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making faces :: product review [estée lauder pure color lipsticks]

while i was out shopping the other day, i was given a sample by the lady at the estée lauder counter that caught me quite by surprise. it wasn't that i was taken so much by the product- i couldn't tell anything about it- but because the sample itself was so intricate and well-designed that i could immediately see that the company had spent a pretty penny (i always wondered what happened to the ugly pennies... but that's another story) creating this little card that they were handing out to women like me who stopped at their locations. someone at estée lauder wanted my attention.

what i received was a folded card with a plastic insert containing four little pots of lipstick and a mini lip brush to boot. it was quite adorable. all this was to announce the launch of a new  line of lipsticks- and a big launch too. lauder is launching a total of 35 new colours- 25 in their "pure color long lasting" lipstick (plus a few extra limited edition ones) and 10 more in their more sheer "pure color crystal" formula. all of this is being done under the auspices of creative director tom pecheux, who has taken on the challenge of reinventing the brand's image- taking it from the makeup of mothers and grandmothers to makeup for the young and successful that everyone wants to have.


i'll say up front that i'm generally a fan of estée lauder. i get a kind of kick out of the fact that this high end brand with the snooty name was actually started by the daughter of hungarian jewish immigrants who owned a hardware store in queens. and i like the fact that the company took an early stand against animal testing, before european legislation started to force more companies into it. and of course, i do like the products i've tried from them thus far.

so i was quite happy to try out something new from them, particularly since i'm a real lipstick fiend. the colours in my sample card were all from the "long lasting color" collection, meaning they are more pigmented and less glossy than the "crystal" shades. just so you know, the shots were all taken at the same time of day, in natural light, with no flash. all were applied with the brush applicator supplied. and no making fun of my hair!!! i've been sick for three days and styling has not been a priority. makeup hasn't been a priority either, but i was dying for something to do...

shade #1 :: scarlet siren

this is a cream finish (meaning no shimmer or frost) in a statement cherry red. it's bright shade, but, as i was applying it, i did notice that a light coating made for a lovely "bitten" stain on the lips that a lot of people who might be shy to wear red would probably like. the lauder web site describes this as "medium classic flat red", but to my eye, the colour definitely leans blue. i think that someone with a warmer complexion could wear it, but it's better suited to those with cool undertones.

i'm a huge fan of reds and, of the shades i tried, this one was my favourite. it's not the most original- virtually every company has their own version of this shade (chanel's gabrielle or guerlain's greta come to mind), but i really like the fact that this is a red you could get away with wearing just about anywhere. even with a fairly intense application (what you see here is a few layers with a brush), it doesn't have that "traffic-stopping" brightness that some reds have.

i got dom's opinion on all the colours and this one was his favourite as well...

shade #2 :: blushing

this is another cream finish. its official description is "light to medium clean warm rose". say what? it is a tricky colour to describe, because it's pink, but it also has very warm notes to it. i liked it and i have to say that i was kind of surprised at how much i liked it. it reminded me of profusion, an old colour by mac that was discontinued a few years ago. it's a medium-dark pink with a warm orange undertone, a fine balance that would suit both cooler and warmer complexions, as well as both fair and darker skin. it's a sort of hybrid between a muted red and a deep pink, so i understand why the nice folks at e.l. had some troubles describing it.

one thing that i found was that it immediately seemed to pull the rosy tones in my complexion (couldn't quite capture this in the photo, but i could definitely see a difference), which was quite flattering. dom, however, didn't care for this one as much.

shade #3 :: candy

this shade, while not tremendously light, was the lightest of the four i sampled and also the only one with a shimmer finish. it's a medium-light, very cool pink with a fine white microshimmer that adds a sheen rather than traditional frostiness. it's not the sort of shade i turn to a lot, which is funny, because ladies with my complexion are probably the ones who can best get away with it. i'm not sure how well it would work on warmer or darker tones.

although it's not my kind of regular shade, i do have to say that i quite liked it on me. it brightened my natural lip colour and the sheen would catch the light in a very flattering way. i also liked the fact that the shimmer was not at all glittery or flaky, so there weren't bits of it strewn all over my face when i took it off. strange thing is, i was certain that this is the kind of colour i'd seen everywhere before, but i'll be damned if i could find an exact dupe. there are a couple of limited edition mac shades- bubblegum and pomposity- that come close, but both lean more lavender/ purple than this one. dior are generally the great purveyors of pink and they might have something similar. no promises though. it's a surprisingly difficult shade to match. (this was dom's least favourite of the four colours.)

shade #4 :: rose tea

the last of the four is another cream finish and the type of colour that really does seem to be everywhere. it's a rosewood shade, the kind of which became ubiquitous in the nineties, because it mimicked natural lip colour at a time when everyone wanted to look like they were serious, not the sort of frivolous person who wore makeup. i've tried many colours in this shade range and gotten rid of most of them because, personally, if i'm going to go through the trouble of putting makeup on, i'm not doing so to disguise the fact that i'm wearing makeup. i also find that it's the sort of colour that just instantly ages you, but that's just me.

now, that said, when you find the right sort of pink-brown shade, it can be incredibly flattering. (that's why i got rid of "most" but not "all" my collection of this type of shade.) and this one is a deep, rich, highly pigmented version of this colour. it leans more towards the pink side of the spectrum than brown, although that might vary slightly depending on the colour of one's lips. the level of pigmentation means that it could be built up even on darker lips and i do think it's one of those colours that can be worn almost universally.

although this was probably the colour i liked the least, it was dom's second favourite after scarlet siren. 


the formula felt creamy and soft going on and, while i wouldn't call it moisturising, it certainly didn't dry my lips out any. (note on the photos- i have a cold, so my lips are dryer than usual.) once it was on, it didn't slip around any, which is a great relief for me, because i tend to pleat my lips a lot. i didn't use a lip liner with any of the colours and i don't think you'd have to, because there was certainly no feathering. the colour went on nice and even, which has been my experience with any e.l. lipsticks.

all the shades had the estée lauder "fig" scent, which i could smell clearly despite my impaired smell organ. all their lip products have this and personally, it doesn't remind me of figs at all, but that's what they call it. i'm not a fan of the scent, but happily it fades very quickly. i've never noticed a taste to any of their products.

the one area in which i would have to fault them is their claim of "long lasting" colour. once i'd finished taking the photos, i left "rose tea" on to see how it wore. i figured that, while it wasn't the brightest shade, it was deep enough to give an idea of how long the colour would hang on. i had a few sips from a glass of water, avoided pleating or touching my lips and still, within an hour and a half, the colour had faded to a pretty but faint stain. obviously, once i ate, it was gone entirely. we'll give them some leeway, in that the fact that my lips are dryer than usual probably makes them more prone to absorbing moisture, but even with that, they're a long way off a "long lasting" claim. i can get a few hours wear out of regular lipsticks.

this last point doesn't turn me off the product, but that's mostly because having to touch up my lipstick doesn't especially bother me. i figure that i'm going to ahve to go to the bathroom regularly, so it's not that difficult to touch up while i'm there. claims of a lip product lasting for hours have never really swayed me. if you are interested in a truly long-lasting lip colour, this isn't for you.

the colour offering, while on the conservative side, has something that's likely to appeal to everyone and some of the takes on popular colours are more original than they might look at first. so if reapplying doesn't bother you, these are definitely worth checking out.

pure colour lipsticks are $24usd/ $32cad each, available from and at estée lauder counters. (hint to canadians: yes, the web site will ship to you.)


anahdara said…
these look amazing on you!

i love when they give out samples of makeup! doesn't happen enough! it's usually face creams and foundation - and that too it's never ever a suitable shade!
flora_mundi said…
thanks anahdra! i was happy to get this little tester, believe me. creams and such are nice, but generally the only thing i can tell from a sample size is whether or not they give me an allergic reaction.

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