Photo:Courtesy of Valentino Beauty
New makeup brand launches can feel exhausting these days, but sometimes there are exceptions. Especially when it comes to the legendary Italian fashion house Valentino. Even the most jaded beauty fan has to be a little bit curious. Valentino is the latest luxury fashion label to enter the cosmetics market, following the debut of Gucci Beauty and Hermès in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Sometimes a brand debut means playing it safe, with only a few products being released at first. But Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli did not come to play. The brand went full steam ahead, launching products in practically every category, including a 40-shade foundation offering (pretty much a requirement these days) and products with unique features (a double-ended eyeliner). And to ensure a truly inclusive shade range, Valentino did its homework, surveying 5,000 women across every continent.
Piccioli spoke about the evolution of the brand in press materials distributed with the cosmetics launch. “The work we are doing in Valentino is guided by the values we trust in, we moved from an aesthetic built on exclusivity to an inclusive one, we grew from a two-dimensional vision of beauty to a three dimensional one, where emotions, dreams, and individuality are as important, if not more, as any other feature,” said Piccioli. The makeup is encased in red and gold packaging, a nod to Valentino’s signature style, while the assortment itself has everything you need to create a classic beauty look, and then some. To show how limitless and versatile the products can be with a little imagination, Piccioli enlisted Valentino global makeup artist Raoul Alejandre to invent a variety of expressive looks, from otherworldly graphic liner to statement lips.
Photo:Courtesy of Valentino Beauty
The line seems to have it all, but would it appease yours truly? I decided to test the entire collection (almost) to find out. Read ahead for my honest opinion..and see which product just might be my new holy grail.
As you can probably guess from the product name alone, this is not your typical face primer. Not only does it act as a base, it can be worn alone or over makeup as highlighter. It definitely helps with that “lit-from-within” glow that we all strive for. And since it contains hyaluronic acid, it also doubles as a moisturizer, which I love. V-lighter comes in two shades, which correlate to your complexion and undertone. (I used Rosa, which is for lighter complexions.) I also applied a little bit on the high points of my face and thought it was lovely. Love this versatility!
First and foremost, a foundation disclaimer: I’m someone who typically goes for full coverage when it comes to base. I used to joke that I wanted to “look like a mannequin,” preferring a more matte complexion over the dewy look many of my colleagues and fellow makeup lovers go for. (This stems from my love of retro/pinup makeup which tends to be more matte.) However, not wearing much foundation the past year has made me feel more experimental lately, and a semi-matte like Valentino’s seems like the perfect compromise. Because it can be difficult to find the right shade without getting matched in person, the one I got (LN1) was a little bit more olive than my skin tone. But it was close; I’m probably one to two shades away from my perfect match. Going on, the foundation felt lightweight and provided the right amount of coverage without being heavy. It also held up pretty well over several hours in my hot apartment, but I definitely need to test it on a day out of the house. Overall, I really like the foundation and can see myself wearing it often. It also contains SPF 26 which is always a plus.
I wasn’t sent the Valentino Go-Clutch powder so I used Fenty's Invisimatte Blotting Powder ($32) to set my base. But I am curious about it, as it is a matte finishing powder compact and a mini lipstick connected to a gold chain, so you can wear it as a purse. (As someone who still thinks about the bottle water and cell phone purses from Clueless, this speaks to me).
This one tricked me. I thought it was a quad eye shadow at first but you flip the top quad and there’s another one underneath, which is like the makeup version of a hidden door bookcase. There are eight shades total, in matte, satin, and shimmery finishes. When in Roma, which is the only option currently available, has all the basic shades you need to go from day to night, such as neutrals, black, and gold and silver shimmers. I immediately noticed that the shadows were of good quality; there wasn’t any fall out in the compact (my pet peeve), and they were pigmented and easily buildable.
Oftentimes with glitter pot eye shadow, it gets messy instantly, with annoying fallout and the pressed pigment already coming loose. This wasn't the case with Dreamdust. It holds together nicely and delivers a rich impact even in a single stroke with your finger. I used the silver shade, but it also comes in gold, emerald, and a grayish denim blue. I’m curious how it looks with the Stick With Me Eye Glitter Primer. It’s impressive alone, so I’d imagine it goes to disco ball level with the glitter primer made for it.
We’re used to the typical brow product that has a spoolie on one end, but this is a three-in-one with two types of brow pencil. I first used the brow brush to comb my brows, which definitely need help. (I haven’t had them professionally waxed or groomed since 2019.) Then, I used the flat tip pencil to fill in the gaps left over from my overzealous waxing of the early 2000s. Lastly, the liquid microliner is helpful for creating tiny, hair-like strokes to mimic microbladed brows. It has everything I need. When I start traveling again, this brow pencil is definitely coming with me.
Out of every makeup product in the world, eyeliner is the one that I’m most critical about because I’ve been doing a cat-eye for almost 20 years. I have tried them all! This one already had me do a double-take (no pun intended), because, like the brow, it was a multifunctional product. It has two liners in one, liquid and gel. Of course, double-ended eyeliner liners are nothing new, Huda Beauty and Nyx Professional Makeup both make similar ones and there are also a few brands that have two-in-one liquid liners with varying tips. This is where I got really excited. It went on so smoothly. I was able to draw my cat-eye with no sign of tugging or dragging. It just went on beautifully, like an Olympic ice skater effortlessly gliding on the ice. It had a similar feel to my current favorite liner of the past two years, Sweet Street Cosmetics Wing Queen.
The formula was heavily pigmented (one of the top longtime eyeliners at Sephora does not have this quality—it has to be the blackest black, IMO!). I was also easily able to build upon my line without going into extreme wing territory. The gel liner end also impressed me. I used it to add some depth to my outside corner (connecting to my wing) as well as a subtle dimension to my lower lash line. The other pencils I usually use tend to make this difficult. It’s hard to control how much to apply to the lower lash line, so I end up looking like Prince and not in a good way. Could this be my new holy-grail eyeliner? I’m in awe!
I have poker-straight lashes, so any time a mascara gives them life without having to use a lash curler is a win for me. Fortunately this was the case with the mascara, just a couple of swipes and my lashes were already looking lifted. I also didn’t notice any smudging or mascara remnants underneath my eye nor on my lid which tends to happen quite often. Bravo!
One of the reasons why I was really excited to try the new line was because I knew there would be some amazing red lipsticks, thanks to Valentino Garavani making it the label’s signature hue so many decades ago. The brand did not disappoint—out of 50 lipsticks, there are a total of 18 red shades, all suited for a variety of skin tones, and in satin and matte finishes. I’m feeling like a kid in a candy store! Another thing I appreciate about the lipstick is its sustainable aspect as a number of the shades are available as refills. While this was a fairly common feature for cosmetics back in the day, it’s being adopted more by modern brands in an effort to be eco-conscious. Obviously a good thing! I noticed that the tube kept popping out of the case, causing the lipstick to get smudged, so just make sure the tube is always intact.
This little glitter pot is a great way to add pizzazz to your existing lipstick look. I found it easy to apply and it looked great. It was also super light, I couldn't notice it or feel it at all. You can also use it on your cheeks, but I’ll probably end up using it for lips only.
My Final Look: Two Ways
All in all, I’m super impressed with the Valentino makeup line. I do have to warn anyone who is sensitive to fragrances in cosmetics, as both the foundation and primer have a pretty intense, floraly, sweet smell. I can be sensitive to scents, but this didn’t bother me. (I think I got used to it pretty quickly after application.) That eyeliner, though (marry me).