REM Beauty by Ariana Grande review
What's worth buying from Ariana Grande's beauty line?
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Much of the world is dazzled by singer-actress-entrepreneur Ariana Grande. And I get it—her songs are infectious, and she has the bubbly personality and gorgeous looks. Along with millions of others, I’ve followed along and often supported much of her work, from her six beloved albums to her stints on TV and in movies. So when Grande launched a cosmetics line, R.E.M. Beauty, I listened up. And, as Reviewed’s beauty editor, it’s my job to see if it’s any good.
What is R.E.M. Beauty by Ariana Grande?
The line’s name correlates to our sleep cycles, with the rapid eye movement (or R.E.M.) cycle being “the phase of sleep during which your most creative, limitless, and vivid dreams occur,” as the brand site states. But also, it’s a callback to Grande’s song, “R.E.M.” from her 2018 album titled Sweetener, in which she sings about not wanting to wake up from her dream-like romance. Now, the beauty brand, which launched in 2021, aims to “empower you with the tools you need to bring your most vivid, limitless, and creative dreams to life.”
The line, available at Ulta Beauty, comprises products for the eyes, lips, and face, including powder and liquid eyeshadows, lip glosses and lipsticks, liquid and pencil eyeliners, and highlighters. R.E.M. sent me several items to test and I used each on their own or together to create both bold and subdued makeup looks. After spending a few months testing, these are my thoughts on the items, ranked from best to worst—though I have to admit, there isn’t one in the bunch that I plan to spend my own money on.
1. Midnight Shadows Eyeshadow Palette
What it claims: These eyeshadow palettes come in three color combos, each of which contains three matte and three shimmer shades. For a palette of six total colors, you’ll pay $24. “Midnight Snack” consists of taupe, blue, and purple hues; “Babydoll” has tan, terracotta, and cocoa shades; and “Principessa” provides gold, copper, and black tones. Each one should offer easy blendability and “vivid color” on the eyes.
What it’s like to use it: I tested the “Babydoll” and “Principessa” palettes, which, between the two, left me with plenty of warm earth tones to mix and match. One one occasion, I used a creamy pink shade from “Babydoll” and a mid-tone brown from “Principessa” to recreate the look Ariana wears in the campaign photos. Otherwise, I used shades from both palettes and blended a warm, light brown into my crease and complemented it with a shimmery gold, bronze, or terracotta shade on the rest of my lid to punch it up. That said, if you only bought one color combo, you'd have enough complementary shades to choose among for creating a variety of looks.
Regardless of the colors I used, the eyeshadows were easy for me to pack onto the lid and blend using makeup brushes from Sephora. I preferred to apply the shimmers with my fingers (a typical practice for me) to prevent from dulling the sheen they can provide. The palm-sized, slim palettes are great for storing and travel, too. If there’s a color combo you think you’ll wear every day (Principessa for me), you’ll be pleased with the travel-friendly packaging.
2. On Your Collar Matte Lipstick
What it claims: This lipstick, which costs $19 a tube, claims to have an “ultra-smooth” formula that’s long-lasting and comfortable on the lips despite its matte finish. It comes in six nude colors: “Tiramisu” (mauve), “Drive-In Movie” (rose), “Wine N Dine” (chestnut), “Roller Skates” (peach-pink), “Bubbly” (pink), and “Twilight” (cocoa).
What it’s like to use it: On Your Collar soared toward the top of my list after trying the shades “Drive-In Movie” and “Roller Skates” because they are exactly as described. The formula feels pillowy soft gliding onto the lips and the finish is matte but doesn’t emphasize any dryness—an issue I have with other zero-shine products. The colors appear pigmented, meaning one swipe on each lip is all I need for a transformation. After application, I can still rub my lips together without any pilling or discomfort, also unlike other matte lippies.
The only downside to these, for me, is the overpowering vanilla scent. The actual fragrance is pleasant, but I could do without it, given that it sits right under my nose. Luckily, it dissipates—or I become numb to it—after some wear time and you should only need to reapply it once or twice a day, aside from after eating or drinking.
3. Midnight Shadows Matte Liquid Eyeshadow
What it claims: These matte liquid eyeshadows come in a squat tube with a doe-foot applicator for $16 each. They claim to have a pigmented, waterproof, and crease-resistant formula that gives the skin a smoother appearance. They are available in 10 pink and tan shades ranging from “nude cream” to a “deep brown.”
What it’s like to use it: Any ad for a liquid eyeshadow formula bills it as an easy, one-and-done swipe of color on the lid. But to me, tapping a powder onto my eyes with a finger or brush is easier than swiping on a cream and trying to blend it as it dries. My own bias aside, I thought these were easy to work with, as far as liquid shadows go. The two shades I used, “NVM” (taupe) and “BRB” (mauve), showed up well and felt creamy enough to blend across my eyelid. A single light tap of the doe-foot applicator imparted plenty of formula, especially if I only wanted to place the shade in the outer corner of my eye to add dimension. Using only my fingers to blend, I could diffuse the eyeshadow upward without any fuss to avoid a harsh line on my pale skin where the pigment stopped. These matte shades also worked fine with the powder eyeshadows if I wanted to layer on a color from one of the palettes. If you’re interested in trying liquid eyeshadows, these are a solid choice, but powders will always seem easier to me.
4. Practically Permanent Lip Stain Marker
What it claims: With a weightless feel, the Lip Stain Marker, $16, claims to deposit color onto the lips with a natural-looking finish. It comes in four colors: “Booked N Busy” (mauve wine), “Miss Berry” (cool berry), “Popular” (strawberry pink), and “Full Out” (raspberry red).
What it’s like to use it: This lippie is appropriately named, as it looks—and even smells, if you ask me—like a slim marker and leaves a tint on the lips without a discernible texture or matte or shiny finish. The shade “Booked N Busy” darkened my light pink lips to a subtle plum hue that’s noticeable but not too bold. When applied on bare lips, the formula felt tacky when I rubbed my lips together, but it was more comfortable paired with a lip balm. I like this marker, particularly because it’s low-fuss, but it didn’t “wow” me. But if I’m going to wear something on my lips, I’d prefer a moisturizing formula that conditions my lips while depositing color at the same time.
5. Midnight Shadows Lustrous Liquid Eyeshadow
What it claims: The Lustrous versions of the liquid eyeshadows have the same pigmentation and crease-resistant claims—and the same $16 price—as the matte alternatives, but impart a shimmer finish. The 11 colorful shades range from “Lab Coat” (iridescent white) to “Milky Way” (metallic teal) to “Telescope” (silvery black).
What it’s like to use it: These were not as easy to work with as the matte liquid shadows. I had the shades “Fembot” (iridescent pink-blue), “Comet” (gold), and “Lava” (deep copper). All three shades looked stunning upon initial application, but as I blended them out, the color and shimmer dulled. And while they blended fine with the matte liquid shadows, albeit with the dull outcome, they looked patchy and unwearable if applied over powdery eyeshadows. Ideally, you could use these to add a touch of sparkle to the center of the lid despite the eyeshadow look (and formula) you’re already wearing, but that’s not possible with these. You either need to wear them alone or with the other liquid shadows and even then, you may see a reduction in shimmer and color, particularly with the lighter tones.
6. At The Borderline Eyeliner Marker
What it claims: This $19 liquid eyeliner claims to last for 48 hours with its waterproof, smudge-proof formula. It’s available in one color, “Midnight Black.”
What it’s like to use it: I have a hard-and-fast rule about removing my makeup before I go to bed, so I did not test the 48-hour claim this liner makes, but it didn’t budge at all while I was wearing it and took some rubbing to remove it with my Garnier Micellar Water and a cotton round. Claims aside, I did not like the eyeliner at all. I’m out of practice with liquid eyeliner, but this one did not make picking up the old trick any easier. The tip of the felt liner is too flexible, which caused me to create a much thicker wing than I wanted. When I tried to apply less pressure to prevent the entire tip from pressing into my skin, either no formula came out or it deposited unevenly onto my skin.
What do I like about R.E.M. Beauty?
The outer space theme that threads throughout the branding, including some of the packaging and product names, is playful and fun. I can see how it may come across as gaudy to others and I would agree if the products were bulky or oversized to incorporate the theme, but each item fits well in a vanity or makeup bag and would not cause anyone to glance at you funny if you were to break out your lipstick in public. Together, the visuals and makeup give a whimsical feel to the brand that make it more enticing to me as a consumer.
What do I dislike about R.E.M. Beauty?
Unfortunately, I was not overly impressed by any product I tested from the brand. Sure, I liked some of them and they did what they claimed to, but they didn’t seem innovative or great enough to replace anything else already in my makeup routine. Someone who is a major fan of Grande may disagree with me. But as far as celebrity beauty brands or new makeup launches go, this one didn’t dazzle me.
Should you try R.E.M. Beauty by Ariana Grande?
Whether R.E.M. Beauty is worth it to you depends on your dedication to Ariana Grande. If you just need to restock your lipstick or liquid eyeliner, I don’t think you need to go out of your way for the brand. But if you can sing every word to “Positions” forward and backward, maybe you’ll be happy to just own a piece of the singer’s creative endeavor.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.