Elisa on matching lips to rose perfumes.
Recently, my friend (and author of the perfume memoir Coming to My Senses) Alyssa Harad joked on Twitter, “I have accidentally matched my shirt to my lipstick and it’s bothering me so much I have to change.” A matchy-matchy outfit and lipstick combination may qualify as faux pas, but what about matching your lipstick to your scent? Since roses almost always smell like a shade of red or pink to me, I get a synesthetic pleasure out of wearing a color that “rhymes” with what I smell.
Here are some favorite match-ups from my rose and lip product collections.
Dark Roses & Matte Reds
L – R: Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Rich Ruby, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Amsterdam, Sephora Nano Lip Liner in Real Red, Clinique Long Last Soft Matte in Matte Crimson
Dark roses are probably my favorite category of perfume, and they seem to call for drama. I don’t have the talent, patience, or eye shape for winged liquid liner, so when I want dramatic impact, I do a rich matte red lip. The Maybelline matte above (which I’ve heard is a pretty good dupe for MAC Ruby Woo) goes on super-smooth, and is a perfect match for the gorgeous, complex aged patchouli in Tom Ford Noir de Noir; it smells like red roses and bittersweet chocolate. The brighter, warmer lip pencil from Sephora is great with a classic rose chypre like Ungaro Diva or L’Arte di Gucci (try Lumiere Noir pour Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian if you can’t find the latter).
Sheer Roses & Sheer Reds
L – R: Sephora Rouge Shine in No. 31, No7 Poppy King Lipstick in Number One (History), L’Oreal Colour Riche Caresse in Cardinal Plume, Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Candy Apple, Tarte LipSurgence in Fever, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Cherry
Sheer red is my go-to “Who, me? Try hard?” lipstick color; I tend to throw these in my bag and apply whenever I want a little more color on my face. (They usually work as blush, too.) The No7 Poppy King (which you can order from Target for the bargain price of $10) is a gorgeous blue-based red that you can layer on for more opacity; it’s a great match for a rose that is both dark and sheer, like Stella or Grès Cabaret (which I think of as the simplified, downmarket version of Amouage Lyric). Marni is another sheer, woody rose, but feels lighter in hue, with its lemony cardamom note. I’d match it with the warm, cheery Revlon Candy Apple.
Citrusy Roses & Orangey Reds
L – R: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti, Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in Electric Orange, NP Set Lipstick in Noosa, Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Striking, Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain in Shanghai Sizzle
My lips are naturally quite pink, so reds can read pink on me; orange lipsticks cancel out some of that blueness and give me more “pop.” I love an orange-red mouth contrasted against a blue top, whether it’s royal blue silk or a sky blue Oxford, and I love the harmony of orange-red with a citrusy rose fragrance. To my mind, Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma has a piercing, lemon-like brightness and is the exact orangey red color of geranium blossoms. (Take a look at Shanghai Sizzle on the far right – the Revlon Moisture Stains are a little fussy to apply, but the color payoff is amazing.) Tauer Perfumes Incense Rose has an intense note of mandarin over a pink desert rose; I like to match the effect by layering a bright orange lipstick like NP Set Noosa over a pink stain. Try the Revlon lip crayon in Honey (not pictured), a cool mauve; layered together they look juicy and summery and remind me of rainbow sherbet.
Pink Roses & Rosy Pinks
L – R: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Lovesick, Sonia Kashuk Shine Luxe Sheer Lip Color in Sheer Fuchsia, Estée Lauder Pure Color Crème Lipstick in Rose Petal, The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick in 335 (Hot Date), Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rosé, Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Pink Truffle, NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien
Some roses smell distinctly pink to me, rather than red. Take Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose, which smells exactly like a fresh bouquet of pale pink roses; it makes me want to reach for a ladylike rose-colored lipstick, like the appropriately named Rose Petal from Estée Lauder. Annick Goutal Rose Splendide is a delightfully zingy, fresh rose – spring in a bottle. I pair it with the Sonia Kashuk fuchsia, which is a bright, almost hot pink on the lips but sheer and with a little sparkle. The rose in Bond No. 9 Broadway Nite is full-on neon pink; backed by aldehydes, violet, and vanilla, it practically pulses and glows. It definitely calls for Revlon’s Lovesick balm stain, a deep hot pink that has a lush creamy finish and lasts forever. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the soft, brown-tinged pinks that I wear as nudes. Either Pink Truffle lip butter or the NARS lip pencil on the far right are a nice complement to a dusky, soft-focus rose like Estée Lauder Tuscany per Donna.
Fruity Roses & Plummy Reds
L – R: L’Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Endless Red, Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon, Mirabella Velvet Lip Pencil in Crushed Velvet, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Berry, Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Red Velvet, Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
Finally, we have the fruity, jammy roses that cry out for plummy, wine-red lips. Of all the above shades, these are the hardest for me to wear; with my already pink lips and pale skin, they can appear almost jarringly dark, so I have to be in the mood to commit. Black Honey is famous for looking good on everybody because the pigments are so sheer; it’s a nice match for the plummy, peachy, coconutty rose of Liaisons Dangereuses. La Fille de Berlin is denser and more saturated; it makes me think of blackberry jam. For similarly jammy lips, Revlon Red Velvet looks glamorously shiny with a red gloss layered over the top. And when I’m feeling brave, the winey-pink Mirabella pencil is super pigmented (and, I imagine, would look extra nice on a brunette).
Do you ever match your perfume to your lipstick?
Swatch photographs are taken in natural light by Elisa