I blame my current infatuation with color on taking up embroidery after a long hiatus. As I play with fabric and thread and search for the right kind of ivory to sparkle against white linen, I give more thought to the colors around me, sometimes even too much. “Wouldn’t that be a great pairing!” I think as I walk over a chocolate brown grate that my Brussels commune stamps with its lemon yellow seal. When I’m not admiring the exquisite detail of local plumbing, I indulge my color obsession via my makeup kit.
Makeup is a natural way to explore color, because face products–lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, powders–allow for an infinite variation of shades and gradations of tones. Depending on the texture and transparency, the same hue can take a different cast, not to mention the effect provided by your own skin. Of course, it’s also an excuse for adding to my makeup wardrobe, because as I delve further into my embroidery and as the summer roses bloom with more abandon, my collection grows steadily. One pink is suddenly not enough. I want all of the roses on my lips.
But alas, roses proved to be a difficult case. While reds and berries suit my pale complexion well, roses and pinks can emphasize the yellowish cast of my skin and make me look as if I haven’t slept for days. The swatching exercise below was done chiefly to organize my stash. The result is a selection of mini-reviews. I prefer my cosmetics unscented, but some of my favorite formulas have a strong scent. I added short fragrance notes, in case you’re picky about this aspect of your lipstick.
Soft Pale Rose
Pale rose and pale pinks are difficult shades for me to wear; I instantly look washed out. All four lipsticks in this group were either blind purchases or optimistic acquisitions. I harp on about not buying perfume blindly, but I clearly don’t practice what I preach when it comes to lipsticks. They will be going to my mother who looks beautiful in pale pink. If you do as well, I have no qualms recommending these selections for their gorgeous formulas. Even more than with colors, I’m obsessed with textures.
Guerlain KissKiss Baby Rose 368 (#1 from the left)
Guerlain’s KissKiss Baby Rose 368 is tea rose petal pink, with a generous dose of golden microshimmer. Shimmer makes it appear much lighter on lips than it appears in the swatch. The formula is balmy and creamy, but the shimmer gives it a slight heft.
Scent: retro raspberry-rose, pleasant enough.
Lavshuca Moist Melting Rouge PK 5 (#2)
Lavshuca is a Japanese drugstore brand, owned by Kanebo, and Moist Melting Rouge is very comfortable to wear if you have dry lips. PK5 is pink on a warm base, with a generous dose of silvery shimmer. On my lips, it’s pale, too much so, and the shimmer is pronounced. The texture is creamy and luscious.
Revlon Super Lustrous Matte Lipstick Sky Pink (not pictured)
A beautiful pale cool pink without too much white. Lustrous Matte formula can be a touch drying, so I wear it over a thin layer of balm. Revlon is consistently among my favorite lipsticks but mostly for its reds–Fire & Ice, Cherries in the Snow, Revlon Red.
Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick 03 Tsuyazakura (#3)
Tsuyazakura from the Japanese brand Suqqu is much cooler on me than it appears in my swatch, but it’s true to its name, which means “cherry blossoms”. I’ve succumbed to it, because I had an optimistic notion that it could work on my sallow, pale complexion and I’ve been coveting the cherry blossom tinted lips from Japanese beauty magazines. No cherry blossoms for me. On the other hand hand, the texture is gorgeous–creamy without heft; the lipstick glides on easily, doesn’t settle into fine lines and doesn’t bleed.
Cool Bright Pink
Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Sheer Candy #4 Succulent Pomegranate (#1 from the left)
If pale roses are my most difficult shades, everything bright is second nature. Even with a strong eye, I look much better if there is a hint of color on my lips. Volupté Sheer Candy wears like a balm, but it packs enough hue to look more interesting than just a slick of moisturizer. A bright bougainvillea pink.
Scent: an accident at the flavor facility. Whoever at YSL thought of scenting their lip products with a plasticky berry?
Maybelline Color Elixir Captivating Carnation (not pictured)
I loved Maybelline Color Elixir in Captivating Carnation. An exact shade of rose de mai, it wears well and doesn’t feel overly sticky. But the smell was the reason I’ve given up my tube. Apparently I can handle mutant berries right under my nose but not sugary sweet vanilla. Neverthless, if you like bright pinks and don’t mind the scent, this option is wonderful. You can see swatches on Temptalia.
Scent: artificial vanilla
Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Sheer Candy #6 Luscious Cherry (#2)
A sheer red shot through with barely visible pink shimmer. If you like jelly-like textures, this is a great option. Looks beautiful with smoky eyes or on its own.
Scent: same above, berries on steroids.
Dior Addict Fluid Stick Wonderland (not pictured)
One of my favorite lipsticks for bright colors (sheer but vibrant strawberry jelly in this case) and lightweight formula.
The reason I need to organize my wardrobe is because I keep losing lipsticks, hence no swatch. Instead, I’ll direct you to Drivel About Frivol that has a great review with photos.
Scent: plastic and vanilla. Why, Dior, why? On the plus side, it doesn’t linger.
“My Lips But Better” Pink
Giorgio Armani Rouge d’Armani Sheer 9 (#3)
Raspberry pink with a delicate swirl of silvery shimmer. It may look like Guerlain on paper, but on lips it’s a perfect rose pink. Sparkle aside, it looks close to my natural lip color, so I find it effortless. The formula is light, moisturizing, but the color has just the right dose of vibrancy.
You can see by the tiny stub that this is one of my most worn lipsticks.
Clinique Chubby Stick 07 Super Strawberry (#4)
Dusty pink mixed with strawberry, but the result is an understated rose. Another “my lips but better shade.”
Scent: the base is unscented but it has its own pronounced oily scent. Much to the store staff’s chagrin, I insisted on sniffing the new package, because I was sure that my newly purchased lipstick was off. The whole batch had the same smell. The only thing that’s keeping me from buying more of these crayons.
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain #12 (#1 from the left)
Yves Saint Laurent’s Glossy Stain is my favorite lipstick formula, which is why I have three contenders in the pink/rose family. It’s shiny, long-lasting–which means surviving three meals and a whole day of tea drinking, and the color selection is impressive. Another plus is that Glossy Stain doesn’t dry out my lips and doesn’t feel heavy. #12 is coral mixed with pomegranate pink, and the result is a vivid warm hue.
Scent: fruity rosewater. I like it very much, but many reviewers complain about it being too strong.
Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Saint #31 (#2)
#31 is the exact color of Ida Red apples, but a dose of warm peach lightens it to a soft shade. One of my most versatile lipsticks.
Scent: fruity rosewater.
Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Stain #25 (#3)
Deep fuchsia that can be worn as a dark pink stain or layered for a dramatic effect.
Scent: fruity rosewater.
Chanel Rouge Coco Shine 84 Dialogue (#4)
Although it looks like medium tone red in the tube, Dialogue has a cool pink base, which makes it more interesting. I also love the lipstick formula for its jelly like texture, moisturizing feel and shiny finish. The rose jam color matches a beautiful natural rose scent and makes me reach for a plush rose perfume like Annick Goutal Rose Absolute or Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose to be covered in roses head to toe.
Scent: natural rose
Do you have favorite pink and rose lipsticks?
Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all taken in natural light.