On The Hunt For The Best Makeup With SPF, I Found Ciele
Photo: Courtesy of Ciele Cosmetics.
Call me jaded, but it’s rare that I get genuinely excited about a new beauty brand. There’s a lot out there already — and it’s a lot of the same, if we’re being honest. But sometimes, there comes a new brand that shows up as a disruptor, something new, unique, and so well done it makes me think, okay, this is going to be big.
A refreshing new label usually has a unique and specific POV. I think about a brand like Starface, the acne patch that made covering pimples into a cute, aesthetic statement. Or Hailey Bieber’s Rhode, with its Peptide Lip Treatment, a scented balm-gloss hybrid, that instantly became a phenomenon. And now Ciele Beauty is here, the new, just-launched brand that everyone’s getting excited about, including our editors, makeup artists, dermatologists, and Sephora’s executive team. Its niche? Really good SPF makeup.
Behind the brand
Ciele [see-elle] is founded by seasoned makeup artist Nikki DeRoest and Cerre Francis. DeRoest has worked with some of the biggest makeup brands, including Stila, and Bobbi Brown, and Hourglass, where Francis also worked for five years. Prior to creating Ciele, DeRoest and Francis launched Róen Beauty, an IYKYK makeup brand with a chic sparkle eyeshadow palette in a first-of-its-kind cream to powder formula. To this day, it’s my favorite eyeshadow palette of all time — and I’ve tried so many.
“That was my gateway into the industry,” DeRoest explains. The foundational palette was fantastic, but DeRoest and Francis didn’t stay with the brand for long. “There was a turn of events and I had to exit only a year after launch,” she explains. “It was devastating. But with that came the light of recognizing a passion for product formulation and innovation.”
Immediately after leaving Róen, DeRoest and Francis went for round two and began the iteration process that would lead to Ciele’s SPF makeup. “I’ve always thought, why don’t people make blush with SPF?” questioned DeRoest. Their goal was not to replace people’s daily sunscreen, but add SPF into high-quality makeup for added UV protection. Of course, this proved a unique challenge and took three years to get right.
There’s a reason you don’t see high-factor SPF in most foundations, concealers, and blushes at Sephora: It’s very hard to add sunscreen to makeup without altering the performance or making it chalky (zinc oxide often leaves a white cast on darker skin tones). Plus, there’s added regulation around sunscreen — and makeup with sunscreen — sold in the US. It has to go through FDA testing, which can take a long time.
Still, DeRoest and Francis were up to taking on these challenges in creating the first three Ciele products: a skin tint foundation, liquid blush, and setting powder.
What I love about all three is that I forget that there’s SPF in them. As someone who’s admittedly very acne prone, DeRoest designed the Ciele makeup to be lightweight and non-comedogenic, free of all pore-clogging ingredients found in some popular sunscreens and makeup products, such as coconut oil derivatives and algae extracts. “We wanted to make sure that you didn’t feel the SPF in the product, so it wears as well as any makeup products that you already have,” says DeRoest. If you ask me, these are easy foundation, blush, and powder replacements — with protection.
The problem with most SPF skin tints or serum foundations, according to DeRoest: they’re too slippery. “I feel like a lot of the formulas are hard to build on, your makeup slips off, they don’t have a lot of coverage,” she explains. In creating this tinted serum with SPF 50, DeRoest asked women to describe their favorite foundation and their favorite sunscreen. Using the feedback, she hit a “sweet spot,” creating a skin tint with SPF that has a bit of coverage (I’d describe it as light-medium) that is neither matte nor shiny and layers well with makeup added on top.
This liquid blush is my favorite piece in the line. It reminds me a little bit of the Glossier Cloud Paint but with SPF 50. It comes in four shades, all are pigmented and blendable and make my cheeks look believably flushed. There’s a warm nude called Kirsty, named after DeRoest’s friend and influencer Kirsty Godso who is “terrified of blush,” according to DeRoest. “It’s a gateway to blush because it errs on more of a neutral nude that goes well with bronzer, if you like more of that natural look.” There’s a dusty rose called Behati, after friend of the brand and model Behati Prinsloo. I gravitate toward a baby pink called Elodie, named after Francis’ young daughter and the color her cheeks turn when she blushes. Then there’s Giselle, a rich berry that’s the brightest and most pigmented of the bunch. All shades work on your lips as well. Extra sun protection there is a huge plus.
When it comes to reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, a powder formula makes the most sense. This one has a cute little compact with a puff and the little trampoline-like sifter that keeps the powder from getting everywhere. Like the name suggests, it filters and almost blurs pores, smoothing out any texture or fine lines. I’m not typically a powder girl, but I’d use this for touch ups, as a gift to my future self who will be glad I used all the protection available.
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