Shining Star: The Jeffree Star Cosmetics Review – Part Two

Published on August 6, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment

Alright, y’all – ready for another heapin’ helping of fabulous makeup and jaw-dropping drama?  Then come on along for the second installment of my review of Jeffree Star Cosmetics.  In Part One, we looked at a few different products: the Beauty Killer palette, the lip scrubs, and the new and Hot. As. Fuck. Skin Frost highlighters (with four new shades launching this month, including a gorgeous blue!).  For this part, we’re going to put a laser focus on one product, the core of the Jeffree Star brand: the Velour Liquid Lipstick.


Lately, I’ve been just this side of consumed by searching for the perfect liquid matte lipstick; these products are super on trend right now (though we may be tipping into a liquid metallic phase – ColourPop and Makeup Monsters have both added metallic shades to their collections, and even JStar has teased at least one metallic in his social media postings) and Jeffree Star has definitely come into the market in a big, big way.  It’s hard to exactly say that he has a balanced collection of shades, but he definitely has a wide variety that tend to be either super vivid (including jeweltones and pastels) or beige/brown/rose nudes.  For lovers of non-traditional lipstick colors, his collection is especially exciting, featuring shades that are pure white (Drug Lord), turquoise blue (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), true green (Mistletoe – a discontinued color from the holiday 2015 collection), bright blue (Jawbreaker), black (Weirdo), and, with the release of the limited edition summer 2016 collection, bright yellow (Queen Bee).


Before we get into specific colors, let me talk about what I like and don’t like about these lipsticks.  To get the negative out of the way, I have to say that I hate the applicators so much it hurts me.  It looks sort of like the typical doe-foot applicator, but the tip is super thin and flexible.  Sounds good, right?  Wrong.  It’s a little too bendy and it’s too hard to get a consistent line.  One side of your lips will look flawless and the other side…well, less than.  Another minor problem that crops up with the lighter, more vivid shades is that they can apply a little patchy.  To his credit, Jeffree does acknowledge this in the launch video for the summer collection, and this is not a problem unique to his brand.  Lighter, brighter, and neon shades often need a lot of white pigment to get the desired effect, and these pigments can be tricky with application.  You have to finesse them a bit, and the applicator can present some challenges to this, but I’ve been able to get adequate coverage from all of the shades in my personal collection, and I have some of the lightest and brightest.  The payoff is worth a little extra effort.

Let’s get to some swatches up in this business!


First set of swatches are the more vivid pinks and purples (Rose Matter probably could have been in this section as well, but I decided she fit better in the nudes – deal with it!).  Rich blood is different from the others in that it is a matte, but with glitter in it (I know, it irks me too).  It’s actually a nice deep red, and the bluish glitter is very subtle; once it dries you just lightly press your lips with your fingers to release the sparkle.  Masochist is a gorgeous gray area where you aren’t sure where red ends and pink begins.  It’s lovely!  Prom Night is a lovely neon pink, very 80s appropriate, and Watermelon Soda (a limited edition shade for summer 2016) is a slightly lighter and less blue version.  714 was previously released and then discontinued, but was brought back in the summer 2016 collection.  It’s a light baby pink, and is actually a good basic pink to layer shades on top of.  Queen Supreme is a really blue-toned bright pink, like old school Barbie packaging.  Blow Pony is a bright medium lavender color.  Virginity, another summer 2016 shade, is a pale, nudeish lavender (sort of like a purple shade in the vein of what people call “greige”).

All of these shades applied very smoothly.  The lighter ones (714 and Virginity especially) needed a little more work than the others but I wouldn’t describe any of them as patchy.  They all provide a nice opaque coverage and dry down pretty quickly.I have had some problems with Masochist really staining my lips, but that’s not uncommon for deep, bright pinks and reds.


Ok, so Queen Bee obviously isn’t a nude unless you actually are a bee but I just love the way it fit in with this little family, so I stuck it here instead of with the rest of the vivid oddball colors.

Although he’s known for his signature crazy colors (and matching personality), Jeffree actually has a large number of nude shades in his line.  Androgyny is sort of nude-adjacent; it’s got a nude base but there is a lot of plum-tone in it as well.  Posh spice is a nice cool deep tan (because nudes don’t always have to be warm tones, y’all!).  Mannequin looks much brighter in all the promo swatches I see, but it’s a sort of midtone nude, maybe a slight pinkish tone?  Perfect for your “basic white girl” uniform!  Queen Bee is a gorgeous yellow, very bright and vibrant.  Nude Beach is a bright peachy nude – it’s the color I always wish my skin would be instead of pink and blotchy!  Finally Rose Matter is a rose nude that, like Androgyny, is a little too rose/pink to be a skintone type nude, but it looked so lovely with this grouping, I just had to include it.

Queen Bee gave me the most trouble of this set, and it definitely takes some effort to get it right.  It tends to be a little patchy, so you will for sure want two coats and will want to work that brush good!  Nude Beach was a little patchy, but was closer in application to the light colors called out above.  The darker tones all applied beautifully with no patchiness.


Jeffree Star is known for making some crazy oddball colors, and here are the best of the best (at least for me!).

Mistletoe, a limited edition Holiday 2015 shade I had to pick up on eBay, is a lovely true green that just needs a shot of red for Christmas perfection!  Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a turquoise blue that pretty closely resembles the packaging color for the famed jeweler.  Jawbreaker, named after the movies of the same name starring Rose McGowan, is a bright light blue (it’s a bit too deep to be called baby blue, and is a little deeper in tone than say 714).  Druglord is what attracted me to Jeffree Star in the first place – it’s an opaque white, and I had this fantasy that if I had a white base I could apply a lip gloss and it would look exactly the way it does in the tube.  But sheer is sheer and that experiment left me very disappointed – but I must have liked something because I stuck around to discover 19 more shades!  Abused is a deep navy shade; it’s actually a little too dark for me to get much use out of it, but when it arrived I was playing and on my arm I made an ombre with that shade and Mannequin that was sickening.  So I’m not counting it out yet!  Finally is Weirdo, a solid black liquid lipstick (though if you remember my Heart of Darkness post, it just can’t quite beat Makeup Monsters’ Darkness Falls!).

White pigments are notorious for contributing to patchiness in liquid lipstick, so it’s no surprise that Druglord is definitely fussy!  Surprisingly, Mistletoe was also a little patchy when applied.  It’s darker than Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Jawbreaker, but was much patchier than either of those shades.  The darker shades are fabulous, as per usual.

Now that we’ve talked about how utterly fabulous the lipsticks are, let’s get down in the dirt!

For this stage of the review, we’re going to talk about the Stephanie Nicole review of the velour liquid lipsticks as well as her thoughts on the drama and the brand (this video was put out before the Kat Von D drama exploded, so you won’t hear mention of that in the video, or in this review either – gotta wait for part three for that!).

Let’s dive right in – here is the video review so many people have mentioned in their own videos about Jeffree Star:

Can I just say again how much I love Stephanie Nicole?  As I’m writing this on 8/6, she has about 1,600,000 views and she states right away that she’s removing her monetizing widgets to help make it clear that she’s not making the video for a profit.  She also notes that she ordered her items from BeautyLish and is affiliated with them, and did not provide links because she was not interested in making money off the purchase or sale of Jeffree Star Cosmetics products.  The earlier parts of the video are the reviews, and the review of the brand starts at 19:44.

Although I don’t agree with her review of the products (I’ve had such good results with the lipsticks and the Beauty Killer palette – and I do want to look like I have crazy streaks of shine!), I think she does a great job of presenting some of the issues that kicked off the drama that has been plaguing Jeffree Star for the last couple of months.

RacismThe big one, and the one that seems to have gotten the most response, is the claim that Jeffree Star is racist.  Stephanie Nicole’s video includes most of the footage that leads to these allegations.  They are a StickCam video (whatever the fuck that is – gawd I’m old!) of Jeffree and another performer doing a skit, talking on the phone about Jeffree’s bad behavior.  It’s pretty stupid and not very well conceived or executed, but the part that gets everyone all upset is where the other performer (Sharolaid) accuses Jeffree of “throwing battery acid on [her] Auntie’s face” because “black people can’t wear MAC Cosmetics.”  Jeffree replies that she was wearing a foundation that was too light and she was trying to “lighten her skintone.”

Clearly, this joke isn’t funny.

This video was from Jeffree’s MySpace days about a decade ago, and it definitely shows the stupidity of the young and arrogant.  In another part of the video that wasn’t included in Stephanie’s video, Jeffree also uses the phrase “two negros and a tranny.”  Also extremely problematic.

In another video that I will try to link below (but I may not be able to find, or may get removed after I post it – Jeffree has been working very diligently to get this removed from YouTube whenever it pops up!), Jeffree is walking after someone (a fan? a random bystander? it’s not clear) and calls her the n-word twice.  This one is clearly not a skit, and makes questions about Jeffree’s racism much more serious.

(Editor’s Note: Hopefully this stays live, but Jeffree has been going hard to get these removed from YouTube.  This has an additional couple of scenes that I did not see in a previous video – two more scenes using the n-word, one saying “dirty Mexican, one referring to a person of color as an ape, and more gender-based harassment – all from approximately 8-10 years ago during the MySpace/Music days.  If it gets removed, I will try to find a replacement as soon as possible)

Those videos from a decade ago, when Jeffree was between 19 and 21, are being tied to a recent social media spat between him and InstaGram-er Makeup By Shayla.  Those SnapChat stories are also included in Stephanie’s video above (if you haven’t watched the video yet, I bet by this point you’re kicking yourself!).

Is Jeffree Star a raging dickbag?  Obvi.

Does Jeffree Star use sexist language to describe women?  Absolutely.

Racism 02But is Jeffree Star racist?  That’s a little harder to pin down.  Let me give you my thoughts on it.  And of course, my thoughts are those of a white, male-bodied individual.  But I’m also a queer person, a person who has graduate education in lots of things related to identity construction and politics, and someone with pretty diverse life experiences (including being poor, having very deep and diverse friendships, and a small amount of domestic and international travel).  Intersectionality means that I get to have all of my identities, not just the ones that someone wants to call out to suit their feelings (for or against) my argument.  This isn’t going to fit for everyone, but it’s how I think about it.  If you just came here for the makeup and don’t want some hardcore identity exploration thrown your way, better to click out now and read something else.  Maybe my review of the Caked Lip Fondants.  Those things are the shit. Also, prepare yourself for some pretty harsh language.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

People talk about “racist” as if it’s an identity, something that you are, like being white, being queer, being Italian, etc.  And in a way, racist can become an identity: if you’re a member of the KKK, you are turning your racism into an identity.  But racism, by itself, is not an identity.  It’s a socially constructed set of behaviors and attitudes, and it is absolutely learned and picked up from the culture in which we live.  So if you ask, “Is Jeffree Star a racist?” then the answer is obviously no.  Defining people as “racists,” except those like the KKK that have consciously taken that on as an identifier, actually minimizes the way that racism is present in all of our lives and tries to simplify something that is way more complex.  Everyone has thoughts or beliefs that are racist in nature; you can’t live in our culture and not have them.  Some of them are more pronounced than others, and some people work harder than others to combat them in their personal lives, but if we start singling out individuals based on isolated events by just saying, “You’re racist!” then we’re letting ourselves off the hook for examining our own racist beliefs and behavior patterns.  Racism becomes something “out there” that we can avoid by just not associating with a person (or buying from a makeup brand), and that we don’t have to face within ourselves.  It’s an attempt at a quick fix for something that clearly has no quick fix.

Racism 03Rather, I like to think about specific behaviors and patterns of behaviors.  With this, we can refine it even further.  Some people are more open and on the surface with their racist behaviors and attitudes.  They might use racial slurs, or talk openly about “those people” (inserting in whatever particular racial or ethnic group they are directing the sentiment at) and the problems they cause.  They might harass or even attack someone from their targeted group. The people that most often come to mind when we think of someone as a racist are people who have established a pattern of racist behaviors.  It isn’t an isolated incident here or there; it’s a routine way for them to interact with the world.

What’s harder for some people to contend with are more passive racist attitudes and behaviors.  The way people talk about police murders of black people provide numerous examples of this passive racism: “Well, if you’re going to act like a thug you’re going to get yourself shot.” “If they would just cooperate with police instead of resisting, nothing would happen to them.” “Look at his criminal record – he was obviously dangerous!”  “He stole something from that store – I don’t have sympathy for criminals!”  For some people, these statements seem like “common sense,” but they miss the fact that they illustrate harmful attitudes about the value of life for people of color.  A perfect example to contrast this is the Standford Rape Case.  Brock Turner, a promising swimmer from a well-to-do family, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.  No one called him a thug, no one made disparaging remarks about his character; in fact, people seemed rather worried about the future of his swimming career.  Instead of his mugshot, media showed pictures of him smiling and wearing a conservative suit, a promo pic from his athletic department.  He received only 6 months in jail, and most of that will never be served.  If it surprises you that Brock Turner is white, then you are really, really bad at recognizing how racism functions in our culture.  Just sayin’.

So how does all of this relate to Jeffree Star.  The videos that are being shown of the poorly done skit and of Jeffree yelling the n-word at a woman on the street clearly show racist behavior.  There is no question.  In terms of the skit, you can say that he was young and naive, you can say that it was supposed to be satire, whatever, and that would all be partially true.  I know I did stupid things at 19 or 21 that I regret (or would regret if I remembered them better – it was a crazy time in my life!); there are certain jokes or bits I’ve used at shows in the past that I no longer use because I am older and wiser and more educated, and hopefully more compassionate.  That’s not an excuse.  I take responsibility for the things that I did; I stood behind them at the time, and if someone were to call me out on it I would absolutely take responsibility and apologize.  Jeffree Star has…sort of addressed them, though he tends to focus on how young he was, how he’s changed, and has never given a real, sincere apology.

OwnershipBut what I think is important to ask is whether or not Jeffree Star has established a pattern of racist behavior since those videos were made.

I haven’t watched every single video that references “Jeffree Star Racist” but I’ve watched a lot of them (even Sanders Kennedy, who I’m coming to loathe more and more all the time) and I have to say no.  Everyone references the two videos described above and nothing else.  Or if there is something else, it’s the juvenile back and forth between him and Makeup By Shayla.  But if you watch the SnapChat stories and if you read the tweets, you will find lots of problematic things (including threats of violence and blatantly sexist language) but what you won’t find are racist attitudes or behaviors.

Now I have to say something that probably isn’t going to sit well with the millenial, EveryDay Feminism, offended-by-everything crowd, and I’m sorry for that.  If you decide to peace out now, I understand, but here is something people need to understand: saying something mean or derogatory to a person of color is not necessarily racist.  Jeffree Star called Makeup By Shayla a cunt.  That’s a pretty foul, sexist term for a man to say to a woman (we’re going to get back to gender stuff in a minute), but just because he said it to a black woman doesn’t automatically make it racist.  These is nothing explicitly racialized about the word.  Of course, you could again look at patterns of behavior; if Jeffree Star uses the word cunt to refer to a black woman but doesn’t use it to refer to a white woman in similar circumstances, then we’ve probably got some of that passive racism going on.  But looking at Jeffree’s behavior, he has a pretty strong history of using that word often, in both negative and supposedly positive contexts, and to refer to a range of people regardless of race.  The fight between Makeup By Shayla and Jeffree Star was painfully juvenile (I couldn’t believe I was watching two full grown adults), it was classist (as much as Jeffree prides himself on being humble, he definitely loves to bring up his designer accessories and his checking account balance), it was grossly sexist…but it wasn’t racist.

And since we’re on the subject of patterns of behavior, let’s look at Jeffree Star’s makeup brand.  First of all, his “Executive Assistant” and frequent product model Alicia (Ah-LEE-see-ah – I’m not sure if I’m spelling it correctly) is a gorgeous woman of color and has worked with Jeffree Star since his music days.  She is featured in several of his videos including the Summer Liquid Lip reveal linked above as well as the Skin Frost reveal included below (for those who might be sensitive to this, Alicia does say the N-word to Jeffree at the 6:14 mark, in case you want to skip or mute it):

Jeffree Star calls out that many makeup brands don’t show swatches on women of color and includes Alicia in the video to show how the products look on darker skin.  This video came out before all of this drama erupted, and is not a response to anything.  If you look at his product line, he also has shades that look good on a wide range of skin tones and his “nude” shades go from very pale to very deep (Hello Dominatrix!).  In terms of models, he also prominently features black women in his ad campaigns; in fact, he is often the only white person in his ads.  He is making a conscious effort to represent women of color in his brand.  Now if only he could manage to take responsibility for past mistakes and offer sincere remorse rather than explaining away his past mistakes.

Butler Quote

Now let’s dive into the murky waters of gender.  There is a long history of overlap and tension between drag performance and feminism; it existed before Jeffree Star was even born and will probably exist long after he’s faded from the public eye (in whatever forms they exist in the future).  Drag performance is about playing with gender roles and expectations while feminism is about critiquing them, so it’s not surprising that they would overlap.  And one of the ways that they overlap is in the use of terms like “bitch,” “slut,” and yes, even “cunt.”  These are terms that are used pejoratively against women on the reg, but they are also used frequently within drag performance.  Sometimes they are used consciously to raise the spectre of sexism to an audience that thinks they are just there to be entertained, sometimes they are used as a mimicry of a catty form of femininity that may or may not have a critical function, and sometimes they are used by people who haven’t really thought critically about the gender presentation they are putting forward (beyond the simple idea that they like exploring a feminine persona).  Now pardon me if I sound catty, but I don’t think Jeffree Star has done a lot of critical analysis of his drag persona…or, like, any.  He throws around words that are very complex and troubling, and does it in a way that speaks more to his privilege as a white, male-bodied individual than it does of any attempt to subvert power structures or critique gender.  He needs to be called out on that, and I would love to see a more thoughtful, socially aware Jeffree Star using his paltform to play with gender roles and expectations in a positive way instead of just trying to sell makeup.  But again, I don’t think he’s actively trying to oppress women – he’s far too self-absorbed to think about how others might be affected by his actions.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weird combination of makeup review and thinkpiece of gender and racial identity.  It didn’t start off this way, but I’m pretty satisfied with where it ended.  When we come back for part three, we’re going to look at all of the stuff that went down with Kat Von D and then I’ll give my two cents on the question everyone has been answering the last few weeks (whether anyone asked or not): do you still support Jeffree Star’s brand?

There will be some twists, some turns…and LOTS of YouTube videos!  Coming soon.  Until then…

Go Forth & Get Painted!

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Readers Comments (1)
  1. Beth says:

    Love you Janessa!
    We gotta get together soon

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