Tried and Tested: Essence – Cheap makeup from Wilko

Categories Tried and Tested

Essence

Essence is a high street brand that I’ve recently discovered and can be bought at your local Wilko at affordable prices. Following a glowing review of a haul of the products, I wanted to investigate for myself. After 35 minutes of swatching and inspecting the counter at my local Wilko, I picked up a selection of products which came to a staggering total of £31; the most expensive product being the foundation which was £4.
I didn’t buy everything available, as swatching some products gave me enough information that they wouldn’t perform well. These included the eyeshadows, concealers and some of the foundations. Additionally, I didn’t buy the brow products as they were powders, pencils and gel wands and I usually use pomades. One thing I liked about Essence immediately was the variety of products they had for each category of makeup (like I just listed for the brows).
So let’s get started:

Essence Instant Matt Foundation £4

Essence Instant Matt Foundation in shade Sand
Essence Instant Matt Foundation in shade Sand
Swatch of shade 'sand'
Swatch of shade ‘sand’

I’m not usually a fan of drug store foundations, but this is definitely a hit! The foundation is very high in coverage and lasted me all night without breaking apart. However, unlike your typical foundation, the product comes out in a very thick form (as seen in the photo). I found that I needed to use more product than usual, so you might go through the bottle a bit quicker than usual; but for £4, can you really complain? This is how it looked on the face:

'Sand' on face
‘Sand’ on face

However, this foundation only comes in 3 shades. Even though I got the middle shade, I won’t be able to use this in the winter when I’m paler than I was in the summer. I would compare this to Milani Conceal and Perfect, where even the lightest shades appear quite dark. Another thing to note, this foundation oxidises! So the shade will become even darker after first being applied.

Essence Sun Club Bronzing Powder £3

Sun Club Bronzing Powder in the Darker Shade
Sun Club Bronzing Powder in the Darker Shade
Swatch of darker shade
Swatch of darker shade

Essence had a few different options of bronzers to choose from including shimmery and matte but I prefer matte bronzers so I chose that. They had a ‘lighter’ and ‘darker’ version and even though I’m quite a fair person, the lighter version seemed a bit too light for me. I was impressed by how the bronzer performed as it was easy to blend and had a nice colour to warm up the skin without becoming ‘orange’. It didn’t become patchy throughout the evening and I liked how big the pan was as I was able to pick up a lot of product.

Essence 2in1 Eyeshadow and Primer £2.80

Essence 2in1 Eyeshadow & Primer in shade Nude Beige
Essence 2in1 Eyeshadow & Primer in shade Nude Beige
Swatch of 'nude beige'
Swatch of ‘nude beige’

I really wanted to like this product, but it just didn’t work out. The product applied quite ‘wet’ and I definitely would not use this as an eyeshadow as it was patchy and streaky on the eye. This comes in another pink shade, but I don’t think it would make a difference. On the primer side, it dulled my eyeshadows. I used this when I originally tried the 2in1 Eyeshadow and Liner sticks and was confused as to why it wasn’t as shiny as when I had swatched it on my hand. I tried the eyeshadow sticks again, without the primer, and they were as shiny as I had originally imagined. This product gets a huge pass from me.

Essence Eyeshadow Contouring Set £2.50

Essence Eyeshadow Contouring Sets Mauve Meets Marshmallow and Brownies with Frosting
Essence Eyeshadow Contouring Sets Mauve Meets Marshmallow and Brownies with Frosting
Swatches of Mauve Meets Marshmallow and Brownies with Frosting
Swatches of Mauve Meets Marshmallow and Brownies with Frosting

I know I said that I didn’t like any of the eyeshadow products when swatching in-store – but this is an exception! I liked the concept of these compacts as I wanted something to just create definition in my eyes and they swatched quite well. As you can see in the picture above, all the shades had a solid colour. I used the darker shade in the compact for the crease of my eye, and the highlight on my brow bone. Though, the highlight in the ‘Mauve Meets Marshmallow’ set was quite disappointing. It was quite chalky and didn’t appear to show much highlight. I sprayed the highlight in ‘Brownies with Frosting’ with Mac Fix+ and it left a bright glow under my brow bone for the whole day. However, these shadows are very powdery and you definitely need to tap off the excess when using these – but nevertheless, I think these are a great way to create some eye definition without a lot of effort.

Essence 2in1 Eyeshadow and Liner £2.80

Essence 2in1 Eyeshadow and Liner in shades Peach Perfect and Rosy Happiness
Essence 2in1 Eyeshadow and Liner in shades Peach Perfect and Rosy Happiness
Swatches of 'peach perfect' and 'rosy happiness'
Swatches of ‘peach perfect’ and ‘rosy happiness’
Peach Perfect on eyes
Peach Perfect on eyes
Peach Perfect on eyes
Peach Perfect on eyes

This was my favourite product out of everything that I tested. When swatching various items on the Essence counter, I knew I had to buy these without question – they were high shine and smudge proof. I was sceptical about the ‘eyeliner’ claim but found that these work really well in the waterline as they are waterproof and lasted all day. I loved wearing these on my eyes too as they were so easy to apply and I didn’t need to use any brushes; the resulting look gave a shiny finish which brightened your eyes. I think a good combination would be to partner this with the contouring set mentioned above, to achieve a defined glam look without a lot of hassle. They didn’t fade throughout the day and I will definitely be purchasing the other shades!

Essence Maximum Definition Mascara £2.80

Essence Maximum Definition Mascara
Essence Maximum Definition Mascara

From memory, Essence had about 10 different mascaras to choose from but I’m not a fan of clumpy mascara so I chose something similar to my Benefit They’re Real! After a few uses, I quite enjoy this mascara as it really lengthens my eyelashes with two coats on my top lashes. I don’t believe that it adds much volume like it claims, but is a good lengthening mascara if that’s what you’re after. The brush is flexible, but I don’t know if this helped me with my application at all as I didn’t notice a difference compared to my others.

Essence Liquid Ink Eyeliner Waterproof £2.50

Essence Liquid Ink Eyeliner Waterproof
Essence Liquid Ink Eyeliner Waterproof
Swatch of liquid ink eyeliner
Swatch of liquid ink eyeliner

I’ve only ever used gel eyeliner before (which Essence had) but I wanted to try something different. I’ve always been a bit frightened by liquid eyeliner but this really changed my mind. My eyeliner application has never been so easy! I was able to get a sharp line – with a steady hand. I chose the waterproof version as I didn’t want to risk it smudging throughout the day (which it didn’t). I’m not sure about it being swimming pool proof as it didn’t completely survive the shower I had with it on.

Essence Shine Shine Shine Lip Gloss £2.00 and Matt Matt Matt Lip Gloss £2.30

Essence Matt Matt Matt Lip Gloss in shade Girl of Today and Shine Shine Shine Lip Gloss in shade Red Carpet Starlet
Essence Matt Matt Matt Lip Gloss in shade Beauty Approved! and Shine Shine Shine Lip Gloss in shade Red Carpet Starlet
Swatch of 'Red Carpet Starlet' and 'Girl of Today'
Swatch of ‘Red Carpet Starlet’ and ‘Beauty Approved!’

Similar to the mascaras, there were an array of options to choose from for the lipstick section. I decided to try two from the liquid lipstick range, a gloss and a matte. The matte lipstick is labelled as a ‘lipgloss’ but as seen from the swatch above, it’s not. The ‘wet look’ is definitely a gloss and is very high in shine when worn. However, it doesn’t last long at all after eating or drinking, as expected from a gloss. The matte doesn’t completely dry down, which makes it comfortable to wear. It does wear away after eating and drinking but also has a very nice taste, surprisingly. There’s not a wide colour selection, but they are all very pretty and there are some shimmer glosses available, too.

Essence Long Lasting Lipliner £1.50

Essence Long Lasting Lipliner in shade Yummy Berry
Essence Long Lasting Lipliner in shade Yummy Berry
Swatch of 'Yummy Berry'
Swatch of ‘Yummy Berry’

This mechanical lip liner is another product which is one of my favourites from this collection. The small tip makes it easy to create a sharp and precise line. The long lasting claim is true as it didn’t fade or rub away during the day. The colour selection is good as they have some great nude shades and a few reds and pinks but not much else. They have some other pencil lip liners available that might have more shades, but I would stick with the long lasting version.
Finished look:

Finished Look

Verdict

Essence definitely has some great products that are worth the investment, but also has its drawbacks. Limited shade ranges, for most products, being one of them. However, if you are able to find products that work for you and your skin tone then I can’t recommend this brand enough! I’m usually someone who tends to avoid high street brands for foundations and eyeshadows, but Essence has for sure impressed me. There were a lot of products I didn’t try, and after this review being a success I might have a second look on the products I judged poorly at first. Have you tried anything from Essence?

Purchase Essence on Wilko.

*Note that some of these items appear and disappear on the website from time to time, your best bet would be to visit your local Wilko!

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