i'm not sure when i became skeptical, but i will say that i have never once believed the claims of any
do i like this colour?
does this smell nice?
that was really it. i did fundamentally understand that more expensive stuff generally had higher quality ingredients, because that was something that i could see reflected in other ways: food works like that. clothing works like that [up to a certain point]. so as my budget increased, i would try out more expensive things to see if they were worth investment and i'd be pleasantly surprised when they turned out to produce good results.
part of my credulity came because i knew about the facts of skin and aging. there are some things that are effective, but the main thing you have to accept is that the changes you can expect are not going to be massive. [and actually, you can make a far greater difference through changing diet and sleep patterns than with anything topical, but that's a discussion for another time.]
another part came from the fact that a lot of the products i tried when i was younger had big caveats associated with them. yes, you could have lipstick that lasted for hours, as long as you didn't mind the fact that it sucked all the moisture out of your lips. you could keep the impact of freshly applied liner if you could draw a perfectly straight line with a brush as sturdy as thread and were ok with the fact that it had a tendency to peel away in rubbery strands.
there have certainly been some advances in the technology. there have been advances in our understanding of how the skin reacts to certain elements. nonetheless, it is still pretty rare to find a variation of a long-standing product that represents something truly new.
so imagine my surprise that this year i've found two.
the first is long overdue for a review, since it actually came out last spring. i didn't get around to trying yves st. laurent's glossy stains for a long time, since i was always hamstrung for what colour to select, but in the last several months i've amassed three of them. i'd read enough from experienced bloggers that my expectations were high and i was impressed that even swatching them in store left me stained for hours, but i still worried that they'd leave my lips feeling parched, or that they'd bleed and migrate all around my lips or that... well, i had concerns.
the first shade i ended up buying was totally predictable. i got "violet edition", which is the darkest shade, a vampy purple with a lot of red in it. as soon as i tried it, i realised that this was something special. it immediately affixed itself to my lips with a first coat and grew luscious and glossy with a second. the colour lasted for hours. it survived drinks. it mostly survived a meal. it reapplied nicely without needing to have its remnants scraped from my face with a chisel. left alone, it barely needed touch-ups, even to maintain its shine. this truly is a gloss that has the long-lasting power of a lipstick, except that it's better than a lot of lipsticks.
like a gloss, it keeps the lips moist and like a gloss. the texture is just barely tacky, not sticky and it's lightweight enough that you don't really notice it on. it smells a bit of red wine, which i know some people have found objectionable. personally, i was just so thrilled that it didn't have the sickly fig or rancid watermelon scent that i've encountered in other ysl lip products that i hardly noticed. the scent fades fast enough anyway, you won't be bothered by it for long.
i even have to say that the packaging- always the thing about ysl products that drives me nuts- is even a little better. it's still plastic and still has the gold paint on the cap, but it isn't as dominant or as prone to scuffs as other products in the line. it's not marvellous, but it's a step in the right direction.
the only thing that i found a little problematic about these was the almond-shaped applicator. it's precise enough, but the outward curve doesn't align with the shape of my lips, so it requires some careful manoeuvring to get the line perfect. it's not that difficult to work with, just enough that you'd notice, but given the staining power of the product, you don't want to colour outside the lines, even a little.
after picking up "violet edition", i grabbed two shades from the new selection of more muted and somewhat shimmery shades that came out this fall called "rebel nudes". the moniker is a bit misleading, because the shades are neither nude nor particularly rebellious. they're actually on the quieter end of the spectrum. i find these shades are a little more complex because they have more shimmer, so they reflect the light differently depending on the angle.
"naughty mauve" is a brownish plum shade with pink shimmer. it's breathtaking when you look at it up close, but it's also a very nice everyday kind of shade. applied, i find that the warmth of the base colour becomes more apparent, at least on mine lips. i suspect that this is one that tends to shift more depending on the colour of your skin.
"fuchsia tomboy" is a bright pink, a little warmer than what i'd call fuchsia, but still in the neighbourhood. it has a lot of gold and silver shimmer mixed in, so it catches the light really nicely. it's a very fun shade, very happy-looking, if that makes any sense. i can imagine that this one will see a lot of use in the spring, when i'm more inclined to make myself look fresh and [moderately] sparkling.
i would have been excited enough about finding this, but hot on its heels, i discovered a second product that scrambled my makeup-addled brain a little.
i was a little confused when i heard that armani was coming out with a new lipstick formula. after all, they just came out with their new sheer formula last year. i was also confused by the conflicting information about whether these were tinted balms or fully pigmented lipsticks. as it turns out, that's because they're kind of both.
the rouge ecstasy line, named "cc" because they're supposed to provide colour and care [and because it's wicked trendy to attached double letters to everything in cosmetics nowadays] offers what i would call moderate pigmentation. they aren't fully opaque like the rouge d'armani lipsticks, but there's plenty of colour. what's remarkable about the colour application is how incredibly even it is. normally, even a little sheerness reveals uneven pigmentation, but every shade i've tried of these- four of them since they launched in the fall- has been flawless.
in terms of texture, they really are quite balm like. not like a gloss. like a soothing balm that's neither slick nor thick. they aren't as slippery as dior creme de rose, but they aren't as thick as nuxe reve de miel. in fact, they're not slippery at all. the colour goes on and stays put. it's an odd phenomenon, because their sheerness mutes them a bit, so i assumed that it might also fade quickly. not so. this stuff was made to survive. the apocalypse comes i'm heading to my armani counter and building myself a shelter made entirely of rouge ecstasy.
shockingly, the colour survived the constant pleating of my lips, drinks, even food. and it really did make my lips feel better. they've become my go to product at the office, where the air is worse than the centre of the sahara. it truly feels like i have a soft balm applied all day, but i also have colour to go with it.
now, i should clarify that the four shades i've tried are all on the brighter end of the spectrum. i wouldn't expect all the colours to have that lasting power. nonetheless, even the softest of the four shades lasted well beyond what the texture might have lead me to expect.
the most muted shade i picked up was "dolci". it's one of the brighter pinks and it certainly does have a fair amount of colour, but on me it always looks understated. [note :: if you're new to this blog, i should warn you that colours on me tend to look more subdued than they do on many. it's how i'm made. i can't help it.] it's a warm pink that's perfectly appropriate for the office or for informal occasions. i think it's a bit deep to work with a smoky eye, but it's perfect for a coloured, but not unnatural look.
in every armani lip range, they offer a version of their signature red. #400. in this case, the shade is just named "the 400" and it is a true red, neither warm nor cool [ok, maybe slightly cool] that has considerable impact despite not being fully opaque. this is always a full-wattage, screen-siren red [see the version of this shade in the maestro liquid lipstick range here] and this one is no exception. the slight sheerness makes it lighter and a little less "femme fatale" than other variations, but it's still a powerful red.
classified as a pink shade "diva" is right on the line between pink and red. there's lots of pink in it, , but i'd still say it was red at first glance. like "the 400", it's a lighter, cheerier red colour, like the colour of hard candies or maraschino cherries. or that unearthly red sauce that you used to get on cheap chinese food. trust me, it works a lot better as a lipstick than as a food-related product. [eating the lipstick would probably be healthier for you, come to think of it.]
finally, i purchased "attitude", because it was completely impossible for me to go without a plum shade. i adore plum-type colours and armani's more than anyone. i have a healthy number of armani lipsticks and almost all of them are from the plum range. "attitude" is a red-violet colour that's a bit darker than the others, but still one that i feel perfectly comfortable wearing during the day. i won't lie, i adore this one perhaps more than the others because i find that it's a great match for my particular colouring. on its own, it seems to make my eyes look brighter and my skin look more even.
the truly nice thing is that there are thirty-six shades available of this new formula. it is an extremely well thought out compendium of colours for warm and cool, light and dark. i've actually passed up the opportunity to purchase more from the incredible armani fall collection [thus far] in order to collect more of these.
this is a rather lengthy post but aside from all of my blah blah and all the photos, the one thing that you should take away is this: both of these products are truly innovative and represent notable advances in the world of prettifying. absolutely worthy of the investment.