Late last year, I got rid of my Illamasqua cream blush in Zygomatic, one of my all-time favorite beauty products, which I'd bought in the UK in June of 2014. I hadn't noticed a change in its appearance, smell, or performance, but I felt increasingly uncomfortable smearing a six-year-old cream blush on my face. Unfortunately, Illamasqua is no longer available in the United States and I don't exactly have international travel plans, so I started looking for a replacement.
That was harder than you might think. Zygomatic filled a very specific niche: it was my perfect nude blush, a slightly cool-toned beige that harmonized with my coloring and worked well with both warm and cool colors elsewhere on my face. Most beige blushes on the market lean either warm and peachy or noticeably pink. But I recently became aware of the cream blushes from the newish beauty brand Tower 28, and one of them, Magic Hour, looked very similar to Zygomatic. So when I was in Cleveland earlier this week, I popped into Sephora and was pleased to find Magic Hour in stock, and here it is!
I knew almost nothing about Tower 28 before buying Magic Hour—that's what I get for not being on TikTok, I guess—so I had to do some research for this post. Founded in 2019 by Amy Liu, who previously worked in marketing at such beauty brands as Smashbox and Josie Maran, Tower 28 made it into Sephora this past January, just a year and a half after its debut. (You might assume that Liu is a Gen Z influencer type, but she's forty-one and has a mere 1,727 Instagram followers! It's refreshing to see a new beauty brand that doesn't have a famous figurehead.) Tower 28 currently offers just a few products, all at a midrange price point: lip glosses in jelly and milky formulas, cream blushes, a cream bronzer and shimmer-free cream highlighter, and a setting spray.
One reason why Tower 28 entered Sephora so soon is that Liu created the brand with sensitive skin in mind, so it fit nicely into the "Clean at Sephora" initiative, which pushes "clean beauty" products formulated without parabens, mineral oils, and other ingredients that have acquired a bad rap in recent years. Frankly, I find the whole "clean beauty" movement kind of silly: many of the allegations against the stigmatized products (for instance, that parabens cause cancer) haven't been scientifically proven, and the American cultural obsession with "clean" products and foods seems to me to dovetail with growing anti-vaccine and other anti-scientific sentiments. Also, the reason my Illamasqua Zygomatic lasted six and a half years without growing mold? Parabens. Since the paraben-free Magic Hour won't last anywhere near as long, I feel a certain pressure to use as much of it as possible before its inevitable demise.
On to the review!
The BeachPlease blushes cost $20 for 4.5 grams; by contrast, the Fenty Cheeks Out cream blushes are $20 for 3 grams, so you're getting a pretty good deal with Tower 28. The clear packaging is aesthetically pleasing, but it doesn't feel particularly sturdy. I love bringing cream blushes with me when I travel (here's hoping I get the vaccine before too long and can actually go somewhere this year), but I'd hesitate before tossing Magic Hour into a makeup bag with dozens of other products. This is also one of those blushes that's a real bitch to open: you have to either jam your fingernail into the latch or yank open the compact while holding the sides. Why do I have a hunch that the hinge will break within a year?
Unfortunately, Magic Hour leans warmer and peachier in swatches and on my face than it does in the pan. Below, I've swatched Magic Hour on the left and Tarte Paaarty on the right, and Magic Hour looks more or less like a cream version of Paaarty. Not a bad thing in itself, but also not what I was hoping for. Magic Hour seems to turn cooler and browner on other people, so I think it really depends on your personal coloring. (Tower 28 describes Magic Hour as a "sun-kissed rosy nude"; I thought were no longer using the word "nude" as a general descriptor for light beige makeup in 2021, but apparently we are.)
Magic Hour has an odd texture that I don't think I've encountered in any other cream blush: it's sort of...sticky. When I tap lightly on the blush, my fingertip clings to the surface and comes away with a sizable dab of product stuck to it. Here's a closeup of Magic Hour's texture after I swirled my finger around; I believe the tiny bumps on the surface of the pan are harmless wax bloom. (Don't correct me if they're not.)
Because Magic Hour's formula is on the thicker side, application isn't as easy as the "tap tap + blend!" (tapotez + estompez!) method advocated on the label. As with my Fenty blush, I have to exert a certain amount of force to blend the color seamlessly into my cheeks. I also have the hardest time getting the blush to show up in photos! Below, I'm wearing three layers of Magic Hour; the color is more evident in person, but still not clownish. On my face, Magic Hour reads as a slightly warm-toned (not rosy, but not quite peachy) flush; I anticipate wearing it often in the spring and summer.
By the way, this product is advertised as a "luminous tinted balm" that works on both cheeks and lips. Tower 28 has a lot of nerve making that claim, because Magic Hour doesn't even come close to being a functional lip product. It feels gooey, clumps up on every dry spot, and emphasizes lip lines, and the color is straight out of 2009 concealer-lips hell:
Overall, I have mixed feelings about Magic Hour. I do think it looks nice on me (on my cheeks, at least; let's forget that lip swatch ever happened), and I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it, but I'm sad that the color isn't quite what I expected. And since I'm not a huge fan of the tacky texture, I doubt I'll buy any more shades in this formula. Most of the existing reviews of the BeachPlease blushes seem to be very positive, so here's hoping my review does a little to puncture the hype balloon! Maybe I'll just have to repurchase Zygomatic after all, and deal with the shipping charges...