Beauty Abroad, Part 5: Intro to Kiko (Eyeshadow Swatches and First Impressions)

Or, more properly: Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 16 (£6.90) and Infinity Eyeshadows in 270 and 251 (£5.90 each). The fact that the number 251 is attached to lavender is playing havoc with my synesthesia, but 6 is purple and 7 is green in my mental bouquet of numbers, so 16 and 270 are easier for me to remember. I also like the clinical sterility of number names for makeup products. I am, alas, easily swayed by a clever name; numbers force me to pay attention to the quality of the products themselves. Plus, there’s the hilarious pseudo-objectivity of numbers! = math! = Very Serious! Those are real exclamation points and not factorial marks, btw.

I bought these on Saturday evening at the Kiko store in London. Kiko is a cruelty-free Italian brand that I’d never encountered in the States and, for that matter, couldn’t find in Italy. But I was eager to try it after reading Drivel about Frivol’s review of the eyeshadow sticks, so I dragged my boyfriend to Regent Street at the very end of our long day. We’d started with coffee and pastries at the British Library, visited the National Portrait Gallery and gawked at the Rubens paintings on the ceiling of the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall, eaten ramen and tapas and hazelnut gelato, and had more than one cocktail each. And now it was 8:30, thirty minutes before closing time at Kiko, and I had to make some quick decisions. Game face on.

The atmosphere of the store wasn’t conducive to cool deliberation. It was a humid evening and the smallish space was packed with women. The music was loud, the lights were bright, the shelves overflowed with colors and sparkles, and a large screen played a looped video of a model posing in Kiko’s Brazil-themed summer line. Overall, Kiko struck me as similar to MAC: sleek black packaging, midrange prices, and a dizzying range of colors, many of them loud and flashy. Someone had wheeled her baby into the store; it lay quietly in its stroller, wide-eyed and apparently shell-shocked.

I wasn’t faring much better. It hadn’t taken me long to settle on an eyeshadow stick in 16, a dark purple with sparse glitter, and an Infinity eyeshadow in 270, a shimmery olive green. But I’d decided to allow myself one more eyeshadow, and my eyes flitted from plum to taupe to plum-taupe to oooh was that a matte black with blue sparkles? Suddenly I regressed to the age of twelve and heard my id intone: BUY THE LAVENDER GLITTER.

This one? The one that looks like fallout city?


So I did.

(That’s in direct sunlight, not the fierce store lighting that caught every bit of glitter and made the shadow look like pressed fairy dust, but you get the idea.)

The cashier was trying to sell every second or third customer a highlighter stick, and of course he decided that I was a likely mark. I’d never seen that sales tactic at any other store: “Would you like to buy this thing that has no relation to the other things you’re buying, and isn’t on sale, and isn’t part of a promotion? You’re buying three things: maybe you’d like a fourth?” I’m genuinely curious whether that works on some people. After it failed to work on me, the cashier let me know that every Infinity eyeshadow came with its own case, but if I bought a third, I could get an empty three-shadow palette to put them in.

“No thanks, I’ll just take the individual cases for these two.”

“As you wish”–darkly, with a hint of you-poor-fool.

I escaped only £19 poorer, and we made our way back to Euston Station, and now I’ll stop talking and give you what you’ve been waiting for.

Boxed up:

The sleek (not Sleek) black cases, which remind me of NARS packaging:

The Infinity eyeshadows are meant to be popped into Kiko’s “Clic” palettes, which are usually sold separately, though they’re free this summer with every eyeshadow purchase. They come with wells for one, three, or five shadows, which explains the cashier’s hustle. I would roll my eyes at the cases-sold-separately gimmick, but these are surprisingly well-made: each has a mirror and closes with a magnet. Classy. I think they’re between £1.50 and £2 extra.

Of course, if you’re looking to conserve space, the cases might be too bulky for you. My own eyeshadow collection is small enough (for now…) that I don’t have to worry about such things, but I do think this is too much plastic for a single eyeshadow pan.

With the eyeshadows popped inside, in indirect sunlight. Left, 270; right, 251.

I realized while photographing these that I’d inadvertently put together a near-dupe of the NARS Nouveau Monde duo, which I’d been eyeing for several months. One more item to cross off the wishlist!

 (Photo from the NARS website.)

270 in direct sunlight:

The Long Lasting Eyeshadow Sticks are twist-up cream-eyeshadow pencils, similar to the Clinique Chubby Sticks for eyes, though decidedly less chubby. The packaging has a matte finish and the tops close with a satisfying click. I haven’t worn 16 yet, but I’ve swatched it on my arm, and the swatch didn’t fade or even smudge when I rubbed it with a finger. It was extraordinary. A vigorous scrubbing with soap and a sponge did the trick, but I’m a little nervous about the effort involved in getting this stuff off my eyes…


 All three in indirect natural light; two swipes of 251, one each of 16 and 270. 270 is gorgeously pigmented and smooth; I tried to apply it today and realized that my (over)reliance on the semi-sheer NARS Lhasa had given me a heavy hand with everything else. 270 is the sort of shadow that needs to be applied in little dabs and gentle strokes. 16 is less opaque but still bright, creamy, and blendable, and the sheer 251 looks like it will work best as a sparkly accent.

16 in direct sunlight:

270 and 251 in direct sunlight:

I haven’t played around with these yet, but when I do, I’ll compile a new post with a few looks. I’m especially excited about 251, which looks like the Shu Uemura glitter topcoats that I’ve seen here and there on the interwebs. I think the sheer sparkly lilac would layer beautifully over a darker purple or a taupe.

That’s all for now, but I have a few more reviews in the works! See you soon.

11 thoughts on “Beauty Abroad, Part 5: Intro to Kiko (Eyeshadow Swatches and First Impressions)

  1. Before I got Nars Habanera I also bought a couple of single shadows from Art Deco which are nearly the same, but I completely forgot. Funny how you just get drawn to the same colours!


  2. Isn't it weird how that happens? I don't even own that many eyeshadows, yet I can't seem to get over my attraction to purples and olive greens. Though I did recently pick up a bright teal eyeliner in order to push myself outside my comfort zone! Haven't worn it in public yet, though…


  3. 1. That day sounds like pretty much my ideal kind of day in a place like London. Museums, good food, gawking.2. Intonations of My Id seems like a great title for an autobiography…3. The first KIKO store I visited (in Naples) had a similar effect on me. I can also report that the strange sales tactic is apparently applied across the brand – the woman at the cashier's desk started coveing my hand in demonstrations of smudgy shadow stick eyeliners, accompanied by staccato italian that finished with an expectant look. A weak 'non, grazie', was about the best I could manage.4. SYNAESTHESIA HIGH FIVES! 😀 I'll allow that 7 is green, but 6 is obviously royal blue. You must have been thinking of 8 when purple occurred to you ;-P


  4. 1. It was a great day! The one thing we didn't find time for was the London Eye. 2. My 12-year-old id was very disappointed about that.3. Kiko's sales strategy is so bizarre! I'm always reluctant to go into Lush stores because the employees are so pushy even when I say I'm just browsing, but at least the hustle ends at the counter. At Kiko, that's apparently where it begins. I forgot to mention in my post that there was a middle-aged male employee, also Italian, who kept directing me with his limited English to the bottle of makeup remover while I was swatching eyeshadows on my hand. I was confused: was I not allowed to use so many testers at once? Or was he just looking out for me? So weird.4. Dude, you've got 6 and 8 reversed. 6 is a medium bright purple and 8 is indigo. (Do you have letter synesthesia, too? I do, but only for a few letters. I'm curious whether their colors correspond to the letter magnets I used to play with as a toddler.)


  5. Oh btw kiko is EVERYWHERE in Italy including at the Venice train station, and also in the middle of the shopping district if I remembered that Venice is where you went. I literally stopped in every kiko I saw and my husband was Pissed. (In Barcelona, Paris, Venice AND Milan)


  6. I was indeed in Venice, but I never saw a Kiko there! We didn't pass through the train station, but I must have missed the others. In fact, it was hard to find any cosmetics at all! I walked past a Diego Dalla Palma store, but it was closed and I didn't have a chance to go back.Haha, I think my boyfriend still has flashbacks to waiting for me outside the London Kiko store for nearly an hour. Sorry, dude.


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