From transparent lip liners to colour-adjusting lipsticks and sheer blushers that supposedly adapt to the skin’s pH, suits-all makeup is having a moment, but is it really as clever as it seems?

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for anything personalised, bespoke or tailor-made, and the recent trend in monogramming, DNA inspired fitness plans  and customised skincare regimes  suggests that I’m not alone. Likely more wily marketing than real deal compatibility, I’m drawn in nonetheless by a product that promises to automatically harmonize with my natural colouring or removes the need to meticulously colour match all of my makeup; add a little daring in the form of hues that play tricks on the eye and I’m sold. Is such universally adaptable makeup all it’s cracked up to be? I dabbled in a few all-inclusive options to find out…

The No Brainers

With the exception of bra straps and white shirts, you can’t go too far wrong with an invisible, ‘see through’ product. Enter the latest crop of lip liners, designed to keep lipstick locked down and precise, no matter what your lipstick shade of choice (on average we own 20 apparently) or skin tone. For most people, matchy matchy liner and lip colour is a step too far in terms of budget, organisation and sheer brain space, and having a liner for all shades and seasons is undoubtedly convenient.

I’ve had my trusty Body Shop Lip Line Fixer , £8, for about a decade, but Max Factor  this month launched their own transparent offering, £4.99, composed of a blend of waxes with high melting points to prevent lipstick bleeding. In fact, your mouth will have to get to 80ºC before lipstick overspill, and the fact that the jojoba oil, cottonseed oil and wax based formula is insoluble in water and food oils means that eating, drinking and generally going about your day shouldn’t disturb your lip line. The ‘invisible’ element also means that you swerve the dreaded 90s obvious overdraw, as makeup artist Caroline Barnes emphasis:

“It can be difficult to select the correct lip liner shade to match your lipstick. With an invisible liner such as this you can feel confident in knowing that your lip look will last without worrying whether your lip liner is showing. It’s my whole lip liner makeup kit in one.”

Lipstick Queen founder and innovator Poppy King was a pioneer of the colourless liner, with her  Invisible Lip Liner , £18, designed to not only reduce faff but also prevent the ageing effects of lipstick creeping into fine lines around the mouth:

“If you have a lipstick that doesn’t come with its own liner, this one works with all shades and textures. This is the perfect product to prevent feathering and bleeding as it seals the edges and stops colour from travelling down any tiny creases or lines. Feathering and bleeding are entirely prevented with this product so it’s a must-have for a precision lip look.”

From cut-glass definition to a more natural wash of colour, transparency is also seeping into the colour spectrum, with Nars’ cult Multiples now available in a sheer, weightless incarnation. With three shades, corresponding to a blusher, pink-toned highlighter and light golden all-over glow, the limited edition Sheer Pop Multiple , £29, was designed to be universally appealing and supremely workable on eyes, lips and cheeks. I’m taking the fact that they’re selling like hotcakes and I couldn’t get my hands on any as a good sign.

The Colour Changers

Onto the more complex chameleonic colour beasts: the shade adaptors. Colour-morphing makeup actually isn’t the techy cosmetic advancement it may present itself to be, given that colour changing lipsticks can be traced back to the 1920s and Avon launched a particularly lurid collection in the 70s. As with many things 70s (MAC Director of Makeup Artistry Terry Barber told me last week that the ‘decade with no taste’ remains the most influential in fashion and beauty), shade adjusting makeup is experiencing a boom, with the likes of new Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Tint , £25, Givenchy Le Rouge Perfecto , £26, and fresh incarnations of the classic Dior Addict Lip Glow , from £24, all claiming to enhance your unique natural lip colour on application.

Such sorcery is reportedly due to the lip products reacting to the pH of your skin for a ‘made to measure’ result, but in reality an ingredient going by the name of Red 27 is the likely instigator of any colour adapting going on. A safe cosmetic dye, Red 27 is colourless when not exposed to moisture (i.e, preserved in a waxy lipstick or balm), but on contact with skin or water, it turns into a warm pinky red. The shade can look different on everyone depending on skin tone of course, but there’s not as much hocus pocus going on as the beauty blurb tends to suggest.

This by no means throws shade on colour changing makeup, as all of the above formulas are buttery, flattering and perfecting, and don’t turn as ‘high vis’ as their less sophisticated 70s predecessors. Plus, the range of ‘bare’ hues now available delivers more colour switcheroo-ing potential, and the ever trailblazing Lipstick Queen  brand offers black, blue, nude, gold and fluro pink takes on sheer colour adjustment, along with a rather scary looking green bullet, shimmery gloss and cream blusher, that actually comes off as a deceptively healthy pink flush.

So far I’ve found that lip colour is a more convincing way to entertain the trend than blusher (a little too much ‘clown’ potential on my ghostly pallor), but I can see the likes of Smashbox O Glow , £22, working on darker skin tones. Just build things up slowly to ensure that you get the effect you’re after- turns out that shapeshifting makeup likes to stick around, and reversing the process can be tricky once applied. Where’s that invisibility cloak at?

Have you tried any colour adjusting makeup, and what did you think of it? Let me below…

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