Etude House Play 101 Pencil Review and Swatches

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Etude House has recently launched its Play 101 Pencils, which are basically little sticks of colour pencils that you can use to colour your eyes, lips, cheeks, face - basically anywhere! The concept is indeed novel, as far as Korean drugstore brands are concerned. Basically you get a multipurpose pencil that you can use anywhere you want!

Etude House Play 101 Pencils: Nifty little multi-purpose pencils that could potentially really simplify your makeup bag!

The idea behind these pencils, I have to say, is super nifty. After all, these are pencils that can be used anywhere on your face, and imagine if you can use only pencils everywhere! Your makeup bag would be so simplified as far as colour cosmetics go! It sounded pretty darn awesome, so I was pretty excited to get a hold of these to play with. Each of these have different textures, including creamy (creamy finish with no shimmer but not matte), glitter (has specks of glitter), shimmering (has some fine shimmer but no visible glitter specks), glossy (like a lip gloss crayon), and matt (plain ol' matte finish).

Etude House Play 101 Pencils 1
Etude House Play 101 Pencils: Different finishes (creamy, glitter, shimmering, glossy and matt) and many different shades

The entire range has 50 shades (numbered from 1 to 50), and I have 5 shades here with me: 15, 20, 26, 28, and 50. Below you can see swatches of all the shades. Shade 15 is a gloss one, shades 20 and 50 are creamy, and shades26 and 28 are glitters. All of these are actually surprisingly well-pigmented. The glossy ones, being more like lipgloss crayons, needed maybe two or three passes to get the pigmentation below, but the rest of the finishes feel more like eyeliner pencils, and only required one or two of passes to build up colour. Below you can see the swatches:

Etude House Play 101 Pencils Swatch
Etude House Play 101 Pencils Swatches: 15, 20, 26, 28, 50

15 is a peachy pink, and is one of the shades recommended for lip and eye. I personally think its glossy feel makes it best suited for the lips - not to mention the colour is a nice peachy nude.
20 is a bright neon pink. Etude House is pretty good at doing these bright shades, so this is pretty if you love summery brights.
26 is a bright summery coral, and it has some glitter, but not too much.
28 is a oyster pink, with lots of shimmer. This would probably be good along the inner rim of the eye, or near the tear duct for that "wide awake" look.
50 is a neutral dark brown. Obviously, this is going to get lots of use as an eyeliner, but I think it could be used as eyeshadow too, for a smokey look.

Etude House also has their own proposed uses for every colour. For 15 and 20, they recommend them for use on lips, as blusher, and as eyeshadow. For 26, 28 and 50, they recommend them for use as eyeshadow or eyeliner. Obviously you can use them however you want and you're not limited to their suggestions, but I thought these might be useful for the utterly clueless consumer.

Now that I've gone through the colours, I thought I'd put them through my usual longwear tests - the smudge rub test (rubbing my finger over the swatches with some force), the waterproof test (putting the swatches under running water), and the combination smudge and waterproof test (rubbing my finger over the swatches while subjecting them to running water). Usually the last one is a killer for most products, so if they pass the first two tests, it's usually fine by me. But let's see how the Etude House Play 101 Pencils hold up!

First, the smudge rub test. You can see that the Play 101 Pencils all did pretty well, with the only exception being 15, which was expected as it was really a glossy, slick finish and feel. The rest all did a pretty good job in staying put - there was some smudging, but not a lot.

Etude House Play 101 Pencils Rub Test
Etude House Play 101 Pencils: Fairly smudgeproof, particularly for the non-glossy finishes which don't shift

Next, the water test. Again, as you can see, the swatches held up actually surprisingly well, with again the exception of 15 (although to be fair it was mostly rubbed off by the smudge test). Nothing shifted when subject to running water - I'd say you could make a quick dash in the rain and your eyeshadows and eyeliner would still stay on.

Etude House Play 101 Pencils Water Test
Etude House Play 101 Pencils: Surprisingly good water resistance, with barely a budge

Lastly, the killer water and rubbing test. This one produced some flaking, but even then the result was not too bad, because most pencils just end up being rubbed and washed away totally. So overall, I'd say that the pencils are pretty long-lasting.

Etude House Play 101 Pencils Swatch Water Rub Test
Etude House Play 101 Pencils: Decent resistance through smudging and water combined

I know you're probably wondering what some of them look d feel like on the lips (after all, most pencil products do tend to be pretty dry if you put them on your lips), so I thought I'd show you some of the "lip appropriate" colours, swatched on my lips.

First, is 15. This is the most obvious choice for lips, both because of its smooth, glossy finish, but also because of its colour. On my lips this imparted a nice dose of colour, while not feeling weird or dry or cakey. The glossy finish pencils are actually pretty lip-friendly. I'd totally get more of them in other shades.

Etude House Play 101 Pencils 15 Lip Swatch
Etude House Play 101 Pencil in 15 swatched on lip

Next, is 20. This is a creamy finish, and when I swatched it on skin or eyes, it actually feels alright (it feels mostly like an eyeliner pencil would). But on lips, this was a bit drying. It feels like I applied eyeliner, or matte lipstick to my lips. It's certainly possible to wear it this way, but as the texture is fairly dry for a lip product, you might want to either prime your lips before, or else apply gloss or balm on top. It's worth a try if you're adventurous and don't have dry lips, because the pigmentation is pretty good on this. The only thing is, because it's slightly more dry, it can be a little hard to blend - if you're doing gradient lips or otherwise blending, you don't want to wait too long to start blending, because the colours "sets" fast, and doesn't budge once set.

Etude House Play 101 Pencils 20 Lip Swatch
Etude House Play 101 Pencil in 20 swatched on lip

Lastly, a glitter finish pencil, which is 26. On my lips this was not as dry as 20, but not as emollient-feeling as 15. I'd say it's passable, if you can get used to the fact that it won't feel as emollient as a typical lipstick or balm. Perhaps the only downside is that 26 has specks of glitter, which can feel a bit gritty on lips. I suppose that's why Etude House didn't actually recommend this for use on lips, instead proposing it for eye use. But I think it's a pretty colour on the lips, nonetheless! Again, if you're using this and planning to blend out the colour, you might want to do it quickly, before the colour sets and doesn't move.

Etude House Play 101 Pencils 26 Lip Swatch
Etude House Play 101 Pencil in 26 swatched on lip

The Etude Play 101 Pencils are quite unique, for their huge range of colours (I hope we get more shades here!) and for the variety in textures and finishes. The quality is also pretty good, with them being quite water and smudge-resistant once they set (except the glossy pencils, which are, of course, glossy). Chances are, whether you're looking for something to use on your lips, or eyes, or maybe even cheeks, you'll be able to find at least a couple of shades that suit your needs. For me, I particularly like 15 as a lip pencil, and 50 as eyeliner - I've been wearing 50 for a number of days now and it does indeed stay on pretty well, rivalling my more expensive eyeliner brands. And at S$12.50 a pop, they're actually really affordable for the quality. I'll be doing an FOTD (face of the day) with these soon, so keep a lookout for that if you're keen to see how it blends out on face and cheeks!
Recommended? Pigmentation Texture Application Colour Lasting Power
Yes, great quality & price 9/10 8/10 8/10 9/108/10
The Bottom Line: The affordable Etude House Play 101 Pencils score excellently when it comes to pigmentation, lasting power, and colour range. The different finishes and textures also add variety when using them on different parts of your face.

(Product was sent for review. Review is my complete and honest opinion. I am not affiliated with/compensated by the company.)


  1. Nice! I've been thinking of purchasing some of these since their launch, but stopped myself as my current makeup stash of lips and eyeliners is not decreasing.


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