When I did my lipstick inventory in the summer, I mentioned that I might do proper lip swatches of all my lip products. Since that inventory, I decluttered a fairly large amount of lipsticks, which makes that possibility a little less daunting. (Though you should definitely not expect minimalism from me as a general rule.) I decided I’d kick us off today with a boring – but necessary – category: the neutrals, nudes, and MLBBs. Despite my penchant for loud lipstick, I’ve been busy and tired recently and that has been reflected in my tendency to reach for softer lipstick colours (and to make minimal effort with my makeup in general). I have worn all of these pretty regularly in recent memory, so I can give you accurate mini-reviews.
I recognize that “neutral”, “nude”, and “MLBB” are fairly contentious, overlapping terms without clear definitions. Personally, I interpret “nude” as a colour close to my actual skin tone, “MLBB” as close to my lip colour, and “neutral” as, well, a daytime-appropriate, wouldn’t-look-twice colour that nonetheless does not closely resemble my actual skin or lip colour. I lean more towards neutrals over nudes and MLBBs; I’m fair with reasonably low-contrast colouring, so I rely on lip products to bring a bit of colour and life to my face. As you’ll see, I don’t really do nudes in the way that I’ve defined them, and I lean very heavily towards neutrals with rosy pinkish-brown bases.
I haven’t done comparison arm swatches in this post because I figured the lip swatches would be illustrative enough; if you really want to see them next to each other, there are swatches included in the lipstick inventory post.
Here are my natural lips:
I don’t think they’re particular pigmented or pale; they’re somewhere in the middle. Lipsticks tend to be pretty true-to-colour on me.
First, let’s look at my lip liners.
Milani Color Statement Lip Liner in Nude
This lip liner basically represents the neutral colour I’m always gravitating towards, and consequently can be seamlessly paired with many of the lipsticks you’ll see in this post. It’s a very creamy, comfortable formula that can easily be worn on its own. I love this liner and have most certainly got my money’s worth out of it.
On paper, a warm, beige-based nude should look terrible on me. But when I received this liner from Influenster, I was surprised to find that I actually really liked it. If you click through to the original review post, you’ll see that I got this liner when I had red hair. I did go back to platinum last March, and this liner (and its matching lipstick, which I’ll get to in due course…) were not my absolute favourites with that hair. The platinum hair made me supremely low-contrast, which this lipstick did nothing to combat. But now I’m (ostensibly) growing out my blonde, so I have quite a lot of brown at the roots and a darker, ashier blonde through the lengths, and I like this liner again. I usually pair this with the Bite Honeycomb lipstick, but it works well under a variety of neutral and non-neutral lipsticks. I often use it just to sketch in a structure to my lips before using a completely different lipstick on top of it.
And now the lipsticks…
Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 17
I’ve had this tube for a long time (like, over 4 years) and have consequently used up quite a lot of it. It used to be a go-to neutral for me, but I’ve moved away from it because I’m not sure that the light peachy-pink base is my most flattering colour. I’ve been very wishy-washy when it comes to deciding to declutter it because sometimes I wear it and decide I do like it. I think it’s pretty dependent on what other makeup I’m wearing it with. It’s not one I lean on for no makeup makeup days because I think it does need a bit of strength in the eyes for balance. People rarely talk about the Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks anymore, but they remain solid drugstore staples. (And I’ve actually used one up – unsurprisingly, it was the rosy-brown 08.) They do have a very strong scent, however, so beware.
Like the lip liner in 020, I love this lipstick despite myself. In these pictures I’ve used it on its own so you can see the true colour, but in real life I always pair it with the liner, which makes it slightly deeper. I consistently get compliments on this colour when I wear it. Yeah, colour me surprised that a beigey-orangey-yellowy colour would ever be in my rotation. I’ve been on record as liking but not loving the Bite lipstick formula (a controversial opinion, it seems), but the super creamy, hydrating formula works perfectly here. I love using this lipstick on very casual makeup days when I don’t want to worry about crusty lips. And because it’s a light neutral, it fades gracefully – though the lasting power is decent when paired with the liner. When I run through my mini, I’ll definitely consider purchasing the full size.
Despite the name, this is a jumbo lip pencil, not a lip liner, and it has no discernible plumping action that I’ve been able to identify. However, it is an excellent comfortable, creamy matte lip product in a very flattering neutral tone. This is a rosy brownish-pink that is appropriate in basically every context ever. It adds colour to my complexion without being loud or distracting (although, obviously, I also love loud and distracting lipstick). It’s one of my go-to, ride or die neutrals and basically always lives in my bag.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Secret Salma
This was my twenty-third birthday present to myself, and I’ve managed to get a lot of use out of it in the eight months since it entered my life. Again, this is a very standard Clem neutral, though it’s pinker – and redder – than the reasonably brown Hush Hush. I remain a big fan of the super smooth, comfortable Matte Revolution formula.
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mini)
As you can see from the picture of the all-but-decimated tube, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of my go-to lip colours. It’s the perfect flattering neutral. It has enough colour in it to revitalize my face, but it’s still a very safe, everyday colour that can be paired with pretty much any eye makeup. By now you are probably very much noticing that this colour is firmly in my comfort zone and also nearly indistinguishable from CT Secret Salma. This is true! And while I really love the MJ lipstick formula – which I’ve articulated more fully in my review of the shade So Sofia – I will just redirect my love for this shade to Secret Salma when I use it up. Which will probably be in like 45 minutes because I wear it so often.
I am very much in love with this ultra-versatile neutral. It has hints of brown, plum, pink, and red and basically defies easy colour categorization. It also looks different on everyone – I have a friend whose lips really pull out the plum in it, and I’ve seen it turn quite brown on a lot of people. It also looks good on a huge variety of skin tones and depths. And the formula is so good – like, not just for drugstore, but in general. It’s deeper on me than my other neutrals and it has a bit of cool tone that makes it a statement neutral. If I lost my entire makeup collection this is one of the first colours I would repurchase. Which is convenient because it goes on sale for $5.99 pretty frequently!
NARS Audacious Lipstick in Anna
When I first got this lipstick, I put it on and was immediately bitterly disappointing. It drew all the life out of my face, which is of course the opposite of what I want lipstick to do for me. But that was back when I was super platinum, and now that I’ve got a higher-contrast, more natural hair colour going on, I think I can make this work. Yes, the cool mauve tones are tricky on me – but if I make sure to warm up my cheeks with a healthy amount of blush and have a decent amount of eye makeup on, I think it’s pretty. It’s another colour that falls more into the “statement neutral” category for me. I relegated this to the back of my shelf for many months, but I’ve recently rediscovered it and have been wearing it pretty often. Definitely one of my all-time favourites, but it’s a little different from my usual neutral colour palette and I’m liking it!
This is probably more than strictly necessary (especially considering how similar a lot of these are), but this is actually a relatively tame category compared to some others in my collection. But I can honestly say that since trimming the fat back in the summer, these are all colours that I use regularly. I can’t guarantee that will be true of every lipstick in the coming instalments, but my neutrals are very well-loved, at least…
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