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perfect kiss


important note: all boys are to leave now. this is a girly post. you have nothing to gain from reading this.

ok ladies... we're going to talk lipstick. why? because i happen to be a huge cosmetics fan. does that make me less of a feminist, less of a contemporary woman? well, during a time when i was working at a community radio station, i was called a bad feminist. i was called a bad feminist by someone who subsequently moved to another place, with no job and no immediate job prospects, because her boyfriend had gotten a job in that required him to move. she called me a bad feminist because i wore dresses and make-up. i've supported myself independently since i was 19 years old, through two university degrees, a number of jobs and three inter-city moves. i'll just let you decide who the stronger feminist is.

for those who've stuck with me, there is a certain magic in finding the perfect lipstick. that particular formula and shade is a really great feeling. myself, there are a lot of different looks that i like and, hence, a lot of different colours, but i have a particular weakness for deep, dark, rich colours, reds and purples mostly, and yes, i can tell the difference between all of them. much like the proverbial amateur home decorator, i can tell the difference between various shades of white. i'm told that this is actually a genetic holdover from a time when women were the gatherers in early, semi-nomadic societies. in those times, knowing the difference between the dark warm red berry that would nourish you and the dark blue-red berry that would kill you was a really important thing. but whether you feel you need a few colours from different parts of the spectrum, or a selection from each area that you like (or an entire spectrum to yourself), there are a lot of lipstick choices for you.

i've decided to post this to de-mystify a few of those choices.

i'll state first of all that i tend to have fairly high end tastes in my choices of lip colour. part of that is because i prefer to buy products that are not tested on animals and most higher-end brands are based in europe, where there has been a ban on animal testing since 1998. i still recommend checking out various lists of companies that do and don't test (and who ultimately owns them) to determine where you are comfortable drawing the line, but what's included here are products that meet my criteria.

i don't cover mass market brands here, but if you do want them, i suggest revelon (animal-testing free for many years) and wet 'n' wild (also free of animal testing). both have decent shade ranges, the former has a variety of formulas and the latter is responsible for a colour i bought in university that remains one of my all-time favourites (called "blackest red"). the following would qualify as a "treat". however, since i'm writing this in canada, i'd like to call attention to a potential escape hatch: most of these brands are carried by shoppers drug mart/ pharmaprix/ murale, who have an excellent customer loyalty program called optimum. under this program, you build up points (fairly quickly, if you keep an eye on specials like 20x the points), which allow you a certain number of dollars worth of free purchases. so if you like, you can use your bonus money for a little extra you wouldn't normally be able to afford. (aside from that, i seriously recommend that all shoppers get one of these cards. the program pays off in spades.)

so here are some of my thoughts on mid- to high-end lipsticks that are available on the market:

brand :: bobbi brown
product :: lip colour
price :: $25- $30 CAD
evaluation :: beautiful colours, but tends to be pretty conservative. if you want something a little richer and racier, look for colours with the word "black" before them (black raspberry, black maple). they won't be as dramatic as they look in the tube, but they are very nice nonetheless. the formula is incredibly moisturising, which is nice if you live in a climate where it's cold and dry a lot of the year, or if you're reaching an age where your lips tend to dry out naturally. on the other hand, these feather like a son of a bitch, so be conscious that you might have to use a lip liner. they also require reapplication throughout the day and the more you have to reapply, the worse the feathering is.

brand :: bobbi brown
product :: creamy lip colour
price :: $25- $30 CAD
evaluation :: other than the fact that they come in different packaging and the available shades are different, i'll be buggered if i can figure out the difference between these ones and the regular bb lip colour (see above).

brand :: chanel
product :: rouge coco
price :: $30- $35 CAD
evaluation :: very nice shade range, but i find the formula a little drying. it glides on nicely, but starts to feel a little dry on lips after about an hour. the nice part is that, if you aren't bothered by the slightly dry feeling, the colour lasts a long time, even when you eat and drink. the shade range is pretty good. colour payoff is excellent- you don't have to do lots of back and forth to get it to match the colour in the tube.

brand :: chanel
product :: rouge lacque
price :: $35 - $40 CAD
evaluation :: i love these to death, seriously. "dragon" is the best red lip ever, but the real magic isn't in the colour, it's on how these actually work. they're a liquid lipstick. they apply like a gloss, with an in credible sheen, but they settle into a lovely, satin-finish lipstick that lasts for hours. the colour is incredible and they feel wonderful against the lips. of course, they're expensive, and the range of shades available is incredibly limited, but if you want to treat yourself to something, i couldn't recommend anything nicer.

brand :: dior
product :: rouge dior
price :: $34- $36 CAD
evaluation :: stunning. creamy and luscious and high-impact and long-lasting. in fact, even after smudging or eating, they leave a really beautiful stain-type finish. if you're going to spoil yourself with something, i really couldn't suggest another formula. on the other hand, the shade range is limited to pinks and reds, mostly, so people looking for a really beautiful, vampy colour might be, as they say, SOL. still, if you can find something that catches your fancy... grab it.

brand :: guerlain
product :: rouge g
price :: $50 CAD
evaluation :: wait, it costs how much??? therein lies the downfall of this product, yes, it comes in a nice space-age package with a built-in mirror, but personally, i don't need a mirror to apply lipstick, because i know where my lips are. yes, the colours are incredibly nuanced and nearly impossible to truly duplicate, but for christ's sake, for the amount that it costs, i'll take a slightly lesser product. yes, this is probably one of the nicest formulas on the market, but i recommend it only if you can find a way to circumvent the pricing.


brand :: lancome
product :: colour design matte lipstick
price :: $26 CAD
evaluation :: some people just do not want a juicy, shiny look to their lips, but the fact is that a lot of matte lipsticks feel like applying chalk and look super-creased and cracked an hour after you put them on. these are different. they feel absolutely amazing. they're creamy, rich, intensely coloured and they're not drying at all. hallelujah. there's not a tremendous number of shades available, but they do cover a lot of the "classic" shades- reds, corals and plums that hearken back to the film-noir era of enticing lips that drew men in like a spider's web.

brand :: yves st. laurent
product :: rouge volupte
price :: $35- $40 CAD
evaluation :: lovely and creamy with a lot of shine, but there's a very limited range of shades available. for the price, i would expect more dimension or originality to the colours, but there are really only a few that can't be duplicated by cheaper alternatives. they do feel wonderful on the lips, particularly during dry weather and their colour is really rich, but for the price, there are better options available and, for the colours, there are cheaper options available.

people who know me will have noticed that i've not addressed my absolute favourite, canadian-born mac costmetics. that' sbecause i think that they require their own post, since navigating through their finishes and colour spectrum can be challenging. i'll get around to that, hopefully tomorrow.

this isn't by any means an exhaustive list of brands or formulas available on the market. it's just a list of opinions based on my personal experience. those who enjoy having a pop of colour on their lips can take it as the advice of a long-time lip colour lover. those who don't enjoy colour can take it as information that will be of little use to them. personally, despite the fact that both men and women (according to a recent poll by in style magazine) prefer the emphasis to be on the eyes, i still enjoy finding that perfect look that just draws the eye to my lips. at the very least, it helps people focus on what i'm talking about.

ok, it's now safe to let the men back into the room. next week i'll do a post about hockey or soccer (yeah, i know it's really football) or something. just to be fair.

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