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making faces :: holiday spirit

lips for all!
since i was a child, my favourite holiday was halloween, just because of the mystery that surrounded it. [never underestimate the enchanting power of mystery on a child's imagination.] but coming in a reasonably close second is international lipstick day, which is, you guessed it, this very day.

slapping on a great lipstick has the power to uplift the spirit and confer confidence when i feel i'm lacking. it helps reflect my mood or to create a visual representation of what i'm feeling on a particular day. and it's different for everyone. everyone wears colours next to their very own skin tone, with their very own chemistry. each person has their own favourite colours and formulas based on what makes them feel good. some people have a signature shade. some people like to play around with different colours daily. some people only like to wear lipstick for a special occasion. some people can spot very subtle differences among shades in the same family. the bottom line is that, for those who enjoy it, lipstick is pretty damn fun to wear yourself and to see on others.

i was originally planning to celebrate this holy day by doing a "top ten" of my favourite lipsticks. then i realised how difficult that would be and that it would probably drive me crazy. then i thought that i'd share swatches of all the lipsticks i had in my favourite formulas. but on reflection, i could think of at least five formulas that could qualify [armani rouge ecstasy, rouge d'armani, nars audacious, bite amuse bouche and guerlain rouge g]. having multiple shades of each would mean that i'd likely need three new arms, because cleaning off that many swatches would be a mighty task indeed.

having decided i wasn't up to that all in one shot, i decided to kick off what i hope to make a series of swatches from my favourite brands and i've chosen to begin with guerlain's formidable rouge g's. i chose this luxury formula because i truly feel that it is the maserati of lipsticks. the armani formulas are underrated and the nars and bite formulas have more hype and a more modern colour selection, but rouge g just breathes class through its jewel-like silver casing.

i also wanted to feature it because i feel like the very company that makes it no longer sees its value. as beautiful as the formula is, guerlain rarely introduces new shades and never takes risks with the colour range. as a result, there are gaps in almost every area: there are no peach shades and only one true coral in the permanent assortment, no dark shades at all, no cooler plum shades and very few that fall in the mid-range between light and dark. the brand also has a weird tendency to alter the formula slightly for certain shades, without calling making customers aware.

but despite its limits, the formula is stellar. the reds and bold pinks in particular are amazing, as we shall see below.

i made a point of photographing these with and without a flash, because the flash brings out some of the undertones that natural light doesn't, and because i feel like the appearance on the lips falls somewhere between the two. the subtleties of their shades is one of the standout features of the rouge g line-up and one of the reasons why it's so appealing to me.

so, without further ado...

the pinks

l to r :: geraldine, fuschia délice, gracy, grenade [natural light]

same as above [with flash]

geraldine is a light, cool pink that is quite slick compared to the usual rouge g formula. it looks bold at first, but fades to a more delicate shade pretty quickly. it's part of the permanent line.

fuschia délice is another cool [but warmer than geraldine] pink with a lot of slip that's translucent, although it adds a decent amount of colour to the lips. it's quite different from the regular rouge g formula, which makes me wonder why they didn't just call say it was part of the rouge g "le brilliant" collection, which are supposed to be semi-sheer. this is a limited edition shade from spring 2011.

gracy is a gorgeous medium pink with a good deal of red in the base [look at the flash photo], that's very creamy and has great lasting power. on more muted complexions, it will look rather bold, but it is a fantastic option as an everyday lipstick for those whose colouring demands greater saturation. i rely on this one a lot. this is part of the permanent line.

grenade is a raspberry shade, balanced between red and pink, although it pulls a little warmer and plum on some people. it has a subtle shimmer that gives it an amazing depth and makes it one of the most original colours on the market. it's a more muted shade, but i still find that it works pretty well for me. this was the very first rouge g i ever bought and one that's been around since the formula first launched. it's still a fixture of the line up and deserves to stay there forever.

the corals and oranges

l to r :: rouge sensuel, madame flirte, geneva, gipsy [natural light]

same as above [with flash]

rouge sensuel is a semi-sheer red coral with tonal shimmer that lasts pretty well for this kind of formula. it leans a bit warm, but is pretty neutral, something which is emphasised by the fact that it doesn't obscure the natural colour of the lips. again, it belongs with the "le brilliant" line rather than the regular rouge g's. this is a limited shade from spring 2011, just like fuchsia délice.

madame flirte is quite similar to rouge sensuel, but it's sheerer, a bit more sparkly and leans cool rather than warm. it definitely gives the lips a "juicy" look, and would be a good red option for people who are building up their red lipstick confidence. unfortunately, this is probably my shortest-wearing rouge g. it's a limited shade from fall 2013.

geneva is a bright orange-coral that's got a nearly electric quality to it, and some warm pink undertones [visible in the flash photo]. the formula is similar to geraldine, which is to say that it's glossier and has more slip than most rouge g's and that it doesn't last as long. it's a great choice for true spring complexions that are both warm and bright. i find that the wetter formula does make it a bit prone to feathering throughout the day, especially when reapplied. [better to wipe it all off very carefully and start from scratch, preferably with a lip liner.] this is the only true coral in the permanent line.

gipsy is a muted orange with a lot of gold shimmer. the shimmer definitely helps the lips look fuller! it's creamy but holds well throughout the day. it's not quite deep enough that i'd call it a burnt orange, not red enough to be rust, but it's on the same continuum as those reference points. definitely the warmest shade in the permanent line.

the bold pinks

l to r :: madame batifole, provocative, rose grenat [natural light]

same as above [with flash]

madame batifole is a rich, lush magenta with a cool sheen and berry undertones. it's richly pigmented and creamy, with a texture that actually feels moisturising. despite its opacity, it will look warmer [redder] or cooler [more purple/ berry] depending on your personal undertones. it's a limited shade from fall 2013 and worth stalking ebay or makeup boards to find.

provocative is a bold pink with plenty of coral and red. it's a perfect blend to suit warmer or cooler tones, and isn't too light or dark [a bit on the dark side], but it's definitely something that requires confidence with saturated shades to pull off. it was originally released as a limited shade for the holidays in 2013, but was added to the permanent collection in 2016- one of only two shades guerlain has ever brought back after a limited run.

rose grenat is a bold berry that can lean more pink or red, depending on the person and the colours that surround it. formula-wise, it is just a little bit softer and slicker than madame batifole or provocative, which makes it a little less long-lasting, but hydrating while worn. it's a cooler-toned cousin to provocative. it was part of a spring 2014 revamp of the line that saw several colours added to the permanent collection, but this one was limited. i'll never understand why.

the reds

l to r :: genna, garconne, rouge parade, rouge saphir

same as above [with flash]

genna looks orange compared to its neighbours, but seen on its own, it's a brilliant warm red. it's the kind of red that can work as bold or classic or both, although clearly, it's never going to look soft or muted. the formula is perfection. this one, thankfully, is part of the permanent line.

garconne is guerlain's classic, neutral red. it's the snow white lips. it's the dragon lady. it's the distant dream woman. when people think of red lipstick, this is what they have in mind. again, the formula is stellar. it's a permanent shade.

rouge parade does not look as similar to garconne on my lips as it does in photos, which is just infuriating. it's brighter, more fun compared to garconne's classic vibe, and it's just a tiny bit cooler the formula is very good, although it can be prone to a bit of feathering in humid weather or environments. it's a limited edition colour from the 2014 holiday collection.

rouge saphir is the cooler analogue to rouge parade. indeed, it looks almost magenta in the flash shot, which is like an x-ray of its heart. it's definitely red at first glance, but it's got a clear blue undertone that gives it a jewel-like quality [appropriately for something named after a gemstone]. i've heard that some people have experienced feathering with this shade, but i never have, which just goes to show you that you can't be certain of anything in this world. nothing at all. this is a limited shade in the holiday 2015 collection, and the last shade of rouge g that guerlain has released, period.

the deeper shades

l to r :: gardner, gladys, bee, gigolo [natural light]

same as above [with flash]

gardner is a deep, muted rusty red that leans warm, like leaves in autumn. it has some gold and tonal shimmer in it, which gives a gorgeous sheen to the lips. it's tops in terms of formula and is a nice option for people who like reds, but want something a little different than the traditional variants. this was a limited colour in fall 2011, and wasn't even included in the american version of that collection. i've heard from numerous sources that the permanent shade gisela is identical.

gladys is a few steps deeper and a bit more muted than the bold pinks above. it's a very cool fuchsia shade with tonal shimmer that makes it appear smooth like silk on the lips. definitely one of guerlain's finish achievements and, mercifully, part of their permanent collection.

bee is the only proper member of the "le brilliant" series, which are meant to be the semi-sheer to semi-opaque relatives of regular rouge g's. but as you can see, it's not particularly sheer at all. seen up close, it's true that it's never quite opaque, but you're not going to notice that from a distance. it's a deep plum with a warm gold shimmer and, although the formula is softer than a regular rouge g, it doesn't fade quickly or feather. it's a limited shade from 2011.

gigolo is the deepest rouge g ever released. it's a little warmer than bee, more of a berry shade, and it's fully opaque. it's bound to be a dramatic shade, even on dark skin, but it has enough satiny shine to "highlight itself". how dark you think it is will depend on how dark you like your lipsticks to get. it's not close to being one of the darkest shades i own, but it's going to be at the outer limits for a lot of people. it's a limited edition from fall 2011 and, infuriatingly enough, was the only one of the three rouge g's released with that collection that wasn't immediately made permanent.

and, in case you're wondering what i'm doing with my face on international lipstick day, here's a look:




that's the guerlain eye shadow palette in coup de foudre [spring 2013], accompanied by becca's blush duo in pamplemousse/ prosecco pop. i also added a touch of chanel's poudre signé highlighter on both the upper part of the cheekbones and in the corner of my eyes. and the lipstick that bears the standard for this year? that's gracy, in all her glory.

happy international lipstick day to all of you and many more of them. may you never want for any shade to adorn your lips! and guerlain, get your french ass in gear and come out with some new rouge g shades already.

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