Lipstick Collection: Peaches, Oranges, and Corals

Posted on May 18, 2018 under Reviews

Though I have a lot of lipsticks in this grouping of categories, I find peaches, oranges, and corals really tricky. The tones have to be just right. For a long time, I ignored these categories in favour of those that I could more easily wear – namely, fuchsias, reds, and berries. But once the floodgates were opened, I realized that colours in these categories are actually some of my all-time favourites – I just have to really pay attention to undertone and depth of shade.

As always, comparison arm swatches can be found in my big lipstick inventory post.

My bare lips, for posterity:

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Sucker

This is a bright borderline neon peach, which sounds like my worst nightmare. Because it’s sheer, I actually think it’s a really pretty colour, but I find it looks best when I go a little heavier on the blush and eye makeup. I really like the Blotted Lips formula – though I don’t generally go for sheerer lip colours, the sheer matte finish appeals to me. This is a comfortable formula which fades evenly, which I think is all you can ask of anything sheer. I will note that this can photograph a bit strangely, especially from afar – I have a few tourist pictures in Northern Ireland where I look very washed out because this colour is weird on camera. These pictures do accurately portray how it looks on me, though.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Brigitte

Ahh, my perfect peach! This colour has the tiniest hint of brown that makes it very wearable for me. (Although that brown mostly comes across in swatches and not so much on my lips!) This lipstick goes with so much and it’s one of my go-to respectable lady colours. And, of course, the Audacious formula is pretty much unparalleled. I lost my original tube of Brigitte to the depths of a rental car in late 2016, and I misplaced my current tube for a few months, so that’s why this picture was taken on a different day – I had just unearthed it from a backpack I never use. If it had eluded me forever, I probably would have spent Optimum points on it a third time. That’s how much I love this colour.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Strawberry Girl

This lipstick is the newest to my collection. On the last day of our trip, in Copenhagen, my mom offered to treat me to something from the Sephora that was half a block away from our Airbnb. I ended up selecting the recently-launched Strawberry Girl, which I see as Brigitte’s old sister. It’s not the easiest colour to describe, but I think “muted coral” probably comes the closest to getting at its red, orange, and brown tones. I love this formula: it’s creamy and rich but not heavy, and it lasts pretty well, although the wear time on this particular shade is not as great as So Sofia (which I’ll get to in a moment!) or even to the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang mini that will be featuring in an upcoming empties post. I’m not sure that this is my best shade, either, but I still like it on myself. Its muted dustiness reminds me of the pinky-browny shades I buy in bulk, but the warmth takes it in a different direction.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss

After hating and avoiding orange lipstick forever, 2017 was the year that I embraced a good earthy orange. Candyfloss is a gorgeous terracotta. Though it’s an unusual shade, I find that it’s pretty good for casual situations; I don’t feel like I’m making a huge statement when I wear it, because it’s muted. It wears down to appear a bit more peach, too, so it’s quite versatile. It’s my favourite of all the Blotted Lips I have – the colour is glorious and it applies and wears the most evenly.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Covert Affair*

I’m pretty confident in saying that this was my most-worn non-neutral lip colour of 2017. This burnt orange is just so damn flattering. I’m really glad Buxom sent this along because I never would have fallen in love with this type of earthy orange otherwise. I actually think burnt orange is one of the ugliest colours on the planet in general, but I love it on my face. Go figure! Anyway, these lip pencils have a really comfortable formula that wears well. This is probably the most colour-accurate photo I’ve managed to get of this shade – usually it shows up very red, but I think the red in my top helps bring out the orange and brown tones more clearly here.

Bite Beauty Matte Lipstick in Custom Colour

This is a very bright reddy-orange. I don’t know that it’s quite a burnt orange since it’s so vibrant, but it’s definitely some sort of orange rather than red. (This is another one that’s tricky to photograph, but these pictures are pretty accurate, though they might read a bit more red on your screen.) Once again I’m shocked that I not only willingly put anything orange on my face but that I actually chose to have this colour custom-made. Again, I really enjoy the Bite matte formula – it’s nowhere close to a true matte, as you can clearly see, but it’s comfortable without being slippery (an issue I have with the Amuse Bouche formula). If they put out off-the-rack lipsticks in this formula I’d definitely hand over my money.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in On A Stick

A more recent lipstick colour fixation has been a good old reddy coral. On A Stick is the casual option, though it can be built up to near-opacity if you’re really looking for a punch of colour. For whatever reason I do find this makes my lips drier than the other Blotted Lips colours I have, but it’s nothing egregious.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia

Old pictures ’cause they’re the most colour accurate.

I probably sang this lipstick’s praises enough in the nearly-1500 word blog post I wrote about it. The formula is incredible and the colour is the best thing ever. Like, there are plenty of lipsticks that look good on me, or that I can’t really object to one way or another. But this lipstick actively looks good on me. I spent literal years searching for this exact shade of no-bullshit, in-your-face, so-damn-loud coral, and finally I have it. I treasure this lipstick.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

This was an impulse purchase added to a basket when I was spending Optimum points and was a few dollars short of my threshold. And goddammit, I don’t think I’ve ever made a better impulse purchase. I mean, it’s not that this formula is so incredible, because it’s not. It’s a decent cream lipstick formula – nothing to complain about, nothing to rave about. But this bright reddish coral is everything. It’s a bit of a chameleon; here it looks more pink, but sometimes it appears a lot more orangey on me. I haven’t worn in it some time since the gloomy winter weather has had me leaning towards more muted colours, but now that it’s finally warm out it will be back in my rotation.

ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips in Tuesday

This vibrant red-coral is no doubt a beautiful colour. It’s a slightly more serious coral than something like So Sofia, but it’s still fun. Unfortunately, I am not only over liquid lipsticks as a whole, I am especially over this particular formula. I would describe how it feels on my lips, but I think the photo above does a pretty good job of that. I mean… no.

As I was taking these photos, I was struck by how much I genuinely love all of these colours. It’s been quite a sudden transformation from someone who hated anything that remotely hinted at orange to a devotee of a good coral or earthy orange. I guess opening your mind can be a good thing. Who knew?!

Lipstick Collection: Fuchsias and Bright Pinks

Posted on April 16, 2018 under Inventory

Fuchsia was the first lipstick colour I ever fell in love with. When I was 19, you could expect to see me sporting fuchsia more often than not. It’s a colour that I’ve grown out of somewhat; I still really like the right tone on me, but I don’t think it’s my most flattering colour anymore. (To be fair, when my fuchsia obsession was at its height, I had brown hair.) Regardless, this portion of my collection is still pretty robust, even after trimming it down in the summer.

This category can get slightly hazy – sometimes there’s not a lot separating a warm fuchsia from a pink-based coral or a cool fuchsia from a warm lilac. I’ve just gone with my gut here, which has involved rearranging the configuration of products I presented in my lipstick inventory post back in the summer. (By the way, as always, arm swatches are available in that post.)

And here are my bare lips:

Lancôme Le Lip Liner in Rose Lancôme

Man, isn’t this colour just so pretty? It’s bright and unapologetic and it has the hint of warmth that I love in a good fuchsia. Although you definitely should not spend $30 on a lip liner, if you do, Lancôme liners have an almost gel-like quality and they glide on very comfortably and evenly. Personally I like to cheap out on lip liners, but I’ve found it really hard to find a bright, warm fuchsia and I bought this with Optimum points anyway. (Of course. Come on. I buy everything with Optimum points.)

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Heart-On

Ugh, I still hate the name. However, this is a great lip liner option – it’s cooler and deeper than Rose Lancôme, so it fulfils a different function. You can see in the photos in the original post that a purple undertone can become more apparent in cooler lighting, which makes it a nice layering option to change the undertone of a fuchsia lipstick. Also, one time I wore this lip liner by itself to work, and a man asked me why, and I said because I liked it, and he said, “No you don’t,” and I still don’t know what he meant by that. Actually, I’m pretty sure he meant he didn’t like it, which is fine because he was buying Just 4 Men hair dye because he wants to pay more money for less hair dye solely because there’s a picture of a man on the box. Anyway. This lip liner reminds me of that man. I hope he’s having fun touching up his grays.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela

I honestly have no idea how to categorize this lipstick. Is it a bright magenta? Is it a super bright cool-toned pink? Is it almost a lilac? I don’t know! In the end I decided that it’s too light and bright to be magenta and too pink to be lilac, which leaves it in the vague “bright pink” category. Rest assured that the Audacious formula is one of my favourites of all time – I have five of them! You can read my full review of the formula here. Angela is my most recent addition to the Audacious collection (though it’s not really that recent an acquisition since I bought it in August). I was slightly nervous that this colour would be way too much, but I shouldn’t have worried. In general, I can pull off really saturated colours, and this one totally works.

Bite Beauty Matte Lipstick in Custom Colour

Oh, you thought NARS Angela was freakishly bold? Well, allow me to introduce to you this custom colour from Bite Beauty, which is Angela on steroids. This is possibly the most unapologetically loud lipstick I own, and I love it for that. The formula is also great – I’m in a small minority who doesn’t live and die by the Amuse Bouche formula, but I really enjoy the matte formula Bite offers at their lip labs. It strikes a nice balance between wear time and comfort. In the original post you’ll be able to see that it can appear a bit more purple in some lights, but overall I think it’s just shy of being a true purple. Whatever it is, I love it.

ColourPop Lippie Stix Matte X in Poppin

This is genuinely one of the best lipstick formulas I have in my collection, and I always forget about it. It has a true matte finish but manages to look beautifully smooth on my lips. It also wears like a champ. And this is just a really nice colour – anything that leans berry is going to be flattering on me, but I like that this colour has that nice vibrant punch. If I ever make another ill-advised ColourPop order, I might have to try some other Matte X colours, because this one is seriously so good. (And, hey, it was a GWP, so I didn’t even spend any real money on it.)

Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Lovesick

I have such an intense nostalgic love for this lipstick. It was one of the first I ever bought, right when I was first getting into makeup in early 2013. I have a perfectly clear memory of buying it: I was at the end of my first year of university, just finishing exams, and preparing to move back to Toronto for the summer. I bought it from the Pharmaprix near my dorm and put it on just to see how it looked. I wasn’t used to so much colour on my face, but I found that I really liked it. I wore it constantly during the summer. On my nineteenth birthday, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that it was a really flattering colour on me. Wait, here is a picture from that exact day of discovery:

Anyway, I then proceeded to buy like fifteen more fuchsia lipsticks that summer because I had found My Colour. This is no longer My Colour, but it’s still a great lipstick. They haven’t made this colour in years, so I cling to my tube. (By the way, this is my second tube – the first one melted in the sun – so it’s not actually five years old. Just, like, three. Whatever.)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Fiore

I’m pretty much over liquid lipstick these days, but Stila’s formula is about as good as it’s going to get for me. Fiore was a gift from my friend Kristin a few Christmases back, and she obviously knew me very well when she selected this bright pink! I actually prefer this tone on me to the OG fuchsia, Revlon Lovesick. (I’m wearing it in the picture on the sidebar! Which was taken 3 years ago the last time I lived in Glasgow, ha.) Though this is undoubtedly a bright pink, it’s a bit more muted than some of the others I have. It’s like a daytime bright pink. I don’t know what it is – there’s just something in the undertone that makes it a bit more of a reasonable colour.

Lancôme Matte Shaker in Pink Power*

Dude, I love this lipstick. Like, I’m over liquid lipsticks and I still love this one because it truly doesn’t feel like a liquid lipstick. And this is the kind of in-your-face vibrant warm fuchsia lipstick that I’m all about. It’s just so good. I think if I had to pick a single fuchsia from my collection, it would be this one. The colour is just exactly what I want, and I can’t rave about this formula enough. And this is coming from someone who just declared that she is over liquid lipsticks. I have tried enough liquid lipsticks that claim to be different to be wary, but this one actually is. (It doesn’t wear the same way as a classic liquid lipstick, either, but this particular colour stains so brilliantly that that doesn’t matter.)

YSL Rouge Volupté Shine in 28

I really didn’t need to buy this lipstick, but I love it anyway. I’m not normally a sheer lipstick person, but I absolutely love the Rouge Volupté Shine formula for casual days (and travel, when comfort is of the utmost importance). Though this is definitely a bright colour, the fact that it’s sheer means that it’s not too much when I want to slap on a sheer foundation and mascara and run out the door to grab brunch. And though this is (obviously) not a long-wearing formula, it fades to an even stain, which is a bonus. Obviously, I wouldn’t call this a fuchsia, but it fits into the catch-all category of “bright pink” for me. It appears a bit warmer in photos than in person, but in real life it’s definitely pink.

YSL Rouge Pur Couture in 57

This is where the colour category gets a little fuzzy. In my big lipstick inventory back in the summer, I put this in the coral category, but swatched next to a bunch of true corals it looked really pink. However, here it is photographing very coral, especially compared to the true fuchsias in this post. So, apparently I can never win with this colour, but I still consider it a warm bright pink with a slight blue-y duochrome shift under some lights. That sounds kind of like something a middle schooler circa 2006 might have worn, but I promise it’s really pretty. This lipstick is pretty much a trophy for me, unfortunately – the formula’s nothing special, and I think the floral scent is truly revolting. I mean, I still wear it, but basically the only reason I don’t part with it is that it’s YSL. Which is a bad reason, I know, but that’s the way it is.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Electric Poppy

Speaking of warm pinks that are borderline coral-y but really who’s to say what is what when colours are so nebulous and subjective and can we all just agree that I’ve had a hard time trying to categorize these last few and I’m doing my best…! This one is just so gloriously playful. It’s not a serious colour at all; it’s just fun. In my experience, the Matte Revolution formula is consistent across all colours – that is, it’s creamy, comfortable, and reasonably long-wearing.

And because I feel like I’m going crazy with these warmer pinks, I went on a bit of a swatching frenzy:

L-R: YSL #28, YSL #57, Charlotte Tilbury Electric Poppy, Marc Jacobs So Sofia, Revlon Fire and Ice

Maybe you can better understand where and why I drew the line? Maybe not. The more I think about this the more I’m second-guessing myself, even though back in August I was convinced I was entirely wrong in my classifications of YSL #57 and CT Electric Poppy in the coral category. It’s a slippery thing, and the line between “warm bright pink” and “definitely coral” is hazy. At least for me. Maybe you guys are better at colour taxonomy.

I had a lot more lipsticks in this category back in the summer, but luckily I managed to trim the collection down to a more reasonable size. (Okay, there are still a lot of lipsticks here.) Even though fuchsia is no longer my go-to colour I seem to have had to do a few culls specifically targetting the excess of fuchsia in the past few years, which I guess goes to show that old habits die hard.

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.