Friday, October 8th, 2010


Lipstick Comparisons: Under $12

The first part of the Lipstick Comparisons series features lipstick formulas available for less than $12.  (These are all actually less than $8, I believe!)

One of the easily detectable and distinguishing ways that more affordable lipsticks vary from higher end lipsticks is in the scent.  I have yet to find a lipstick in this price range that doesn’t tend to have a synthetic scent, and if not syrupy sweet or floral, often a nauseating mix of plastic and play-doh.  Sometimes they can also have an off-taste, too.  Both scent/taste are highly personal, though, and both dependent on your sensitivity.

Wear time can sometimes differ (noted below), but while I rarely find lipsticks that wear well for six or more hours, there are some that do wear for the average time for me (four hours is my average).

Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick (~$8.00)

  • PROS: Decent shade range, wearable shades that tend to be more universally flattering (mass appeal), smooth, opaque, wears for 3-4 hours, color-coded packaging
  • NEUTRAL: Mostly “wearable” colors — nothing really out of the box, synthetic/generic sweet scent on some while others have a more plastic scent
  • CONS: Some shades tend to cling, which make them less suitable for those with drier lips
  • MY REC: The scent can be pretty bothersome for some, but it’ll depend on how adverse you are to certain smells. For a drugstore lipstick, they might feel a little pricey, so it may be prudent to wait for a sale. It doesn’t dry my lips out, but it’s not at all moisturizing, so those with dry lips should take note.

Milani Color Perfect Lipstick ($4.99)

  • PROS: Wide range of shades, creamy, moisturizing, opaque
  • NEUTRAL: Both neutral and brighter shades, synthetic/waxy scent
  • CONS: Frost finish shades are drier and less opaque, dated packaging
  • MY REC: The creamier shades are the best of the line; they’re incredibly pigmented and apply really well. The frostier shades tend to emphasize any dryness on lips.

NYX Round Lipstick ($4.00)

  • PROS: Ridiculous amount of shades, variety in finishes, opaque, creamy, affordable
  • NEUTRAL: Scent-free but strong plastic scent on some
  • CONS: Wears off after 2-3 hours, darker shades bleed
  • MY REC: When it comes to trying out shades, NYX is definitely a go-to brand. The creamy, smooth texture and the huge shade range helps it stand out amongst other budget-friendly options. NYX also occasionally has crazy bundled packages–I remember buying 30 or 40 lipsticks for around $50 one time.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick (~$5.00)

  • PROS: Good shade range, creamy, doesn’t dry lips out, affordable
  • NEUTRAL: Synthetic fruity scent
  • CONS: Wears off within 1-2 hours requiring frequent reapplication
  • MY REC: It’s a decent option if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind reapplication.

The Lipstick Comparisons series is designed to provide a quick reference summary sheet for some of the many available lipstick formulas. It seems like most brands have at least a couple of formulas, if not half a dozen, and it can be difficult to find the formulas that will work best for your budget, coloring, style, or taste.

This is not necessarily a best of list, and it’s not exhaustive–it is based on actual lipsticks that I’ve tried; they are all, however, decent to excellent lipsticks. (And perhaps, some day, it will be an exhaustive list.)  I have summarized my experience based on pros and cons, but also some “neutral” factors that may be pros or cons, depending on your preferences.  I will update this series as I try new lipstick formulas.

(And yes, I recognize that the series photo does not include any of these brands! The image represents the series, not individual posts.)

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Rimmel Dizzy Lipstick
Rimmel Dizzy Lipstick

Bright-but-Wearable Pink Lips by Rimmel

Rimmel Dizzy Lasting Finish Lipstick ($5.19 for 0.14 oz.) is a beautiful shade of brightened medium pink with a soft blue undertone. It has a subtle frosted sheen, but it doesn’t feel or lean too frosty to me. The color coverage is excellent; it delivers opaque color and nearly covers my lip freckle. Lasting Lipstick has a creamy feel when applied, and while I wouldn’t describe it as moisturizing, it doesn’t dry out my lips either. It has a synthetic, fruity scent that’s a bit sweet but tolerable and doesn’t linger once applied.

From the get-go, this lipstick has all the makings of a great lipstick. My issue with this lipstick has to do with the claims it’s making about how long it wears. Rimmel says that it “locks colour to lips for up to 8 hours of wear.” Try one, maybe two. I typically get four hours of wear out of the average lipstick, but with Rimmel, I find the color has faded substantially by hour two. We don’t even get close to eight.

It’s really disappointing, because I can’t give this product high marks when it falls so short of the claims it makes. I evaluate products based on what they’re supposed to do, not what I want to do or what’s “good enough.” I recognize that this is a remarkably pigmented, smooth, creamy lipstick formula with an affordable price tag, but it’s not enough: it does not do what it’s supposed to do.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 21/30
  • Value: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re on a budget and looking for more pigmented lipstick, Rimmel’s Lasting Finish seems to have some good options, as long as you don’t mind reapplying every couple hours.  I think this is one of the better budget-friendly lipsticks I’ve tried, but it doesn’t last long on lips at all.

AVAILABILITY: ULTA

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Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Royalty Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Royalty

Milani Royalty Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is a medium fuchsia purple with a lilac sheen.  It’s like a purple version of MAC Stars ‘n Rockets (without the duochrome).  It’s semi-sheer when used dry, and it’s still a little sheer when used wet.  I like the color, and I think the subtle periwinkle flecks seem to come through a bit, which makes it more nuanced than some of the other shades from Milani’s Runway line.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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Friday, September 10th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Leaf Green Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Leaf Green

Milani Leaf Green Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) looks like a medium grassy (or leafy, I suppose) green, but in actuality, it swatches as a chartreuse green with stronger yellow undertones.  It’s semi-sheer when applied dry, but it really looks beautiful when applied wet (and it still retains much of the same intensity and coloring when it dries down–I’d say 90%).   It has such a smooth, more metallic than shimmer look when applied wet–could be a nice substitute for MAC True Chartreuse pigment.  I do wish it would apply better when used dry, though, since it’s supposed to be used either way.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 24/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Caribbean Sea Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Caribbean Sea

Milani Caribbean Sea Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) is such a pretty shade of aqua blue… if you use it wet.  When used dry, it’s rather lackluster and almost takes on a greenish cast; it’s also on the sheer side.  However, add just a touch of fixing spray or water to your brush before picking up the shadow yields a much more intense, pigmented shade of lightened aqua blue.  You’ll need to pack on the color, rather than sweep on, to get the best results.  It’s not a great eyeshadow, but it’s workable when wet.

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 23/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

RECOMMENDATION: Color eyeshadow fiends should probably pass, just because it’s nowhere near as pigmented as many top brands for color–but if you just want to play around and experiment with color, this is an affordable way to do so.

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

See more photos & swatches! Continue reading →

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Milani Runway Eyeshadow
Milani Blue Lagoon Runway Eyeshadow

Milani Runway Eyeshadow: Blue Lagoon

Milani Blue Lagoon Runway Eyeshadow ($5.99 for 0.07 oz.) looks so full of beautiful blue promise, but it really falls flat.  This was the worst shade that I tried out of the six (there are twelve in total, so I don’t know how it compares against the six I haven’t tried)–it’s just so sheer.  It’s even ridiculously sheer when used wet.  The color practically disappears, and instead of a brightened medium blue, you get this sheered navy blue with flashes of lighter blue sheen.  I think the swatches speak for themselves, to be honest!

Check out my original review for my thoughts on the packaging.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 14/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 3/5

RECOMMENDATION: Pass. Skip.  Run away!

AVAILABILITY: Cherry Culture

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