What took you so long? That's the first question that Topshop's customers might ask when they get their hands on the brand's new make-up, out on 5 May. For a shop that does affordable fashion better than any other, it makes perfect sense to create budget beauty products to match.
Fortunately it's worth the wait, with packaging that's simple but still has personality, and a broad range of on-trend colours and pigment-packed formulations, all for under £12. It's not impossible to find good, cheap make-up; many such products perform just as well as pricier counterparts. However they can feel cheap, whereas Topshop make-up looks more premium, thanks to playfully stylish packaging.
"Our customers want to come into the shop with their last £5 or £10 and be able to buy a piece of new fashion," says Lizzie Dawson, the Topshop designer behind the range. "She might not be able to buy the latest blouse, but she can buy the latest nail colour. It's an affordable way to feel part of the trends." Beauty products are well established as a cheaper treat than a new outfit, but it's only recently that they've become so directional. Chanel polish junkies will be pleased to note that Topshop's Big Smoke varnish is a similar mushroomy grey-brown to Chanel's Particulière, while the light peppermint Gone Fishing is also a bona fide colour of the summer. While there's an undeniable pleasure in coating your talons in a hot shade, there's also a new wave of creativity sweeping through beauty. Looks that are less about achieving a perfect Hepburn-esque sweep of liner, and more about coming over all artistic. It's about playfulness not perfection; invention, not correction. Women who spend hours blending four different shades of eye shadow with a squirrel hair brush need not apply. Get your (clean) fingers in and get creative. According to Topshop make-up artist Hannah Murray, who used the products for the wild woodland-creature look of the autumn/winter Unique show, "You don't really need brushes, the pigments are so amazing. Just apply straight from the crayon/bullet/finger, and you are good to go."
The colour products are the highlight of the range. There's no foundation as such, only a Skin Tint which comes in four colours, and Skin Glow. If the first flush of youth has left your cheeks – or your complexion is about as clear as an ash cloud – look elsewhere for coverage and youth-enhancing ingredients. But for indelible colour that will survive even the hardest partying go for the Bitten Berry Lip and Cheek Tint; it does not budge. Apply at the start of Glastonbury and it will probably still be there at the end.
Festivals have been a key source of inspiration, according to Lizzie Dawson. She came up with the idea of the feather eye- lashes and face decorations of the spring/ summer Trend range after going to the Secret Garden Festival in Cambridgeshire and feeling underdressed because everyone else had decorative masks and headdresses. She and her friends improvised by sticking feathers on their cheeks, and when they received lots of compliments she decided they should recreate the look in the range.
"Festivals are really important for make-up trends," says Dawson. "People don't look to actresses for beauty trends any more, they look to musicians such as Natasha Khan and Florence Welch." Dawson and the team's inspiration also came from travelling the globe and seeking out the hippest looks – such as the shop girls in LA who "have this really cool, grungy look as if they have slept in their eyeliner for two days", and the Harajuku Girls in Tokyo who " really experiment with colour". From the Brits, she was inspired by the return to strong lipstick.
Hannah Murray feels that beauty is in the throes of "an exciting shift to a more grungy, dishevelled beauty, a nod to the Nineties, where cool, sexy lived-in greasy eyes or stained dark mouths ruled". Technological advances in foundation and concealer might mean we can achieve a perfect, flawless finish, but the fun of make-up is in creative experimentation – to hell with the odd panda eye or too-bright lip along the way.
And with affordable products like these, at least mistakes on the road to make-up nirvana won't be too expensive.Reuse content