As a beauty editor, there is nothing that gets my heart racing more than hearing the news that a particularly buzzy beauty brand is crossing the Atlantic to arrive on UK soil. With much-hyped names like Glossier and Drunk Elephant leading the way, there's no doubt that access to international beauty brands has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. In fact, I can't remember the last time that I had to plead with a friend, colleague or family member that was holidaying in the US to do a Sephora dash for me. Almost all of the coolest Instagram beauty brands are readily available here now—well, except for one: Tower 28 Beauty.
Launched in April 2019, Tower 28 Beauty almost immediately garnered a cult following thanks to its playful makeup offering, laid-back L.A. aesthetic and the fact that the brand had one unique point of difference. All of the makeup was created with sensitive skin in mind. Anyone dealing with skin concerns like rosacea or acne will know that brands that promise fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products tend to be clinical, dull and definitely not cute enough for Instagram.
"They tend to make you feel like a patient," explains Amy Liu, founder of Tower 28 Beauty. Instead, Liu focused her efforts on creating a collection of makeup that would make users feel good about themselves. "I wanted to wear a lip product or a cheek product and not feel like I was making my skin worse and not feel guilty about it," says Liu. "When you have a skin problem like acne or eczema and you want to use something on top of it, you're almost worried that you're trading off your vanity for more issues."
Liu has certainly delivered. Landing on Cult Beauty this week, Tower 28 Beauty delivers a concise yet colourful collection of sheer blushes, cream bronzers and sheeny lip products in wearable shades that genuinely suit all skin tones. "We try to make sure that all of our products have very little white pigment in them when formulating shades because that's what makes them go ashy when applied to a deeper skin tone," explains Liu. "We work with diverse makeup artists to get the shades right, and the entire range is quite pigmented and blendable."
Plus, all of the products are vegan, cruelty-free and free of skin-sensitising irritants, which will be welcome news to anyone with particularly reactive skin. But most importantly, these products are a genuine joy to use. Best applied with fingers, in my opinion, they're versatile and intuitive and look gorgeously glowy on the skin. "I just wanted for these products to feel fun," says Liu. "That was really the goal because makeup should be fun."
Ahead, keep scrolling for my Tower 28 Beauty review and to shop my favourite products from the line.
1. Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer
As someone who isn't that fussed about bronzer, it's a surprise to me that I've been recommending the Tower 28 Beauty cream bronzer to anyone who will listen. It's a gorgeous, blendable texture that can be worn as a sheer wash of shimmer or built up for more of a classic bronze look, but it's the glow that it imparts on skin that has really captured my imagination. I wear it on my eyelids and the tops of my cheekbones to fake a summer-skin look when it's grey outside.
My shade of choice for a golden eye look.
This provides lighter skin tones with subtly sun-kissed complexions.
This rich bronze shade will look so good on deeper skin tones.
2. ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly
I adore this nourishing, oil-rich lip gloss which has all of the shine of our favourite '90s formulations with none of the stickiness. Despite looking ultra-pigmented in the tube, these actually deliver more of a tint of creamy colour to the lips. Cashew—a warm, brown-tinged neutral—is the one that I've been reaching for most days, but all of the shades deliver juicy summer lips in seconds.
My current favourite.
A milky pink hue for the ultimate glossy lip.
Lean into those '90s vibes with this chocolate-brown shade.
3. BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm
These versatile cream pigments can be worn on lips and cheeks to deliver a flattering pop of colour with the Tower 28 Beauty trademark glow. Admittedly, some of the shades look a little scary in the pot (they are really pigmented), but they're incredibly blendable. You can wear them as sheer or as bold as you like.
Rush Hour—a warm, peachy shade—is a staple in my makeup bag.
This dusky berry pigment will look particularly beautiful on deeper complexions.
This cheery shade makes me as happy as its name.
4. ShineOn Lip Jelly
The other lip offering from Tower 28 Beauty comes courtesy of these non-tacky lip glosses. In the tube, these look über-bright, but they provide more of a translucent wash of colour once applied, and they're incredibly nourishing to wear. They've injected some much-needed fun into my everyday makeup bag.
I disregarded this colour at first glance, but once I was brave enough to apply it, I was surprised at how fast this sheer berry tint has become a favourite.
I love red lip products in all their forms, so this luminous scarlet shade was always going to be a hit.
Whether worn alone or layered over other colours, this glistening gold shimmer adds instant dimension and shine to lips.
5. SuperDew Highlighting Balm
Ultra-shiny, glossy skin is a big trend for 2021, and this translucent highlighter delivers it in abundance. It's a dewy balm that can be patted onto your skin wherever you want a little luminosity. For me, that's on the tops of cheekbones, beneath brows and along my cupid's bow. It instantly enlivens a dull complexion and makes me feel brighter. What could be better than that?