Following the success of Rihanna’s game-changing makeup brand, Fenty Beauty, everyone has been on the edge of their seats for a skin-care counterpart. Now, one year after filing a trademark for Fenty Skin, the line is dropping — and reviews are already pouring in from the influencers who were lucky enough to get their hands on the three products (cleanser, serum-toner, and moisturizer) first. So, what’s the consensus for a line Rihanna promised would work “on all skin tones, textures, and types?” Short answer: It’s complicated.
One of the first and most-shared reviews on Twitter came from licensed esthetician Tiara Willis, who runs the account @MakeupForWomenOfColor. The skin-care professional says that while she loved the ingredients, packaging, and texture of the products, she claims that her skin reacted to the fruity-floral fragrance included in all the formulations. “Fragrance can cause you to have a reaction now (which happened to me) or it can happen overtime with continued use. I have always been sensitive to fragrance on my face, so the Fenty Skin products broke me out in small red bumps and my face stung,” she tweeted. Willis emphasized that her experience is personal as she has dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin, and despite long supporting Rihanna and Black-owned businesses, she felt a responsibility to share her honest experience with the products.
Other fans with sensitive skin expressed concern over the fragrance, as well as astringents like witch hazel in the serum-toner. “Waking up to the news that all three of the new Fenty products have fragrance AND the toner’s second ingredient is witch hazel is upsetting me,” wrote one Twitter user. YouTuber Keamone F., who tried the products in advance, also expressed some reservations, particularly with the toner: “I love me a hydrating toner, and this is not that,” she says, clarifying that if you’re a fan of witch hazel, then you might prefer it. “I still think we need to have our toner and our serum separate,” she added. The YouTuber did stress that the toner-serum could be a good option as a mattifying primer for makeup.
I also received the products ahead of the launch, and when I tested all of them (and applied them as directed over a few days), I noticed that my own skin started to react with inflamed, red bumps on my cheeks. Like Willis, I have sensitive, acne-prone skin as well as rosacea, and fragrance and astringents are typically an irritant for me. The one product I would keep in my arsenal is the cleanser, which truly lives up to its promise and removes every trace of makeup without stripping my skin dry. While it does have a scent, it’s much lighter than the rest of the formulations, and I’m more comfortable using it since it comes in contact with my skin for a shorter amount of time.
In a video on YouTube, Rihanna directly addressed the fragrance component. “We never use more than one percent of a synthetic fragrance, and if we do, we don’t hide it. You will always know about it,” said the founder. “We’re a clean brand; we’re a very honest brand.” According to the video, the fragrance is specific to each product, and is intended to create a
sensorial effect.” She also shared on Twitter that she has super sensitive skin and kept that top of mind when creating her line. Rihanna certainly isn’t the first or the last to use fragrance in cosmetics, which is often added to products to mask unpleasant smells, to serve as aromatherapy, or to make a formula more appealing to the consumer — and many people can tolerate it with no problem.
Among them are the influencers who have posted glowing reviews with zero signs of irritation. YouTuber Nicol Concilio claims to have used the Fenty Skin products for 17 days and found that they worked to even out her complexion. She praised the cleanser for removing all of her makeup, too. Senior Beauty Editor at Glamour, Lindsay Schallon — who shared that she typically finds “fragranced skin-care products too overpowering and irritating” — spoke to her positive experience with the products, calling the toner-serum the star of the lineup. One Twitter user compiled all the reviews in one place for people to make the decision for themselves.
Most early testers, and even those who haven’t gotten their hands on the products, do agree on one detail: the packaging. Not only do people love the functionality of the twist-open bottles and the neutral packaging hues, but they’re also buzzing about the brand’s mission to be environmentally conscious. The streamlined packaging uses post-consumer recycled (PCR) bottles that can be continuously recycled, the moisturizer is refillable, and there is no shrink wrap or unnecessary boxes. These efforts are pertinent to the discussion around the beauty industry’s role in environmental waste, with the personal care industry reportedly creating 120 billion units of packaging every year.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that skin care is personal to everyone. It’s up to every individual to determine what fits their needs and preferences and to test out formulas for themselves. If you’re looking to get your hands on the anticipated Fenty Skin line, the Total Cleans’r Remove-It-All Cleanser, Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum, and Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen became available at fentyskin.com on July 31.