Friday, July 17, 2020

iHope KANEBO 2020 Luxury Makeup Revamp (plus Swatches)

KANEBO Eye Color Duos 2020

Japanese luxury line Kanebo has revamped their entire makeup line this year, and did a complete 180 from conservative “OL” (office lady) aesthetic to something completely fresh and vibrant.
Besides including funky mixers and pop shades in their buttery N-rouge lipstick line to let you tweak and create completely unique shades yourself, they’ve also added interesting multipurpose creams called Drawing Dual Rouges and Drawing Dual Pens that promise to be usable on eyes, cheeks, lips, anywhere you like. Even the eye palette is a small custom compact into which you can slot up to 3 mini duos. We are basically free to experiment with colors and textures and it's all done with maximum portability, minimum weight and fuss.
Considering lipsticks cost about S$60 a pop and the tiny eyeshadow duos are S$35 in Singapore, it’s not easy to explore the line if you’re shopping online during the current pandemic, so here are all the color products (aside from the 3 basic monotone Drawing Pencils) swatched for your reference!

Drawing Dual Pens and Rouges can be used as shadows, highlights, blush.

Having road-tested the Drawing Dual Pens several times, I have to say I like the idea behind a duotone stick that you can use as shadow, liner, highlighter, lip highlight, or even concealer (02). However, the fact that the formula is relatively sheer and stays creamy makes it problematic if you like a strong defined eye look, or have oily lids. These do not set on their own, and WILL crease if not powdered down.

The creaminess and soft color of Drawing Dual Rouges on the other hand, allow them to work quite nicely as cream blushes, although I don't 100% see the point of them being duotone as the color-contrast between the paired shades is not huge, and it's also hard to find many who would like a yellow ombre lip or liner (shade 51) in daily life. Basically you need to like these with the duotones mixed, is what I'm saying.

Kanebo N-Rouge 2020

As for the lipsticks, they are stellar if you like a traditional satin lipstick. The formula is buttery smooth, and while not every shade is fully opaque (upwardly-mobile polite Japanese society does like their soft, subtle, translucent tones after all), this makes a lot of the mixer shades easier to blend, mix and layer with others.

I have a soft spot for all the solid creme colors, and I do like the translucent metallic toppers, although I have to admit a slight disappointment when I realized the bronze and aqua shades swatched quite sheer. Maybe it's just the sense that they were not QUITE as subversive as they initially looked. Then again, I appreciate that these remain wearable and "layerable", while opaque versions of such colors would be much harder to work with for beginners.

Kanebo 2020 N-Rouge swatches

Some thought did go into the funkier shades, I feel. While part of me felt like "ah... they were not THAT daring after all", colors like 114 Sumire Vivid, and 115 Pop Pink, do look much more flattering with a slight translucency. There is, after all, not much value in being intense and opaque just for the sake of shock value, if the product does not look good on anyone.

Kanebo 2020 Eye Color Duo swatches

Personally, the Eye Color Duos were an instant fave of mine, and I was having fine configuring different groups of shades in the little compact. I've also heavily used several of the duos since I received the press kit, and genuinely like the silky buildable colors which are more pigmented than I'm used to mainstream Japanese shadows being, and then blend together effortlessly.

They have some really amazing combos.
  • 01 Garden Picnic, is a perfect socket/transition duo
  • 02 Beach Parasol, is slightly more avant garde and daring
  • 03 Party Heart, is surprisingly flattering with some pink blush and a soft lip
  • 12 Daydream Shine is a champagne and baby pink duo that works as cheek highlight
  • 08 Elegant Irony pairs a ladylike lavender with a more neutral plum brown, as an alternative to boring neutrals
Couple of cons?

At S$35 per duo, a set of three plus the compact will set you back $135. That's for a small amount of product. I also hesitate to recommend just buying the duos and not getting the compact, cos these are small and come in cardboard (plastic lined) disposable packaging which is easily damaged or lost. So it is quite an investment. That said, I do like the tiny sizes as someone who is intensely fickle and never sticks to the same colors for a long time. It's not good value if you buy huge shadow pans or palettes and then only use 20% of them.

Lack of mattes. 
This is not a new problem but it still bugs me slightly. 01 Garden Picnic and 05 Cashmere Temptation are as close to a semi-matte satin finish as I could find. Everything else is loaded with pearl and sparkles, and the collection is lacking in truly deep, neutral shades. Things I consider to be especially important for shaping and enhancing smaller, flatter Asian eyes.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts on the new Kanebo point makeup range. Price point aside, I do love the new direction they've taken, and for the most part they've tried to maintain balance between high-fashion edgy colors, general ease of use, and quality of formulation. 

I have not checked out any of the range's new skin/base products, which is usually where Japanese brands are typically strong in. If you have any thoughts on the new line, do share what you think in the comments below!

KANEBO is available in Singapore at Takashimaya S.C., OG Albert, as well as via their flagship online store at


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