Friday, April 12, 2013

Coming Soon: Lipstick Swatchfest

The lipstick mega swatch!

Why are these lovelies in baggies, you might wonder. For organization purposes only. Rather than write one epic article, I'll be dividing lipsticks (both drugstore and department store brands) into the following tonal groups:

  • Purples, plums, violets, grapes (posted here)
  • Reds (posted here)
  • Bright pinks
  • Light pinks, soft pinks, and pinkish nudes (here)
  • Cool corals (oxymoron alert!) here
  • Roses, including brown-based (tea) roses

With the exception of a new Edward Bess color, nothing is new here. I have little interest in purchasing collections; other bloggers do an outstanding job at tempting you with those beauties. Instead, the goal of this lipstick series is to place similar colors in context, hopefully facilitating your research and helping you make more informed purchases. This series should largely appeal to a minority, diminishing group: those who have pure (blue based) cool undertones.

Outside foundation, lipstick is the most challenging purchase to get right without trying it on first. Surely I am not the only one who's made a department store purchase based on the sales associate's swatch on her skin (or mine), only to get home and wonder why the color didn't work. I bet some of us can also remember occasions when online swatches failed us--not because of the blogger, who performs a time-consuming, highly-useful service when posting comparisons--but because of our interpretation of a color swatched on another person's skin.

It helps if I can identify a color's properties (hue, chroma, value, finish) before I consider applying it to my face, but how do I get this information? I have found that looking at lipstick in the tube is completely unreliable. As for skin swatching, my strawberry-milk skin can immediately warm up what appears to be a cool pink, entirely because my eye did not see the warmth lurking in the pigment, but my skin sure noticed.

To the rescue comes white paper, which shows a lip color at its most true. This is how I swatch now, and I am finding it especially useful to refer back to those paper swatches, something I can't do after more than a few minutes of makeup on my skin (it's not like I can walk around that way all day). I might occasionally include color on the back of my hand or on my lips, but not often, not anymore. I do not want my skin tone adulterating a color's undertones--we all know how that can "turn" a color.

If your coloring is cool to cool-neutral, soft, and light-medium in value, you just might see something here you like over the next week. You Summers who read this blog, I'll be including the Sci\ART-based 12 Tone Summer fans for comparison.

Also, because my skin is purely cool toned, I might occasionally compare the colors I own to the 12 Tone (Sci\Art) True Winter Fan. I have that fan to put my own palette in context and so I don't step too far over the line into a chroma that's too high for me.

If your skin has warm undertones, then you are very fortunate because the majority of the blogging world and makeup industry's offerings are for you. There are, simply, more of you!


  1. oh cool, I'm definitely super cool toned also with super pigmented mauve lips so lipstick is so hard for me to buy!

  2. I have very cool toned fair skin and I always have a difficult time with blushes and lippies in particular. Everything seems to end up two shades too warm ("orangey") once on my face and it's so difficult to find those uber-cool shades that seem to flatter me the best. So happy that there's someone out there who understands! I am really looking forward to this series!

    1. I bet the SAs/MUAs recommend dusty pink blushes for you, the way they did for me for years. It's no wonder I did not even own a blush for more than a decade; I hated how it looked on me, and I am naturally rosy anyway.

      I don't have enough blushes to do a blush post; I tend to buy one that looks good and be done with it. I recommend cool, fair people try Bobbi Brown Pale Pink. If you've ever seen it, it looks scary hot pink in the pan, but it applies sheer and can be built up. I absolutely love it and wear it ever day. Pale Pink is completely matte.

      Another good one is NARs Gaiety, which I reviewed and compared to NARS Desire about a year ago. Gaiety has a satin finish, so it leaves a glow.

  3. My skin is pretty much the complete opposite of yours, but I'm hanging out to see all the pretty pictures anyway.

    *parks self on top of blog*

  4. White paper swatches are the most useful I have found thus far through blogging. My skin is somewhere between cool toned and neutral and I can't wait for your post as your posts are always so full of information!

  5. I can't wait to see your swatches Zuzu! Even if I don't own a color it is so helpful to see it swatched along side a color that I do have or have tried. Just to be able to see how warm/cool/light/deep a color is compared to other colors. That applies to all manner of cosmetics. I don't know if all bloggers understand how much that helps readers or maybe I'm in the minority that find those types of posts helpful. That said I do realize that swatch intensive posts are truly a labor of love for bloggers to do. I can only imagine how time consuming they are to put together. The Everyday Beauty, Bloomin' Beauty, the black panties, Lola's Secret Beauty Blog are just a couple that I read regularly that do this. I know there are others but I'm drawing a blank. I also like temptalia's approach - she doesn't necessarily do comparison swatches but she lists colors that are similar to a color she is reviewing & in words explains the nuances between colors.
    Looking forward to your swatch fest!

    1. Kristi, I bet you own at least a few of the lipsticks I'll be posting over the next week or so.

      As for other bloggers who do comparisons, the highest accolades go to The Beauty Look Book. Sabrina is one of the reigning queens of comparisons, and it was her blog, along with London Makeup Girl, Modesty Brown, the Non-Blonde, and Café Makeup that turned on my obsession.

      Tracy of Beauty Reflections might be cool toned (or at least cool neutral), and Kate at Drivel About Frivol is also, I believe cool-neutral. I'd eat my hat if she weren't Bright Winter. I don't know if you follow Olivia of The Unknown Beauty Blog, but her comparisons are outstanding--she includes measurements! No one did a Julie Hewett lineup the way she did, though she prefers less mainstream brands (which I find quite useful).

      We just discovered that Grace London is a Bright Winter, and I'd be surprised if Modesty Brown were not True or Soft Summer. (Sabrina and Amy of Cafe Makeup are warm toned, and I am not sure about Gaia, who has definitely found her calling with brush and fragrance reviews).

      Anyway, I had better stop listing blogs lest I leave out worthy contenders out. Just check my blog roll! :)

  6. Considering I'm down to my last breath of Laura Mercier's Sweet Cherry (Best.Lipstick.Ever.), I am eagerly awaiting the week's unveilings!

    1. I don't think I have found a replacement yet, but I still have more reds to swatch and maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. If I do, it will appear in an upcoming Reds post with the other reds. What makes Sweet Cherry so perfect, though, isn't just the color but the whole package. That it's compact, sheer and weightless on lips, and that it feels moisturizing and doesn't fade too fast. Perfection in a bullet. One of the saddest discontinuations I have witnessed in a very long time.

      So none left on the LM web site, I assume? It had been discounted for a while, and I bought a backup that I recently opened, but I had previously searched on eBay and there was NONE to be found. :(

  7. we must be thinking alike! I am on a purging mission though.

    1. Well, once swatched, many of the lipsticks shown in the upcoming series will make their way back to the giveaway/swap/sale box. (I thought I was done with blog sales but I loved giving our local no-kill shelter a nice fat check at Christmas.)

      This exercise will help others (I hope) and also help me select and keep only my favorites. I love that there are some cheapies in my love list. :) Tom Ford won't be getting any of my $.

  8. I'm in awe. I wish I could organize myself like this!

  9. Hello, I was wondering if those swatches (cool summer) can be bought and where I could find one. Could you email me at: demiati at

    1. The 12 tone swatch books, aka fans, are sold at True Colour in Australia:

      You'll notice that there's a Classic and Corporate option for each of the 12 seasons. See Amelia's FAQ page that describes the difference between the two:

      I have both, but I use my Classic swatchbook almost exclusively because I favor the lighter colors in my palette. I purchased all three Summer fans and a True Winter fan from True Color. (I also received my result, True Summer, at the end of my Sci/ART color analysis.) Shipping from Australia to the east coast USA took from between 10-21 days to arrive.

      In the US, I was certain Elea Blake Cosmetics sold fans, but their webpage is currently blank. If interested, give them a call. They are wonderful to do business with, and they sell makeup that matches the colors in the SciART fans.


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