Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in #8 (Red) Review and Rambles

27 Jan

This post is primarily dedicated to reviewing MUFE’s Aqua Cream in Shade 8 (a poppy red shade), however I went off on a bit of a tangent on how i managed to get my hands on it: I made an exciting little discovery last weekend! If you don’t care to read about this and only want to know about the product being reviewed, feel free to skip ahead.

For those of you who are still here, I’m pretty sure that a lot of you know that cosmetics containing a a large percentage of  red components are not approved by the FDA for use around the eyes. This means there is a conspicuous lack of red eyeliners and red eye shadows in America. MUFE is head-quartered in France and offers red eye items. So does Polish based Inglot.

Anyhow, heavily pigmented orange, pink and purple shadows can sometimes trigger the same reaction as reds. This is due to the type of red dye used: carminic acid, the coloring agent in carmine which is a bright red. It is used in a wide variety of things, from your rouge on your dresser to the ink in your pen to the strawberry yogurt in your fridge.

Most people can use/ingest purples and reds just fine. Well, more like the vast majority of people. The allergy incidence is fairly rare. However, some people have reactions to carminic acid because – like with all things of natural origin – there is a percentage of the population allergic to it. Yup, that bright red has a natural source. I don’t care to type out the process myself i am going to copy from Wikipedia, shorten it a bit and post below. It involve bugs so those of you who are squeamish, skip the next two paragraphs.

To prepare carmine, the powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt, called “carmine lake” or “crimson lake.” … For shades of purple, lime (calcium) is added to the alum; thus, the traditional crimson color is guaranteed not only by carminic acid but also by choice of its chelating metal salt ion.

Carmine may be prepared from cochineal, by boiling dried female insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum. Other common substances such as cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate can also be used to effect the precipitation, but aluminum is needed for the color.

But enough of that chemistry lesson, that isn’t the discovery. My discovery is that you CAN get red eyeliner/shadow in the states at a physical store vs only on e-boutiques. You just have to ask for it. If you look at the Make Up Forever website, they list a red option in 08 and tell you to go buy it at Sephora.

MUFE US website

MUFE US website

However, once you get over to the Sephora Website, you’re greeted by a page with a conspicuous lack of shades 5-10.

Sephora Listing

Sephora Listing

I was browsing the Make Up Forever Boutique inside Sephora and, on a whim, asked a SA if they had Aqua Cream 08 in back-stock or something.The SA then proceeded to pull a box of it from the drawers under the counter. Success. She also told me that it was available at stand alone MUFE boutiques, but you have to ask for it since they don’t display it along with the other testers on the counter.

 It’s not listed on the Sephora website and its not buy-able directly off the MUFE U.S. website either. I don’t know if you can phone in your order to Sephora but my guess is no because I *think* its only available in Sephoras with MUFE pop-up boutiques. No wonder the internet doesn’t have any reviews on Aqua Cream 08, it is a pain in the butt to get a hold of. That or no one HAS reviewed 08 because no one else is crazy enough to go for a red eyeliner. But if that was the case, reviews on MUFE’s Red Liquid Liner and Inglot’s AMC Gel Eyeliner in 79 wouldn’t exist either. For the curious, 79 is a matte, blood-red potted liner/shadow in gel form. Anyhow my point is, Inglot’s 79 is much easier (and cheaper) to get your hands on. It’s available from their website, Beautylish, counters in select  Macy’s, or stand-alone boutiques. Sugarpill also has reds in eye shadows, but no liners, I wonder what kind of witchcraft they had to pull with the formulation to get it approved in the US. but then again, they are vegan so no carmine.

Tangents aside, it you’ve been lusting for Make Up Forever’s Aqua Cream in red or any other shade of, you now have the means to get it. Just ask a MUFE S.A. for 08. The same probably goes for the other colors listed below on the bottom of the box (which i will probably go back for). Most of them are pinks, peaches and one of them is a fuchsia.

For those of you still with me, it’s time for the actual review. 😀


First Look
On the box, there’s a haphazardly slapped-on sticker that reads “lips & cheeks”. Aqua Cream 08 has a very utilitarian packaging. No nonsense, No gimmicks. Just cardboard box around a plastic jar.

I have no Idea why this is sideways.

I have no Idea why this is sideways.


Box back




Both the jar and cap are made of plastic.


Size comparison.

I can’t say that i wasn’t a little disappointed in the packaging. Oh well, if using plastic for the jar keeps the price point down, then I’m happy. (Though i can’t help but point out that Maybelline’s 24 Color Tattoos come in glass pots that feel pretty damn classy.) It’s important to note that these don’t come with a safety seal so when you open yours up. make sure it has a matte looking surface like in the picture above. If it looks un-smooth  like  in the picture below, reject it . Swatch marks are very evident so it shouldn’t be that hard to tell.


If you are sensitive to smells here’s an important note: once you get within 3 inches of the pot, you’ll notice a BAD sillicon-y, medicinal smell that borders on unpleasant. Even if you aren’t sensitive to scents, you probably don’t want to put this on your lips – which are less than 3 inches under your nose. I grew up drinking vile-smelling (and tasting) Chinese medicinal brews for every sort of ailment. This could very well have been one of them.

What You Get
Each Aqua Cream pot comes with 0.21 oz or 6g of product. At $23 each, that’s $109.52/oz.

As a price comparison :
OCC Creme Color Concentrates are $20 for 0.28 oz or $71.43/oz.
Clinique Brush On Cream Liner $16.50 for 0.17 oz or $97.06/oz.
Tarte Tarteist Clap Paint Liner is $24 for 0.21 oz or $114.29/oz.
Smashbox Limitless 15 Hour Cream Shadows are $20 for 0.17 oz or 117.65/oz.
MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pots are $21 for 0.17 oz 123.54/oz.
Estee Lauder Pure Color Stay On Color Paint are $24 for 0.17 oz or $141.18/oz.
Stila Smudge Pots are $20 for 0.14 oz. or 142.86/oz.
BareMinerals BB Advanced Performance Cream Shadows are $18 for 0.1 oz or $180/oz.
Laura Mercier Creme Eye Liner is $24 for 0.12 oz. or $200/oz.
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow $26 for 0.12 oz or $216.67/oz.
Tarte Clay Pot Waterproof Liner is $21 for 0.08 oz. or… $262.5.oz. (WHATTHEFUCK?!)

Color Breakdown and Performance
08 is a tangy, poppy red. Tangy as in citrus and orange. In other words, it has a yellow base and even leans orange in some light. There are loads of very fine red shimmers in this Aqua Cream that make it look like a glowing satin.


In the pot, it feels like a very thick, creamy balm. Foodwise, I like to relate the texture of this to that of a very full bodied ice cream, the kind that can bend your metal spoon or snap a plastic one. *cough* Creamisty *cough* While still fresh, Aqua Cream has a rich, soft-wax texture that makes it very easily to work with precisely. It very easy to control, though blending it out evenly is a bit tricky because it dries and sets almost instantaneously. Over wide surface areas, it tends to gather in some places and leave other patches with thinner color. It also does have the tendency to drag and tear a bit if you try to swipe it on quickly. (As seen in the ragged edges on the left-most swatch). Color intensity is pretty good. One swipe with a wide brush/finger is decent, but two are recommended to reach full opacity. When applied with a thin brush, one pass is sufficient. Once set, the Aqua Cream has a fine grainy texture surface that feels dry and almost napped-rubber, to the touch. Think NARS compacts. Once on the skin, the pearl shimmers turn into a a soft luminous glow as seen in the picture above. My shitty lighting made the swatches below look matte though. This finish could be best described as satin. Aqua cream clings to every crease, crevice and wrinkle. The shimmering satin finish only highlights such spots. If you have crepe-y skin, this will only accentuate the issue(s). Inglot’s matte AMC Gel Liners might be a better, more flattering fit.


From left to Right: Two swipes with finger, One Swipe with Finger, One swipe with liner brush back-and-forth


Demo of its cling to every crevice on the back of my hand.

I used an arc liner brush to give myself an unexpected, yet beautiful shade of eyeliner. One on my eyes, it looks like a true red as the orange-yellow undertones are lost, overwhelmed by the orange-brown in my iris. That or the yellow tones in my skin drowns out the yellow in the Aqua Cream all like: bitch please, THIS is yellow. Don’t worry, I’m Asian, I can make fun of myself. Either way, 08 makes for a stunning eyeliner for brown eyes because the orange tones bring out the warmth in the brown while the satin finish enhances eye shape by shining at the high points. It just has a beautiful luminous glow. I do suppose it might look a little weird with very light blue eyes but it’s still a worthy experiment (unless you already know that you’re allergic).

Please excuse my naked eyebrows.

Please excuse my naked eyebrows.

Bad lighting, i know. i'm no good at shelfies.

Bad lighting, i know. i’m no good at shelfies.

This stuff sets very quickly. If thick on the brush, you have maaaybe 20 seconds to play with it. Maybe less. When applying it to my eyelid, I usually start at the inner corner, line it 1/3 of the way, switch to my outer corner and connect it to the inner corner line. By the time i am done painting on one solid line, the Aqua Cream is already dry and set so i can blink right away. After the 20-or-less-second play time, the product becomes thick and draggy. If you’re prone to making mistakes, Aqua Creams might not be for you. You gotta know what you want to do with it as soon as you get it on the brush. Once you spread it thin, it dries to a budge-proof finish so smudging and blending it with other colors is almost sure to fail . However, using the principle of “like dissolves like” I played around a smidge of Smashbox’s 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer (which has the same thick, waxy-texture of Aqua Creams – but in a tube – which is what gave me the idea in the first place) and revived the first swatch. I took the tiniest amount of primer and massaged it into the Aqua Cream, making it spreadable once more. (Aqua Cream and Smashbox’s Shadow Primer are both silicone based.)

Left most swatch is the revived swatch. Right most is Aqua Cream revived on the liner brush then applied.

The extended work time lasted for about 30 seconds before the now blended-swatch dried-set again. If you have your heart set on using aqua creams to create a gradient smokey eye, you can apply a layer of silicone based eye primer (like Smashbox’s 24 hour) then quickly apply the Aqua Cream colors right away before the primer sets in 60 seconds. If you feel like blending two color of Aqua Creams together to create an ombre effect eyeliner you can do so by lining your eyes with the separate colors first, then dipping a liner brush in some primer and pick up a smidge more of the color you want to be more dominant, then running it between the two colors, effectively blending what between them. One of these days I will try mixing 08 with UD’s Primer Potion in Sin to see if i can get a rosy copper. Anyhow. Inglot’s Duraline ($10) will have the same reviving effect as using a silicone based primer but because Duraline is a runny liquid, it will be harder to work with. One last tip: If you make a mistake, primer on a q-tip makes for a great eraser, makeup remover is over kill and bi-layer liquids are messy. Just coat the cotton swab with a bit of primer and roll/wipe your mistake away.

The Aqua Cream, like Inglot Gel liners does have the tendency to make the eyelid feel “tight” once it has dried down. It isn’t uncomfortable but it does take some getting used to. The best way i can relate this is to a dried clay face mask. You can feel a restricting layer of something on your skin, and depending on how finicky you are, it may or may not bother you. The tight effect of Aqua Creams isn’t as bad as dried Inglot AMC Gel Liner, though. Inglot AMC Gel Liner is the closest liner to bulletproof that i have come across so far (the matte shades were developed specifially for long wear on the waterlines!) but that amazingness comes at a price: the finish very, VERY dry. If you spread AMC G. L. in a thin line over my lid with no primer it will last 16+ hours or so. No color transfer, nothing. And i have established before, I have very oily lids. However, what it does do, is develop wispy, fine cracks around hour #10. f you spread it thinly, over a wide area, AMC G. L. will develop tiny cracks within 6 hours. Aqua Creams don’t crack, primer or not. Unfortunately, Aqua Creams will transfer color unless the lid is wiped of all oil and adequately primed before application. If you properly prime and prep, this stuff is totally rub-proof, budge-proof, water proof for a solid 12 hours. After around 14 hours, it starts evenly fading, becoming less red and more orange. I haven’t tested it for a longer period of time on my face but there’s a tomato orange patch on my inner arm that survived 24 hours and a shower (+ light scrubbing with regular soap). It is NOT however, oil proof. It smudges on my inner corner crease unless I have prepped my lids with primer… so my fellow, shiny-lidded people, Beware! I tried it for a day as a liner sans primer. It only lasted for 2.5 ours before smudging and transferring to my upper lid at the inner corner. Wearing it spread thin as a eye shadow, creasing happened at 4 hours. Aqua Cream #8 can last beautifully for up to 14 hours so wear a primer. Please.

To make removal as painless as possible, you’re going to want to use an oil-based cleanser or a waterproof makeup remover. No if or buts or other suggestions. You might rub the first 5 layers of your skin off before you get rid of the Aqua Cream completely.

Final Thoughts
I’m not going to lie. I love this stuff. It might just be the color novelty factor, but it does make for such a pretty, durable liner if the skin is kept non-greasy. The red is yellow based so it makes for a nice, bright pop of color. As a comparison, i laid one of my Smashbox brushes across the swatches. Smasmbox brushes have distinctive handles in a slightly dark shade of blue-red. The juxtaposition in the below photo will hopefully serve to highlight the difference between the yellow-red Aqua Cream 08 and blue-red brush handle.


Like with all my gel/creams in pots I’m storing this one upside down on its lid for two reasons:
1) so i can see the color through the bottom of the jar (pretty shitty reason, I know)
2) to extend the longevity, lest it dry and crack (real reason)

If you want to know how this prevents drying out the product, here’s a short explanation: When things dry out, the volatile components evaporate UP. Obviously, there are volatile agents in Aqua Creams because it goes from a cream to a dry patch of color. Even in the pot, with the lid screwed tightly on, evaporation takes place. The solvents still escape from the product – though at a slower rate than if you left the lid off/loose. The evaporate components leave the aqua cream. but are trapped so they condensate on the lid. The next time you open the lid to use it, the liquid components will flee the jar altogether via another round of evaporation. When you store the product upside down, the solvents will still evaporate up, but what’s up? The product itself. When the evaporation takes place, the solvents are effectively trapped, then re-integrated into the matrix of the Aqua Cream, keeping it nice, and soft and workable. Because this stuff dries and set so quickly, you will also want to place the pot upside down in between brush reloads to prevent the Aqua Cream form drying out.

As far as multitasking goes, the smell is rather yucky and the finish is very drying so there is no way this is going on my lips. Judging from the way it finishes on the back of my hand, it will exaggerate every crease and crevice on the lips. It might be salvageable with lip gloss over it, but meh, the gloss will undermine the staying power of the Aqua Cream and the lips will still feel dry and chapped. Because the Aqua Cream formula is tricky to blend it out evenly, I don’t see myself using this as an eye shadow or a blush. There are much more convenient blushes i could reach for first over this like MUFE’s Artist Shadow in ME-744 “Poppy” which is pretty much a dead ringer for 08 in metallic, pressed powder form. I might use 08 as a fun shadow base once in a while but other than that, this is an eyeliner for me. If you crave an unique shade of long lasting eyeliner. this is it (as long as you aren’t allergic to natural red).

MUFE stand alone stores
Sephora MUFE boutiques

Easy Graphic Liner Look
Step 1: Prime lids
Step 2: paint a thick line with Aqua Cream #8 up to your crease line
Step 3: trace the edges of the red with black liquid liner (I used Stila’s Liquid liner pen)
Step 4: Thicken the outer edges and outer corner with more black liner.


My crease hides half the black line. So this is what it should look like.


Front on. Cleaned up outer edge.


Totally worth it.


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3 responses to “Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in #8 (Red) Review and Rambles

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