Illamasqua ESP Lipstick Review, Photos, Swatches

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick ($26.00 for 0.14 oz.) is described as a “vivid violet.” It’s a rich, violet purple with pink undertones and a matte finish. Nothing that I could think of seemed to come very close–this is very purple; not pink, not fuchsia, and then not ultra dark/vampy. OCC Belladonna was the closest, but it’s lighter. MAC Potent Fig and MAC Fervent are much darker, less violet. MAC Violetta and MAC Heroine are both much pinker. Illamasqua Kontrol is purpler, grayer, and quite a bit darker. See swatch comparisons here.

Though it’s a more unique color, and anyone who’s been on the hunt for a brightened purple will be tempted by ESP, the texture is very, very unforgiving. It’s incredibly dry, which made application problematic, wear uncomfortable, and the color looked dry and patchy applied. I would highly recommend laying down a smidgen of balm first–just enough to make everything smooth over better–and applying the color with a lip brush.It’s very easy to break the bullet because of how much pressure you exert just to swipe the lipstick across the lips (it tugs, drags, and pulls). It will come as no surprise but this is uncomfortable to wear, because it feels like it is clinging to the lips and is somewhat drying (but not as drying as it looks). The upside, I guess, is because it is clingy, whatever you do apply will last quite awhile (six hours for me).


PPermanent. $24.00.

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick

Illamasqua ESP Lipstick
Illamasqua ESP Lipstick


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liz Avatar

well i mean, i’m looking for MAC Heroine but that’s LE and i never seem to have the money for it when it’s out. Violetta is too… frosty? shimmery? not sure, but there’s something about the finish that just throws me off. this one too a little but it’s forgivable cause it’s a PURPLE purple.

kEG Avatar

I have had problems with a few Illamasqua lipsticks in the past. They were so dry I had to toss them since all that tugging on my lips was simply not worth it. I stick to the glosses from now on.

Dee Avatar

What a gorgeous color-but you can see from the swatch how dry that is! I think if someone really wanted to make it work, you could cut off a piece and smush it with some balm/gloss/lanolin before applying??

liz Avatar

that’s what i was thinking! it’d benefit from being melted together with a bit of coconut oil and put into a little lip balm pot and applied with a lip brush! if it was a more dupeable shade i’d say don’t even bother, but this shade is so pretty and unique that i feel like it’d be worth the money and time to make it usable.

Gina Avatar

Ugh this looks like a nightmare! I’d never think a lipstick of this quality would be possible from Illamasqua. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense lipstick in #15 looks like it would be similar in color, although it is shimmery.

Kati Avatar

It’s so dry, it looks like eyeshadow. You could probably find a similarly colored eyeshadow and mix that with some clear gloss or press it over a neutral lipstick to get the same effect, and it’d probably look better.

SarahKita Avatar

I adore the colour but was waiting to see if you’d review it. Exactly as I feared. It looks horrifically dry even in the swatch, not nice at all. Reminds me to never ever be tempted by an Illamasqua lipstick…

Coco Avatar

Thank you for the honest review, finally! I’ve seen so many raves about ESP. I wanted it because the color is JUST what I’m looking for but I was surprised no one had criticized the formula yet so it made me wary. I’ve had such bad luck with Illamasqua matte lipsticks. So dry, almost powdery, they tug and the bullet breaks easily (everything you mentioned I’ve experienced).
I’m going to check out MUFE #15 instead as others suggested 🙂

faerieevenstar Avatar

What a shame! When I saw the promo stuff for this I wanted to love it… but blimey that will look awful on my lips (prone to dry and flakey lips at the best of times!)

Is the other lipstick in the collection as bad??

Lucija Avatar

I have it and it’s completely different than on your swatches, it is indeed a bit harder to apply.
Try applying it on completely dry lips, it does the trick for me!

Kristine Avatar

I think occ belladonna was discontinued? I tried to buy it a while ago but couldn’t find it on the occ and sephora website.

Kate Avatar

I must have gotten lucky with mine. It’s definitely dry, but nothing like yours. I don’t find it anymore difficult to apply than MAC’s retro matte’s. There’s definitely none of the clumping and patchiness I see in your swatches.

Karen Avatar

Wow, the color is gorgeous (and looks awesome on you) but GAH – the texture! What were they thinking??? Thanks for your honest review!

Iva Avatar

this shade looks beautiful on the lips if you know how to apply it! the lips must be try without any lipbalm and put a bit of translucent powder over them and then apply lipstick with a brush, that’s it!

Lydia Avatar

So disappointing! I love this brand, and bought three of their lipsticks late last year because I loved the colours. Howevers, I can hardly ever wear them because they are just so drying. It really is like putting clay on your lips. It’s such a shame because they always have the different and unusual lipstick colours that I absolutely love 🙁

♈ Avatar

Oh dear 🙁 The color is amazing (makes me think of a lipstick version of Sugarpill’s Poison Plum?) but dang, that texture. Still, the color is so unique I’d probably try to do anything to make the application easier — melting it and mixing in some more oil, wearing it over a lip primer, anything. That, or wait for a similar color to pop up in their intense glosses line.

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