty brands don’t provide anything new to the market.

Let’s take the example of Haus Laboratories, for a start. It’s basically a lot of sticky-looking, shimmery boring crap that you put on your eyes, with shades that aren’t very interesting and are covered in glitter. Like, what if you just want all the pigment and none of the glitter? Tough shit. Gaga’s brand is full of basic, boring colors (a fushia lip stain, how groundbreaking) and eyeliner/eyebrow pencils that look exactly like the ones you can buy at Walgreens for $6. I would take Wet n’ Wild over Haus any day of the week. 

about-face is different. Instead of packing the marketplace with more glittery, low-payoff stick shadows, Halsey actually invested in creating formulas for their eyeshadows sticks and paints that really work. The texture of the eye crayon is creamy and doesn’t drag at all, even when you’re drawing a graphic! The color payoff is insane, and everything is MATTE. Did you hear me? Bold, beautiful, unexpected colors like robin’s egg blue, burnt orange, turquoise, canary yellow, and lime green, and they’re all MATTE. You know, for people who actually want to do something more interesting with their makeup than endless “going out” looks? 

It’s still COVID out there, where the hell are we going? Let’s be honest: if you’re looking to get better at makeup, these eye crayons and paints are actually ideal. They’re made for beginners, which would explain the aggressive Gen Z marketing campaign about-face seems to have launched across Instagram (where I happened upon it.) Finally, a brand for young adults that isn’t glittery, messy, and infantilizing. 

@henrygiardina

Halseys makeup brand is actually the shit

♬ You Don’t Own Me (feat. G-Eazy) – SAYGRACE

2. They Launch Too Slow

So you know how the Kardashians are famous for putting out limited stock of their products so that they’ll get sold out and demand will increase? Well they basically set a horrible precedent by doing that, because now every celebrity can be like “hey here’s my beauty brand, sorry it’s literally just a single blush compact and a shitty, opaque lip goo that nobody in their right mind would ever want. Brands slow-release products to increase the hype. But you know who didn’t do that? That’s right: nonbinary icon Halsey. about-face came out with lots of options for lip, eye, cheek, and even merch. And the merch is actually cool, not stupid. It’s young, it’s cool, it’s got a 90s aesthetic like all the kids love, and it’s fun. It doesn’t give you this boring sense of fatigue that you get at yet another nude-and-pink collection. Makeup is so often aggressively gendered, so it’s no wonder that nonbinary King Halsey is trying to correct that pesky problem with these shadows. 

3. The Products are “Eh”

It’s usually not customary to be blown away by the quality of a celebrity brand. While this is certainly changing in recent years as celebrities and influencers grow more educated on what makes a good beauty brand, there’s still a logical gap between brand-as-image and brand-as-product. Usually, you’ll be sold on all the hype and sleek advertising only to end up with yet another shitty wooden eye pencil that breaks off just as you’re drawing the tip of your wing. 

Let me tell you about pigment. Let me tell you about Halsey’s nonbinary mission to make eyeshadow fun again. It’s not just that the products are creamy, spreadable, and high-pigment. They’re actually fun and easy to use. They don’t make you feel like you’re constantly fucking up, and they make your face feel more like a playful canvas on which to explore different color stories and themes, rather than a gross piece of shit you just want to hide by caking on layers of Tati eyeshadow that are destined to fade by the end of the day. 

In short, makeup that doesn’t buy into the highly gendered, “mature” market can be a lot more fun and easy to use. I think Halsey hit the mark here: the products are affordable, they’re marketed toward younger folks, and the formulas are stunningly saturated, spreadable, and easy to play with. 

So yes, the verdict is a 10/10 here, and no I’m absolutely not sorry. Halsey, take all my nonbinary money.*

*And yes, just in case anyone was wondering, I spent my own coint on these products, thank you very much! 

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