Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dissolved in Dreams - Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipstick

Rouge Bunny Rouge Succulence of Dew ($33) Sheer Lipstick formula has become a personal favorite. This pictorial review is about Dissolved in Dreams, which is described as shiny, sheer watermelon with a silver shimmer.

Hannibal says the red goes with his grey fur

The description is very good. I can add no better adjectives. I was hoping that Dissolved in Dreams would be cooler, but to be fair, the flesh of juicy fresh watermelon fruit is a sheer, warm-leaning coral-red shade.

This red is Mr. Wenskins approved™

The shimmer in Dissolved in Dreams is more subtle than the metallic gleam in Tongue Tickles, and the texture is completely smooth on the lips, not gritty the way some shimmery lipsticks can feel. I hope the below skin swatch captures some of the shimmer in the sun.

The obligatory swatch on white paper to eliminate undertones:

Wowzers! That's a totally swoon-worthy red I can get behind.

Unfortunately, as gorgeous as it Dissolved in Dreams is on my skin and on paper, and make no mistake, this is one stunning color, it does not translate with the same beauty on my lips. It just sort of sits there, but I can see lotsof you loving this lipstick, especially if your lips are paler than mine.

I now own Murmurings and Tongue Tickles, along with this newest addition. Here are the three of them compared.

Bottom line: Another tube of sheer, smacking sauciness from Rouge Bunny Rouge.

INGREDIENTS: Octyldodecanol, Polybutene, Vp/Eicosene Copolymer, Synthetic Wax, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cera Microcristallina, Mica, Dicalcium Phosphate, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Propylene Carbonate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Silica, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Tocopheryl Acetate, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Propylparaben, Parfum, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower, Tocopherol, Humulus Lupulus Extract, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Tin Oxide, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Atecollagen, Limonene, Eugenol, Citral. (+/-): CI 77891, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 75470, CI 15850, CI 73360, CI 45410, CI 19140, CI 15985, CI 42090, CI 45380.

All photos mine except the first one, which comes from RBR Facebook page--with my edits.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Eyeliner Techniques, such as Tightlining

The year I learned about the tightlining technique (2009—I'm a late bloomer) was the single best beauty-related tip I had heard of since ... I don't know, maybe since dunking fingertips from a fresh manicure into a bowl of ice water. (Yes, I am old enough to have lived before nail polish hardeners were readily available.)

I'll just come out and say that I have never been a big fan of eyeliner. I have large, round, doe eyes with plenty of skin real estate, but the moment I applied eyeliner above the upper lashes, I'd see little beady piggy eyes staring back at me in the mirror. How could something so seemingly minor so drastically change the appearance of my eyes?

I realize that eyeliner is a desert-island item for many of you, but I had never mastered the look on me, despite repeated attempts over many years. I felt a bit vindicated for not towing the, um, line after I saw a Pixiwoo video where Sam demonstrates how to make large eyes appear smaller with the use of eyeliner and dark eyeshadow. In fact, the below video make it immediately clear why I had never felt comfortable wearing eyeliner all these years. On the flip side, I was nodding right along with the small-to-large-eyes demonstration ... right up until she decided to add eyeliner at around 09:20m. Immediately, the large, bright, open eye she had created closed up. Still very beautiful, but visibly smaller.

Maybe some of us don't need eyeliner. Despite dark-ash blonde hair, my lashes are a sooty charcoal fringe. Given my love of natural-looking makeup, it makes sense that I'd find a thick line alien on me. Sadly, however, my lashes aren't as thick as they once were. In fact, when I look closely at my naked lashes in a 10x magnifying mirror, I can see gaps where the roots meet the skin. Gaps.

Here's where tightlining became useful, by providing an application method where I could make my eyelashes look thicker and darker at the roots without giving the appearance of wearing any makeup at all. In fact, tightlining lets me easily skip mascara.

If you don't know how to tightline, here are the basic steps:
  1. Wash your hands and make sure the brush you choose for your eyeliner product is clean.
  2. Assemble the product of your choice (gel liner/brush, pencil, liquid eyeliner). All items must be at least water resistant.
  3. Raise your lashes upward by gently lifting the eyelid skin in order to expose the inner skin area at the lash roots.
  4. Look for tiny gaps between the hairs, and starting at the outer corner (where you'll want the most pigment) lightly wiggle the color from the brush or pencil into those gaps as close to the roots as possible.
  5. [Optional] Tightline your lower lash line by wiggling color into the gaps from on top, between the roots and the water line.
That's it. It's up to you whether you choose a color that matches your lashes or something brighter. Be careful of shimmer products, where the particles can get into the eye and cause irritation. Those are probably best used over the upper lash line, not on the water line, and even then, sparingly. Our lashes have a purpose—to protect our eyes against dust, pollen, rain, and sun, not glitter.

One more tip: If you use waterproof liquid eyeliner, try not to blink until it sets or you could end up with color on your lower rim. It's hard! The applicator always tickles my eyes, and they water, so I tilt my head back, open my eyes very wide, and it seems that if I then blink, the lids do not touch. Also, any tears run out the outside corners of my eyes and down my temples, so nothing gets smudged.

The following video from Beau Nelson of Beauté Cosmetics is how I learned how to tightline.

If you don't have time to watch the video yet, I took a screen capture of the before-and-after image. Impressive, isn't it? The result is extremely natural looking, which is not going to appeal to those of you who like a retro cat eye/flick.

The tightlining method was such a revelation for me. I started with a synthetic flat liner brush and gel eyeliner, and then I discovered an excellent eyeliner brush after reading comments on The Non-blonde blog: The Paula Dorf Transformer brush is slightly curved to follow the curve of the eyelid. I gave this brush a cursory review in my 2011 Favorites post.

I still rarely use pencils, which apply too thick a line, so having the right brush makes all the difference when applying color both over and under the lashes.

My eyes often feel irritated when I tightline below the lash line, so I decided to try Laura Mercier's tightline method (who is credited with having coined the term), by applying color over the top. Tools useful for the job are the Hakuhodo K005 or one of the Paula Dorf bushes (angle liner or transformer). I push color into my lash roots to make the most unobtrusive line possible, sometimes using gel, but most often using powder. For example, I found that Alima eyeshadow used on a damp brush lasts all day and doesn't irritate my eyes (it's mineral based and gluten free).

Other powder products that I tried need to be stiff, even a little waxy, or super pigmented. Here are a few that I push into the lashes from above, occasionally using Paula Dorf Transformer liquid:
  • Alima Satin Matte Eyeliner (Black Violet)
  • Alima Satin Matte Eyeshadow (Lilac) 
  • Bobbi Brown Matte Eyeshadow (Charcoal)
  • Laura Mercier Matte Eyeshadow (Deep Night)
  • Trish McEvoy Cream Eye Definer (Navy)--no added liquid necessary
What is your preferred eyeliner method? If you tightline, do you line above or below the lash line? What are your favorite products and tools to use?

UPDATE: After several months more of experimenting, I have found that nothing compares to using natural animal hair for tightlining—particularly the Hakuhodo K005 (aka the Kokutan Eyeshadow Brush SL, where only the ebony handle and black ferrule are different--same weasel brush head). I realize that many of you will only use synthetics, and to be sure, they do an excellent job, but the uncut weasel hairs get in between the lashes the way a flat liner brush cannot, lets me follow the natural curve of the eyelid more easily, and the natural hairs deposit color like no one's business. And if that weren't incentive enough, the Hakuhodo K005 ($18) costs less than the MC 212 flat liner ($23). I have nothing to gain by saying this; I don't work for Hakuhodo, and I receive no kickbacks or free product. The K005 is just one outstanding brush. Period.

Photo credits: (1) Google images,  (2) mine

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Maintaining Youthful Eyebrows

Eyebrows are a thing of beauty. Usually.

Our eyebrows are perfectly designed to protect our eyeballs from dust and debris and frame our face, though for some, a face without visible eyebrows is "A Look."

At the opposite end of invisible brows is the very dark eyebrow, which can also be a signature look (or in the case below, perhaps a red-carpet mistake).

For those of us just trying to look natural, the importance of a well-groomed, full brow cannot be overlooked. Subtly-defined brows can shave years off our appearance without having to resort to other aids, like a surgical brow lift. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This article addresses brow makeup, but there is no shortage of information on brow shaping and grooming, much of which can be done for you in a salon. Style and beauty bloggers occasionally discuss it. See, for example, Une Femme's recent article on threading, as well as an article Perilously Pale wrote this past summer on the importance of brows.

Brows are important. But without resorting to using a Sharpie to give shape to our eyebrows, finding the perfect texture and color can be a challenge for some of us, especially as we get older and our brows change.

Eyebrows are not a particularly hot topic. A new brow color rarely reaches the same level of excitement as a new lipstick or palette from the current season's collection. In fact, I'd guess that most of us are not nearly as fickle with brow products as we are with lipstick or eyeshadow. We find something that works and we stick with it because it's easy and doesn't require much thought; it's not like we have to decide each morning between brown or blue, matte or metallic.

But what happens when our tried-and-true product no longer works?

I gave my eyebrows almost zero thought when I was under 40, other than tweezing strays and keeping them neat. I assumed the eyebrows I had at 17 would be the same eyebrows I had at 87. Wrong. Not that I'm 87, I'm barely pushing 85, but still. My brows were the one constant in my mirror, until the day I noticed that my faithful brow powder was starting to look a bit harsh.

Genetics and race determine what our brows look like, but many of us enjoy full, natural brows when hormones are on the rise, well into and past their peak. As hormone levels change or decline, such as during and after pregnancy or when we become perimenopausal, some of us notice that our once-full brows now look sparse; perhaps we can even see skin through them or lighter hairs are growing in. Loss of volume could be the result of chronic overplucking, certain medications, poor nutrition, low iodine levels, hormonal imbalances, skin disorders, or a thyroid condition. But in many cases, volume loss is simply a part of the aging process.

If you notice a marked change in your eyebrows, discuss it with your doctor, who will want to rule out any medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid. One sign of hypothyroidism is hair loss at the outer third edge of the brow, closest to the temples.

Blackout bar used to protect woman's privacy

Does that hair ever come back? It has not for me.

I have read good things about home remedies using certain oils, such as castor and coconut, which are reported to encourage hair regrowth if applied to the brow area before bed and left on overnight. Apparently, the vitamins penetrate the skin and stop protein loss.

There are also plenty of OTC lash grown serums, some of which can also be used on brows. I tried two different serums over a period of 6 months, but all they did was make the tail end of my brow hairs longer. I could have curled them up like this:

In any case, I saw virtually no change in volume on brows or lashes, but I did notice an increase in super-fine, downy blonde hair under the brows. No thanks.

Makeup to the rescue!
If I can't reverse mother nature's mean tricks, I can certainly fake it. It's amazing what a little well-placed brow makeup can do to improve the appearance and lift the eyes. Look at the woman's eyebrows in the following before-and-after image.

In the "after" image, she looks younger, fresher, and more awake, even more confident and approachable.

My brows are are still well shaped with a defined arch, but they have become so sparse I rarely need to pluck anymore (and plucking stray hairs used to be a task I performed 3-4 times a week). So I thought I'd share my tips that give me my 20 year-old brows, at least until I wash my face:
  1. Choose a brow color that is 1-2 shades lighter than my hair. When I am 100% grey/white, I will switch to a color 1-2 shades darker.
  2. Using a stiff eyebrow brush or clean spoolie, brush the hairs downward and find the arch.
  3. Using a thin angle brush, lightly apply color to the arch with short, feathery strokes.
  4. Brush brow hairs up and out and use the angle brush to fill in sparse areas only. Brow powder (which should be slightly stiff, even waxy) gives my wispy brows definition; it's also a great choice for those seeking a more natural look. Pencil (or gel) provides a more dramatic look or is useful for anyone who is actually missing whole sections of the brow, such as that outer third I mentioned earlier.
  5. Very lightly use what's left on the brush to almost-imperceptibly extend the tail end.
  6. Set in place with a clear mascara.
Once done I can forget about my brows all day, as they require no touchups. And aside from defining the arch, I try to avoid adding much color to the top or bottom of the brows, focusing only on the sparse areas and blending outward.

Because my natural brows appear lighter, thanks to volume loss, my biggest challenge has become finding the right color. I find myself stuck at step #1 in my own process. My beloved Clinique Brow Shaper in Shaping Charcoaled is starting to look a bit dark, although it has been THE perfect cool, ash brown for my pure ash eyebrows for many years.

Too dark? Big deal, buy something new. I tried, and I was completely unprepared for the disappointment. How hard could it be? Well, it would appear that there is no shortage of brow products for warm-toned people, but for those of us with light hair that has an ash base, it is proving to be more challenging than I ever imagined it could be.

Everything I have tried is either too warm (yellow or red), including all of the so-called taupes, or too dark. I don't want to think about the money I have wasted on various cool-looking eyebrow powders and pencils, including the famous Shu Uemura Seal Brown, which looks a bit green on me. Most of them have been the wrong color, and when I managed to find a harmonious match in color, it would be too dark.

So if you have made it this far, I have to disappoint you. There is no new holy grail. I have halfheartedly settled on using up an eyeshadow I was no longer using on my lids: Bobbi Brown Slate. It's not waxy, so it does not last all day, and it is still too warm. So I will keep looking until I find that holy-grail brow product that will carry me into my 87th birthday!

If you have begun to notice thinning brows, what is your favorite brow product? Do you prefer pencil or powder or gel?

Photo credits: (1-8) google images, (9-10) mine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bitter Beauty Blunders

Almost all of my beauty blunders can be directly attributed to one primary thing: IMPULSE.

Video, volo, emo*.

Any amount of would-be rationalization, no matter how small, rarely reaches my level of consciousness while I am making the purchase. I'm not saying this is wrong—I have a good job and spend my disposable income on what makes me happy. But that doesn't mean I don't make some really big blunders, despite the best intentions, and despite heeding some of the prevailing advice of the day. I should add that not all of my purchases make me happy; in fact, I sometimes experience buyer's remorse before the item even reaches my front door.

Here are some of my most noteworthy failures.

Brown eyeshadow
I have blue eyes. Blue + orange-brown = smashing, right? FAIL. Try as I might, I do not look good in brown eyeshadow, no matter what makeup artists would have me believe. Dirty and unwashed; that's my result, and I had the good sense NOT to buy MAC Rule. Still, I wish I could take back all the money I spent trying to find the right brown.

Biggest disappointment: Dior 5-Colour Eyeshadow in Iridescent Leather 539. Best brown for any eye color? Phhhhhht. Too warm, way too shimmery and all around yuck.

Sparkly, über shimmery eyeshadow
Sparkle just isn't my thing. Even as a much younger woman, I preferred matte and satin finishes and that's what I still prefer. A rut? I don't think so—I feel uncomfortable wearing makeup that looks like makeup (except for lipstick), always have, always will. I do like a moderately gleaming, satiny finish, which means I still try some of the new shimmer eyeshadows, only to be disappointed in how the finish looks on my lids. I'll read about them on blogs or in magazines and they look so gorgeous, but I should give it up and stick with what works, because very shimmery eyeshadows are just a waste of my money.

Memorable disappointments include Bobbi Brown Pewter #3 from the Fall 2010 Chrome collection and Rouge Bunny Rouge Abyssinian Catbird and Alabaster Starling eyeshadows. Beautiful colors to look at—on someone else.

Yellow foundation
I laugh at makeup brands that say—nay, insist—that all skin tones must wear yellow-based foundation. My skin has mauve undertones, and eons ago I was color printed at Prescriptives as Blue/Red. A recent seasonal color analysis confirmed my long-held suspicions as Summer (True/Cool, to be exact), where I finally understood that of all the skin tones in the world, I am one of a small minority whose skin does not look good with any added warmth. And yet makeup artists keep slapping yellow makeup on my face, and I occasionally buy it, thinking perhaps I got it wrong. I won't rush out to buy foundation that resembles a bottle of calamine lotion (Prescritptives Camellia, I see you winking at me), but I do try to steer toward neutral beige makeup with a slight pink base (like Make Up For Ever Face & Body #38 Pink Porcelain).

Recent (priciest) disappointment was Rouge Bunny Rouge Milk Aquarelle Liquid Foundation in Coconut Milk Parfait. Amazing finish in the wrong color. Whose fault is that? Mine! I got a sample first and still bought the full-sized bottle, hoping the sample had oxidized and that the real product would be the pale milky pink-beige, as described on the Zuneta web site. FAIL.

I tried. Even though I was not tempted by bronzer my entire adult life, my introduction to beauty blogs a few years ago made me wonder if I was missing something. In the last 2-3 years, I have tested or purchased Armani, Edward Bess, Guerlain, Chanel, Dior, Rouge Bunny Rouge, Physician's Formula, and probably many others I have forgotten.

As for the concept of bronze, just about everyone but the extremely pale can get at least a tiny tan, so tan is within my natural coloring ... somewhere. I used to like how my skin looked in summer (I lived near the beach), so my problem is not that a tan looks fake on me—it is trying to fake that sun-kissed color from a pan. I don't tan golden brown; I tan a rosy light brown, and that bronzer colors just does not appear to be sold anywhere.

Bronzer fail: Edward Bess Ultra Luminous Bronzer. It's an excellent product, but I should have known better. In fact, I now believe that some people are just not meant to fake a bronze. If we want one, we should go outside for 15 minutes.

Pigmented, matte red lipstick
In the 90s, when corporate women flocked to brown lipstick, I was still wearing red (my version of red via Prescriptives). In later years, I wholeheartedly embraced new-to-me brands, like Besame Cosmetics, Julie Hewett, and Lipstick Queen. But before that, I had incorporated my red lips into A Look, which I wore with very little other makeup besides groomed brows, mascara, and maybe a pale wash of greige eyeshadow. At work I'd wear a low, slightly-messy chignon and skirt or pant suits—more Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy than Gwen Stefani.

But my red lips betrayed me and became a beauty blunder. One day I was talking to a colleague, and I suddenly noticed he was talking to/staring at my lips. After, I took a good, long look at my not-20-year-old face in the mirror, I acknowledged that a retro, pinup-red mouth no longer suited the face I was walking around in today. But every time a new red lipstick hit the market I would swoon. I did this until a couple months ago, when my lips and I had a Come to Jesus moment. I accepted that red lipstick is perfectly fine, even flattering, as long as it is sheer, very much like my still oft-worn Laura Mercier Gel Lip Color in Sweet Cherry. ♥

Eyeshadow palettes
I would dearly love to bank all the money I have wasted on eyeshadow palettes. To be sure, they are pretty to look at, but nearly every eyeshadow palette I have ever purchased has had at least one dud color you couldn't even make my corpse wear. Every Dior quint, every Chanel quad, 75% of Chantecaille's Les Dauphins quad; 50% of Chantecaille Tiger in the Wild quad, Becca face/eye palettes, Bobbi Brown, Edward Bess, Laura Mercier, NARS, MAC, Guerlain, and the list goes on. The problem with palettes is the pairing of cool with warm or too much shimmer. I can't even list my biggest blunder because they were all blunders, and I surrender. Where I get the most value and happiness is from customizable palettes, a la Trish McEvoy, Laura Mercier, and Bobbi Brown. I wish more brands made this an option, but I have more eyeshadow than I will ever use up in this lifetime, so I suppose it doesn't matter.

As for my relationship with makeup in the future, I am now much more attuned to what colors and finishes are my most complementary, and I try to make more discerning purchases, but I still make mistakes.

Do you have any purchases that belong in the annals of beauty blunders?

Photo  credits, mostly Google images except for Edward Bess and the eyeshadow palette drawer,which are mine.

* Roughly (and badly) translated to "I see, I want, I buy."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rouge Bunny Rouge Sheer Lipstick - Succulence of Dew in Tongue Tickles

Rouge Bunny Rouge describes their Succulence of Dew Sheer Lipstick in Tongue Tickles as described as shiny, pale, carnation-pink with a white shimmer. Indoors it looks wholly unexceptional.

Tongue Tickles, natural daylight, no flash

But when the sun hits it, Tongue Tickles becomes a knee-buckling, visual explosion of shimmery seashell pink. Nestled in the pink base are delicate coral undertones and an almost liquid, metallic finish. Despite a high shimmer finish, there there are no sparkles or glitter, and the texture is completely smooth on the lips (no grit).

Tongue Tickles, indirect sunlight

Tongue Tickles, natural daylight, no flash

The below skin swatch helps capture some of the shimmer. I appreciate that the lipstick formula is sheer, so underlying lip pigment can help transform Tongue Tickles into your prettiest pale pink.

Tongue Tickles, indirect daylight

The obligatory swatch on white paper to eliminate undertones:

Natural daylight, no flash

Tongue Tickles is a pale pink but not in a 60s mod frosty way.

RBR Tongue Tickles

The metallic shimmer reminds me of Chanel's limited edition Glossimer: Star 148. (Note that the number 148 is now being used for Petit Peche--they are not the same.) While Star is much less pink and has undertones of lavender, it's the silvery metallic shimmers that made me think of the similarities between the two. Of course, wearing them together would be overkill, as Tongue Tickles provides metals aplenty.

In the following video, Zuneta partnered with Rouge Bunny Rouge to create a "Gentle Nude" look for Valentine's Day. Here the makeup artist applies another one of the Succulence of Dew colors (Perfume of His Gaze) on the model.

Zuneta presents RBR ¬ Sheer Lipstick from Zuneta Beauty on Vimeo.

Bottom line: Beautiful for those who like shimmery, sheer lipstick (e.g., probably those who slightly prefer lip gloss).

INGREDIENTS: Octyldodecanol, Polybutene, Vp/Eicosene Copolymer, Synthetic Wax, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cera Microcristallina, Mica, Dicalcium Phosphate, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Propylene Carbonate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Silica, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Tocopheryl Acetate, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Propylparaben, Parfum, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower, Tocopherol, Humulus Lupulus Extract, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Tin Oxide, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Atecollagen, Limonene, Eugenol, Citral. (+/-): CI 77891, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 75470, CI 15850, CI 73360, CI 45410, CI 19140, CI 15985, CI 42090, CI 45380.

All photos mine except the first one, which comes from RBR Facebook page--with my edits. Video at end from

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter: Sweet Tart, Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie and Lollipop

I spent the lasts several weeks waiting to get my hands on the newest drugstore sensation, Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter ($7.49) lipsticks, but I could not find them anywhere. I finally placed an order at where, even there, all colors were backordered 1-2 weeks.

This new lipstick is nice, but comparisons to Chanel's Rouge Coco Shine formula strike me as somewhat exaggerated. Whereas Rouge Coco Shine is moderately sheer and weightless on the lips, all of the Revlon Lip Butter lipsticks I tried were much stickier and much less sheer. The Revlon product has an almost petroleum feel, and the shimmer colors I tried felt gritty. I'd be more inclined to compare Revlon to Clinique's Butter Shine formula.

Though the Revlon color selection is fun (something for everyone), I feel mildly surprised and disappointed that the finish is not more sheer.

I purchased Sweet Tart, Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie and Lollipop.

Sweet Tart 090, Berry Smoothie 050, Raspberry Pie 010, and Lollipop 075

Sweet Tart is candy-bright pink with a hint of coral. Berry Smoothie is muted mid-toned mauve with silvery shimmers--the most sheer of the four I purchased (but also the most gritty). Raspberry Pie is an opaque red-raspberry. Lollipop is a bold fuchsia with blue microshimmers.

Sweet Tart 090, Berry Smoothie 050, Raspberry Pie 010, and Lollipop 075

Sweet Tart 090

Berry Smoothie 050

Raspberry Pie 010

Lollipop 075

Sweet Tart, Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie, Lollipop

Sweet Tart, Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie, Lollipop

Natural light, no flash
Sweet Tart, Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie, Lollipop

Sweet Tart, Berry Smoothie, Raspberry Pie, Lollipop
Bottom line:  A worth addition to the Revlon lineup with plenty of color options for everyone.

All photos taken by me

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lipstick Queen Jean Queen

This lipstick did not appeal to me when it came out a year or so ago. I find "universally flattering" claims to be both tiresome and grossly overstated, and I was not interested in a sheer lip product. However, after recently noticing that matte, pigmented lipstick makes my aging lips appear thinner, I renewed my efforts to find a MLBB* shade in a less opaque finish. Out of the depths of my subconscious bubbled up a memory of Lipstick Queen Jean Queen ($18) lipstick.

I began reading reviews and asking around. "Universal" colors are almost always too warm for me, and all of my intended MLBB purchases have been failures, ending up too muted or too light. Why was it so hard to find a sheer, clear rose? I wondered if Jean Queen might be similar in value, saturation, and finish to Lipstick Queen's Medieval, a formula I like but whose color is too warm. A friend thought I might not like Jean Queen because it wasn't clear, but I wonder if she formed her impression based on the darkish color in the tube and did not swatch it.

I bought it, anyway and prepared myself for disappointment. When it arrived, however, I felt a little jolt, that inner woo hoo I think we all know about. What I saw was a mid-toned rose. Could this be it?

I also liked the clean and spare blue metallic tube, which feels weighty in the hand.

I'd call Jean Queen's color a rose that contains equal amounts of blue and yellow undertones. The color appears so rosy cool in the tube, even dark, but when swatched (and worn on my lips), I detected a moderately-bright, sunny clarity that lends the pigment some warmth--but not so much warmth I cannot wear it (no orange or brown).

Sheer rosy goodness
The following images show Jean Queen in indirect sunlight and in natural light, no flash. The sunny shot better shows the warmth, which is likely what allows many skin tones to enjoy it.

The lipstick is unscented and the finish is sheer, silky, and does not sit on top of my lips. It applies with plenty of shine but no shimmer.

Jean Queen wears about the same as Medieval and most lip glosses. The shine lasts 30-45 minutes, very much like Chanel's Rouge Coco Shine formula. What made me happiest is this lipstick is not drying over time, as many lipsticks can be that start out moisturizing. For three days, I wore nothing but Jean Queen from early morning to just before bed, and my lips felt great. Lipstick that is drying is my #2 deal breaker, right after an obviously bad color match.

I also bought Jean Queen Lip Gloss because it was all I could initially find. It does not appear cooler than the lipstick, as some reviews claim, but it is more pigmented, which I find perplexing. The goo is dispensed through a squeeze tube. I see the same clear rosy color, decent pigment, and not too sticky a finish, generally unobjectionable if somewhat redundant. If you prefer lip gloss over lipstick and are interested in this color, the Jean Queen Lip Gloss formula is the way to go.

Jean Queen lipstick and lip gloss comparison
If your lip pigment is light, Jean Queen will be moderately bright and rosy; it could be a good red alternative if you found Medieval to be too vivid. My lips are a medium-pigmented mauve, and Jean Queen boosts my own color by a half shade.

Lipstick Queen Jean Queen -- lipstick only
As silly as I initially found the go-with-denim claims (especially as I almost never wear denim), Jean Queen seems less "matching" jeans than a sheer, non-nude alternative to Poppy's deeply-pigmented signature lipsticks, making Jean Queen a casual lip product I can grab without too much thought or planning and apply without a mirror. Since denim is the epitome of a casual look, I think her marketing is actually inspired.

Bottom line: A natural, juicy color that's an obvious choice year round. Rosy and not too vivid, think of Jean Queen as a tinted lip balm, only much much nicer. Jean Queen is double plus good.

* MLBB = my lips but better
All photos mine