Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lipstick Comparisons: Reds

Introduced in the "Lipstick Swatchfest" teaser, I had showed my small collection of  plum-based lipsticks. Now it's time for the reds.

The following photo captures the swatches, from deep blue reds, to brown-based reds, to sheer pink reds. There's a red for everyone (really!), but not all these reds are great on me—despite my wishing it were so.

DISCLAIMER: This has to be said. Although my photography skills have improved over the last couple years, the weather has been exceptionally grey lately, making photos a challenge and turning some of the colors more saturated than they appear to the naked eye, no matter how I tried to fiddle with the settings. I know how important it is to capture makeup and clothing colors a their most true; however, if the lipstick swatch appears more saturated than the norm, the palette colors went along for the ride, so you should still be able to see if there is a match or tonal blend.

Below are the above-swatched reds compared, in various photos, to one or more of the 12 Tone (Sci\Art) fans. If you haven't already, you might want to have a look at Summer Seasons (Sci\Art) Defined.

In the first photo below, you'll notice that the first lipstick lineup does not completely harmonize with Light Summer (LSu), but the colors complement the the True/Cool Summer fan sleeve overall. On paper, and on my lips, Laura Mercier Sweet Cherry (reviewed here) is trying to tip into the LSu camp, as it contains the tiniest drop of yellow. Clinique's Fresh Watermelon is a hint muted, which may or may not be what some of you are looking for.

Chantecaille Lip Chic, Rose Délice is a gorgeous blue red, but the chroma leans medium-high, and the Super Lip Sheer formula, in the color Maia, is perfect. It's really not much more saturated than a tinted lip balm.

Maia is slightly more blue than the Cool Summer 7.3 fan chip shown below, but not by much. I think it harmonizes more beautifully with 2.6/2.7/2.8 above

NARS Flamenco, a semi-sheer candy-apple red shown below (reviewed here), is close in tone to the 7.4 chip. Light Summers who don't mind a bit of pigment might also enjoy this color. As always, lipstick might start with the skin tone, but the result depends highly on existing lip pigment, which is why not all True Summers across the board can all wear the same lipstick color; we have darker and lighter skins and darker and lighter lips.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Antigone (reviewed here), is a soft, berry red that looks like a dead ringer for 7.3, no? But be forewarned: the ever-present gold microshimmers warms this color up, so it might be more flattering on Light Summers. I would recommend, at least in this case, that you try before you buy. The Rouge Coco Shine formula is my favorite.

Chanel Rouge Coco in Rivoli is close in tone to 7.5, but I find it a touch too brown on my lips. Soft Summers might prefer this one. (I could have sworn I had photographed Rivoli next to the SSu fan. I'll have to add it later.)

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Monte-Carlo (reviewed here), is a neutral strawberry red that leans warm, thanks to the yellow undertones. After comparing the swatch to the three Summer fans, I thought Monte-Carlo looked closest to the Light Summer 6.1 chip. This lipstick has gold and pink microshimmers.

As I was swatching and photographing lipstick for future articles, I noticed I had put Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Colour, Healthy Lips, in the wrong category.  On paper, it looks red, slightly warmer than the ever-so-slightly-neutral-leaning Sweet Cherry.

Both Mercier reds compared to the 12 Tone Cool Summer fan.

Healthy Lips appears to find harmony with 7.4 below. On some us, however, the very subtle brown undertones might pull orange. The color is unobjectionable on me, but I require a bit more than that from my lipsticks.

And just because everyone seems to love MAC Russian Red, which might be their biggest-selling lipstick next to the Viva Glam line, give it up Summers. I don't know where this lipstick fits in, but it isn't our palette.

No match in the 12 Tone Cool Summer red strips

Russian Red does not seem quite right against this Soft Summer sleeve, eiterh, but I am wondering about Dark Winters

Apologies for the out-of-control over-saturated photo below (the sun had made a rare and inopportune appearance), but both the fan and lipstick swatch took the same chroma ride. For a supposed blue red, Russian Red does NOT look good with the True Winter fan.

That's all I have for reds, but there will be more color categories coming soon.

See also: Lipstick Comparisons: Plums

For a more detailed description of hue, value, and chroma, see: I Got Draped (Seasonal Color System).

All photos taken by me.


  1. Hi Zuzu!

    I think Chanel Rivoli is DW/TW color, And MAC Russian Red must be a great red for blonds...What do you think?

    1. Hi Goya! The blonde would have to have a fair amount of contrast to pull off Russian Red—I'd say a high-contrasting Soft Summer. That doesn't mean she (or other blonde varieties, including the Springs) can't or won't wear it anyway. I wore a similar color (NARS Mongolian Red) for years, even though I know now that lipstick wore me. :)

      I agree Rivoli is likely DW, and RR might be TW. Hard to say without seeing the people wearing it.

      Oh, and though there are types, any season can have any hair and eye color. Natural blonde Winters are rare, but they exist, and it seems I bump into more and more brown-eyed Summers every day.

    2. Yeah, I got it already that if someone has a particular colr, this alone does not yet put him automatically in a certain color group :).

      I think though that RR, though is called "red" is very orangy, and Winter seasons do not have orange in their color spectrum, may be Autumn? :)

    3. I admit I don't know tons about Autumn or Winter, but I absolutely agree with you that RR appears to be a warm-leaning True Red. Doesn't MAC call it blue red? Sometimes their color descriptions are almost as bad as Bobbi Brown's.

      I just looked at my color sheets, and DW might be able to wear RR, but DA seems like there would be more color harmony.

    4. I´m one of Winters )if you saw my pic on facebook), and I absolutely can't wear RR, it appears too orange, too screaming. In general, I don't like warm-leaning colors on myself, so I don't know regarding DW wearing RR :).

    5. Interesting. Someone must like it to rank among MAC's top sellers. Or maybe Madonna just gave them a needed spike in sales because it's supposed to be her favorite red.

      I love blue red lipsticks, and I found Russian Red to be rather unappealing in the tube and on me.

    6. Don't know about Madonna, but yes, RR is often mentioned to be a great (if not best) seller of MAC. I remember when I first tried it-I was shocked on how orange, blunt and unflattering this color is on me!

  2. thank you for this - as I said yesterday I am following your series avidly! Its opened my eyes to a lot of what I already suspected!

    I'm starting to wonder my boyfriends season - he is very pale white (neutral) skin, blue grey eyes, and dark dark brown hair bordering black - if anyone has any ideas I would love to know! (I know of course it is all guesswork with a very basic description)

    1. What color shirts/ties look good on him? Can he rock a hot pink or is he better in earth tones?

      I won't be much help. I was certain my husband was going to be Bright Spring and he ended up Light Summer, about as far away from BSp as you can get!! You'd think an uber-butch viking would hate those candy colors, but he loves his brights. (He made me promise to stop buying him pink oxford-cloth button-down shirts, though.) He's happy in his clear sky blues, cement greys, cornsilk yellows, and marshmallow whites.

    2. Hmmm.... I think maybe he might be a winter (but I am new to this system so even I'm not familar with all the seasons!). I think blues might look good on him. I don't think earth tones suit anyway - and black is awful because of the contrast between his very white pale skin and pigmentation around the eyes. He has unusual colouring anyway - a massive contrast between his skin and hair. I should go back through old holiday snaps to see if I can see a pattern!

      thanks for the reply - I am more trying to stretch my understanding of the system rather than exactly diagnose!

  3. So informative! I wish you were a TW!

    1. Me, too, lol! Just consider me your softer sister. In fact, you tend to prefer lipstick that isn't so saturated, so maybe you'll get some useful info out of the makeup I like.

  4. Hi Zuzu,

    Thank you for an informative write-up. Do you know anything about LM's Tender Lips? My coloring is similar to Katie Holmes and I prefer Tender Lips to Healthy Lips (too blue). I have a hard time finding a good red. They are either too orange or too blue. Tender Lips seems to be more balanced and a good day time red. I would love to try Chanel's Rivoli for some night time drama.

    1. Hi sd, I have never owned Tender Lips, but I swatched it at the counter and rejected it outright as being to warm for me. Lips are such weird things. Two purely cool-toned, women with nearly-identical soft, fair skin might wear the exact same lipstick completely differently, because it all comes down to lip pigment. If you can test Tender Lips, it might be a great daytime option.

      Of all the summers, I think those leaning Soft have the most challenging time finding their perfect red. Light Summers have sheer, shiny strawberry, True Summers have creamy, cool watermelon and raspberry, and Soft Summers ... I'd guess the Softs need satiny, slightly-browned plums or roses or ports. Chanel Rivoli might be a great option, but probably not for daytime unless you blotted it down to a stain (or applied with a brush).

      Sorry I don't know more about Tender Lips. As for being sheer (which is how that lipstick formula is/was advertised), I never found that to be the case. Healthy Lips applies nearly opaque and only slightly glossy on me.

      I'd recommend Chantecaille Lip Chic in Heirloom as a potential SSu "red," but if I recall, Heirloom was a bit dark on me. That said, Soft Summers are the darkest of the summer trio and so can wear the darker, more heavy and velvety colors very well. It might be worth looking at. You might also take a look at Bobbi Brown's new sheer lipsticks, perhaps in Carolina. The formula is really nice!

      Another option, if you haven't exhausted it already, is Chanel's Rouge Coco Shine formula, which is truly sheer, perfect for day. Most of the lipsticks in this line contain gold microshimmer, which warms up a too-cool color instantly, and Since SSu borders the Autumn season, a bit of subtle gold will look beautiful. Of the reds that come to mind, Monte-Carlo is slightly-bright, sheer, warm-pink-red, so it might be better suited for a LSu. Elise is a gorgeous plum-red with the aforementioned gold microshimmers. Unique is slightly more red based (less plummy than Elise) and cool-neutral with the gold overlay. Antigone would be my top choice (sheer neutral red with earthy bronze undertones), but it was limited edition, though it's probably still around. I have reviewed a bunch of the RCS colors, so if you search the blog you can find some swatches.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Zuzu,

    Thank you for an informative write-up. Do you know anything about LM's Tender Lips. My coloring is similar to Katie Holmes and I prefer Tender Lips to Healthy Lips (too blue). I usually find a lot of reds either too orange or too blue. Healthy Lips seems to be more balanced and is a good day time red. I'll have to try Chanel's Rivoli for for some night time drama.

  6. Thanks for all the good recommendations. I'll have to try some of those out.

  7. Thanks for all the good recommendations. I'll have to try some these lipsticks.


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