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Rihanna’s new beauty line, Fenty, claims to work for a variety of skin tones. Here’s what it looks on 4 different women.
USA TODAY

Rihanna gave herself a nearly impossible challenge when creating her recently released Fenty Beauty makeup line. At the launch party in Brooklyn earlier this month, she told the crowd that she’d tasked herself and beauty developer Kendo Brands with creating one of the most inclusive makeup selections to date.

Though others have made progress, including Covergirl (which announced Issa Rae as their new face last week), women of color have often been left with few color choices, and ad campaigns often left them out entirely.

Rihanna’s answer is a high-end but budget-friendly line ($18 to $54, with 1.08 oz of foundation for $34!) stocked with 40 shades of foundation, 30 contour/highlighting sticks and a campaign featuring a diverse set of cool-girl models (we see you, Duckie).

Fans and beauty bloggers hailed it as an instant success. But how do the products fare in real life, on those of us not blessed with Rihanna’s natural Bajan glow? We tested some of the top products on four  women from the USA TODAY newsroom with various skin tones, and pored through dozens of fan reviews for the sake of journalism and to answer some of your burning questions. 

Does the foundation really match everyone?

First things first: This is not a product to order online. Yes, it is available on Sephora’s website and at fentybeauty.com. But with 40 shades of the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear foundation ranging from numbers 100 to 490, this process requires more than an online guessing game. 

Our testers dropped by our local Sephora for a quick consult, which took about 30 minutes.

Social / mobile editor Mabinty Quarshie, who matched with 480, had one of the most seamless matching experiences.

“I thought it felt very natural and easy to use,” she says. “It didn’t feel too chalky to me. I really liked it and how it looked on my skin.”

Life reporter Erin Jensen, who has the lightest complexion in our testing squad, was also the Goldilocks of the group. Originally matching with shade 240, she left the store with 190, but felt the color became a little too dark after hours of wear. Sephora reps confirmed the color does darken while it sets, but then should stay the same.

Which brings us to another pro tip: Ask for a sample (which Sephora will provide in a tiny tube) and wear for a day or two before purchasing. Also, take advantage of refund and exchange policies, the best friend of picky makeup girls and boys. 

What’s the coverage like?

This foundation doesn’t play around — it’s full coverage. 

That was a point in the pro column for our testers conscious of uneven skin tone and blemishes. But it was a little a little jarring for those onboard with the no-makeup makeup trend.

For this beauty obsessive, it’s ideal for on-camera moments (either work-related or those girls nights out that are bound to include lots of group pics), but thicker than everyday wear.

Is the finish glossy or matte?

The foundation is oil-free and completely matte, limiting shine in T-zones after a long day. It’s best for those with oily or combo skin, but can work for those who have dry skin with the right prep.

Pro tip number three: Moisturize, moisturize moisturize. This is a good note for life in general, but also important for this foundation. The Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer is a good place to start — it’s thick but not too slick. 

What about her sticks?

The Match Stix, which come in 20 matte shades and 10 shimmers, provide endless options for concealing, contouring, highlighting and eyeshadow. Add in six different Killawaat Freestyle Highlighters color options, including the signature golden Trophy Wife, and it’s the stuff of beauty junkies’ dreams. 

They may not make you look exactly like Rihanna, but the highlights are some of the best we’ve tried. A little shimmer goes a long way with these glittering babies.

The sticks are also delightful — our testers used the Chili Mango hue, which makeup artists hailed at the launch party as an early favorite from the line.

“I’m actually obsessed with the Match Stix in the color Chili Mango,” says our tester and Life social media editor Anika Reed. “I usually don’t use oranges in my daily makeup, but this worked as a beautiful flush of color with a nice all-over shimmer.”

What separates Rihanna’s lip gloss from the rest?

The Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer also lives up to the inclusivity hype, giving our testers a subtle pop of color that worked for everyone.

“I found it to be hydrating but not sticky, and the hue to be a nice complement to my complexion,” Jensen says. 

Overall

Bless you, Rihanna.

Fenty Beauty delivers. In a world where celebrity products are often misleading or cheap, the quality of the Fenty Beauty line is satisfyingly high, from the primer down to the brushes (which are seriously pro level).

Overall, we had an easy time finding foundations that matched our respective skin tones — with some of us experiencing pure makeup Zen. 

“It’s typically difficult for me to find a foundation that matches my skin perfectly. It’s either too yellow, too red or a ‘neutral’ that reads with a gray tint on my face,” says Reed. “I’ve finally found a foundation that is an exact match for me.”

While it may never be possible to create one line of products that caters to all people, Rihanna has made a solid effort. We can only hope the industry takes note.