Lipstick collection: Neutrals, nudes, and MLBBs

Posted on February 24, 2018 under Reviews

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.

Bite Beauty The Lip Pencil in 020*

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.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Honeycomb* (mini)

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.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush*

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.

Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice

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…

Drugstore favourites: Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks

Posted on November 11, 2017 under Reviews

I noticed recently that a great deal of my reviews are of mid-range to high-end products – probably because they’re more exciting to me. I’m far more likely to meticulously research pricey products before pulling the trigger, and the fact that they’ve taken up so much headspace means I’m already in the frame of mind to review them. With drugstore products, I’m prone to impulse purchasing – snapping something up, putting it in my makeup storage, and only thinking of it when it’s time to apply it. But, like most of us, I started at the drugstore and I still have a good range of drugstore products in my collection which I use regularly. Today I thought I’d shine a spotlight on one of my favourite drugstore products of all time, the Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks.

When it comes to lipstick, my collection leans pretty expensive nowadays. When I first started wearing makeup regularly, I was all about the lipstick (and still am) and bought all my lip products from the drugstore. These days buying a fancy lipstick is one of my favourite ways to treat myself, and over the years I’ve accumulated so many dupes and near-dupes that I’ve weeded out a lot of my cheaper lipsticks in favour of the ones I paid a lot for. My favourite lipstick formulas are higher end; I’d say that my top two are Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution and NARS Audacious. But the Maybelline Creamy Mattes will remain in my collection, because they are amazing. In fact, I’d rank them right up there with CT and NARS formula-wise at a quarter of the price.

A lot of the time when we talk about drugstore products, we qualify them: they’re good for the price, because they’re so cheap we can’t complain, they’re a good budget option. But no joke, the Creamy Mattes are straight up one of my favourite lipstick formulas, no qualification necessary.

The name really says it all; Maybelline was not lying. These are a true matte (for a bullet lipstick, that is – they don’t look as, well, dry as liquid lipsticks) and incredibly comfortable. They don’t feel as smooth and creamy as the CT or NARS; they have a slightly dryer-feeling formula, but they don’t dry out the lips or tug on application. All in all, they’re everything you could ever look for in a lipstick formula, and you can regularly get them on sale for $5.99 CAD. The packaging is undeniably drugstore, but I think it’s pretty nice. It’s sturdy and I like that it’s matte, which always reads as less cheap to me than a shiny tube. These lipsticks feel more substantial than something like the Rimmel lipsticks. The tubes all look the same, however (with the colour of the outer packaging changing from line to line, but not shade to shade), so if you have a few of these I’d suggest storing them upside-down so you can see the shade names at a glance.

Really my only complaint is that I want them to expand the shade range! Canada gets a little short-changed here; we don’t have as many colours as our American friends. I have diligently avoided the allure of buying makeup since arriving in the UK, but it seems that Boots and Superdrug carry a whopping six shades of the line. Maybelline did just launch the Inta-Mattes a few months ago, which, as far as I can tell, share the Creamy Matte formula, but none of those colours call to me. (They also don’t seem to be available in the UK.) I would kill for more bolds in this line! The drugstore could use more high quality mattes in the plum/magenta/berry/purple family.

These smell similar to MAC lipsticks – that is, they have that vanilla-reminiscent scent that’s standard across a lot of lip formulas. I wouldn’t say I love the scent, but it doesn’t bother me in the least, and I don’t notice it throughout the day. I mention this only because I know some people dislike that specific scent in their lip products, and I myself am sensitive to certain scents as well.

Now, some pictures of the colours I have:

My first exposure to the Creamy Mattes was in the form of Lust For Blush, which is a cross between pink and lilac. This is the type of colour that should not be flattering on me but somehow is. It’s quite similar to Wet N Wild Mauve Outta Here, a colour that I destashed back in 2013 but sought to replace with something with a superior formula. (That was a lie the internet told me – I never got along with those Wet N Wild lipsticks.) It’s really the colour of Lust For Blush that compelled me to buy it, as I was convinced that it was the colour I was looking for. And it was, but it also got me hooked on the formula. This borders on a Barbie pink, which should look positively terrible on me. Every time I put it on I’m surprised not only that it doesn’t look awful but that it actually brightens up my face a lot. This is one of my favourite lipstick colours of all time!

Comparison swatches:

L-R: MAC Please Me, NARS Audacious in Anna, Maybelline Lust For Blush, Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop, Little Mix by Collection in Perrie

You can see that it’s more purple than the medium pink (Please Me), though not as mauve or dusty as Anna. It looks positively pink compared to a true purple (Perrie). Lise Watier Cake Pop is darker and more saturated but the most similar tonally, though it still lacks that hint of lilac.

My next foray into this line was Touch of Spice. This was a colour which I had passed over many times until I saw my coworker wearing it. This is one of those complex neutrals that can be described with a variety of colour adjectives: brown-y pink-y mauve-y. On her it pulled quite purple, which interested me as the bullet appears more brown. On me it’s more of a pinky-brown. I never would have thought I’d like something with this much brown, but it’s very flattering and easy to wear and one of my favourite fall neutrals. When I worked in cosmetics, this was one of the lipsticks I sold most frequently. I’m pretty sure every customer I put it on bought it! It looks different on everybody and it flatters such a variety of skintones. Of course I shy away from describing something as “universally flattering”, partially because that’s nearly impossible and partially because it’s really just conjecture on my part. That said, I have seen this colour on a lot of people ranging from very fair to medium-to-dark, with basically every undertone, and it’s looked good on them all. I can’t promise you anything, but it’s worth a swatch, at least. You can see in the pictures above that different lighting conditions pull different undertones out, as well, though usually on me it’s more of a pinky-brown without too much mauve or plum.

Comparison swatches:

L-R: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, Maybelline Touch of Spice, Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush

Okay, let’s address the obvious: if you have Revlon Sultry you probably don’t need Touch of Spice, though both are colours which seem to transform on the lips and look very different on everyone. On me, the red tones in Sultry are evident, whereas Touch of Spice appears a little more brown. It’s definitely more brown than pink (as you can see when compared to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which pulls much more pink) but not entirely brown – the pinky plumminess is evident when viewed next to something more brown (Hush Hush).

Finally, I picked up a newer colour, Burgundy Blush. I believe this colour is permanent in the US but already long-gone in Canada (sorry). This is another one that seems to appear pretty different depending on who’s wearing it. On Christine of Temptalia, it looks much more like a brick or burgundy. On me, it’s a dark brown with strong red undertones. This is the type of colour that I would never have worn even when I was out there rocking dark purple lips on the regular. I was terrified of brown lipstick for a long time, but I’m finally on board. The camera seems to make this one look slightly uneven on my lips, but I don’t notice any patchiness in real life. In her review of Burgundy Blush, Christine notes that it feels a bit drier than the other Creamy Mattes, which I don’t personally notice.

Comparison swatches:

L-R: Bite Amouse Bouche Lipstick in Whiskey, Maybelline Burgundy Blush, ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Prim

In these swatches, Burgundy Blush appears to have a stronger red/berry hint than it does on my lips, especially when compared to Bite Whiskey, which is clearly more brown (though it does have a berry undertone, as well). It’s very similar to ColourPop Prim, especially applied to my lips rather than the underside of my arm.

Obviously, I’m a fan of the Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks – they’re pretty much everything I look for in a lipstick formula, and at a great price point. I hope Maybelline continues to expand the colour selection, because this is one of the best products you can get at the drugstore.

The Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks retail for between $7.97 (Walmart) and $10.99 (Shoppers Drug Mart) for 0.15oz.

Pre-moving declutter part III: Lip products

Posted on September 03, 2017 under Declutter

I’m back with one last declutter post for you before I’m off to Glasgow! I was quite ruthless with my lipsticks and managed to get rid of almost a third of my collection.

If you want to see swatches of any of these colours, you can refer to my recent lipstick inventory.

Things That Are Old

ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Marshmallow and Prim: The two times I wore Marshmallow in public were worth the $6 USD I spent on this supremely unflattering purple-grey. I knew it would look like shit on me when I ordered it, and it surely delivered. Sadly, it and Prim, a striking deep brown with a hint of purple, both smell very off now. ColourPop products don’t seem to have a very long shelf life.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless: Do you know how long I spent popping into every drugstore I passed to see if they had an unmarred tube of Shameless? So long. And then I finally found this tube, in early 2014, and I wore it a lot, and now I don’t wear it anymore. I still love the colour, but it’s old besides being flawed (patchy, not as comfortable as other Matte Balms).

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Raspberry: Raspberry is from the OG Joe Fresh line (pre-expansion into Shoppers Drug Mart, back when the prices were considerably lower) and it used to be one of my absolute favourites. I still love the playful pink-red, but the formula no longer excites me when I compare it to other lipsticks I have, and the packaging has been broken for almost as long as I’ve had it. The only way to describe the state of this lipstick is “crusty”.

Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 06: I love this colour and I have held onto this very old tube for longer than I probably should have while hunting for a suitable dupe. I have finally found it and can now say goodbye to this old, nasty tube.

Colours That Look Bad On Me

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liners in White Russian, Ransom, and Intrigue*: Buxom sent me six of these and I kept half. I really like this formula – and I use the rosy brownish pink Hush Hush and burnt orange Covert Affair regularly – but these colours do me no favours.

Tony Moly Cat Chu Wink Lipstick in Orange Pop: This is a sheer neon orange which does not suit me in the slightest. It’s okay, I bought it because it looks like a cat (proof here), and that alone has brought me joy for many years.

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Lipstick in Pourquoi Pas?: Okay, listen, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I got this as gratis from a Lancôme training I did for work back in the spring, and I was super excited to get one of these fancy clicky tubes until I saw the colour. This is a sheer, cool hot pink that looks like shit on me. I wore it to work one day despite my reservations and I regretted it the entire time.

Lancôme Matte Shaker in Yummy Pink*: I actually haven’t even tried this product on, but see above re: cool pinks. I love the Matte Shaker in Pink Power, which is much warmer, so I’m sure a friend will enjoy this brand-new product.

Colours That Are A Little Bit Off

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Viola (Mini): I want this to be warmer! The difference between lavender and lilac is crucial for me, and this is just a hair short of lilac. I don’t think it’s completely unwearable, but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect lilac.

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Perrie: This dusty medium purple is very pretty but not quite right on me. I wore it a lot when I got it, but I tried it on recently and wasn’t wowed. This lipstick was £2.50 so I think it was money well spent.

MAC Matte Lipstick in Please Me: Light and mid-toned pinks are tricky on me, and this one is just slightly wrong. It’s not horribly unflattering, but when it comes to everyday colours I can do a lot better.

Colours That Are Similar To Things I Like Better

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Jade: This is a rosy brownish pink, a colour description that I have already used in this post in reference to the Buxom Lip Liner in Hush Hush. I prefer the matte, longwearing formula of Hush Hush, and I have no need for both.

Joe Fresh Long Wear Liquid Lipstick in Fuchsia: You know, I have to give Joe Fresh credit for coming out with these (now discontinued) liquid lipsticks ahead of the curve. I bought this well before the liquid lipstick trend had beat itself to death. I used to love this ultra bright fuchsia. I’ve noticed that my feelings towards fuchsia – once my favourite lipstick colour – have changed considerably, and this isn’t a colour I love on myself anymore. I have similar shades that are just more flattering on me. Also, yes, I have two tubes of this, because I lost mine, repurchased it, and found the original tube within hours.

Lancôme Color Design Lipstick in Posh Pink: I wanted this lipstick to be a replacement for the Rimmel shade, but it’s too pink and not vibrant enough. I have plenty of bright warm pinks and corals; this one is unnecessary.

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Leigh-Anne : A redundant red. That’s it for my Little Mix makeup products! Ironically considering the name of this brand, I have decided that collector’s items do not need to stay in my makeup stash. I absolutely love British girl band Little Mix, and these lipsticks are really good for the mere £2.50 they cost, but this colour is generic and unnecessary in my life.

Clarins Rouge Prodige in Fusion Red: I like the shiny finish of this slightly warm-leaning red, but it’s not the most practical when it comes to wear time. I have both warm reds and true reds which I prefer over this. This is one of my oldest makeup products and the packaging is so pretty that it pains me to part with it, but I don’t think I’ll actually miss it.

MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Hang-Up: Again, a sheer, moisturizing finish for a fairly deep shade is not my favourite. This colour is very similar to the Buxom Lip Liner in Mystery, and since it’s matte I think the formula is more compatible with the richness of the colour. I do like Hang-Up a lot (the colour is super pretty and it’s comfortable to wear), but it’s time for it to go.

Things I Just Don’t Like

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Scarlet: Scarlet is housed in much sturdier packaging than its younger sister Raspberry up there, but it has always been a little “meh”: a bit patchy and not my most flattering colour. I have deep reds/wines/berries that I think look nicer and that have far superior formulas.

Lancôme Color Design Lipstick in Wannabe: I love this colour, but the formula is quite waxy and I don’t enjoy wearing it.

Essence Matt Matt Matt Vibrant Shock in 09: This product taught me that I like navy blue lipstick, but that’s the only good thing I can say about it. It’s too sheer for such a bold colour and it wears off easily.

Know Cosmetics No, My Lips Are Sealed Topcoat: I didn’t notice that this did anything, and I didn’t like having to apply it from the little spatula on the end of the wand.

Lip Liners

Arbonne Lip Liner in Berry*: The formula on this is fine, but it’s a colour that doesn’t pair that well with any of my lipsticks.

MUA Lip Liner in Brooding Plum: I’ve used this with my deeper reds enough times to justify the £1 I spent on it, but it’s a fairly dry formula that’s not that pleasant to work with.

Collection Lip Definer in Damson: A truly beautiful deep plum that doesn’t go with any of my lipsticks. It’s pretty dry by now, too – I’ve had it for ages.

That’s 24 lipsticks, 3 lip liners, and one lip topcoat. Combined with the face and eye makeup products, that is a total of 57 products plucked from the loving embrace of my collection. These products completely fill up one makeup bag, which I think is a considerable amount of space to have saved in my luggage. Yay!