The Hype Machine is a series that takes a critical look at well-loved, cult classic, appears-in-every-other-Instagram-photo products and asks: are they worth the hype?
Few things are as iconic and infamously luxe as this highlighting pen, the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen. Despite being such an enduring and immediately recognizable product, a lot of people seem to have issues figuring out what to do with this pen; it doesn't provide enough coverage to mask dark circles, nor is it as reflective as most modern highlighters. I was a bit stuck when I first tried it, too, mostly because it is considered an untouchable classic and I was afraid of messing it up. Now that I've fiddled with it for a few weeks, I think I'm ready to give you my thoughts.
First, let's clarify what this isn't: it's not a concealer. It's too sheer to cover up the darkness under your eyes, and it's too shiny to hide a blemish. It's also not a glittery, sparkly, or even dewy product; it's got more of a natural, healthy-skin like satin glow. That said, I've used the blog's "concealer" and "highlighter" labels because they best represent where you use this product and the effect it gives. Quote the Sephora summary, it "brightens, smooths, and perfects your complexion...highlight(s) your best features without any shimmer or glitter." For $42 a pen, it had better be damn good at perfecting stuff.
I've been using the shade #2 on the tops of my cheekbones, in the hollows of my eye, and under my brows. As you can see here, it blends out seamlessly and gives a lovely bit of glow and dimension. Because it's very sheer, it won't make your blush look muddy or look too stark around your eyes. The actual texture of the Touche Eclat pen is very thin and smooth, so it's comfortable on the skin and even blends well over fine lines. It works well with other products; obviously, it mixes with my undereye concealer, but I've also been tapping my Glossier Haloscope on top of it on my cheeks, and the combination is dewy and lovely.
That sounds majestic and perfect and glorious, but let's be honest here: is this a look that's so hard to get with other products? Nah. I can get a similar seamless glow from MAC Strobe Cream and equally effective color correction from the Maybelline Dream Lumi Pen; if I want something that adds a little glow and some color under my brows, I can mix a dash of concealer with my Strobe Cream. This is also a typical YSL product insofar as it reeks of perfume.
It's a lovely brightener that I've really enjoyed and will likely finish. I'd also have no qualms recommending it to other people who want this sort of effect. Am I going to repurchase it, though? Eh, I dunno. I don't think it's entirely necessarily, especially at that $42 price point. Still, I can see why it's been so beloved for decades.
BOTTOM LINE: This is an overhyped, but relatively versatile highlighting pen that's invisible on the skin, so it's no wonder it became a cult classic. That said, if you've got an undereye brightener and a natural highlighter you already like, you don't have to rush out and buy this $42 pen.
The Hype Machine is a series that represents my experiences and opinions. It is not meant to be a personal attack on a specific company, product, or consumer. I always recommend that you try products for yourself and see how they work for you. Everybody is unique, after all!