Friday, 10 June 2011

Spotlight on: Illamasqua

I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts focussing on specific make-up companies/brands. Each post will give a little bit of background on the company, products they’re well known for and products I personally recommend. I’ll also mention products I wouldn’t really advise parting with your money for and any other snippets of info I think you might want to know. I’ll be covering well known mainstream brands as well as drugstore gems and indie companies. First up, Illamasqua!

Illamasqua are a London based brand who first hit the scene in November 2008. In less than three years, they’ve made a pretty big impact on the industry with many of their products finding their way into the favourite lists of make-up artists, bloggers and consumers the world over. The Illamasqua motto is “make-up for your alter ego” and the company strives to create professional quality, high performance products for anybody who wishes to express themselves through the medium of make-up. Because of this ethos of creativity and self-expression, Illamasqua have created a range of innovative products in an array of daring colours.
As someone who loosely identifies as “alternative”, the Illamasqua philosophy really appeals to me, and I have become a big fan of many of their products. I find it refreshing that a company exists who understands that not all beauty enthusiasts are looking to mimic the looks of Kim Kardashian or Cheryl Cole or whoever else is deemed beautiful at the moment. I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with taking inspiration from these women, I’m just trying to get across that not everyone is attracted to that aesthetic, yet make-up companies have traditionally opted to shy away from this market. Do you want navy blue lipstick? Or maybe a full coverage pure white foundation? Illamasqua have got your back. Yes, there are indie companies out there that appeal to those of us with more adventurous taste in make-up, but in a mainstream, high-end brand, this was practically unheard of. Until now. If you haven’t already, I urge you to take a look at some of Illamasqua’s breath-taking promotional imagery. Their commitment to a creative, artistic expression of beauty is excellently reflected in the promo images, and it is easy to see why MUA Alex Box is held in such high regard within the field.
Neither finished products nor ingredients are tested on animals, and Illamasqua’s entire brush range uses synthetic hair.
Illamasqua offer a vast range of shades in two liquid formulas (rich and light) as well as cream and powder variations. From pure white to rich, dark skin with reddish undertones, there is a product to create the base you’re looking for. There is even a new product in the works inspired by Asian BB creams, called Skin Base Foundation.
Foundations retail at £21.50 and Skin Base Foundation will set you back £25.
Cream and powder blusher
Illamasqua cheek products are recognised as being some of the most insanely pigmented cheek products on the market. They apply smoothly and a little goes a very long way. All the powder blushers are matte finish, so they’re great for people who don’t like shimmer or sparkle. Cream blushers in “Rude” and “Dixie” have become cult favourites.
Blushers retail at £16.50
Intense lipgloss
Illamasqua offer two formulas of lipgloss- intense and sheer. Both formulas are beautiful, but the intense glosses provide the pigmentation and coverage of a lipstick, in lipgloss form. Yet again, Illamasqua have gone out of their way to offer exciting and unusual colours, including sky blue, lime green and pure black.
Multi-use products
Liquid metals – these are a metallic cream product which can be used on eyes, lips, face and body. Check out the molten silver shade, “surge”.
Medium pencils – these are creamy pencils which can be used on eyes or lips. Once again, Illamasqua gives you access to a variety of colours from nudes and natural shades to canary yellow and pillar box red.
Cream pigment – as part of the Toxic Nature collection, Illamasqua released a selection of cream based, matte finish pigments. From what I gather, these take a little bit of practice to master, but the results are well worth it.

Gleam cream
This is a bit like MAC’s strobe cream, only in my opinion, better. This lightweight cream illuminator is perfect for mixing with foundation to achieve a radiant glow. I absolutely love this stuff! It’s a pretty, iridescent pink shade that looks great as a cheek highlight or even above your cupid’s bow. It’s not cheap, at £23, but it’s currently 30% off so grab it while you can!

Powder blusher
I won’t harp on about these as I’ve already covered them above, but I will say that Ilamasqua’s blushers are my favourite on the market at the moment. They are pricier than MAC, for example, but you need to use such a small amount at a time that I really feel they’re worth it.

Nail polish
Great colour choice, fantastic formula and comes in several finishes. If you like purple, check out the shade “JoMina”.

I am well aware that I sound like a broken record, BUT yet again, great colour range and amazing formula.
Powder eyeshadow
Admittedly, I last bought Illamasqua eyeshadow over a year ago so it may have been reformulated, but I didn’t like it one bit. Very chalky finish and not very pigmented. This made me very sad because there are some interesting shades, they just don’t live up to the standard I expect from a product that costs £15.50 for 2g.
Powder foundation
The colour match was great but the formula was pants. It had next to no coverage and felt quite chalky. If you want a powder foundation with good coverage I suggest MAC studio fix powder plus foundation.
Sealing gel
This is not a bad product, actually far from it. It’s basically a mixing medium which you can use to turn a powder product into a long-wearing paste. It does the job very well, BUT it’s pretty expensive for a mixing medium. Sealing gel will cost you £10.50 for two 6ml bottles. Beauty from the Earth’s Mix and Fix retails at approximately £4.86 (give or take the exchange rate) and you get approximately 29.5 mls. I suck at maths, but even I can see the better deal.
Illamasqua offer an excellent pro discount. It is completely free to apply, and working MUA’s receive a 40% discount online and at the flagship store on Beak Street, London.
In the spirit of self-expression and alternative beauty, Illamasqua are proud supporters of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. In 2007, Sophie Lancaster was brutally kicked to death for no reason other than she dressed differently. The foundation was established to educate people on difference and create a better understanding and acceptance of alternative subcultures. The acronym S.O.P.H.I.E literally stands for – Stamp Out Prejudice Hate and Intolerance Everywhere. This is a charity very close to my heart, and Sophie’s brave mum Sylvia works tirelessly to ensure that Sophie’s legacy lives on. If you purchase a Sophie medium pencil, £3 is donated to the charity. You can also purchase a wristband or make a donation through the Illamasqua website.
Where to buy OR go to to locate your nearest retailer.
In summary
Yes, Illamasqua is a bit pricey but I honestly believe that most of their products are worth the investment. The philosophy behind the brand is great and I love that they support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. In my opinion, Illamasqua have picked up the slack left by MAC when they stopped appealing to the “edgier” end of the market. I can see a great future for Illamasqua, I just hope that they maintain their position as an alternative to more mainstream beauty.


  1. I've still not tried Illamasqua!I was very tempted by thier eyeshadows from the look of them online but then I found out that Kryolan manufacture them (or at least, the same people make both) so never bothered swatching them . Love the look fo that red blusher!

  2. I do really love Illamasqua - I was aware of the Kryolan thing but *most* of the products I've tried have been a really high standard.

  3. I'm an Illamasqua admirer from afar...I don't earn anywhere near enough to buy their products! Great post tho, really feel I know a lot more about them! Fab reccommendations too, thanks! Xxx