My Charlotte Tilbury Haul: Is it really worth the hype and price?

I recently went to Amsterdam and promptly freaked out when I realized that the city had a Charlotte Tilbury at de Bijenkorf Mall. I had long been a fan of the brand, especially when famed makeup artist and former Tom Ford Beauty director Charlotte Tilbury talks about her products with such passion. The video tutorials and general hype towards the makeup just added fuel to the fire.

So I got four famous products: the Hollywood Flawless Filter, Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder, Lip Cheat, and Matte Revolution Lipstick and put them to the test, which might help you to decide to try when they inevitably arrive to the country (although this is more of a rumor than confirmation, wink wink). Before I get into the reviews, I can firmly say that I’ve regretted my Tom Ford purchases since the Charlotte Tilbury products were of the same caliber at a lower price. But I digress…

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 Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter ($44 for 30ml)

This is possibly my favorite purchase out of the four, and I reaaaaaaally like all of the things I got. The Flawless Filter is a combination of a glow, cover, and priming product. You can use it as any one of those three as well. You can blend it over foundation as your liquid highlighter, or you can use it as a really (really) light skin tint, or you can use it under foundation to achieve an all-over glow. Ms. Tilbury says it’s like Photoshop (hence the ‘Filter’ in the title) but I don’t find that it blurs pores or anything like that.

Still, it’s an incredibly unique and versatile product that works well as intended. I got the shade 5 Tan, which is the second to the last shade, and found it to be a good match, although the distribution of light to dark in the shade range is skewed to lighter skin tones. Number 4 was already too light for me and can make the skin look ashy. Lesson: make sure to swatch and blend (or stalk your shade twins) before purchasing.

As a glow product (and you know your girl loves glow), it gives you such a healthy gloss that you can see in daylight without the chunks of powdered shine or glitter. Since I don’t oil up on the cheekbones nor touch them (unlike my chin), I find that it lasts 6 to 8 hours without setting with powder. Layering a powder highlight works too, but unless those are as sophisticated as the Flawless Filter, the point is lost. Hourglass, Essence, Tom Ford, and The Balm work well for this purpose. I find that the best way to blend it in is with fingers (through patting, not swiping) if you want its full power. If you like a sophisticated gloss (not shine or sheen or glitter), you might enjoy this one.

As a cover product, the Filter offers minimal coverage. I was skeptical to use it this way at first, since I thought the glow would emphasize my bad texture. I was pleasantly surprised that it still looked natural enough and definitely not disco-ball-looking! Honestly, this is what I wanted the Glossier Skin Tint to be — a deposit of sheer coverage and enhancement of overall skin texture. Really work it into the skin with fingers to get a skin-like finish (and to lessen product waste). It also works well as a foundation mixer, and compared to moisturizers, it does the job of making the finish glowier without taking coverage away.

Taken with flash to show the glow. But I have sunscreen on, hence the flashback!

Taken with flash to show the glow. But I have sunscreen on, hence the flashback!

As a priming product, it also shines - literally and figuratively. When diffused all over and layered under foundation, you can achieve the often coveted glow-from-within. You can fake health and happiness, pretty much! Even when layered, it doesn’t look or feel heavy, which earns it some plus points.

For comparison, I’ve also tried mixing liquid highlighters with concealers to try to replicate this effect but to no avail, but I suppose it’s a good exercise if you want to achieve something similar.

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Overall, I would recommend this as the first thing to get from the brand. No one else has been able to replicate it in the product category, and it’s of actual good quality that’s worthy of the hefty price tag. The one thing that might shoo you away from it is the doe foot applicator, which is less hygienic than a tube applicator. Oh well, I guess I’m not sharing this with anyone!

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Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder ($45 for 8g)

Pressed powders really scare me, okay? When done wrong, the hard work you’ve put into creating a smooth base will all have been for naught. Compared to loose powders, the propensity for a cake-y base is higher when I use pressed powders so when I read the reviews of the Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder, I was intrigued. It’s been touted as smoothing, pore blurring, and never cake-y despite the layering. And you know what? It’s true. The powder is very finely-milled and doesn’t really add coverage — it just improves certain textures like shine and appearance of pores. Other pressed powders, whether high end or not, will not do the same.

I got the shade 2 Medium and it’s a good match for my medium-dark skin. It doesn’t make my foundation look ashy or too white, and it’s also invisible in flash photography. I’ve tried using both a light dusting as well as trying a heavy layering, and the skin still ends up looking smooth, calm, and just fresh.

A light dusting (after tapping away the excess powder) results in an almost invisible coverage that fares well on dry skin (tested in Amsterdam when it was cold and the face needed minimal setting). With this amount, glow products can still be seen, albeit toned down.

What the powder looks like with a heavier loading of the brush

What the powder looks like with a heavier loading of the brush

Heavier layering or loading up a brush without tapping off the excess results in a flatter finish and longer setting time. When I got back home, my skin became oilier. The chin, forehead, and sides of the nose had the least budging even after 8 hours. The nose area still oiled up a lot but not to the point that the foundation underneath disappears. There was definitely some movement, especially if I accidentally touched or rubbed powdered areas.

This all makes sense because the powder is made for “finishing,” which is to say it fixes the texture, rather than setting to improve makeup longevity. With my Laura Mercier or Banila Co. loose powders, the oily nose problem isn’t such a bother. I also wish that the component came with a brush or a sponge so I can re-powder through the day, since it’s not as “strong” as setting powders.

Still, I’m very pleasantly surprised by the Powder’s ability to layer and “perfect” the skin without the dreaded caking. It also doesn’t ruin the textures below as some powders are wont to do, and it doesn’t take away coverage either. The luxury pricing walks the talk!

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk ($22 for 1.2g)

I went back to the store to get this because I swooned over the Filter and the Lipstick I had purchased the previous day. This liner is famous for being The Nude Lip Liner To Get if you want gorgeous pillow-y lips. Lip Cheat supposedly enables lip-shaping but since my lips are already full, I can’t report on that. I find that it stays put best on the lip line and survives eating and drinking in that area.

Lip Cheat looks matte and powdery but feels lightweight

Lip Cheat looks matte and powdery but feels lightweight

Lip Cheat enables the lip color over it to fade more evenly than without. It’s not going to stay put forever, but it’s not going to dry out your lips or emphasize crusty lines. I do like the shade and it doesn’t wash me out (my skin tone is an NC40-42 and Fenty 300).

I suppose that most of the appeal is due to its legendary status. It truly is a luxury purchase as the shade and performance is not that special. If you’re a lip product collector, this is not a bad addition to your list but there are more budget-friendly lip liner options that work just as well.

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 Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk ($34 for 3.5g)

I bought it for the same reason as the lip liner, and was not disappointed! It’s matte without being horribly flaky and drying, and applies like butter. You can get full opacity in one swipe, too. However, it won’t last a meal or drink, so reapplication is a must. But with a component as pretty as this, reapplication is not a problem. Maybe I want you to see the gorgeous tube.

I do realize that I like it so much because it reminded me of my favorite lipstick, the Marc Jacobs Beauty New Nudes Sheer Lip Gel in Role Play, and when I swatched them at home, I found that they were dupes! CT lasts longer since it’s matte but the shade match is spot on.

I swatched some more and found other similar products, so if you’re just looking for the Pillow Talk color, then cheaper alternatives do exist. If the luxury of it excites you, however, then you won’t be disappointed.

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Overall, I’m very satisfied with my haul and am eager to try more! I’m actually pretty stoked that the products are of good quality and hits the right aesthetic spots for me.

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I really hope Charlotte Tilbury comes to the country soon as they serve as a great, more affordable alternative to the likes of Tom Ford, Dior, and Chanel.

What are you jonesing to try? Let’s discuss.