(Cult Satus)

How Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Became The Country's Best-Selling Lipstick

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A woman holding Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk best-selling lipstick in front of her lips

Cult Status is our series that highlights an iconic item from brands both established and buzz-worthy. In these features, you'll discover the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This time, the focus is on Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Pillow Talk Lipstick.

In a world that’s quickly replaced the one-size-fits-all mentality with a craving for personalization, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Pillow Talk lipstick defies the odds. Despite the growing consumer demand for custom product preferences with extensive shade ranges flooding the beauty counters, this coveted Pillow Talk lipstick caught the glowing praise of just about every lipstick wearer under the sun. While part of its allure automatically comes from the charm and glowing personality of one of beauty’s more beloved experts, Charlotte Tilbury, the other part is straight up impeccable formulation and attention to detail that’s apparent from the first swipe. Ironically, this ultra-flattering, fit-for-all shade was born out of a whole lot of customized mixing behind the scenes. Here are all the reasons why Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Matte Revolution lipstick is the best-selling lipstick in the United States, according to a 2019 prestige beauty sales report from The NPD Group, Inc.

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For Charlotte Tilbury, it all started with a dream. “When I first started out as a makeup artist, I used to mix multiple lip colors to get the perfect, beauty-enhancing pillow-y-nudey-pink hue," Tilbury shares with TZR. "It then became my dream to bottle that pout-perfecting, suits-all shade and share this beauty secret with the world." This beauty dream became a reality in 2013, when the custom shade used on runways, red carpets, and magazine covers debuted as Charlotte Tilbury’s first Pillow Talk product, the Lip Cheat lip liner. This launch was then followed by Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Matte Revolution Lipstick in 2017, which subsequently fueled the full blown frenzy that surrounded this unassuming pinky-nude hue. With one Pillow Talk lip liner and lipstick sold every two minutes (according to 2019 global brand sales data), the army of Pillow Talk fanatics continues to multiply by the day.

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Like the insightful beauty genius that she is, Tilbury continued to build upon the Pillow Talk empire and deliver what the greater beauty universe asked for: Pillow Talk everything. She expanded the line in 2018 to include a dreamy Luxury Palette and Cheek to Chic blush— a collection that went on to sell out twice worldwide, the brand shares with TZR. The latest edition to the ever-growing collection is the collagen Lip Bath, a high-shine gloss spiked with collagen and a cocktail of soothing and hydrating skincare ingredients to replace the traditionally sticky, tacky lip gloss texture of the past. And if you're wondering whether or not the Pillow Talk love transcends beyond the lip duo, let it be known the collection continues to sell at least one product every minute around the globe (according to 2019 brand sales data).

The obsession with the complimentary hue was apparent from the beginning of the Pillow Talk fairy tale. This beloved hue is cold hard proof that not all neutrals are created equal. “This unique, nude-pink hue is such a universally flattering color, as it mimics the natural, delicate rose-blush-skin hue of your lips and effortlessly enhances their appearance in an instant,” Tilbury explains to TZR. It strikes the perfect balance of rosy blush pink and natural tawny nude, and has an uncanny ability to compliment the individual undertones of the wearer, pulling slightly pinker on warmer skin tones and a hair nuder on cooler tones. One look at the star-studded list of celebrity wearers including Amal Clooney, Regina King, Penelope Cruz, and Poppy Delevingne (who chose the beloved Pillow Talk lip liner and lipstick duo for her wedding day lip look) will help to drive home that point.

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“In a world with so many options in lipsticks, choosing can get confusing," Angela Levin, a celebrity makeup artist who works with Jennifer Aniston and Michelle Williams, tells TZR. "I love Pillow talk because I know the results will be soft, sexy lips." Case in point: the look she created on Michelle Williams for the Golden Globes earlier this year. Pillow Talk is no stranger to the red carpet. In fact, the new 2020 Pillow Talk Intense and Medium collections, which features a lineup of deeper and sweeter undertones to flatter all skin tones and all eye colors, debuted at the Golden Globes on A-listers Salma Hayek, Busy Phillips, and Violetta Komyshan, fueling yet another round of Pillow Talk buzz. “Pillow Talk is not just a color. It’s a world, a beauty dream, a place to discover the most beautiful you,” Tilbury says.

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But what makes the original Pillow Talk lipstick such a globally-loved standout in a sea of zillions of pinky-nude lipstick options? For starters, the formula’s buttery texture and hydrating results rival that of the most conditioning lip balms — a feat for any lipstick, especially one with a matte finish. A meticulous mix of antioxidant-rich tree and orchid extracts soften lips, and a triglyceride blend of oils and waxes add that silky, satisfying glide and conditioning comfort that surprises and delights at first swipe. The rest of the fascination comes from the unique blend of pink and nude that somehow manages to look gorgeous on anyone and everyone who swipes it on.

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As for the undeniably catchy and provocative name, Pillow Talk was inspired by the shades of seduction — "a little bit naughty, like a nineties novella", the brand shares with TZR. It strikes that perfect mix of classic, sexy, and flattering that make it a beauty staple to rival (and perfectly compliment) your LBD. "Pillow Talk is a gorgeous '90s bitten nude lip," celebrity makeup artist Meredith Baraf says. And there's a reason it looks unbelievably beautiful on everyone. "There is color in this nude, but it’s natural in tone; a mix of warm and cool that enhances the natural color and texture of the lip," Baraf explains. It's no wonder public Pillow Talk praise has racked up more than 2,600 aggregated five-star online reviews across sites like Sephora, Nordstrom, and Influenster, further proving the greater beauty universe wholeheartedly agrees.