As an editor with an eye toward skin care and beauty, the biggest selling point for me in Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk line is that the pinky-nude lipstick is designed to look universally flattering on all skin tones. If you’re a person of color like I am, you understand that not all nudes are created equal. But it’s also a widely available and fairly popular lipstick color: According to Charlotte Tilbury, one tube of her signature lipstick is sold every two minutes. Since its 2017 release, the Pillow Talk line has joined other iconic lipstick shades like Ruby Woo, Black Honey and Schiap as instantly recognizable shades among beauty enthusiasts. If you’re thinking about dipping into the collection and giving it a shot, I’ll run your through the highlights of the brand and some things to know about this collection (and a few others).
I first learned of Charlotte Tilbury — a celebrity makeup artist and founder of her namesake beauty line — eight years ago when I stumbled upon her YouTube channel. Tilbury posted a video of a cat eye tutorial using a combination of high end and drugstore products, and ever since I became enamoured with her work on everyone from Rihanna and Kate Moss to Jennifer Aniston and Amal Cloony. When she launched Pillow Talk, I was immediately intrigued by the lipstick but didn’t pull the trigger until 2019, when a makeup artist friend mentioned she thought the lipstick would flatter my skin tone. And after wearing Pillow Talk lipstick almost every day for 16 months, it has become my no-fail, your-lips-but-better shade. And while my daily makeup routine has shrunk significantly since sheltering in place was encouraged, one thing that helps me regain some normalcy is swiping on this shade of pretty nude-pink lipstick from Charlotte Tilbury.
Beyond helping me feel good, it’s also easy to find a Pillow Talk product, as the brand is available both online and in stores worldwide. You can shop Charlotte Tilbury’s line of makeup and skin care products at Nordstrom, Sephora, Bloomingdales, Net-a-Porter, Violet Grey, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Amazon and directly through Charlotte Tilbury, naturally.
Beauty-wise, certain nude shades are too light and make me look ghostly and sick while others are way too deep, and can become ruddy. Pillow Talk walks the tight line between being light enough to be considered a nude with the right amount of pink to add inviting warmth to my pout. To get an idea of what Pillow Talk could look like on you, check out Charlotte’s website to see a diverse group of models sporting the creamy-matte lipstick.
And it’s not just the beauty industry that has a problem with offering a variety of nudes. Lingerie brands and shoemakers such as Christian Louboutin have recognized there is an issue and have expanded their respective nude-toned offerings.
For me, Pillow Talk is the ultimate, no-fail lipstick because it’s fun, feminine and functional. Beyond the gorgeous packaging and the fact that it has a faint scent of cocoa butter (notably there without being distracting), the shape of the bullet is a major win in my book. Its rectangular tip makes it easy to line and fill in your lip. For day-to-day wear, even while lounging around the house in cozy slippers and Beyond Yoga workout pants, I like to swipe on a coat or two of Pillow Talk onto my lip to feel more put together. For a more natural look, I like to dab the lipstick on and for a more matte and rock-and-roll pout, I’ll lightly dust translucent powder on top of my lipstick instead. Pillow Talk is also a relatively long-wearing lipstick, especially when paired with the matching lip liner to help extend the wear to a few hours. While it can leave a stain on my water bottle, I’m okay reapplying this lipstick — doing so feels like a fun luxury that takes no more than 60 seconds. I find it easy to reapply during the work day, even when I don’t have a mirror or my smartphone camera on hand.
Last fall, Charlotte Tilbury introduced two new shades of Pillow Talk lipstick to its lineup:
I am a mascara fiend and will try everything from Caution Extreme Lash Mascara from Hourglass Cosmetics and Lash Freak from Urban Decay to drugstore finds like L’Oreal Telescopic in Carbon Black to Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Mascara. When Charlotte Tilbury’s newest Pillow Talk product dropped in late August and amassed a 45,000-person waitlist (according to the brand), I was intrigued. The Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara has a unique wand, which has a slight learning curve. You use the brush’s flat side to concentrate the mascara formula at the roots of your lashes and the silicone bristles on the other side are designed to comb through your lashes, helping you achieve longer, separated lashes. I rarely use a lash curler — Hourglass’ Eyelash Curler is a personal favorite — and the Pillow Talk mascara formula holds a curl thanks to the lash-lifting polymer. Your lashes will also look more voluminous thanks to the combination of carnauba and microcrystalline waxes, as well as Kerestore, which helps condition your lashes to help them look thicker, according to Charlotte Tilbury.
These finely-milled blushes are delicate and must be treated with care, especially when traveling. My favorite hack is to place a cotton round or two between the blush and mirror of the compact for an extra barrier of protection when flying, or at least when I felt comfortable enough to hop on a cross-country flight. The Cheek to Chic blush is both buildable and pigmented, allowing me to customize the color payoff for various activities and lighting situations. Inside the compact are two blush colors — a deep rosy blush and a pop shade that adds luminosity to my cheeks. On days when I need to get ready in five minutes before a video meeting, I’ll grab a clean buffer brush, dip into Pillow Talk and, using a windshield wiper motion, blend the rosy blush into my eye creases to match my cheeks for a quick monochromatic look that shows up on the camera and lets the person sitting across from me (virtually) know that I put in some effort.
I own an embarrassing number of eye shadow palettes and somehow gravitate towards the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk quad for a quick and easy everyday look. After I apply my Hourglass Veil Mineral Eye Primer, I like to use a flat shader brush for a wash of the nude color onto my lids. Then, I’ll use a clean blending brush to buff a light wash of the matte, rose-bud pink into my crease. For an evening out (remember those?) I’ll use the deepest color in the crease and rim my bottom lash line for a smoky eye effect. For the last year-and-a-half, my signature beauty look for day and night has been a shimmery pink shadow with a black-winged liner, and I was thrilled Luxury Eyeshadow Palette comes with a shimmery rose gold shade that feels sophisticated-yet-fun. Unlike other glittery shadows I’ve experimented with during music festival season (or in middle school when Mary Kate and Ashley dropped their makeup line at Walmart), the Charlotte shimmery shadows are non-intimidating, buildable and would look flattering on everyone, no matter their age — whether 18- or 90-plus-years-old.
My favorite pencil eyeliner is creamy, doesn’t run and, when the point is sharpened, I get a Lauren Conrad-worthy feline flick, almost every time. Charlotte Tilbury described Pillow Talk eyeliner as a “smokey berry-brown” although I find it has flecks of aubergine that make my brown eyes pop. After you draw on your cat eye, the creamy liner will set and shouldn’t move given a water-repellent film for long wear. The formulation is also gentle enough that you can use it to rim your waterline for an alluring smokey eye. I was so into this eyeliner that I ordered a backup option after my third time using it because it’s a stunning and truly unique shade that doesn’t irritate my sensitive eyes — and I didn’t want to run out.
Other noteworthy Charlotte Tilbury makeup products
When I want to create an easy, flirty and no-fail look, I gravitate towards Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk collection. However, that collection isn’t the only group of standout products from the London-based artist’s color cosmetics line, nor do I only ever want to create that flirty look. Here are two of my other favorites from Charlotte Tilbury that I’ve come to love over the last 16 months.
Last August, Charlotte Tilbury launched the Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation, a medium-to-full-coverage foundation. Choose between three undertones — cool, neutral and warm. Colors range from shade 1 Cool, the lightest color, to 16 Neutral, the deepest foundation shade, bringing the total to 40 shades. I’ve been applying her liquid foundation in the shade 9 Cool on and off since its launch, and it holds up without primer during humid east coast summer weather despite my oily skin. I prefer applying the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer with SPF 15 before using any base during the daytime for extra sun protection, keeping any excess oil production in check. The foundation also doesn’t transfer onto my clothes. However, I do set my base with either the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Pressed Powder or the Hourglass Veil Translucent Loose Powder, which helps prevent transfer and oils from seeping through.
For me, the mark of a good foundation is the capacity to blend into my skin with my fingers. Why? If the formula is truly great, it can stand on its own and not need fancy foundation brushes and tools to look good. The Charlotte Tilbury foundation blends nicely with your fingers, a damp BeautyBlender and synthetic bristle brushes. I regularly rely on two beauty tools to buff out my liquid, cream and stick foundations:
On days I want medium coverage or haven’t gotten around to cleaning my makeup brushes, I’ll grab a random contour brush from my kit, such as the Rodial Sculpting Brush, and stipple and buff away any harsh edges.
Twist the rose gold tone container base to release the liquid concealer into the sponge applicator and gently dab the foundation over trouble spots. Formulated to brighten under eyes, it also conceals dark spots and acne. My favorite application is creating a V shape under the eyes and blending into the inner corners for a well-rested look. You can use a combination of the built-in sponge or your fingers to blend, although I find using the Bdellium Tools Golden Triangle Brush helps me achieve the perfect finish. The medium coverage concealer doesn’t just cover up that I’ve had a long night, either — it contains skincare ingredients for my gentle undereye area. Persian silk tree bark extract helps reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, palmitoyl glycine helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wild indigo extract helps brighten my undereyes, leaving behind a luminous skin-like finish.