As someone who's been in the spotlight since they were a child, Selena Gomez has been no stranger to the pressures of public presentation and perfectionist beauty standards. But seeing the way it's also influenced her young fans was what really impacted her — and it became a big reason why she decided to create her new, Sephora-bound makeup line, Rare Beauty.
"I was just flabbergasted that these young girls think they need to feel... and be a certain way," Gomez told PAPER over Zoom. "Sometimes, it makes me feel uncomfortable, because they're so young, and they're worried about all these things, and they're dressing a certain way. I wanted to break that mold just a bit."
Explaining that she didn't want to be just another celebrity entering the makeup space, Gomez said that she sees Rare Beauty as a challenge to the beauty world's unrealistic standards of beauty. Most importantly though, she also wanted the brand to create a community dedicated to unconditional self-acceptance and uplifting the unique, individual beauty of its users — regardless of whether you're using the products to create an easy, on-the-go look or a glamorous full face.
"The line is inclusive and diverse. I wanted it to be a home for everyone," Gomez said. "It was beyond just what the makeup is. It's making sure it's also something that's easy for you to use and for you to feel beautiful in."
And while Gomez went on to admit that her relationship to makeup wasn't always this free, she did mention that her struggle with anxiety and depression was a big reason why she began "having conversations with [herself]" about traditional beauty standards and the onus of public presentation — all of which eventually led to the realization that "it's about how you feel inside."
So with this philosophy in mind, we decided to try out the entire range of Rare Beauty — encapsulating everything from primers to lipsticks to liners — and report back on our favorites based on metrics such as ease of use, accessibility and convenience. And while we were impressed by the majority of Gomez's offerings, there were a few stand-out products we're definitely looking forward to incorporating into our daily routines. See our top five picks, below.
Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit ($26)
Honestly, nothing bugs me more than when I'm starting to look a little bit greasy while I'm out-and-about. Sadly, my preference for super matte skin combined with the LA heat and my oily face means that I have to take a lot of bathroom breaks to go powder my nose. With this handy kit — complete with oil-absorbing papers and a powder-infused puff — I can already see this being a thing of the past. And best of all, they're both packaged in a handy, refillable compact case with a built-in mirror that I can just keep in my purse at all times. No more unnecessary trips to the bathroom!
Brow Harmony Pencil & Gel ($22)
I'm pretty lazy, so one of the least favorite parts of my beauty routine is doing my eyebrows — mostly because they're sparse, scraggly and just generally difficult to define. That is, unless I'm really concentrating on creating the perfect shape (and most of the time I screw it up anyway). That said, Rare's offering made filling in my brows shockingly quick and painless thanks to the small gel brush and super creamy pencil, which made applying super easy, without all of the tugging I was used to. Also, as someone who hates carrying around a zillion different products, I really appreciated the functional, two-sided build.
Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner ($19)
Anyone that knows me is well-aware of my obsession with a dramatic cat eye. But even as someone who's been working on it 13+ years (and can now nail it in under 5 minutes), I can tell you that if you're working with a bad eyeliner, no amount of practice will be able to save you. With that said, I was thoroughly impressed with Rare's version. After all, the design of an applicator is what really impacts the final product, and this liner's extremely precise felt tip made creating the perfect point on my cat eye a complete breeze. Bonus: It's also super waterproof, as evidenced by my mid-afternoon anxiety cry.
Lip Soufflé Matte Lip Cream ($20)
Speaking of my liner obsession, I typically prefer a more muted lip thanks to my penchant for an extreme eye. So while I was initially a little skeptical of the "fun" colors from their 12-shade matte selection, when I finally worked up the courage to try out the bright purple and pink offerings, I was pleasantly surprised by how subtle it actually was. And though I'd definitely be comfortable wearing these shades out (post-pandemic, obviously), they can definitely be layered in a snap for a more intense color effect thanks to how quickly it dries. Also, it just felt really nice and light, and as someone who loves matte lipsticks, the non-cakey texture was a big plus in my book. In fact, I almost forgot I was wearing lipstick.
Positive Light Liquid Luminizer ($22)
Last but not least, I was surprised by how much I liked Rare's Positive Light Liquid Luminizer. As someone who's not well-versed in the art of blending techniques, I've always been a little shy when it comes to properly applying things like highlighter and bronzer. Not to mention the fact that I've only gotten to try highlighters that tend to be a little too bright and sparkly for my tastes. Granted, this stuff — which comes in eight very pretty shades — was so light and easy-to-apply that I was able to just straight-up rub it in with my finger for two seconds. And, much to my surprise, it looked great! Definitely a great, fuss-free product for when you're wanting an easy, subtle glow.