Makeup

Trying South African Makeup: A Scarlet Hill Beauty Review

photo by Odia Melissa

Ladies and gents, Mr. Price, has entered the chat and is making its presence known in the South African beauty scene. 

Mr. Price (MRP), a well-known and beloved South African retail store, had launched Scarlet Hill Beauty, their very own in-house beauty brand in December of 2019. Although this isn’t anything new to the locals, it piqued my interest as a former South African resident and now a frequent visitor. 

Lead by head makeup artist Lungile Thabethe, Scarlet Hill aims to be for makeup pros and beginners while promising to do so at an affordable cost. In a BizCommunity article, Mr. Price’s Managing Director Donovan Baney says “This brand is not just about makeup, it’s about giving people the opportunity and freedom to celebrate and express who they are.”

As a makeup enthusiast and coinsure, I absolutely had to get my hands on some products and see what all the fuss is about.  

WHAT I GOT

Scarlet Hill, Liquid Highlighter in Bronzed, R50

photo by Odia Melissa

This highlighter leaves a beautiful glow on the skin. It comes in a glass bottle and utilizes a pipet to dispense the product. It’s not loaded with glitter, so a little of this will give you a stunning radiance where applied. For a glow from within type look, use a couple of drops mixed in with your foundation. It also looks great if you use it under your foundation or even on bare skin. If you’re into something a little more extra, use a damp sponge to apply the liquid onto your skin for an unreal finish. I suggest you tap this product onto your face, do not rub it in.

Not much information (at least online, in stores, or on the bottle) is available on the product. The actual amount you get per bottle is unknown; however, I believe that a R50 retail price (CAD 4.30 or USD 3.50) is more than fair from the look of it. It’s a product that will take a while to go through and need the littlest amount to see its full penitential. 

The liquid highlighter comes in various shades for different skin tones for the fairest of fair and deepest of darks. 

Scarlet Hill – Dream Blush Palette in Dark, R80

photo by Odia Melissa

The blush palette is available in light, medium, and dark (at least at my MRP). They come in standard cardboard packaging with no mirror. One thing that I don’t like about the packaging is that the shade of the palette isn’t indicated anywhere. When you first purchase the product, it’s labeled on a tiny sticker that comes off with the outer packaging once it’s unwrapped. If it weren’t for the sales associate at the store, I would’ve walked away with a light palette instead of a dark one. The product overall is not bad, but it’s good either.

The finishes of these blushes were good but nothing life-changing. I wished they were more inclusive by having more of an extensive range (something like light, medium, tan, dark, and deep). The blushes are buildable, making them flexible for any occasion.  In each palette, you get three matte shades and one shimmer. From what I can see, each palette gets one pink/coral shade, one berry tone, two neutral shades (one matte and one shimmer) to suit their complexions. They are smooth and buttery, which in my experience, lead to a decent wear. 

photo by Odia Melissa

The blush palette retails for R80 (CAD 6.80 or USD 5.55), and each blush pan contains 2.5g of product (technically R20 per blush), which is an absolute steal. 

Scarlet Hill , 18 Pan Bejewel Eyeshadow Palette, R150

photo by Odia Melissa

The star of the show to me was the eyeshadow palette. It comes in standard cardboard packaging like the blush palette, but this one is embellished in a sparkly green cover to reflect the tones inside. It’s one of those palettes that I could display on my vanity. The only drawback is the lack of a mirror. I gave it a pass in the blush palette, but I think when working with eyeshadow, it’s crucial to have a mirror handy, and having them in palettes is always a big plus. I also wish that the shade names were printed on the palette under the corresponding shade. Hey, MRP, if you took the time to come up with such cool shade names, why wouldn’t you want to print them on your palette? 

I usually don’t get along with many affordable or drug store palettes because I never get the pigmentation that I want out of the product; however, I was pleasantly surprised with how well I got on with this one. The palette comes with nine shimmers and nine mattes, resulting in a total of 18 shades. I enjoy the color story and layout of the palette. I can create a simple soft glam or utilize the pops of color for something more dramatic and vibrant.

photo by Odia Melissa

The mattes are super buttery and pigmented, and the shimmers are pretty good. I had zero issues blending out colors and mixing them: another bonus, little to no fallout. My only problem is that because of the mediocre packaging and how softly press the shadows are, it’s more prone to breakage.  

The eyeshadow palette retails for R150 (CAD 12.80 or USD 10.40) and contains 1.8 grams of product per pan. Again, this is a no-brainer for the quality and price to pick up if you’re in the market for an affordable eyeshadow palette. The Bejewel palette, in particular, is not available online last time I checked, so I’ve listed other 18 pan eyeshadow palettes available. Don’t forget to check in stores as well. If you’re looking for something extremely versatile on a budget, I can’t recommend this enough. 

Scarlet Hill, One Stick Wonder, R50

photo by Odia Melissa

I know we usually save the best for last, but this product was a complete miss for me. Let’s start with the positives. I love the packaging of this stick. My favorite part is that it’s a twist up instead of something that you need to sharpen. Unfortunately, that is the only place where the product was really success for me.

For a stick that claims to be a three in one for eyes, lips, and cheeks, it only performs well on one of the three, and even that’s a stretch. If I had to, I would strictly use this as lipstick. The formula is not comfortable, and I’ve tried better affordable options from other brands. As a blush stick, it picks up whatever product you laid before it. It ruined my foundation in the cheek area whenever I try to blend it out. On the eyes, I find it extraordinarily patchy and doesn’t play well with other products like the eyeshadow palette. On the lips, it just emphasizes all the little lines and crinkles. The wonder stick overall doesn’t have amazing longevity and isn’t easy or pleasant to use. 

photo by Odia Melissa

The amount of product you receive in the stick is unknown (again, I couldn’t find this information online, in-store, or on the product itself), but it does retail for R50 (CAD 4.30 or USD 3.50). Still, I would recommend skipping this product entirely. It’s more of a pain than a wonder. 

Ingredients & Cruelty-Free Status 

South African and Chinese rules and regulations about what is considered cruelty-free falls into a grey area. According to BCW Humane Guide, there is no legislation specifically directed at the protection, or monitoring, of animals used in research in South Africa. Scarlet Hill, however, isn’t made in South Africa; it’s made in China. Just because it’s made in China, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t cruelty-free. China requires animal testing on most cosmetics coming into their country and not necessarily for products leaving. That’s why Scarlet Hill and other makeup brands still decide to continue manufacturing their products in China. I’m in no way an expert in the legality of animal testing in either country. Still, I bring this up because, according to Scarlet Hill, they are against animal testing but do not confirm that they are cruelty-free. It could be an issue of semantics, but it could also mean that there could be more something there. Again, I’m no expert, just a curious consumer. 

The brand, however, is undoubtedly not vegan or falls into the category of clean beauty whatsoever. Using ingredients like Talc and Mica, for example, are much cheaper than other ingredients. Products like Talc comes in various forms and is not created equally across the board (some variations worse than others). Not all my makeup in my collection is necessarily “clean,” either, but I do like the best possible ingredients going on my face. I’m not a chemist, but as long as it doesn’t start to break me out, irritate my skin or give me cancer, I’m ok. It won’t ever be my first choice, but it’s an option, nonetheless. 

Final Thoughts 

So, is Scarlet Hill worth it? Somewhat.  I think just like most brands, it has its hits and misses. I think the brand achieves its goal of being something affordable and cater to different makeup skill levels all while being affordable.  

Out of everything I’ve tried, I would recommend the liquid highlighter and eyeshadow palette. The blush palette is good but passible if you have similar colours in your collection. The blush pallets available aren’t the most inclusive, so if you are anything but a couple of shades darker than me, it might be a mission to make it work. The “one stick wonder” should be avoided at all cause. It claims to do three things but, in reality, does nothing. It’s more of a pain to use, which is the opposite of what I think they were intended for. 

Overall I have satisfied my curiosity and even though some of the products I tried out worked well, they were nothing to ride home about.

Scarlet Hill Beauty Final Letter Grade:

C+

Let me know what you think. Have you tried Scarlet Hill Beauty?

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