Is Primark makeup any good?

Posted on February 13, 2018 under Reviews

Since the last time I lived in the UK, everyone’s favourite ultra-cheap fast fashion retailer Primark has brought out a full makeup range. Previously they carried only tertiary beauty products such as nail files and makeup wipes, but now they have everything from heat tools to nail polish to makeup proper. I know from experience that some Primarks are considerably better than others, so I’m not sure if all of them have the full range – but the one on Argyle Street here in Glasgow has substantial floor space devoted to this section.

At some point I wasn’t going to be able to resist testing out dirt cheap makeup, but I tried really hard not to just buy for the sake of buying. I avoided lipstick entirely, for instance, because I already have too many lipsticks as it is. I’m not saying that I needed everything I bought, but did buy things that I thought I would actually use.

PS… Pro Blending Brush (£2)

This is another one of those knockoff Artis brushes that every brand is bringing out. I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but it was marked down from £5.50 to £2, which I thought was a reasonable price. I really enjoy the other Artis knockoff I have, so this seemed like a pretty sure bet. This one is a lot bigger than my Magic Collection Oval XL brush, which itself has more surface area that your standard foundation brush:

It’s also softer, but less dense. I prefer a pretty dense brush for foundation because I find otherwise the bristles are too floppy to blend efficiently, but this one does a great job. As you would imagine, the size is both an asset and a liability: it blends foundation incredibly quickly, but it’s not great for reaching the nooks and crannies of my face. It works well with more watery foundations as well as thicker formulations. Since I got it in early December, I’ve used it almost every time I put foundation on, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m cool with where my £2 went.

I find that incredibly dense brushes of this nature are hard to clean thoroughly – no matter how many times I go over them and how thoroughly I work shampoo into the bristles, it’s hard to get out all the foundation that’s wormed its way in. That’s the major downside to this entire genre of brushes – but maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

PS… CustomEyes Eyeshadow in Cranberry (£0.60)

Say hi to that random hair that I didn’t notice until I was editing these pictures.

I liked the idea of cheap, no frills shadow pans that you can pop into an empty palette, and this wine shade was very pretty and seasonally appropriate. For some reason there is no indication of the shade name on the outer packaging of this eyeshadow – it’s only there on the back of the pan itself. This eyeshadow is 0.05oz, which at the current conversion rate makes it $21 CAD per oz, as compared to ColourPop ($4 USD for 0.053oz – $95.09 CAD per oz), MAC ($8 CAD for 0.05oz – $160 CAD per oz), and Makeup Geek ($10 USD for 0.064oz – $156.25 per oz).

When I first applied this shadow with a flat brush, I was pretty disappointed – it appeared almost matte, and the colour was quite dull. However, applied with a finger it came to life. I often pretty much always apply shimmery shades with my fingers anyway, so I don’t mind this at all. I find this shade smooth and blendable as well. I can’t speak for the other colours, but this one is definitely worth £0.60.

These swatches will show you how much better this shadow performs when applied with a finger:

L-R: One pass with a brush, built up with a brush, finger swatch

And here’s how it looks on my eyes, using ColourPop Stay Golden in the crease and lower lashline:

PS… Lip Scrub (£3)

When the weather started cooling down in late November, I began to really wish I had a lip scrub, so I was glad to happen upon this. My lips have been especially crusty this winter! I’ve been sporadically mixing my own scrubs out of olive oil and brown sugar, but it’s just more convenient to have a premade one. As lip scrubs go, this one does the job just fine. I feel like loose lip scrubs are pretty much all the same, so I got exactly what I expected out of this. I have to say I do prefer the convenience of the ELF lip scrub, which is packed firm in a lipstick tube. This one tastes really good, though.

Golden Rose Ice Chic Nail Colour in 44 (£2)

I wasn’t actually going to buy any nail polish, but then I saw this muted magenta and decided to take a chance on it. In the bottle, it looked how I wanted Essie Bahama Mama to be on my nails. It requires two coats for opacity (it’s super streaky with just one coat) and ends up a deep purple, definitely not a magenta.

With my Sally Hansen Miracle Gel tip coat, I got well over a week with minimal chipping. Here’s how it looked on day ten:

It appears truer to colour here thanks to the sunlight – but in most lighting it was much darker.

One of the brush hairs wasn’t trimmed properly, which causes it to deposit colour where I don’t want any. This is the type of bizarre defect I would expect from Primark nail polish. Otherwise I think this is a fine product. I’d buy more if they had any colours that interested me.

A bit out of focus, but hopefully you can see that annoying little brush hair.

PS… My Perfect Colour Liquid Concealer in Nude Beige (£2)

I actually needed a new undereye concealer, so when I saw this I thought it was a worthy risk. My Primark doesn’t provide testers for this particular product, but luckily a herd of bipedal mammals had helpfully created their own. Unluckily, I had to dig pretty hard to find an unspoiled one. I have never been Nude Beige in anything in my life, but it turns out this works really well colour-wise under my eyes. It’s a hair darker than my actual skin, but the tone helps conceal undereye circles. I wouldn’t buy this exact shade again, but I can make it work.

This is a light-medium coverage with a creamy, blendable texture and a natural finish. It does crease a bit under the eyes if not set with powder, but most concealers do. I’m shocked that I like this as much as I do, to be honest, but it works better under my eyes than NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Maybelline Age Rewind. (To be fair, I really never got on with RCC – I’m sure most people would feel differently.)

No concealer on the left, concealer on the right

PS… Get Lippy Glitter Collection in Heaven Sent (£3)

Yes. I bought a glitter lip kit. This is ridiculous and arguably skirts the line of “things I will actually use”. But for £3… come on. How could I not? The kit comes with a lip liner, a “lip vinyl” (a very sticky, opaque gloss), and a pot of chunky glitter. I want to say they had a gold kit as well, but I went for this light, cool pink for some unknown reason.

Spoiler alert: I hate this! First of all, it’s a bad colour on me, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. I mean, it’s a glitter lip kit, I’m obviously wearing it to make a statement, and the statement doesn’t have to be “looking pretty”. I bought it basically thinking I could wear it to drag shows and the random nights out I have with my friends where we put on wild makeup for the purposes of sitting in a private karaoke room and screaming “Not Ready To Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks until we’re hoarse. However, the other problem is that this glitter is so large that it actually hurts to wear. I’ve never worn regular-sized cosmetic glitter on my lips, but I imagine that it feels like sand. Which is probably not comfortable but also probably not painful. This stuff though… it was like having five hundred tiny pieces of glass digging into my lips. So after I documented it, I promptly removed it (which was a hassle, because that shit really does stick) and put on a sensible pink Matte Shaker* instead.

I also promptly removed the lashes and replaced them with a half strip.

There’s really not much glitter in the pot so if you were to buy this and use it semi-regularly you could conceivably use it up and be left with a lip liner and lip gloss. However, I don’t see that actually happening because it is so damn uncomfortable to wear. Also, the lip vinyl feels very thick and uncomfortable. The lip liner’s pretty nice, but it’s not a colour I’ll ever wear. So, 0/3 here. Oh well. It was £3, you know?

And that is that! We had one obvious dud in the bunch, but I actually use all of the other stuff. Not bad for a haul costing a monumental £10.60. If you’re in the UK (or visiting!) I would definitely recommend popping into your local Primark to check out the makeup section – it’s surprisingly good!

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