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Backstage at any pre-pandemic New York Fashion Week show, you were almost always bound to find an Allure editor in the middle of it all, snapping photos of every flick of eyeliner, every bounce of a beauty sponge, and every swipe of lipstick. In the midst of all that madness, there was usually one person we were most keen to visit: makeup artist Diane Kendal, who's been working in the beauty industry since the 1980s. When you've had your hand in as many runway shows, clomid uses of magazine covers, and advertisements as she has, you tend to rack up an endless well of insight, especially when it comes to product formulation.

"When you're getting girls ready for a runway show, you're sometimes applying the makeup four hours before they go on the runway, so it's really important to have high-quality products," Kendal tells Allure via Zoom. "Because of my experience working with products for so long, there are some things that I really crave in a new product, and that is beautiful, slick quality, pigment, and easy application that is durable."

Kendal is now bringing that peak level of expertise to a massive makeup brand launch from none other than fashion retailer Zara. The line, aptly named Zara Beauty, launches on May 12 online and in select stores with 21 items spanning the face, eye, lip, nail, and tool categories. These products, mostly housed in refillable packaging and in wide shade selections, have been in the works for more than a year and a half. 

Allure staffers were some of the first to try most of the products in the line. Below, we break down the key products you need to know about — and then stock up on. 

Zara Beauty Ultimatte Refillable Matte Lipstick

If you prefer your lipsticks to be as matte and long-lasting as physically possible, Zara Beauty's Ultimatte formula will sure prove its stance as The One for you. It's available in 14 shades in reds, pinks, purples, and nudes that range from fair to deep. As seen above on editorial assistant Gabi Thorne in the shade Original, Ultimatte reaches full impact with one swipe and has the same suede-like texture as the inside of a designer purse. 

"Ultimatte glides on my lips like the smoothest butter to deposit its rich red shade," she says. "I tend to be particular about my reds, but this one has a nice hint of blue that makes it look gorgeous with my brown skin."

Zara Beauty Tinted Balm Refillable Lip Balm

If your lipstick preferences lie on the more subtle side, however, reach for the Tinted Lip Balm, which deputy editor Kara McGrath (pictured above) names as her favorite lip product out of Zara's lineup. "It's so nice and shiny and hydrating," she says. 

Each of its five shades contains itty-bitty pearlescent pigments that catch the light for a slightly glossy sheen. 

Zara Beauty Cult Satin Refillable Satin Lipstick

Meanwhile, staff writer Nicola Dall'Asen's favorite of the crop has to be Cult Satin Lipstick (seen below). "Available in red, nude, and berry shades, this pick has the creamy, semi-shiny finish that feels so comfortable on the lips that it feels like nothing," she says. "You can create a stained or tinted effect by patting a little on with your fingers or go full-coverage by swiping it directly on the lips." 

Editor in chief Michelle Lee agrees: "The magnetic packaging feels really weighty and expensive, and the formula of the lipstick is really buttery," she says.

Zara Beauty Cheek Color In 3 Refillable Cheek Palette

Kendal loves to use the refillable cheek palette on herself, which is saying a lot, considering she once told Allure that she rarely, if ever, wears makeup. "After I've put a little bit of foundation on, I'd use the contour and just go underneath the cheekbone. The blush, I would just go to the apple of the cheek and blend it out. The highlighter, you just go on top of the cheekbone," she explains. "I always like to use the highlighter on top of the lip bow and on top of the nose."

Dall'Asen, shown above, uses this three-in-one palette for a quick fix when she's in a hurry, too. "Each powder in this palette has a deliciously crumbly texture that sticks to brushes easily, so I don't have to go digging to find the pigment," she explains. "They blend just as easily, too."

Zara Beauty Eye Color In 6 Refillable Eye Shadow Palette

There's no shortage of eye shadows in this launch — seriously, among the five eye palettes and nine duos, there are a total of 45 eye shadow shades in the range. But the Eye Color In 6 Eye Shadow Palettes are definitely the ones to watch. 

Commerce writer Angela Trakoshis loves this range of palettes for their melt-to-the-touch consistency. "Because of how much I love Zara for clothing, I knew I'd love its beauty line," she says. "These palettes are creamy, pigmented, and everything you need to complete full glam or simple look."

They certainly pack a punch when it comes to pigment, but they're also sheer enough to build to your liking. In other words, they're perfect for the makeup wearer who wants to be able to complete an eye look in a pinch without much effort. 

Zara Beauty Metal Foil Loose Pigment

When asked to name a must-have standout from the collection, Kendal doesn't hesitate to list the Metal Foil Loose Pigments, thanks to their multipurpose nature. Regardless of location, the application of any of its four shades should be quick and seamless. "Just dab it on your face and rub it in with your fingers," Kendal recommends. 

Depending on what you mix them with, these loose pigments can also make custom eyeliners, highlighters, or lipsticks. Dall'Asen, shown above, mixes them with saline solution to create a metallic paste the can create graphic looks with. "Because these metallic pigments are so finely milled, they can be combined with just about anything — perfect for folks who tend to go mad-scientist mode during their makeup routine, like me,” she says.

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