Zara’s new makeup line is far from throwaway

I own just four garments from fast-fashion behemoth Zara and felt guilty buying even those. Fairly or not, the Spanish retail chain is judged widely for the environmental impact of its low-cost, trend-driven model. So when the brand told me that a makeup line was in the works, I expected faddy designer dupes with similarly ephemeral appeal, piles of single-use plastic packaging and that same unease at having supported a culture that should be doing considerably better.

They agree, it seems. Instead of copying high-end creatives for Zara Beauty, they’ve engaged them in the process. Legendary makeup artist Diane Kendal took on the product development, while renowned aesthete Fabien Baron conceived the lacquered white refillable packaging (yes, almost every product is a buy-once-and-keep-refilling proposition). The resulting line is extraordinarily good and, to my surprise, follows its own path.

I’m a sucker for a stylo lipstick (an extra slim, pointed bullet for precise application) and Zara’s Stiletto (£9.99 for the full product, £5.99 for a refill) doesn’t disappoint. The finish – neither unfashionably shiny nor wilfully matte – is perfect for those seeking both style and comfort (there are matte and satin lipsticks, too, if you favour either extreme, and a useful tinted balm). Here, and across the range, I appreciate Kendal’s thoughtfully curated colour palette (think Farrow & Ball pamphlet rather than Dulux wall chart). Nude Premiere is a flattering, everyday dusty rose, while Parfaite is just that – a perfect, classic red.

The eyeshadows feel as well curated. Pigment packed but wearable, these easily blendable powders cost £17.99 for a palette of six (£11.99 for two), but can then be replaced on a single pan basis for £3.99, meaning you won’t have that common problem of draining all the everyday nudes before the more vibrant tones. The same applies to the interchangeable face palette (£17.99 complete), so if you’re heavier on the (perfectly toned, not remotely orange) bronzer than on the blush and highlighter, you can snap in a new segment for just £4.99. All products are vegan and cruelty-free (despite selling in China, where Zara is manufacturing locally to swerve mandatory animal testing for imported products), and cater inclusively for all skintones. The only weakness is the makeup brush line, which is far too floppy and directionless to be useful. Otherwise, this is an exceptional effort that makes shopping at Zara a less adulterated joy.