Kester Black First Date and Pow Wow Lipstick Review

Two brightly coloured lipstick boxes, one pink and one orange-red, against a marble look background.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bright colours which last well and pack a punch

Well people, I did it again. I fell for another Instagram advert. After ‘umming’ and ‘ahing’ for weeks, I finally caved and bought some Kester Black lipstick, which I’d seen all over social media. Kester Black have made a name for themselves as an ethical beauty company, creating vegan and sustainable products that are certified carbon neutral. Founded by New Zealander Anna Ross, they’re perhaps best known for their nail polishes, but their First Date lipstick seems to be gaining something of a cult following, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Close up of the black tube of lipstick with a pink squiggle of label to indicate the colour.

I am, it is safe to say, fairly incompetent when it comes to make-up. Winged eyeliner, contouring and cut creases have all passed me by, and I’m more or less ok with that. These days I barely even wear mascara, and my daily routine consists of a bit of brow gel and a slick of something colourful on my lips. I have very pale skin, and my lips almost match it, so it I don’t put something on they tend to fade away completely. I am on a seemingly never-ending quest to find the perfect colours, so when I read reviews praising the versatility of First Date’s shade, it seemed worth a punt. It is billed as the perfect mixture of peach and pink, and reviewers said it goes with everything. I was filled with such confidence that I thought ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ and bought Pow Wow as well.

A before shot of Helen with no lipstick.
A bare-faced before shot for comparison (and to demonstrate the true paleness of my lips!)

Thankfully my confidence paid off, and I’m now in possession of two fantastic lipsticks. They are a matte liquid, with an applicator so precise that you won’t need any other kit to apply them. However, the colours are both a lot darker than I expected. This probably has something to do with the paleness of my skin, but I can’t really make out any peach in First Date, and Pow Wow is a very pinky-purple red. It must be said that the name of this lipstick makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. My ideal is more of a coral red (and the packaging certainly implies it’ll be this colour, if not the little colour swatch on the lipstick itself). But the colours are still striking, and I enjoy wearing them. At $42 a pop I kind of feel I have to wear them, but it’s nice to have some new colours to liven things up, and they both tone well with my wardrobe.

The First Date Lipstick applied.
My somewhat poorly applied first attempt at the First Date

They are quick drying, and last well. If anything, they dry slightly too quickly; you really have to get it right first time, and for someone with hands as unsteady as mine, that is a bit of a challenge. I have had to wipe off and try again with the dark, obvious shade of the Pow Wow. But they feel great on, without that sort of puckering dryness you get from so many matte lipsticks. They last impressively well, with the colour largely intact after breakfast, coffee and lunch. There is some transfer, but unlike most lipsticks it won’t be completely gone (it’s almost like a stain in that respect). You’ll still have a good layer of pigment, so could get away without retouching, at a push.

Another shot of the First Date lipstick on, once it has had time to dry.
Dried darker First Date

The difference in colours puts me off buying any of their other shades, as I think they’d just be too dark on me, but overall I’ve been impressed by the comfort, colour and staying power of these ethical and vegan beauty products. They’ve become my new everyday lipsticks. Now please, Kester Black, can you please bring out a coral shade?

A head shot with the Pow Wow Lipstick applied.
The surprisingly dark Pow Wow

If you’re looking for a new pop of colour to refresh your online-meeting look, you’d struggle to do better than Kester Black. Hurrah for ethical products that outperform their unethical rivals!


What are your favourite lipsticks? Do you prefer matte or shiny, liquid or cream? I’d love to hear your recommendations, so please do share them in the comments below! Thanks so much for reading!

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