19 October 2017Last updated

Beauty | Grooming

Crayons for big girls

When was the last time you picked up a crayon and scribbled on your complexion? Louise Emma Clarke finds out why cosmetic crayons are flying off shelves and picks the best tools to add to your make-up bag…

By Louise Emma Clarke
13 May 2016 | 12:00 am
  • Source:Getty Images Image 1 of 2
  • Funky, fun and mess-free, crayon make-up is a beauty hybrid that can have you fabulous in two minutes.

    Source:Getty Images Image 2 of 2

Take yourself back to your school days. Remember the thrill of opening a new pack of chunky crayons? The bright colours as you drew, the waxy smell on the paper, and the chatter of friends in the classroom?

It’s amazing that something as simple as a wax crayon can promote feelings of happiness – and it’s all to do with the psychology of nostalgia.

‘Nostalgia is the warm, fuzzy emotion that we feel when we think about fond memories from our past,’ says Erica Hepper, PhD, a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey in England. ‘It often feels bittersweet – mostly happy and comforting, but with a tinge of sadness.” The urge to recapture some of that carefree childhood happiness explains why Clinique’s Chubby Sticks were a sell-out success when they launched the range back in 2011. With the range initially just focused on lips, a whole generation of women who previously considered lipstick to be old-fashioned were buying the crayons in bulk and applying on a daily basis. In fact, Clinique have recently revealed that sales of Chubby Sticks now make up almost 40 per cent of their lip colour sales. Quite simply, the product has made lip colour cool again.

‘When we launched our Chubby Sticks in 2011, we predicted their packaging and wearability would appeal to younger consumers,’ says Lynne Greene, president of Clinique. ‘But women of all ages are buying them in multiples, some who never used to wear bright colour – or any colour – on their lips.’
But it isn’t just the nostalgia factor. Make-up artist Jillian Dempsey thinks the crayon’s success is down to the application. ‘They deliver the perfect amount of colour, they hydrate, and you can apply them in the back of a taxi – without a mirror.’

UAE-based celeb make-up artist Hannah Lisa ( agrees: ‘I love lip crayons as they’re so easy to use. They’re the perfect combination of a lipstick, mixed with the precision of a lip liner.’

But it isn’t just our pouts seeing the benefit of cosmetic crayons, with brands launching chunky crayon-style pencils as eyeshadow, highlighter, blush, and even foundation. It feels better applying cosmetics when they come in the form of easy-to-control, blendable crayons – and brands have cottoned on, with new launches hitting shelves on a near-weekly basis. In fact, even skincare comes in the form of crayons these days, with the likes of Milk Makeup and The Estée Edit launching moisturisers, skin oils, and pore shrinkers in the form of oversized crayola-style crayons. And while the skincare options haven’t hit shelves in the UAE yet, we predict it won’t be long before we can apply our entire skincare and make-up routine through the nib of a chunky crayon.

So what is available on shelves – and more importantly, how do we effectively apply them? We take a look at the options for scribbling our beauty routine…


They were the first cosmetic crayons to hit the shelves – and they remain the most popular way to scribble on our complexion five years later. But why?

‘They’re the BB creams of the lip category,’ says beauty expert and trend development expert Molly Sloat ( ‘They add colour, hydrate, and last as long as a lipstick, without having to layer.’


Add the original chunky crayon to your make-up bag by purchasing Clinique Chubby Stick Intense (Dh105, Packed with mango and shea butter, your lips will get the hydrating power of a balm, while the perfect sheer/opaque hybrid formula will give your lips a wash of colour. It’s the perfect tool for a laid-back, daytime look.


For a pigment-packed finish for a night out (or simply when you want to make a statement), Lipstick Queen Cupid’s Bow (Dh125, Bloomingdale’s) is a wise choice. Loaded with hydrating ingredients to condition the lips, the pencils give lips a satin matte finish – and can be applied in a single stroke.

Tip: ‘Make sure you keep your crayons sharp by buying a big sharpener,’ advises make-up artist Hannah Lisa. ‘Some brands ensure that their lip crayons will only fit their own sharpeners, so it may be a good idea to grab one at the same time as buying your lip crayon. Make sure your lips are smooth by gently exfoliating and simply apply directly from the crayon itself.’


So what about eye crayons? Closely following the launch of lip crayons, they have been around for a while, offering the same glide-on, easy-to-blend formula. They also come in the mess-free ease of lip crayons, with a choice of finishes (from matte, to pearl, to full-on shimmer), and offer a convenient way to apply on the move.

Make-up artist Mayli Hernandez says: ‘I personally like to do more of an everyday look with this product. An average woman these days needs go-to products that get her ready fast, quick, and in a hurry. My day leaves me little time for any real kind of major beauty prep time, so I keep an eye crayon handy to get me ready and keep my regime super-simple.’


Look no further than Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow (Dh105, Paris Gallery). The creamy texture is very easy to apply and promises to cover the lid in one sweep, without highlighting skin creases. Available in both pearly and natural finishes and shades, you can build the coverage in layers and blend with fingertips.

Tip: ‘I often use a crayon as eyeliner to give a flattering smoky finish, as opposed to the more defined line of a pencil,’ says beauty expert Sali Hughes ( ‘Navy, charcoal and bottle green become much more wearable in crayon form.’


Fairly new to the crayon cosmetic party, chunky pencil highlighters are becoming more popular. They’re easy to use (just twist them up, scribble, and blend with fingertips) and provide impressive results without the mess. You can build it up easily too, adding layers until you get the result you are after.


Benefit High Brow Glow (Dh110, Sephora) is designed specifically to highlight and lift eyebrows. A single stroke of the champagne-pink crayon will instantly lift and illuminate your arches for a seriously strong brow game. And it has a silky texture to make application easy for even crayon novices.


Contouring gets a chance too. 
Take Tarte The Sculptor Double-Ended Contour and Highlighter Crayon (Dh135, for example, which allows you to alternate between the two ends for a perfectly sculpted, Kardashian-worthy finish – without the inconvenience of messy palettes and swapping brushes, of course.

Tip: Make Up For Ever artist Kevin James Bennett ( says: ‘The easiest way to “pop” a cheekbone is to highlight the diagonal area that spans from the side of the nose up to the outer corner of the eye. This also creates a beautiful light in the centre of the face that makes the eyes pop.’


Before the days of crayon blushes launching on to the market, make-up artists were doing it anyway with the help of lip crayons. Lead make-up artist Hannah Murray ensured that lips and cheeks matched on the runway at Helmut Lang by using a lip crayon as blush, for example. She explains: ‘I put it on the back of my hand and then with my finger just rub it on the cheeks.’ With a creamy, blendable formula, it was the ideal blush too.


These days, however, we have our own dedicated products launching on to shelves. Take Isadora Twist-up Blush & Go (Dh88, Paris Gallery) for example, which provides the same easy application, but with pigment specifically designed for skin. The lightweight, creamy formula glides on to cheeks, while hydrating ingredients leave the skin supple. 

Tip: ‘When deciding where to place your blush, you need to first consider your bone structure,’ says LA-based make-up artist Lauren Anderson (who has an impressive roster of celebrity clients). ‘If you have a narrow face and you’re putting blush on your apples, everything is going to be too close and a little bit congested. You might want to pull focus outward and start more under the cheekbones and up to the temples in a Nike swoosh kind of thing. It’s a check mark that starts under the apple and works its way upward, so you’re pulling focus outward. If you have a rounder face or you have more space, then you can work on the apple and do that slight contour swoosh.’

By Louise Emma Clarke

By Louise Emma Clarke