Hello my turtle doves! As promised here is the first of my swatch posts, beginning of course with my beloved Red Lipstick.
First off I want to say that my skin tone according to MAC’s guidelines is an NC 41-43, so assume that it varies from skin-tone to skin-tone. However, as a general rule of thumb, all red lipsticks look amazing on everyone, it’s only a matter of finding the right one.
We all know that Red is a primary colour i.e. it exists in an of itself, and doesn’t consist of two or more colours; however, despite the fact that the concept of ‘True Red’ exists, it’s not what you think it means. ‘True Red’ in make up (at least) implies that the colour is appears to be smack dab in the middle of the Red part of the colour spectrum (I hope I’m explaining this properly), but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an undertone. As I will explain with reference to each of the colours I’ve swatched, how undertones change the colour, and how to pick the perfect one for your skin.
As you can see from each of the swatches (click to enlarge), the colour changes and differs, and so the does the intensity, texture etc. Of the six, five are M.A.C. lipsticks, and the sixth is an Elizabeth Colour Intrigue Lipstick, that I got on sale at Shopper’s Stop
Russian Red (M.A.C., Matte finish) was my second (true) red lipstick, but for a long time it was my favourite (that honour now goes to Ruby Woo; yes I’m a Ruby Woo bandwagoner, but it’s worth it) As you can see from the photo it’s the darkest of the lot. It is also what is known as a ‘True Red’ as it lacks any ‘obvious’ undertones. It is also what is known as a cool-toned red (which if you contrast with Lady Danger, you can see what I’m getting at when I say cool toned Red and a warm toned red). A cool-toned red has a slightly blue undertone to it, so it becomes what is known as an ‘Intense Blue-Red’; this is a universal red, literally anyone of any skin-tone can carry it off, any one of any gender can carry it off, all you have to have is faith and confidence in yourself. The good thing about a cool-toned red is that it makes your teeth look whiter. It instantly brightens your face, all you need is a bit of black eyeliner, and some pink blush, and you’re good to go. The texture of this lipstick is creamy, but the finish is matte. It dries easily on your lips and lasts for ages. Usually most artists will recommend a lip liner (MAC Lip Pencil in Brick or Cherry), to give you the perfect lip-shape as well as increase it’s logenvity. The Matte texture of the lipstick can dry out your lips, so I recommend priming your lips with a balm and allow your lips to absorb (wait a few minutes) then blot your lips to remove the excess, or use a cotton bud to remove the excess thereby exfoliating your lips (removing any dry, flaky skin), and then using the lipstick. It’s perfect for going out with your friends, for a little pick me up on a dull day, I love wearing it in the monsoons, when the sky is grey and overcast, it’s definitely a stunner, and you will be the cynosure of all eyes.
M.A.C Red (M.A.C, Satin) was a lipstick that I bought because I had a really bad day. This is another cool-toned red, but warmer, and brighter than Russian Red. However, this is not a true red. There is an obvious pink undertone to it; when it fades it leaves behind a bright magenta stain, which is also very lovely. This is a colour for largely cool-toned people (refer to this post about undertones), however, if you swatch the lipstick, and try it out (ask the assistants at the MAC store, they will sanitize it for you and allow you to try it) and you like it and it looks good, then WEAR IT. This is definitely a lipstick, I’d call ‘wedding lipstick’ it’d look great in the evening for a Sangeet, or a reception. In fact I wore it for my friend S’s sangeet, and paired it with gold eyeshadow, and a classic cat-eye liner. But I would also wear it, just to go shopping at the mall or something, whenever I want to brighten my face up but at the same time, I don’t want the intensity of Russian Red. The finish is Satin, in that it’s creamier, and glossier (you can see the sheen in the picture) than the Mattes, but not as long lasting, and not as drying, you can forgo the lip balm for this.
Ruby Woo (M.A.C., Retro Matte) another cool-toned true red, but more vivid, and brighter than Russian Red, and definitely less pink than MAC Red, but this is one of the most iconic lipsticks in the world. Everyone from Taylor Swift to Rihanna (who introduced her own Limited Edition version Riri Woo) has worn it. It’s perfect for everyone. (see above for notes about how to wear it) It’s the retro matte texture which is insanely drying you WILL need a lip balm. I would wear this lipstick literally anywhere. ANYWHERE. In the day, in the evening, in bed, to a club, on a flight; I wore it this weekend to my friend A’s party. Refer to this video by Lisa Elderidge, where she talks about how to get the Dita Von Teese matte lip. Ruby Woo, paired with the most minimal make up, neutral eyes, where all eyes are drawn to your red mouth is what it’s all about. I believe it’s a popular colour with Indian brides. (Lip Liner: MAC Cherry)
Lady Danger (M.A.C., Matte) this is another iconic red. Famously associated with ‘pin-up’ girl look. Though, I personally associate it with Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger; where she wears Lady Danger, while being a fabulous spy, and raising the proverbial middle finger to repressive social mores by founding SHIELD. Lady Danger, is a vivid-coral red. This is an obviously warm toned red, with a distinct orange undertone, I recommend trying out the colour, since someone people may like how they look, and some people may not, because the orange undertone is really in your face, personally I think that people with darker skin-tones would look amazing in this. I’ve definitely seen Lupita Nyong’o wear this at least one during the award season. Personally this is as orange as I can go (there have been two aborted attempts to try orange lipsticks, which I blame my friend A2 for). Again, refer to my notes on matte lipsticks, and how to wear them. A make-up artist recommended, MAC Lip Liner in Redd as a complimentary liner, however, I would seriously suggest checking out Colorbar (or other brands like Revlon and Rimmel) for cheaper options.
Viva Glam IV (M.A.C., Frost) MAC’s Viva Glam range, donates the entirely of it’s profits to the MAC AIDS Fund. VG IV, is a Frost finish, i.e. it’s glittery, shimmery and creamy. It goes on easily on the lips, and is a warm-toned red. I don’t really have much of an opinion on this one since I bought it on a whim, and when I was more timid, and didn’t think I could wear the bright reds mentioned above. It should suit medium-toned people, and should more or less not look jarring with cool toned or warm toned people. It’s not very long-lasting, frankly, I bought as newb, so it’s one I probably wouldn’t buy again.
Sugarplum Shimmer (Elizabeth Arden, Frost), this was again before the days of bright reds, it’s very similar to VG IV, but a bit more pink, and I use it about as often. Again, nothing I would recommend to anyone.
Other reds of note: Here’s are reviews (by other people) of MAC’s Chilli and Viva Glam I (which is famously associated with RuPaul), I don’t own either (yet) so I only have second hand opinions on this.
Notes: All MAC lipsticks are now priced at 1190/- INR, as are their lip liners, hence I recommend looking for cheaper liner options. But I would buy the first four again, though the products last a really long time. MAC also has the ‘Back2MAC’ scheme, where you can exchange six empty product containers for a free lipstick. MAC is available at Shopper’s Stop at Viviana Mall, R-City, Juhu and Andheri (based on my personal visits), and individual MAC stores at Phoenix Market City, Kurla and Palladium in Lower Parel all in Mumbai. In Delhi/NCR, MAC is available at Select City Walk, Saket, DLF Promenade and Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, and Ambience Mall in Gurgaon. MAC could be available in other malls in both cities, but I don’t personally know. Also, MAC is available in Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore etc. check out their website MACCosmetics to find more stores in India.