Last week, I mentioned that almost every big brand is relaunching their lipsticks this year. Companies have collectively realized that lipstick formula is just as important as color and that, with so many brands competing for our hard-earned coin, if they don't give us great, long-wear color, another brand will. While I stand by my claim that 2016 is the Year of the Highlighter, revamped lipstick collections are taking a close second place to being the hottest items of the year.
I'll keep my intro short, because we have a lot of ground to cover today. About a month ago, I got wind of Make Up For Ever relaunching its Artist Rouge Lipstick.
I hit up my girl at the company to see if I could get my hands on a few shades to road test the new formula. No sooner had I sent the email did she inform me that the entire collection was already on its way to me, because I am what? Sickening.
Here’s the low on the new lipsticks: 45 shades. 31 creams. 14 mattes.
The collection is a pretty even split between reds, pinks, oranges, and nudes. Many of the shades blend into each other giving us a wide range of nuanced colors with different tones and undertones to flatter all of us. The line also has a good chunk of bolds, too, for people like me who gravitate toward wearing wild shades.
For me, the standout shades are the nudes. I know that nudes are still having their moment, but hear me the fuck out. There is an absence of any true browns, so everyone that’s still convinced that the 90s are back may want to look elsewhere for that shade in particular.
But, almost a full third of the collection is made up of beautiful, distinct nudes to flatter many skin tones, not just white people. From the lightest of creams to the deepest, warmest beiges, there are enough shades so that a person of any skin tone can find a neutral that works for them.
So let's start there.
Note: the C or M before the shade number indicate whether the shade is a cream or a matte.
No matter how light or dark the lip color, no one can pull off nudes better than my friend Clare, so I knew I had to get a hold of her to show these babies off.
Here she is wearing C104, a light beige with a touch of peach.
Jensine wears C108, a rich, rusty beige.
Keely is wearing C107, a medium, neutral beige that reads darker (and warmer) on her fair skin than on the bullet, but is insanely flattering.
Rian is wearing the lightest nude in the collection, C103, a light cream.
This unnamed person who chose to throw on sunglasses instead of being bothered to put on makeup is wearing M100, the lightest matte beige.
I didn't think the color would be flattering as it is pretty light with yellow undertones, but I actually think it looks nice on him, whoever he is. Love the shade and finish together.
Clare is wearing what is one of my very favorite shades in the collection, C211, the perfect pinky-gray-mauve.
Ashton is wearing M101, a light, cool beige that works very well with her warm tones.
Craig is wearing C105, a cool-toned greige.
Keely is wearing another one of my favorites, M200, a rosey nude.
So, the formula. First we have the Creams. They're very buttery and apply smoothly, gliding onto your lips leaving a dense trail of color behind. A lot of these give you the impression that you can get away with wearing just one pass of color because they're so pigmented. I'd never do that, as almost everyone needs a couple of passes to nail the shape of their lip and get even coverage, obvi, but these take to your lips beautifully and do a lot of the work for you.
Even before I tried them on myself, watching everyone apply them, I could tell just how cooperative they were. The Creams leave you with great color and a nice shine. They're not drying on the lips, and they wear well for hours.
Caitlin is wearing M201, a hot Barbie pink.
Keely is wearing M202, a bright, blue-toned pink.
Lauren wears C305, a rich coral-pink.
Jensine is killing M203, a glowing hot pink.
Rian is feeling a Pink Friday moment with C209 a baby pink.
C208, a rich magenta, is really popping off of Keely. A rich, juicy pink is my favorite alternative to a classic red lip.
Caitlin is wearing C306, a bouncy coral-pink.
This strange man that found his way into the frame is wearing C210, a fleshy pink.
Truthfully I only planned on wearing half the shades that I'm pictured in, this not being one of them, but I really like it! It's a little lighter than I'd usually go, but I'm pretty into the muted melon vibes.
C205, a bright light pink, is popping off of Caitlin's face.
Keely is pulling off another pink, C207, a bright fuchsia.
I love how this one toes the line between a hot pink and a bright berry.
A wild Tynan appeared!
Wearing C206, a true pink.
Really feeling my Malibu Barbie fantasy here.
So, the Mattes. The Mattes have a bit more grip than the Creams, which is typical when the finishes differ. They are similar in that they glide on smoothly with intense color payoff. The mattes are very cushiony on the lips without feeling dry, or on the other hand, clingy. It doesn't exactly feel like you're not wearing anything at all, but they're comfortable and cooperative.
My favorite mattes are the ones that reflect no light at all, a true velvet finish. While these aren't exactly that, they're not a satin, either. They reflect enough light to make your lips look supple and healthy, but are still matted out enough to live up to their name.
WHAT a way to begin. Lauren is putting us all to rest with M300, a red-orange.
Clare wears C302, a coral-nude. I thought this shade would be hard to pull off but, uh, she's doing just fine.
Look at Ashton in C403, a Ferrari orange-red.
Lauren is now in C304, a bright orange.
And she's going back to back in C303, a rich coral.
And we have Ashton once more in C404, a deep orange-red.
Claire is in C106, a muted pink-coral.
Across the board, these colors feel as good as they look. I let everyone keep the colors they wore (except Craig because I forgot. Sorry girl!) and I've heard great things about them after the fact, and I've been wearing some of them myself.
My only critique is that just a few of the brighter pastels applied a little patchy, but were able to be evened out with additional strokes. On the other hand, the lightest color, C103, on the deepest lips, Rian's, went on like a dream, so the issue didn't take effect with all of the lighter colors, just one or two.
Jensine is starting us off with M402, a rich brick.
You all know how I feel about red lips, but damn, what a better way to make me love them than on all of my cute friends.
Caitlin is wearing M204, which could be classified as a red or a deep watermelon pink, but I chose to call it a red to begin with so here we are.
I'm not a red guy, but I think this is a really cool way to do it, if you must.
Clare is wearing M102 which is actually another one of my very favorites in the whole collection.
GUH. Come on!
This rich berry-mauve is a color that I can get all the way down with.
Jensine is wearing one of the darkest shades, C407, a black cherry.
Ashton is in a deep plum, M501.
M500, a deep wine, looks vampy and beautiful on Rian.
I put myself in M301, a poppy red because I hate myself.
C406, a deep red, changes Caitlin's whole look.
C405 is a blue-red that looks killer on Jensine.
MY FAVORITE. Get a load of these.
Rian is wearing C503, a true lavender.
Lavenders, especially shades as light as this, can be difficult to pull off, but Rian is really showing us how it's done.
Craig is rocking another one of my favorites, C603, a rich sapphire.
The biggest standout of the entire collection is C601 this wild mint green.
Believe it or not, the creamy texture and pigmentation makes this full coverage and so easy to wear that I find it a lot more wearable than you'd think!
Another shade that's just as bright as this is C602, a bright sky blue.
Lauren is wearing the C506, the darkest red-purple in the bunch.
I wish they had one or more true purples in the collection, how how can you be mad at this color?
The darkest shade of them all, C604, black.
I'm a little surprised they opted for a cream finish over a matte for the black, but make no mistake, it's black as can be.
Oh, they also have a white in a cream finish which I did not shoot because 1. It's more for mixing other colors with and 2. I am a literal ghost.
And LAST but not least, another one of my faves, C502, a greyed lavender.
On me, this is richer than it looks on the bullet, where as Rian's version looked a lot lighter on her than the pink-lavender hue it actually is. Both would be interchangeably flattering on both of our skin tones, I just love the gray glam corpse vibes of this one.
PHEW. So that's it. The Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge lip colors retail for $22 just launched online and will be showing up in stores any day now.
Which shades are your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!
Tynan is photographing his friends on Twitter @TynanBuck.