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making faces :: a week in the red

i've been participating in a sort of "lipstick challenge" for the month of december, where each week features a different colour in all its glory. week one was all about red lips and i thought that i might share my results.

honestly, i could do a month of red lipsticks. i already did a ten-part look with different reds a couple of years ago [you can check the recap here] and managed to do a week this year without repeating a single colour. that wasn't actually on purpose, either. i sort of intended to work hourglass "raven" into my plans, but ran out of space. i wanted to showcase a variety of reds, especially some that were softer and less "in your face", but i ran into a couple of problems. first of all, my lips have been in rough shape this week, which made me cautious about the formulas that i wanted to use. [you can see a writeup i did of formulas that are better and worse when your lips are feeling the winter blues here.] second, i do really love bold reds and there are a lot of those i wanted to feature as well.  my thinking was that bolder reds also suit me better, although the week held some surprises in that regard.

one of the things that surprised me was that i didn't end up reaching for anything from chanel. a few years ago, i felt that they were the kings [or queens] of reds. i still love my chanel reds, but the formulas have been outpaced by others and i feel like guerlain has really stepped up with shades of red that are as good or better than what chanel offers. at the same time, chanel is discontinuing a lot of their great reds. [the rouge coco line is being revamped in 2015, so you can kiss existing colours goodbye.] neither the rouge allure nor the rouge coco shine formula loves my lips, so while i'm perfectly comfortable wearing them under normal circumstances, i hesitate a little when there are problems. at the moment, though, i'd have to say that if i were to recommend one brand for a really perfect red lipstick, it would be guerlain, just because they have enough options that i believe anyone could find their own version of the best one. plus, of course, their formulas are top-notch.[and i would probably say that, owing to great formulas, armani would now be my second choice.]

so, shall we proceed to individual looks then? face spam follows...

i will say that i didn't get quite the variety of looks that i wanted. and in one case, trying to reach outside the proverbial makeup box resulted in something that didn't make me particularly happy. it's way too easy to do very simple eyes with a bold lip, especially if you think that a crisp overall appearance is something that suits you. my basics are the same in every case:

urban decay naked skin foundation 1.0
dior star concealer 010
mac painterly paint pot
mac prep & prime finishing powder
mac fix+ setting spray

day one

eyes ::
rouge bunny rouge e/d "angelic cockatiels" [frosted amber honey]
mac e/s "sun blonde" [dirty yellow]*
mac e/s "ochre style" [deep ochre satin]*
urban decay e/s "buck" [medium deep reddened brown]
mac e/s "shroom" [shimmery white-beige]
gosh pen liner "brown" [blackened brown]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

cheeks ::
nars blush "amour" [ruddy warm pink]
estée lauder blush/ bronzer "sea star" [used just the bronzer portion- soft tan]*
hourglass ambient lighting powder "dim light" [soft light beige]

lips ::
guerlain rouge g serie noire "rouge sensuel" [soft coral red]*

*suggested alternates :: sea star bronzer = guerlain terracotta "00"; this is the part where you can hate me. i cannot come up with decent dupes for ochre style, sun blonde or rouge sensuel. the recently revamped make up forever artist shadows look like they might have a couple of reasonable "ochre style" dupes, so i'd start there. the limited edition mac shade "outré" is lighter, but pretty close, so if you have that one from the "mac me over" collection, you're safe. i have never seen a shade that compares to "sun blonde". chanel rouge allure "flamboyante" was a limited edition shade, but it's an excellent dupe for "rouge sensuel" if you have it. guerlain "madame flirte" was likewise limited edition and cooler in tone, but is not a bad substitute. rouge bunny rouge "word of mouth" is more opaque, less glossy and more muted. that's the best i can do...

i thought i'd start off soft and warm, which this definitely is. i think it's a good example of how to wear a red lip without looking like a screen siren. an understated red. it leans warm and the colour has a lovely clarity to it. it's not quite opaque, but still has plenty of colour. [chanel "bohème" is an even softer version along the same theme.]

day two 


eyes ::
armani eyes to kill #19 "silver/ gold" [sparkly platinum]
armani eyes to kill #32 "gold hercule" [dirty green gold]
illamasqua precision gel liner
ysl baby doll mascara

cheeks ::
mac blush ombre "ripe peach" [sunny peach apricot]*
mac mineralize blush "miss behave" [white peach with mint green sheen]*
chanel joues ombre "notorious" [cool lilac taupe]*

lips ::
bite beauty high pigment matte pencil "cranberry" [red rose]

*suggested alternates :: "silver/ gold" = mac pigment "white gold" [less shimmery, warmer] or nars "albatross" highlighter; "gold hercule" = mac pigment "golden olive" [darker] or mac e/s "gorgeous gold" [brighter, yellower]; neither of those is a great dupe, though and some counters still have "gold hercule" available; ripe peach = dior "cocktail peach" [warmer]; notorious = mac "strada" [warmer, pinker, lighter- not really great, but the best i can do]; i could think of a close dupe for "miss behave" at all, because that cool green sheen makes it unique, but the peach part is similar in colour [although not finish] to nars "sex appeal"

kind of a party look here, although i wasn't heading to any party i'm aware of. i didn't include vampy reds in this week's shades [although they may make an appearance later on], but i wanted to have at least one that was darker without being full-on vampy. this shade is cooler-toned and really does remind me of the colour of red roses.

day three


eyes ::
mac e/s "laundry daze" [lemon chiffon]*
mac e/s "colour added" [lemon yellow]*
mac e/s "copperplate" [matte brown-grey]
urban decay 24/7 liner "perversion" [blackest ever black]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

cheeks ::
mac blush ombre "azalea blossom"* [cool lilac-tinged pink]

lips ::
givenchy le rouge l/s "rouge égerie" [bright pink-coral red]

*suggested alternates :: your best bet with the mac shades is to look at makeup forever and/ or inglot, who have some similar ones, the thing to remember is that these are bright, crisp yellows, not golden at all and not warm and buttery. "azalea blossom" = nars "gaiety"

the eyes are kind of similar to day two here, although i went for yellows instead of gold and for pink cheeks instead of peach. i find that the major difference between the reds distracts from the similarities. i love rouge égerie to bits, but for some reason, i find that it never seems to sit perfectly on my skin- there's some element that clashes just a little and i cannot figure out what it is. it's not terrible, but there's something that's just a little off. i'm not sure if anyone can see what i mean...

day four

eyes ::
guerlain e.s palette "les fumes"
inglot e/s "351" [matte ivory highlight]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "desperation" [dark grey-brown]
makeup forever smoky extravagant mascara [it isn't]

cheeks ::
mac beauty powder "honey light" [light golden brown]*
chanel poudre signé [white gold]*
hourglass ambient lighting powder "mood light" [browned mauve]

lips ::
mac lustre l/s "viva glam cyndi"* [muted coral red]*

*suggested alternates :: honey light = guerlain terracotta bronzer 02; poudre signé = nars "albatross" [more sheen] or hourglass "luminous light" [more sparkly]; for "viva glam cyndi", check my recommendations for "rouge sensuel" above. they're not entirely dissimilar

this one threw me a little, because i wasn't expecting to like it as much as i do. i went for a bolder, winter-flushed cheek, which worked out well enough [it's a little more noticeable in the photos than it was in real life]. strangely, the lipstick looks cooler-toned on me than i remember. i swatched on paper [and in my memory of having worn it], it pulled warmer. this isn't a trick of the camera, either. it's a pretty accurate representation of how it looked. the thing about semi-sheer [or semi-opaque] lipsticks is that they can vary depending on changes in your own complexion [i'm warmer in the summer than in the winter] and that they are altered more by what's around them.

day five


eyes ::
rouge bunny rouge e/s "gracious arasari" [pinky beige]
rouge bunny rouge e/s "sweet dust seriema" [dusty lilac taupe]
armani neo-black palette highlight shadow [shimmery neutral highlight]*
illamasqua precision gel liner
hourglass film noir mascara

cheeks ::
becca beach tint "fig" [soft rosy nude]
armani neo-black palette blush [warm nude]*
nars blush "nico" [ivory satin]

lips ::
rouge d'armani #404 "coral red" [shimmery cardinal red]*

*suggested alternates :: neo-black highlight = mac "shroom" [frostier]; neo-black blush = nars "douceur" [pinker]; "coral red" = i really can't think of a great dupe for this. it's a magical, unique shade. guerlain "rouge d'enfer" is sheerer and not quite as dazzling, but sort of similar.

this is just the classic pinup red lips + winged liner look, because I had to do it at least once. i'm sorry for taunting you again with such a beauty that's near-impossible to find, but i do love it with all my heart and i don't get enough opportunity to wear it. i also don't give nars "nico" enough love, because the neutral cheek is a completely undervalued commodity.

day six


eyes ::
mac e/s "sugar snack" [petal pink]*
mac e/s "power boosted" [vibrant purple]*
mac e/s "hypnotizing" [shimmery gray lavender]*
mac e/s "shop & drop" [indigo blue]*
ysl gel liner "sea black" [blackened blue]
hourglass film noir mascara

cheeks ::
hourglass ambient lighting blush "mood exposure" [warm plum]
guerlain pressed meteorites "cruel gardenia" [shimmery white pink]*

lips ::
guerlain rouge automatique "liu" [bright blue red]

*suggested alternates :: sugar smack = burberry "tea rose"; power boosted = mac "stars and rockets"; "hypnotizing" = nars "lhasa"; "shop & drop" = mac "contrast"; "cruel gardenia" = mac "lightscapade" [warmer]

i absolutely adore the juicy splendour that  is liu. it's about cool as red can get without starting to cross the line into pink/ magenta. it's bold in a way that cool reds often aren't and it has a hidden shimmer that just makes it glow on the lips. nonetheless, this is my least favourite look of the week, because something just isn't working. i normally like cool red lipstick with purple on the eye, but the shadows are too heavy and kind of muddy. also, something is making my skin look rough, even compared to days where the light was similarly feeble. i wish i could figure out why this looks off.

day seven

eyes ::
mac e/s "crystal avalanche" [shimmery white]
mac e/s "up at dawn" [pink violet]*
mac e/s "beautiful iris" [bright lavender]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "smoke" [charcoal grey]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

cheeks ::
chanel joues d'ombre "notorious" [see above]*
dior creme blush "pareo" [cool fuchsia]*
bobbi brown highlight powder "porcelain pearl" [pearly white]

lips ::
armani rouge ecstasy "the 400"

*suggested alternates :: "up at dawn" = mac "stars and rockets" [brighter]; pareo = mac "full fuchsia" [redder] or mac "azalea" [cooler, frostier and lighter]

i wouldn't have forgiven myself if i'd done a week of reds without including armani's signature statement red. plus, my dried lips were crying out for a rouge ecstasy, with its balmy texture and plush feel. i can't say enough good about this formula and i have already said a fair amount. this was definitely more of a "back to basics" look with a cleaner eye than the day before and a more obvious focus on the lips. dom commented on this look in particular as one that he liked, so it has the masculine stamp of approval in our house.

so do you have any favourite reds? any here that capture your imagination? or is red just not your thing? 

next up in the colour-a-week challenge is oranges and corals, which is much trickier for me. these are not shades that work as well as reds for me. i have to be more cautious about the types of shades that i wear, but at the same time, i still want to show a variety.


It's funny that you singled out Rouge Egerie as a red that "never seems to sit perfectly on [your] skin," because it's by far my favorite on you! I think it's that slight clashing quality that makes it work so well. The problem, if there is one, might lie in its interaction with the yellow eyeshadow, but to my eye it looks great against your skin. I also love Armani's Coral Red on you. As for Liu, I wonder if the fault lies with the red shirt and not the lipstick. If I cover up the shirt with my hand, the purple shadows seem less muddy.
morelikespace said…
Great minds must think alike. I did the same test as you with my hand blocking part of the image and I agree that the shirt seems to be the cause of more of the problems. I really like that shirt, but I'm not sure it feels the same.
I'm glad to hear you like Rouge Egerie, because I wouldn't give up wearing it!
L.P. said…
You could do reds all day long as far as I'm concerned! I still love the 'clean eye/red lip' the most. So Guerlain reds are better than Armani's? I was put off because over at Makeupalley they were saying Guerlain was pretty highly fragranced, which I can't really take in a lipstick (I'm struggling right now with Burberry Lip Cover in Bright Poppy for that reason). Any deep burgundy-ish Guerlain reds you'd recommend?
morelikespace said…
I agree, L.P., I could absolutely go a month with just reds.
For the Rouge Gs... I cannot tell a lie. They do have a violet scent. I don't find it overwhelming, but I'm not especially sensitive. It's not as strong a scent as Chanel have in their lipsticks, for instance.
Strangely, Guerlain has NO deeper shades in the range right now. Greta, which is a deeper red, but not what I'd call burgundy, is as dark as you get. (It's just a little deeper and more muted than Bite "Cranberry".)
If you want a nice deeper red/ burgundy, you should check out the Rouge Automatique line. There's still nothing very dark, but Samsara and Vega (a little warmer and a little cooler respectively) would fit the bill. I also find that there's less of a scent to the RAs, so that might be another reason to check them out. Good luck!

as long as you're here, why not read more?

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