Long before YouTubers and Instagrammers dominated the makeup world (and even before YouTube and Instagram even existed), there was Michelle Phan. The OG beauty vlogger got her start on Xanga (remember Xanga?) before creating her own YouTube channel, acquiring eight million subscribers, signing with Lancôme, founding a makeup subscription box service (Ipsy) and open studio (Ipsy Open Studio), and ultimately launching her own makeup line: Em Cosmetics, under the L'Oréal Paris umbrella. In other words, the 29-year-old hasn't stopped running. Until this year.
The star took almost a year-long hiatus — dropping off the map and logging off WiFi to focus on her personal health (so much so that many fans actually thought she had died.). She bought back her brand from L'Oréal and now, refreshed and with a clear vision, she's finally ready to re-launch Em Cosmetics on her own terms. (More on that here.)
Phan visited Refinery29 to give us a first look at her new line — which is namely less expensive than her last and is entirely crowd-sourced from her loyal fans (check out the video above to see the line in action) . After asking her followers what product they'd like to see first from Em, Phan was inundated with comments and messages asking her to create a non-drying liquid lipstick. The brand's new Infinite Lip Clouds, $16, are exactly that — hydrating, mousse-like lipsticks that come in eight different shades.
Unlike most liquid lipsticks though, Phan's go on sheer and can be layered for more impact. They also don't dry down completely, meaning they still felt comfortable on my lips after a few hours of wearing them. (And I could move, eat, and express myself like a normal person.) In the tubes, the colors honestly look a little basic, but once you swatch them, they really come to life: Imagine tawny browns and mauves, vibrant reds and oranges, and even violet. Ultra Marine Violet (a deep purple-blue) and Faded Clementine (a burnt orange) are my new go-tos.
Apart from being really great liquid lipsticks though, they also double as blush. In the video above, I tapped a thin layer of Faded Clementine onto the apples of my cheeks and was surprised by how flattering and easy-to-blend it was — and that it lasted all day.
Along with the Lip Clouds, Phan is also releasing two liquid liners, which she's calling the Illustrative Eyeliners, $15, — a nod to her art background. (Phan has a Doctorate of Arts Degree and is a highly skilled painter and illustrator.) I'll be honest: I was puzzled when Phan told me she was selling two black liquid eyeliners — one felt-tipped and the other brush-tipped. Why not just choose one? But she explained to me that the felt tip is for thicker, richer lines (think bold, graphic looks) while the brush tip is for crisp, thin lines (think kitten flicks). That sounds like something a YouTuber would say until you try them yourself — and completely understand the need for both.
The highly-anticipated products launch April 17 on Em Cosmetics, but keep an eye out for more updates from the star, who hinted at finally returning to YouTube (!) along with other exciting new projects. Phan's more alive than ever — and we're so excited to have her back.