I didn’t get in on the Lady Gaga makeup brand, Haus Laboratories last fall when it launched for a few reasons. First, it was launching in partnership with Amazon and they were doing everything as a pre-order. I like Amazon (hey Prime shipping!) but I don’t love pre-orders of pretty much anything. I’ll grit my teeth and bear it for an indie brand. But when a celebrity with a platform like Gaga teams with a company with the resources of Amazon and still wants my money in advance? No thanks. Second, the products seemed a little pricey for what you were getting. I mean, they aren’t really any more expensive than your average brand at Sephora, but it just seemed a little steep. Third, I wasn’t really into liquid shadows, and when the line launched there weren’t any pressed shadows or palettes in the lineup.
Recently, Robert Welsh did a video about brands that you weren’t going to see on his channel, and one of those brands was Haus Labs. In fact, when I saw the Haus Labs logo on his thumbnail, that’s what made me watch it: there haven’t really been any controversies about Haus Labs, except that maybe its partnership with Amazon annoyed those who are already anti-Amazon (I swear to gawd, Abby Williamson can’t make it through the first 5 minutes of any video, regardless of the topic, without mentioning Amazon or Jeff Bezos!). What I found interesting in Robert’s video is that he mentioned that it felt like a cash grab, and there wasn’t anything in it that “felt” like Lady Gaga. When he said that, I realized that was another reason that I hadn’t been interested enough in the launch to pick anything up: the packaging, while sophisticated and nice looking, didn’t really have anything about it that felt particularly authentic to Lady Gaga’s persona.
Recently, the brand was having a sale, so I decided to dive in and see if the products were actually even any good; try a few things, collect my thoughts, and try to answer the question (for me, at least) if this was indeed just a celebrity trying to make a quick cash grab from the beauty community.
If it was, it sort of worked because I picked up the Glam Room 01 palette, 3 of the Le Monster lip crayons, 3 Le Riot glosses, and 1 of the Glam Attack Liquid Shimmer Powders. I got 30% off, but still. I already had the Stupid Love palette, which I reviewed HERE, so I’m not going to re-review that palette, thought it will play into my overall thoughts at the end.
First, thoughts on packaging: it’s fine. That is exactly the level of excitement I have about it. The line is consistent, and it’s got a few interesting details, like the “pyramid stud” detail on the tops of the tubes and the top of the palette, enough to make it feel like more than just generic white label packaging. It’s clean and elegant…but it just doesn’t feel like Lady Gaga. When I think of Lady Gaga, I don’t think sleek, elegant, sophisticated. I’m not trashing her – she can be all of those things – but she’s never this reserved in the things she does. She’s colorful and eccentric, she has the eye of an artist and she isn’t afraid to push boundaries. A pyramid on top of a tube of gloss isn’t going to start a revolution. The odd, almost claw-like shape of the Le Monster lip crayons is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough, and it confused me about what the product was actually going to be. It looked like it was going to be double ended, with the colored end covering a liner and the other end having the lip crayon. But…it’s just a crayon. Most of the things that Gaga does are intricate and detailed, well thought out. These are just…meh.
So what about the products themselves? Let’s take a look at some swatches. The palette eyeshadows are swatched over the ABH primer; the lip products and the Glam Attack shadow are done over bare skin. The shadows feature a finger swatch on the left and a brush swatch on the right. The top photo is under my studio lighting with no flash; the bottom photo is the same lighting with a flash.
L to R: Cake, Applause, Curtain Call, Contort, Scotch
Cake is a pale peachy beige matte shade. This is Basic Becky’s transition shade, all day long. Boring. Applause is my favorite shade, a gorgeous duochrome that looks sort of coppery gold but has this gorgeous pink flash in the right angle and light. Curtain Call is a bright cherry red metallic. Contort is a chocolate brown matte, the other half of the Basic Becky starter pack. Scotch is a deep brown shimmer.
L to R: Spotlight, Cameo, Shimmy, Slipper Room, Top Hat
Spotlight is a light creamy champagne shimmer. Cameo is a medium tan matte. Shimmy is a gorgeous rosy plum shimmer with gold shift. Room is a reddish purple shimmer. Top Hat is a matte black.
This palette…is basic. Gaga said in her video with NikkieTutorials that she felt like this palette represented her initial relationship to makeup and fame…what boring times those must have been! This doesn’t look like what I remember of young Gaga who just couldn’t shut her Playboy mouth, concealing her poker face, and running from the paparazzi. This feels like the palette that you put out when you want to sell a bunch of makeup to Basic Becky. Applause is a gorgeous shade, and Shimmy is nice (though nothing unique – it reminds me a lot of a MAC shadow from back in the day…Trax, I think it was?), but there is really nothing in here that you wouldn’t get from almost any random Too Faced palette (the home base of Basic Becky!).
The quality is fairly good. You don’t get quite as much mess, but it’s also not quite as pigmented as the Stupid Love palette. The shadows go on smoothly, have great coverage, and they blend together nicely.
L to R: Diamond Heart, Glass Slipper, Werk
Dimond Heart is a sheer pinkish base with pink and gold glitter reflect. Glass Slipper is a sheer blue base with icy blue glitter. Werk is a semi-sheer candy apple red, very blue-toned and fairly pigmented (though nowhere near fully opaque).
The packaging is pretty on these, but beyond that they are pretty pedestrian. The two glitter glosses are almost indistinguishable on the lips – the glitters are different colors, but there isn’t enough saturation of the glitter to really get a clear sense of the difference unless you’re up close. Werk is a nice red, and this is the best of the three, but it’s still just a basic gloss. There is no interesting fragrance or flavor, it doesn’t feel particularly cushiony or hydrating on the lips. This is the product that feels the most like a generic cash grab kind of product.
L to R: Dust, Power Move, Hot Rod
Dust is a pinky nude, and the most matte of the three shades. Power Move is a bit darker and much more pink, though more of a yellow/brown-based pink. Hot Rod is an extremely blue-toned hot pink, and almost has a little bit of a satin sheen to it.
If you like traditional stick lipstick, I think these are the best of the products that I tried. They are mostly matte, but they don’t feel uncomfortable on the lips. The mechanical style is nice, though I worry about losing precision as the point it was crafted with wears away. I like these colors, and they have some other fun pinks and reds in the line (though they could use some more vivid, wild colors!). These were a later addition to the line, and as things progress they start to feel a little bit more authentic to Gaga.
Glam Attack in Dynasty
I don’t really like liquid shadows, but I love green, so here we are. This is a pretty good product, as far as liquid shadows go. It’s an emerald green with green and gold shimmer. It paints on fairly smooth, and it dries to an ok base. These things always seem patchy to me, regardless of the brand, and I only ever really use them as a base for other shadows, or to paint on top of a base and shimmer it up. This one isn’t making me a fan of liquids, but it’s nice for what it is.
So, is Robert Welsh right? Is this just a cash grab?
If I’m honest…I’m conflicted.
When I’m looking at these products, if they weren’t put out by Lady Gaga, I would probably say that they are decent if a little basic, the packaging is coherent and looks elegant, and while it would never be my favorite brand, I could see myself playing around with them in the future if something caught my eye.
But it is Lady Gaga. And nothing about these products “reads” as Lady Gaga to me. They are nice. They have some decent performance. But nothing about it has her signature style to it.
So that brings me back to how I felt about the Stupid Love palette: that product doesn’t look like it belongs with the rest of this line, it’s the one that seems (on the surface) to be the most obvious candidate for a cash grab, but it also feels the most authentically Gaga. Stupid Love is a palette that just feels like promo merch, but it also gets away from everything in this line that makes it feel generic, pedestrian, not Gaga. The Glam Room palette has a Basic Becky’s dream color story, and Gaga is many things, but she is not a Basic Becky. Stupid Love is an interesting, disjointed (but in a good way) color story that is jarring and unique and artistic. The packaging is nothing like these products, but it’s the best of the line.
I’m hoping that the Stupid Love palette signals that Haus Laboratories is going to become more authentic to Gaga, more like the wild, colorful, unpredictable persona that fans have come to know and love. If that’s where this brand is heading, I could definitely be on board.
If we’re going to get more of beige Basic Becky…then this Haus is officially off the market for me.