I Don't Take Chances With Makeup—This Celeb-Loved Pencil Ensures I Never Mess Up
Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. The Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market's most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations.
The majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors' honest, ultra-hot takes on entire product categories or multiple products from a particular beauty brand, but every so often, we'll sprinkle in a special single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can't shut up about. This time around, I'm highlighting the Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencil ($22).
I've never understood one-size-fits-all. I do not understand how one piece of clothing can fit every single body type. It's just not possible. I feel similarly about multiuse makeup products. While I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely love them (I'm a self-proclaimed lazy makeup wearer, after all), I have a hard time believing that one product can work on multiple areas of my face and look good. Maybe that's what makes me a good beauty director: I'm constantly questioning claims and then admitting when I've been proven wrong. Such is the case with Make Up Forever's Artist Color Pencil ($22).
I'm not adventurous with my makeup at all, but this is the most unfuckupable product I own. (That's probably why it's so beloved by so many celebrities, too.) I was really skeptical at first because the brand claims this pencil can be used on your lips, brows, eyes, and face. A pencil that I can use to fill my brows and line my lips? I think you can understand my suspicion. I do love a versatile product (I did just wax poetic about the Merit Flush Balm) that I can rely on to create a full face, but they're hard to come by.
The Artist Color Pencil comes in 19 versatile shades, and it's really impossible to pick a favorite. (Editors note: Shades tend to sell out quickly, so inventory varies greatly across retailers.*) There are the standard black and white options, but then there's Either Cherry, a delicious red-pink; Full Red is a true classic; Endless Plum is a rich purple; Limitless Brown reminds me of dark chocolate; Total Taupe is a golden taupe; Universal Earth is a warm, cozy brown; Versatile Chestnut is a warm, rosy brown that looks less pink IRL; Dimensional Dark Brown is a deep espresso; Anywhere Caffeine is a warm caramel-nude; Endless Cacao is a cool taupe-brown; Wherever Walnut is a warm rose-brown; and Full Scale Rust is a soft, peachy brown. I'm telling you there isn't a bad option.
*Swatches only include shades that were available and in stock.
This pencil takes the fear out of using color on any part of my face. Some of the shades are actually that versatile and can totally be used on brows, lips, and lids. It works like any other traditional pencil, and depending on where you apply it, you can blend it with your fingers or a brush. It really comes down to personal preference and the look you're creating. As much as I love a monochromatic look, with these, I like using multiple colors to add depth.
Right now, I'm especially focused on different lip combos. I love Wherever Walnut on its own, but I accidentally mixed Either Cherry and Endless Plum together and was impressed with the result. I'm also really into Anywhere Caffeine—it's this perfect, warm caramel-nude. I've used it on my brows and lips, but I especially love it washed over my lids with Endless Cacao as an eyeliner. The combo makes my eyes look warm and inviting.
What I love most about the pencil is how pigmented and user-friendly it is. It works like a traditional pencil, but the coated pigments in the formula give it an edge. It can easily be blended (without losing any color) and doesn't fade over time. Plus, it's made with wood for easy and precise application.
The inspiration behind the pencil: "The inspiration goes back to who we are as a brand. The pencil was designed with the pro artist in mind by creating a color product that was compact enough to fit in the most minimized makeup kit and could do more than just one task. Because of this mindset, when developing the product, it became a huge sensation for everyone, not just pro artists, because at the end of the day, who doesn't want to purchase one product that can do more than just one thing?"
Who was it created for: "While the pro artist was the inspiration, it was created for everyone! It takes the fear out of using color on any part of the face because of its simplicity and how user-friendly it is."
What makes it unique: "The pencil is a matte formula that comes in an assortment of highly pigmented colors. While it works like a traditional pencil, there's nothing traditional about the formula. The versatility it provides because of its matte finish is comparable to no other pencil. It wears well, can be blended without losing color intensity, and doesn't fade due to the coated pigments used in the formula, making this pencil one of the most successful hero products at Make Up For Ever."
What shade to try: "Versatile Chestnut is the ultimate desert island pencil to have. It's the perfect warm brown shade that can be used in so many ways. It can be used as a lip liner, lip color, blush, etc. Plus, it works on almost all skin tones!"
Under-the-radar application tips: "A great tip that many people might not know is using the pencil in a shade like Total Taupe, Limitless Brown, or Dimensional Dark Brown for a quick contour application. It's much easier to use the pencil for proper placement and then blend it out after with your fingers. Another great tip is to use shades like Wherever Walnut, Full Scale Rust, or Free Burgundy as blush."
SHOP ALL MAKE UP FOREVER ARTIST COLOR PENCILS