Review: Illamasaqua Cream Pigment in Hollow

I ordered Illamasqua’s Hollow back in August and I’ve been using it more-or-less daily as a contouring product since then. It took me a really long time to pull the proverbial trigger because:

1. There aren’t a lot of reviews. This is because Hollow is sort of a niche product. Unless you are fair-skinned and cool-toned, this is probably kind of worthless for you. It’s too bland for your eyes and too I-traveled-in-time-to-1996 for your lips.
2. More importantly, Illamasqua made some… questionable racist marketing choices last year. They decided to depict blackface in an advertisement and, when customers rightly complained, they flat-out refused to apologize, claiming that since they didn’t intend to be racist, there was nothing to apologize for. You can read more about the incident here or here.

Unfortunately, I am horrible at sticking to my principles, and my boycott of Illamasqua only lasted until there was something I really wanted. (I’m so sorry, world. I deserve all of your judgement.)

The packaging is so shiny that you can see my camera reflected on it. Say hi!

The product itself is a little curvy tub of cream pigment in a cool taupe. Illamasqua describes this as a “toffee”, which gives the impression that it will be a lot more delicious than it actually is. There is no orange to the product at all, which is great for those of us who end up looking horrid when we contour with bronzer.

Weirdly, the pigment was actually a different color when I first opened it; you can kind of see the warm hues in the corners where it looks untouched. As soon as it was swiped, though, the true color became apparent.
I give you permission to use the fingerprints in this tub to clear my name of any crimes for which I am a suspect.

The curvy tub is not very practical because it quarantines some pigment
in the corners, meaning that you cannot reach it effectively. It looks
nice, but it’s not practical.

Because the product is cream, rather than a powder contour, I think it’s easier to end up with a line that is too harsh. To avoid this, I gently tap my fingers under my artificial cheekbone to blend out the product. The consistency is pleasant and easy to work with.

After I put on my foundation, I use this to contour. Then, I set everything with a powder and add in my (powder) blush and highlighter.

Illamasqua Hollow Swatch

I also want to do a quick comparison with the NYX Taupe blush because I imagine that a lot of people considering this product for contouring have either used or researched that product as well. When I reviewed NYX Taupe back in July I said, “I have yet to find a higher end product that is as attractive and easy to use as the NYX Taupe Blush.” This is obviously no longer true. However, there are a few key differences that may be helpful if you are deciding between the two products.

Swatch of Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow on the left, NYX Taupe Blush on the right.

First of all, the color is obviously quite different. Taupe is darker, with some purple undertones. It is also warmer than Hollow. (This is definitely not a dupe!) Despite the darkness, though, Taupe needs to be built up in order to be really opaque, whereas Hollow is opaque in a single swipe. Both of these colors are flattering on my skin tone.

The cream texture of Hollow means that it may be tricky to work with if you aren’t used to cream products. However, it also means that it effortlessly avoids one of the big pitfalls of NYX Taupe: it doesn’t get gunked up. Taupe is one of those blushes that you need to clean every other time you use it because oil builds up on the top of it. My frustration with this problem has gotten to the point where I had to eliminate Taupe from my everyday routine because it is so darn annoying to deal with. Illamasqua’s Hollow filled that void.

Finally, of course, the last big difference: price. Hollow costs $26 for 0.28oz ($92.86 per ounce), whereas Taupe is $5 for 0.14oz ($35.71 per ounce). That’s about 2.6 times the price. That being said, I don’t think that Hollow is overpriced; MAC’s blush in Harmony, another contouring product, costs $21 for 0.21oz, putting it at a pricier $100 per ounce.

Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow on Human Face

Overall, I definitely do really like this product. I just wish the damn company would apologize for their fucking pigheadedness!

1. So how to do clean blushes off when they get oily like that?

2. I just take a cloth and wipe off the top layer so that the grime is gone. It’s a waste of product, but it gets it working!

3. I think I need a lesson in warm and cool colors…these terms seem to mean different things in different contexts, or maybe I just can’t spot it easily. I’m so confused! (As for the actual product you’re reviewing–it looks amazing. I refuse to believe that you are not just emphasizing existing gorgeous cheekbones).

4. If you check out my foundation tutorial, you can see before/after contouring…

5. Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you were lying or something. I meant it is a compliment. It looks very natural but so extreme at the same time.

6. Don’t worry! I didn’t interpret it that way. I just thought you might want to see the before/after.

7. England doesn’t have the same background with slavery that we do, so it may not have occurred to them. Possibly. It bothers me that a woman can paint her face any color BUT black, in fear of being labeled a racist. Sometimes black paint(or skin masque) is just black paint.

However, with the over-sized, overdrawn light lips, in contrast with the smaller red lips.. I think this is pretty blatantly racial and not just about the imagery. They should have just apologized for any offense taken, intended or not.

It’s a good thing I’m broke, because I want to buy ALL the things you have reviewed lately.

8. I am forgiving of people and companies who make mistakes, but I am much less forgiving when they refuse to apologize for said mistakes…

9. Colonialism and slavery and interconnected. No nation exists only within its borders. There is no gov of men that does not support their own.

10. This comment has been removed by the author.

11. “Money speaks, but it speaks with a male voice.”- Andrea Dworkin. This why I as a feminist believe boycotting is classist bullshit. Don’t know any working poor class people as one myself that can actually afford to buy non slave labour/fairtrade to support the working class in other countries. You can’t be blamed for a system that men created for themselves. Sexist and racist advertising supports male power and that’s why it exists.

12. Shaming someone for not being able to boycott something is absolutely classist (e.g. “I can’t believe you’re shopping at Walmart. Did you know XYZ?”), but I disagree that boycotting in and of itself is classist. Illamasqua is a luxury makeup brand that is preeeeetty expensive; it’s not life essentials.

I also agree that none of us have a moral imperative to fix the world, but disagree that that means that there is a problem taking action by boycotting a company who displays backward values.

13. I know this is not the first time I’ve heard of Illamasaqua, but it’s definitely given me a stronger impression than anything else I’ve heard. I was all, “oooh, yeah!” reading your review, but then I read your links about the racist ads and about their doubling down instead of apologizing. So now “Illamasaqua” is synonymous with “unapologetically racist” for me. Thanks for including that in your review.

14. I was pisssed off at Illamasqua for not apologising because if you look at basically any of thier other ads, you would NEVER have expected them to make that image. I don’t believe anything was meant by it, and I (hope) the reaction to it by them was a ‘Ohfuckohfuckwefuckedupignoreit’ reaction rather than a flat-out refusal to acknowledge. Which isn’t good either, obviously.

And in regards to another comment above, yes, in England, that image WOULD be problematic. More people here would have connected that image to racism than other places because of the Black and White Minstrel show. The model was dressed exactly like a minstrel which is what made it extra awful in my eyes.

That aside… I still love thier products and the cream pigments are wonderful. Emerge is great multi-use shade if you’re ever after another.

15. You would love the OCC creme color concentrate in John Doe. Basically the same thing as Hollow but in a round jar and there is no loathing involved. There are also tons of other shades and they fare well as a multi-purpose product.

16. Great review. I am from the UK and absolutely love Illamasqua, but I’m using their Contouring Duo atm for carving out some bone structure (I too am fair and cool-skinned). I may give this a go, but the cream scared me – I’m usually a powder girl!

Re the blackface thing, I don’t believe any racism was intended. They also did black models ‘whited up’. I admit it wasn’t in great taste but Illamasqua’s whole thing is about theatrical make-up, transformations and so on – and to be fair if you ignore the uncomfortable undertones and take the looks at face value, the make-up is still very beautiful.