Rihanna
Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

“I’ve always loved lipstick since the day I saw my mom applying red lipstick,” says Rihanna. “It was my favorite from the very, very beginning.” This memory inspired The MVP, a fiery shade in her new collection of semi-matte Fenty Beauty Fenty Icon Refillable Lipsticks. “I wanted to create that perfect shade of red that works with every skin tone, and I love it,” RiRi tells Allure exclusively.

She’s done just that and developed two additional reds plus seven neutrals (in taupes and mauves) to round out a curated selection of 10 wearable hues. Fenty Beauty’s first foray into classic lipstick bullets comes in the form of Rihanna’s iconic Cupid’s bow — quite literally. It’s debatable whether this major detail or its creamy texture (thanks to moisturizing hyaluronic acid and reparative vitamin E) allow them to swipe so perfectly. Unlike a traditional matte lipstick that can be drying, these bullets — launching on February 4 at Sephora — won’t cause lips to flake or crack.

“The new Fenty Icon shades are the best-of-the-best neutrals and reds that look gorgeous on everyone and feel so creamy and comfortable,” says Rihanna. And we agree: “I’m not one to grab a red lipstick,” says Allure beauty assistant Talia Gutierrez of The MVP, a cherry red. “But, dang! It’s Monday morning, and it’s already on.”

For me, a true blue-red has always been my MVP, and this one (aptly named The MVP that Gutierrez just mentioned) was no exception — and, of course, the first shade I reached for. It’s plush. It’s vibrant. And very luxe. Suffice it to say, I was not surprised by how much I loved The MVP (knowing Rihanna’s track record), but nevertheless, it was love at first swipe.

Allure beauty and wellness editor Taylore Glynn took a much more methodical approach: “Like wine, I find it best to test shades from lightest to darkest.” She started swatching with Pose Queen, a soft neutral blush, and swiped her way to The MVP and Board Memb’r, a deep cabernet. “The MVP was the big, bad red I would expect from Rihanna, but Board Memb’r was far more up my alley in terms of colors I normally wear,” she says. “It avoids that muddy, caked-on look some wine and oxblood shades can have when you apply multiple coats.”

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All of the shades — from the lightest pink (called Motha Luva) to a rich chocolate brown (named She A CEO) — are infused with Rihanna’s favorite vanilla-peach scent. For Allure staff editor Jihan Forbes, this sensory detail was nostalgic. “I did notice and kind of love that they have that old-school lipstick smell — but it’s much softer. You won’t smell it all day, but that scent takes me back to my childhood and at the same time makes me feel grown.”

And though their signature scent fades as you wear them, the kiss of color each swipe deposits is much longer-lasting. “My lip lines darken on the outer corners, so I almost always have to use a lip liner with my lipstick, but Flaunty Auntie [a dark mahogany] was deep enough to go without,” says Gutierrez.

Just one layer of the highly pigmented color has a powerful payoff, but to extend the color even longer, I apply one coat, blot my lips with a tissue, then touch up with a second layer. “If you want to strengthen up the look [of lipstick], always line the lips after you apply the color,” says makeup artist Daniel Martin. “I actually use a nail art fine-tipped brush to create my liner rather than a separate lip liner pencil. If the pencil doesn’t match up to the vibrancy of your lipstick, it can look a bit flat so keeping everything the same tone helps — especially in photos.” If you’re on the go, the sharp point of the Fenty Icon Refillable Lipstick bullet is another excellent way to add precision.

When I wore The MVP, hours went by and the color was just as striking as when I applied it — without any feathering or fading. For Forbes, “it stayed put until I started eating — typical for lipsticks of this texture.” That said, when they do wear off, you aren’t left feeling chapped. “They go on buttery-smooth and opaque, and give you a true semi-matte finish,” says Forbes. “That flatness is there, but there is just a teensy bit of shine, which translates to moisture on your lips,” Forbes adds.

A similar gleam is reflected in the metallic packaging. In true Rihanna fashion, the case was next-level — and unlike anything that we had seen before. Even for Allure beauty editors (with Best of Beauty testing on their resume), the sleek case wasn’t quite intuitive on our first — or second — attempt. “I’m no mechanical engineer, so I did expect to play around before I figured it out, but I ended up smushing one of the bullets,” says Glynn. While a few lipsticks were harmed in the process, it hasn’t stopped us from adding them to our regular rotation.

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And we are delighted that it’s refillable, so we can continue to wear it again and again (and again).

Fenty Beauty’s Fenty Icon Refillable Lipstick retails for $32 and is available starting February 4 at sephora.com. Fills ($20) and Case ($12) are sold separately.

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