This new makeup brand will make you rethink what local cosmetics can be

Here's an open secret: very few local brands make their cosmetics here in the Philippines. Just check the label or the box - it's there. The truth is that it's more expensive to make makeup here compared to Taiwan, China, Thailand, even South Korea. The quality is unfortunately not so good, too, because we only have limited machinery and skilled work here. The Philippines makes great skincare (which is why I am able to develop In Her Element), but it's still not a manufacturing hotspot when it comes to cosmetics.

Enter Slay Colors, the newest local cosmetics brand in the market. The first collection features 10 lip colors in striking shades, all retailing for P599 for 4 grams at their online store. The brand has no physical retail locations yet but they do plan to have some in the future.

What's interesting and unexpected about Slay is that the lipsticks are made in the Philippines. The component (packaging) and some ingredients may be sourced abroad, but the lipsticks are manufactured here! I didn't catch on to it until they told me. From the sleek bullet to the creamy, uber pigmented colors, it feels like something from a premium brand.

The tube itself has a good heft; it doesn't click in place, it actually screws in to further seal in and preserve the lipstick formula. The look and feel remind me of Make Up For Ever lipsticks (though MUFE lipsticks feature a magnetic closure).

The lipsticks have matte or creme finishes. Even so, they glide on nicely and evenly. Dark colors like Sappho and Catherine, usually patchy in the center because of the type of pigment used, go on smoothly. Light colors like Cleopatra and Razia are completely opaque, too!

I did the swatches in a Facebook live video so you can see how each shade applies. Most of them, especially the mid-tone shades, are solid in one layer. The formula is creamy and smooth so it glides on easily. Well, save for one color. I don't recall if the formula is really like this from the start or if I may have forgotten to cap it properly, but Cleopatra is patchy, hard, and it pills right on the surface of both the lips and the lipstick bullet. Everything else is fine.

Staying power is good at about 4-5 hours with no eating or drinking. The colors will fade in the center after a meal. These are not transfer-proof, but I have not yet tried a bullet lipstick that's transfer-proof. You're looking at the wrong formula if you want zero transfer - try liquid lipsticks, instead.

Anyway, I swatched all ten shades and here are my color notes! Most shades are suitable for all skin tones, so it really comes down to the look you're gunning for. Please do note that these are less satin-y in person. My extra bright lighting just reflects on my lips.

  • Cleopatra is a peachy nude. I find it has too much white in it to work for my medium skin tone. The bullet I got was also quite dry and patchy.
  • Razia is a beautiful peachy nude that has a lot more warmth compared to cleopatra. I like it a lot! It's in my top three.
  • Mirabai is a baby pink with way too much white, like Cleopatra. I don't think it's very wearable.
  • Antoinette is a pretty pink MLBB with a brown base. It reminds me of MAC Mehr; it's a bridal shade, if I might say so.
  • Nightingale is another MLBB, but with a hint of berry. This should be especially pretty on deeper skin tones.
  • Catherine is a deeper, more striking mauve in person. Very nice for daring looks!
  • Sappho is as deep as Catherine in person; it's browner, warmer.
  • Holiday is a nice everyday red as it's not too bright.
  • Monroe is a classic retro red. I love it! It's in my top three, as well.
  • Boudica is another retro red, but with a hearty level of hot pink.

Overall, I recommend Slay Colors to those who are looking for highly-pigmented mattes in chic packaging. I'm happy that the brand was able to make great lipsticks locally! My favorites are RaziaNightingale, and Monroe. I'm digging Catherine a lot too, for the gothic vibes. You can get these lipsticks at

What do you think of this new local brand? Which shades are you thinking of trying out?

Product photography by Sam Gonzales