Once upon a time, there was a reality TV show on MTV called Laguna Beach that ruled the ratings (and my life). These Californian teens were around my age but seemed so much older and cooler with their designer sunglasses and complicated love triangles.
The show’s central character and narrator, Lauren Conrad or “LC” as her friends called her, was a trendsetter even then. After graduating high school, LC went on to star in her own spin-off show The Hills, which some of you may be more familiar with, before leaving reality TV behind to build her own fashion empire with Kohl’s, write several New York Times bestselling books, co-found a nonprofit shop that features ethically sourced and artisan-made products, and, as of this fall, she’s launched an eponymous beauty brand that’s made with clean ingredients, sustainably packaged and easy to use.
“I created this line more for the everyday makeup wearer, as opposed to the makeup artist,” she tells me over Zoom. “Everything can be applied quickly, and most of time, I just use my fingertips. The beauty category can be a bit overwhelming, so I wanted to simplify things and hopefully spark joy in people’s routines,” she adds laughing.
The line, which initially launched through their website in August, consisted of just five everyday essentials: a liquid eyeliner, lipstick, lip gloss, lip and cheek tint and liquid highlighter.
On October 9th, the line will roll out 26 additional products at Kohl’s, including two different types of face cleansers and creams, a vitamin C oil that she says she “probably wears too much of,” as well as, an expanded cosmetic offering that includes foundation, concealer, mascara, bronzer and two eye shadow palettes.
At first glance, the line is sleek with minimalist pink and white packaging that holds its own against any of the bottles that are currently sitting on my shelves. More importantly, all of the packaging is made from post-consumer goods and the outer cartons are certified Tree-free, constructed entirely of sugar cane remnants which are then transformed into paper.
“I’m most proud of the lipstick,” says Conrad. “It’s a single component tube that you can just put into your recycling bin when you’ve finished using it—no disassembling necessary.”
This is a happy coincidence, as my favorite product in the line is, without a doubt, The Lipstick ($20). The Lipstick comes in four shades and has a full-coverage, demi-matte finish that wears comfortably on your lips without drying them out over time (a true exception for me).
My favorite shade is a tossup between Dahlia, a vibrant berry (left), and Poppy, a tomato red (right) that I wore during our call like the total dork that I am.
When pressed to name her top product from the line, she hesitated between The Lip & Cheek Tint (which is much subtler in pigmentation than most cream blushes I’ve tried) and the Liquid Eyeliner, before ultimately deciding on The Liquid Eyeliner. Longtime LC fans will likely not be surprised to hear this given her well-documented love of a cat eye.
The Liquid Eyeliner features a super-fine, felt tip that makes it easier to get a crisp flick at the ends and a jet-black pigment that stays put until you wash it off. “We worked so hard to get this just right. I tested it personally for a year,” says Conrad.
Given COVID and quarantine life, the product she uses most frequently these days is not the eyeliner, but The All-Over Balm (available October 9), a chubby twist-up stick that she applies often and everywhere. “When we started formulating the line, I knew this was one product we had to have. I really wanted something that was multi-purpose and safe to use, even on kids,” says the mom of two.
As a self-proclaimed balm expert (I’ve probably tested upwards of a hundred different kinds throughout the years), I’d put this up there with my beloved Lucas Papaw ointment, which I’ve been using for nearly a decade because of how well it heals chapped lips.
Whereas the Papaw is more of a salve that’s great for wearing overnight, The All-Over Balm gets extra points for its versatility. The texture is much lighter and more like a lip balm, which makes it easier to apply to any dry patches or over lipstick that’s dried out. Recently, I used it as a sheer highlighter before Zoom calls, on my palms before patting down flyaways and on my cuticles. It’s truly impossible to overdo it with this stuff because it’s so lightweight and never greasy.
Therein lies the true beauty of this line: It’s easy to use and accessible. Both in terms of pricing (most of the products fall within the $18 to $26 range) and variety (there are enough options to suit various skin types and tastes, but not so many that you feel overwhelmed).
It’s the rare line that would have appealed to 18-year-old me (shown here with LC at a club appearance she did in 2005) and that present day, 33-year-old me enjoys now.
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