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I don’t have much in common with Gwen Stefani. She’s a three-time GRAMMY Award winner; I’m a journalist. She’s married to a guy named Blake; I’m married to a Stephen. She’s in her 50s; I’m in my 30s. The list goes on. But on March 15, both of us experienced our first rodeo on a warm day in Houston, and we were united in the name of makeup.
The pop star visited the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to perform her hit songs for more than 65,000 fans, all of whom were waiting with bated breath (the show had been postponed for two years due to COVID-19 restrictions). I was there to see her new high-performance makeup line in action. For the uninitiated, Stefani recently launched GXVE (opens in new tab) (pronounced “give”), a makeup line inspired by the pop star’s signature looks. Going into the concert, I had my doubts—would the makeup really hold up without reapplying? How long could she maintain her signature lippie while giving her best on stage? Being incredibly inquisitive, I also tested the lipstick myself. I was dying to see how my lips would fare in a hot stadium between thousands of people.
But let's back up a bit. Makeup aside, let’s be clear: Stefani is a force. With four studio albums, three GRAMMY awards under her belt, two fashion lines and an eyewear collection, her place in the music and fashion industry is cemented. And as the pop star carves a spot for herself in the beauty industry, one that’s steeped in celebrity competition, she too is primed for the challenge.
The beauty world isn’t new to Stefani. In fact, she grew up surrounded by it. “I can remember seeing my mom in the rear-view mirror of our car on the way to church, fixing her cream blush,” she reflects while sitting on the couch in her hotel suite the night before her performance. Stefani was even a makeup artist at her local mall in her hometown, Anaheim, California.
“I think [everything] I've done in my entire life has led me to this point,” says the No Doubt frontwoman. “Everything that comes from a place of creativity is what led me to [create a makeup line].”
The richly pigmented line of products consists of a waterproof gel liner, brow pencils, eyeshadow quads, and an oil primer, but her standout is the red lipstick. Called Original Recipe (opens in new tab) ($26), it's available in three finishes: matte, satin, and liquid matte. “This matte lipstick is my original recipe and I love how I beat all the [matte lipsticks] that I loved in the past,” she says. “I was trying to create something that would be comfortable for a long wear.”
"Long wear" is an accurate description of the lipstick. For an hour and a half, Stefani’s bright red matte lips (she opted for a layer of I’m Still Here (opens in new tab) matte liquid lipstick ($24), topped with Original Me matte lipstick in Original Recipe) held center court, never budging even while under bright lights. From opening with “The Sweet Escape” on a rotating stage that shifted during each song to hitting “Wind It Up," which forced the crowd to jump up and move their bodies, Stefani’s makeup never wavered. As her songs grew more intense, the energy melded perfectly with the bold matte texture of her lips. It was a perfect pairing.
Even while belting the wildly popular “Hollaback Girl,” Stefani's matte lips remained true to their word. No sweat, no smudge, no transfer. Her bold lip punctuated every note. Every movement. It was a true performance in both music and makeup.
As for me, my lips held up too. I wore I’m Still Here (opens in new tab) by itself and was impressed by the way it penetrated below the surface of my lips, maintaining its color long after downing a few drinks. I was sold and ready to share my experience with beauty lovers. And oddly enough, I was in good company with my thinking; part of the ethos of the brand is the art of giving to others while expressing your own creativity. A concept Stefani reminded me about while sitting in her suite.
“I look at your makeup and [I see] everything you did for me,” she says. “You thought about me. And, I thought about you. I didn't know who you were, but that's what makeup is, it's giving, it's sharing. And I think I landed in the right spot.”
GXVE Beauty is available online at Sephora (opens in new tab) and in stores.
Deena Campbell is the Beauty Director of Marie Claire where she oversees all beauty and health content on all platforms.
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