First, the backstory: Kosas is the little makeup brand that could. It started in 2015 as the brainchild of founder Sheena Yaitanes, who grew up playing with the makeup samples her mother brought back from her cosmetics job. She went on to attend business school, have a painting apprenticeship and become a mom, all of which would inform her work with Kosas. (Specifically: She is business savvy, knows her pigments and understands how impossible important it is to streamline a beauty routine.)

Initially, Kosas’s hero product was its gorgeous lipsticks, which somehow looked good on every skin tone and were cleverly separated into warm and cool categories—especially genius for the challenge of buying colors sight unseen on the web. The brand was an inside secret among indie fashion types for a couple years, but since Yaitanes raised a few million dollars in a couple rounds of funding (Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine Cohen is among the investors), she’s been able to launch new products including foundation-replacing face oils, color-coordinated blush-highlighter duos and liquid eye shadows. So how do the new goods stack up? And what’s up with these strange formulations? I recruited PureWow staffers Lex and Greta to try them out.

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kosas cosmetics foundation
Kosas Cosmetics

Forget Foundation—It’s All About Face Oil

Dana: Tinted Face Oil is made with six different botanical oils, which explains why it isn’t as thick as the heavy treatment oils I use on my face, and yet seems way more slippery than the usual MAC Face & Body I use. I liked how it dried really quickly so I could dab a little more onto red spots on my face—no concealer needed. Also, true confesh: This is so blendable that sometimes I just rub it in all over my face without even looking in the mirror…say, when I’ve just parked outside the office and remembered I didn’t put any makeup on. 

Lex: The Kosas face oil completely surprised me. It’s moisturizing, like a face oil should be, but it didn’t leave my face shiny. The amount of coverage it provided was more opaque than I expected but just a little less than my normal tinted moisturizer. As someone who prefers lighter coverage, this did just the thing. It camouflaged breakouts, redness and pigmentation but looked like I wasn’t wearing any face makeup. It’s kind of brilliant, and suffice it to say, I’m officially a convert.

Greta: I have sensitive skin, so I’m sometimes hesitant to try new beauty brands. But the Tinted Face Oil has a super-light formula, so I barely feel like I’m wearing anything.

Dana: One more thing—I was so surprised that I could choose the right color (shade 5.5 for my olive complexion) without trying it in person. (Although it’s available at hundreds of stores nationwide, including Sephora and Detox Market.)

kosas cosmetics blush
Kosas Cosmetics

Your Cheeks Need to Match, Hence Blush/Highlighter Duos

Lex: Like the Kosas shadow (see below), the blush and highlighter duo totally surprised me. I wore Papaya 1972, and the pigmentation of the blush is high, so it stays on all day and really brightens up your face. I love the color so much that I even brush it on when I’m not in the mood to wear makeup because it creates such a healthy glow. As for the highlighters, I’ve used a lot of products that were way too much. But this one is subdued and doesn’t include sparkle, so it looks like your skin is actually glowing and not like you have random metallic streaks on your cheekbones.

Greta: Agreed. The highlighter has just enough shine without appearing too shimmery. 

Dana: I like how the tones are coordinated, because I’ll admit I’ve worn brownish contour and then some silvery highlighter and caught sight of myself in a mirror and thought, “Oops, maybe punk rock isn’t the day look we’re after here.”

kosas cosmetics eyeshadow
Kosas Cosmetics

Liquid Eye shadow Is a Game Changer

Greta: I’m not an eye shadow person at all, yet I’m loving the 10-Second Eyeshadow in Globe, which is a neutral champagne shade. I got tons of compliments with barely any effort.

Lex: I love how vivid the pigmentation is in this easy-to-use shadow. If I’m going out, I’ll use the applicator to spread my shade—the warm chestnut color called Element—around my eyelids. But during the day I just add a dollop and spread it with a brush. Either way, it’s perfect. The shade is also a great natural alternative to my go-to buildable Charlotte Tilbury shadow.

Dana: I chose the 333 shadow, a cool lavender shade that makes me think of every ’70s movie I’ve ever seen. I love it because I can just swipe it across my lids and on my ruddy complexion, it really looks bold. I think I overdid it on a recent trip to the NYC PureWow office because I basically used the color to draw huge hooded anime eyes around my naturally squinty peeps. Drama! But a couple cool girls in the office said they liked it, so I’ll take that win. I’m going to try the warm violet burgundy shade next.

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