Review: Pat McGrath Labs LuxeTrance Lipstick in 35mm

Posted on April 11, 2018 under Reviews

Though Pat McGrath’s early makeup launches were appealing on some levels, ultimately I found them easy to resist. I don’t care enough about highlighter to spend a billion dollars on one packaged in sequins, and though the lip kits were beautiful, they were so far out of my budget that they didn’t even enter the realm of consideration. It was when the brand released their MatteTrance and LuxeTrance lipsticks that my interest was truly piqued. We all know I’m someone who can get behind a single luxurious lipstick, even if it is overpriced. And when I started hearing over-the-top praise from people in Facebook groups, I knew I would have to bite the bullet one day. Originally I was thinking to use it as a reward for a substantial accomplishment… but then I got a Sephora gift card for Christmas and decided that I didn’t want to wait until I had accomplished something substantial. (Let’s be honest – my next substantial accomplishment will be finishing my degree, and that’s in September. I don’t have that much willpower.)

Canadian Sephoras unfortunately don’t carry Pat McGrath products in store (or didn’t when I bought this back in early January), and there is a shocking lack of swatches of the lipsticks online. I mean, as makeup lovers the internet is our most precious resource! I never buy things without consulting an appropriate amount of online sources for reviews and swatches. After rounding up the few scraps I could find, I narrowed down my list to a variety of berry and burgundy shades. Ultimately I decided that the berries were too close to my beloved MAC Rebel to justify buying… and the name of the burgundy 35mm won me over. I’m a film and TV grad student, you know? When it’s right it’s right.

Sephora calls this a “burgundy pink”, which is a phrase that makes no sense and is most certainly not in any way factual. In the tube, 35mm looks like a medium brown with a hint of red, but on my lips the brown all but disappears. I’d call it a deep wine red with virtually none of the brown or purple necessary to be burgundy. (Clearly it’s also not in any way pink.) I actually wish it did have more brown, because I think this colour is fairly standard:

I mean, it’s really pretty, don’t get me wrong. There’s something uniquely powerful about dark red lipstick. But I guess I wanted my $52 lipstick to be a bit more singular. I think NARS does this beautifully: their lipsticks are a cool $40 in Canada (which seems eminently reasonable compared to Pat McGrath), but so many of the colours have a complexity that I don’t see at a drugstore price point. (See Audrey, which is in a similar colour family but which has notes of wine, plum, and brown.) Also, although I know this type of colour is perfectly flattering on me, it’s just not my favourite colour to wear. I mean, it’s still beautiful, but I just wanted something different. And that’s why you shouldn’t buy things that you haven’t seen in person, especially when nobody on the internet has swatched them. I am the person on the internet swatching them!

Comparison swatches:

L-R: Pat McGrath 35mm, Bite Beetroot, NARS Audrey, Lancôme Kiss Me Chérie*, NARS Cruella, Maybelline Burgundy Blush

Here I think you can see what I mean about Audrey’s comparative complexity. 35mm is a standard wine when you take into account the hints of plum and brown in Audrey. You can see that it’s very similar to Bite Beetroot, and, I’m sure, many other wine lipsticks that I don’t own. It’s definitely not a simple dark red when compared to Kiss Me Chérie and Cruella, but it lacks the same strong brown pull of Burgundy Blush.

Packaging-wise, you just can’t deny this. It’s a little bit gaudy and a lot amazing. It’s heavy, it’s extravagant, it’s too much and it knows it. I will admit I’m a little bit confused on Pat McGrath’s brand identity, since the original launches were packaged quite generically (some might say cheaply), and this is… well, this. It’s a black tube with big gold lips on it. I’m a fan of luxury packaging that is just a tad extra; I also love the YSL Rouge Volupté Shine lipsticks for the same reason. Look, if I’m going to buy an overpriced lipstick then I want to feel like my money went somewhere, and when I pull out a tube and it screams HI I AM EXPENSIVE AND I WILL TACKILY LET YOU KNOW THAT, I’m into it. Maybe that’s tacky of me. That’s fine.

Now, as I said, I have read nothing but glowing reviews for this formula. Like, over-the-top fawning. So, I don’t want to be the one, but… I’ll be the one. Maybe it’s this colour in particular (and I do know that deeper shades are trickier), but… meh. I mean, look, it’s not that it’s bad. It’s not. But this is a $52 lipstick. I could have a Tim Horton’s donut every week for a year with that money and still have some left over. I think I would prefer the 52 donuts! If I’m paying $10 or even $25 for a lipstick and the formula is perfectly adequate, I will be happy. If I’m paying FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS for one SINGLE SOLITARY TUBE, I want it to be the most incredible, transformative thing I have ever put on my face. People don’t pay $52 for “Yeah, it’s okay”, right?

Okay, let’s get into specifics. This lipstick glides on smoothly and comfortably. It feels a lot like the Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème formula in that regard: there’s absolutely no resistance during application. However, it does have a tendency to ever so slightly exaggerate dry patches, of which my lips have plenty during the winter. And, you know, this is a cold-weather shade. I really try to break free of prescribed seasonal colours because I know it’s all fake and I should do what I want, but I never want to wear dark red in the summer when I could be wearing a bright coral instead. So, basically, I only want to wear this lipstick when my lips are at their crustiest, and it does not do amazingly with crusty lips. Like, it’s not a disaster, and it’s perfectly wearable. But look closely and I think you’ll see that it’s darker in certain areas:

I think you can especially see this on the centre-left of my bottom lip. If you scroll back up to the swatch pictures, you can also see it there, and that is on my smooth, non-crusty arm. Again, I know this is nitpicky, and this is something I could overlook if Maybelline were selling it for $10.99. But I demand perfection from something this expensive.

Wear-time is… you know. Fine. I mean, for a traditional bullet lipstick (and one that isn’t even matte), it’s… fine. Bold colours usually don’t fade super gracefully, and I know that, and yet I want more than this:

This was after six hours of wear, one meal (noodles – medium amount of contact with my lips, I’d say – I’d hate to see how it would look after a burger), and quite a lot of water. So, not only has a lot of it faded, the fading isn’t very even, and my lips look pretty dry. Obviously, I’m not expecting a miracle here. I have worn a lot of lipstick in the past five years and I’m very aware of what you can expect out of a cream formula. But I have lipsticks with similar feeling formulas that last longer, that fade more evenly, and that don’t make my lips appear crusty. (Once again, Marc Jacobs and NARS edge out Pat, at $14 and $12 cheaper, respectively.)

So, I don’t know. This isn’t a bad lipstick by any means and I will certainly keep using it. I just feel like I’m living in the Berenstein world all of a sudden because I’ve literally never heard a single bad word about this formula and I found it to be “meh” for the price. I just can’t divorce that exorbitant price tag from the lipstick itself, which I think is pretty reasonable. Of course I’m well aware that all makeup is marked up to the extreme (I worked in cosmetics for years, I know how much it really costs to make), and I know that when you buy luxury you’re paying for the prestige. But, come on. I also want a good product, and if you’re going to tell me that your product is worth $52 – and I really just want to emphasize that again, because that is SO MUCH MONEY – I want to actually feel like it is. The packaging is glorious and I could wax poetic about it for days, but that’s not enough for me to think, “Yep, this has the same value as half a year of Netflix, or three books, or a nice shirt.” NOPE. IT DOES NOT.

If you’ve been eyeing Pat McGrath Labs lipstick, I don’t think you should let my review dissuade you completely. There are lots of good ones out there, from small, independent bloggers and random people in Facebook groups who I don’t think are being swayed by the machinations of the beauty guru industry. Those people can’t all be wrong. I had a different experience, and I think it might be that 35mm is not the best colour, or maybe my lips just repel this formula in a bizarre way. But this is my honest opinion, and it’s different from everyone else’s. Maybe it will help you.

Pat McGrath LuxeTrance Lipsticks retail for $52 CAD (did you get that?!) for 0.14 oz, or $371.43 per oz.

Lipstick Collection: Light and Medium Pinks

Posted on March 19, 2018 under Reviews

This is a very underrepresented category in my lipstick collection, although really it’s represented exactly the amount I want it to be. Fuchsias, I love; less saturated pinks, though, are not the best on me. I know a lot of people really enjoy a good light or mid-toned pink as a fun but casual option, but those are tricky colours for me that need to be just right.

Again, I refer you to my lip product inventory for arm swatches.

For reference, my bare lips:

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchanted

I absolutely love Rimmel liners; they’re so creamy and smooth and they can be worn on their own or underneath something else to help with longevity. This medium pink is really flattering on me and I really like using it underneath some of my neutrals to add a tiny hint of pink to the undertone. By the way, I’ve also gone through like four or five of the colour Eastend Snob (which is pretty popular on YouTube); Enchanted is like its deeper sister.

ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo

ColourPop refers to this as a “dusty rose”, but I think it’s a lot pinker than that. This is another lip liner formula that works really well on its own; I probably wear it by itself as often as I use it underneath something else. It’s perfect paired with Marc Jacobs Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (featured in this post).

Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Lust For Blush

I think by now I have mentioned my love for the Creamy Matte formula enough times! But I adore this particular colour, too – it’s one of my favourite lipsticks ever. It’s a pink with a hint of lilac. Though if I were to just look at swatches of this colour I would assume it would look terrible on me, I think it’s one of my more flattering colours. Sometimes I want a lip colour that’s not too loud but isn’t a standard neutral, and this is the perfect solution!

Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop

This is a deep but muted pink that I usually bust out as an understated alternative to a fuchsia. I’m still getting that hit of pink that livens up my face, but it’s not Too Much. (Not that I usually worry about doing too much when it comes to lipstick!) This is an okay formula – it’s a bit dry and not terribly long-lasting for a “matte” lipstick, but it’s perfectly serviceable. I usually pair it with Rimmel Enchanted to increase the longevity.

… and that’s it! Told you I don’t wear pinks very often.

Review: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation in 1.1N

Posted on March 11, 2018 under Reviews

When The Ordinary first launched their foundations, I was quick to snap up a bottle of the Serum, which I use regularly. The Coverage foundation didn’t interest me too much at the time, because I wasn’t sure if it would work for my skin type and I don’t tend to go for heavy coverage anyway. But back in October, my friend Aisling passed her bottle along to me, since it hadn’t worked out for her. (Lucky me, she bought hers in 1.1N, which is my match in the Serum foundation.)

Shade Range

As with the Serum foundation, the Coverage foundation boasts a variety of undertones but overall caters more heavily to light/medium skin tones. If you’re quite fair you may have luck with The Ordinary’s base products as the lightest shade, 1.0N, is legitimately very light. The darkest shade, 3.3N, is darker than what a lot of drugstore brands offer, but it’s still not terribly deep – and the variety of dark shades is lacking.

I find that my shade, 1.1N, is a bit darker in the Coverage than in the Serum, but both ultimately blend well into my skin. If you have a chance, it’s probably worth it to swatch this product even if you already have a match in the Serum, because the colours aren’t exactly the same.

Here are some comparison swatches:

L-R: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation in 1.1N, The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Rimmel BB Cream in Very Light, NARS All Day Luminous Weightless in Siberia, Urban Decay All Nighter in 0.5

Do keep in mind that my inner arm is a bit lighter than my face, so the colour discrepancy isn’t always as large as it appears in swatches. This definitely isn’t my most ideal shade match of all time, but as long as I blend it well it’s fine.

Packaging

The Coverage foundation comes in the same small, no frills bottle as the Serum. The bottles are durable and travel-friendly and the pump is an obvious upside. (I also find this pump smooth and responsive, which wasn’t the case for the Serum.) The black pump does collect grimy-looking foundation splatters, but, well, for under 7 bucks I’m not going to complain. It’s unremarkable packaging, but I’m not sure it would be reasonable to expect much more at this price-point.

Application and Finish

Where my winter skin started to despise the Serum foundation, I found the Coverage foundation pleasantly emollient in comparison. I started using this foundation at the beginning of November, when my skin was at its driest, and throughout the winter it’s sat decently on my skin. I like applying this foundation best with a dense brush, but it works well with a sponge or fingers as well. I don’t recommend a stippling brush or one with floppier bristles – something stiffer blends this thicker foundation much better.

I get a natural finish and a solid medium coverage out of this foundation. “Coverage” seems to be a term used relative to the sheer coverage of the Serum: it definitely has coverage, but it’s not full like UD All Nighter and products of that ilk. (Nor do I want it to be!)

Here are some before and after shots (ft. a convenient breakout):

I apologize for the lighting change – these pictures were taken on a very volatile day weather-wise, so I couldn’t get a consistent light source. I haven’t applied any concealer in these photos (including under my eyes – that’s just the foundation). I built it up a little bit over the blemishes so you can see what type of coverage you can get with some layering. Unfortunately, building it does tend to lead to a bit of a heavy look on those areas. I find that it looks fine across my forehead and cheeks, though:

I don’t normally build this foundation up past one layer, which pretty much does away with that particular issue. I hardly ever put concealer on my zits these days, anyway. Personally I’d rather my skin look like skin, even if that means a bit of discolouration from a blemish is peeking through. That’s preferable to me over the look of a very thick, heavy foundation. That said, if you do like to build your foundation up and if you have a dryer skin type, this may not be ideal for you. It works pretty well the way I usually use it, though.

Wear

The first day I tried this foundation I thought it looked really heavy on my skin by the end of the day, but since then I’ve found it wears well. I was in Brighton with limited skincare when I tried it so I assume that’s why – when I use a nice moisturizer underneath, it looks perfectly reasonable by the end of the day. I wouldn’t say it’s miraculous, but it doesn’t underperform in terms of wear time. Here’s how it looked at the end of an eight-hour day last week:

When you look at the bigger picture, it looks totally fine, I think. It looks great on the forehead and cheeks. It’s when you get really nitpicky that you can start to see the wear:

The things I post on the internet…

Yeah, that nose situation is not great. I mean, it’s not disaster-level terrible, and I always assume my nose is going to look the worst by the end of the day. But not every foundation wears off like this – it could look a lot better. Like, I’m not going to not wear it because of this (obviously, since I’ve been regularly wearing it for months now), but I might not wear it if I know I have a really long day.

(By the way, the lipstick in these pictures is Marc Jacobs So Sofia. I have desperately been trying to manifest spring through my clothes and makeup. It’s been around 9 or 10 degrees Celsius over the past few days, so maybe it’s working…)

Other Things to Note

The Coverage foundation contains Titanium Dioxide, which is a physical SPF. In Europe this is advertised as SPF 15; elsewhere SPF is not mentioned on the packaging due to different regulations. However, the titanium dioxide does mean potential for flashback. SPF 15 is also quite low, and not a substitute for an actual facial sunscreen.

Final Thoughts

Both the Serum and Coverage foundations from The Ordinary are good, but not amazing. They perform adequately and I’m happy to use them both up. But I run into the same issues with both of them: there are certain parts of my face that they tend to cling to unflatteringly (though I can mitigate that with the Coverage foundation if I just don’t build it up), and the wear is okay but not great. I do offer this review of the Coverage foundation with the caveat that I haven’t had the opportunity to test it in warmer weather, when my skin isn’t quite so finnicky. If I were short on cash and really needed foundation, I’d be happy to pick this up again – but once I use it up I’ll probably move on to something else. I’m fine with it, but I’ve used better base products.

The Ordinary Coverage Foundation costs $6.70 CAD for 1 fl oz (30 mL). It can be purchased in Deciem stores as well as online.