Monday, June 8, 2015

Quest for Coral

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Settle in, because this is going to be an epic quest. Sometime in April, when I'd had about enough of the gloom, I decided I would declare this the Summer of Coral. It's kind of like the Summer of George, but on my face. I was going to find a bright coral lip product that I loved and wear the fuck out of it. I already owned some options, but none of them was quite right, so I started shopping. Here I've laid out all the lip products I now own that are coral or coral adjacent. There are some that turned out to be orange or orange-red, but if nothing else they provide a basis for comparison.

Here is the full array (lip swatches and more info for each below):

Stila Lip Glaze in Melon, Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush, BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up, Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?, Wet N Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Purty Persimmon, ULTA Automatic Lip Liner in Scarlet, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Apoptosis, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Recursion, L'Oreal Pop Balm in Caring Coral.
Left to right: Stila Lip Glaze in Melon, Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush, BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up, Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?, Wet N Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Purty Persimmon, ULTA Automatic Lip Liner in Scarlet, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Apoptosis, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Recursion, L'Oreal Pop Balm in Caring Coral.
And here are swatches of all of them:

Stila Lip Glaze in Melon, Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush, BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up, Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?, Wet N Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Purty Persimmon, ULTA Automatic Lip Liner in Scarlet, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Apoptosis, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Recursion, L'Oreal Pop Balm in Caring Coral.
Swatches (left to right): Stila Lip Glaze in Melon, Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush, BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up, Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?, Wet N Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Purty Persimmon, ULTA Automatic Lip Liner in Scarlet, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Apoptosis, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Recursion, L'Oreal Pop Balm in Caring Coral.
More below the cut, because I have a thousand photos and a million words to go.

Here is what I'm working with (my bare/dry lips):


I include this photo so that you have an idea of how my natural lip color might be interfering with the product, since it's pretty dark.

Stila Lip Glaze in Melon
Stila Lip Glaze in Melon
My starting point was Stila Lip Glaze in Melon. I really love the color. It's a bright, pinky-coral - not too orange, not neon. But I don't love the formula of these glosses. They're very, very sticky and not pleasant to wear, and they are also very translucent. My lips are quite pink, so they have the tendency to overwhelm sheer lip colors. The gloss does tint them, but only slightly. Even if I loved this Stila gloss, however, it came in a set that no longer exists and can't be purchased separately. So it's a bit of a dead end. I wanted to find something with this color but in a better formula. I didn't think I was picky - gloss, stain, lipstick, whatever! Just more opaque and all around better. Is that too much to ask?

Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush
Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush
Last fall, I bought Revlon Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush (previously reviewed here) in the hopes that it would be a good alternative. It looks more opaque, and I love stains. The color is right, but unfortunately I don't like the formula of this one either. It turns translucent after a few minutes and my pink lips overwhelm the coral. It wears off very quickly, leaving behind a slight pink stain. Pink, not coral. You can see the before and afters in the post linked above. As you can see in the photo above, it also bleeds into lines around the lips - and it has little gross chunks in it that I have to pick off my lips after I apply. Very disappointing. Every time I use it, I think, "Oh wait, this is pretty!" And then when I look in the mirror 5 minutes later and I just have vaguely pink lips, I am let down all over again.

BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up
BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Light It Up
I've also had this BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie lipstick in Light it Up for a while (previously reviewed here). It's a more orangey coral, and it's very pretty, but it's kind of a pain in the ass to work with. It requires blotting and layering to get it to look good, and it doesn't wear particularly well. One of the weirdest things about it is that it had a nice vanilla-mint scent when I first got it, and then just a few months later, that disappeared. Now it just smells like blah lipstick. It's not really the right color, anyway, so it doesn't fill the void. Too orange. But maybe the closest yet.

When I was placing a drugstore.com order in April, after I'd decided that coral was going to be my new thing, I needed another $3 to get free shipping, so I decided to throw in a couple of Wet N Wild lipsticks in the hope that I could find The One for very cheap.

Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?
Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?
I thought Wet N Wild Silk Finish lipstick in What's Up Doc? might be itThe color is perfect: a super-bright pinkish coral. I have had another one of these Silk Finish lipsticks in the old packaging for ages (Nouveau Pink, mini-review here), and it's wonderful in every possible way. But What's Up Doc? is a shitty lipstick, I'm afraid. It's extremely slippery and gathers in lip lines immediately. And it's patchy as fuck. There's no way to get a smooth layer. The more you blot and layer, the more ugly patches appear. You can maybe see some of the patchiness above, and that it had smeared a bit on the left side of the photo, though I think it looks a thousand times better in that photo than in person. It's a mess, and it only gets worse the longer you wear it. I linked to it above only because its slippery texture makes it a fantastic cream blush. It blends beautifully and stains a bit, so it lasts forever on your cheeks. So if you are in the market for an excellent neon coral cream blush for $1, here you go! As a lipstick, absolutely skip it.

Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc? as blush
Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc? as blush
As a bit of an aside, results like this are part of the reason I have a hard time trusting reviews on a lot of beauty blogs, especially when they involve press samples. I know which bloggers I can trust, and other than those few, it's a crap shoot. I definitely looked this lipstick up before I bought it, as I almost always do, and all the reviews I read were positive. But they were also all from people who had been sent the entire set of reformulated Silk Finish lipsticks by Wet N Wild to review. Either they didn't want to offend the PR person by telling the truth, or they didn't really pay close attention to the product, or they have some kind of lipstick-related magical powers that I don't have. None of the reviews I read mentioned any problems with this stuff. I know I only spent a dollar on it, but if it hadn't happened to work as a blush, it would just be more useless shit cluttering up my house, and that annoys me.

It seems to be a common issue with coral lipsticks that they are patchy or highlight dryness or settle into lines. I don't know what it is about them. Maybe they tend to have more white pigment in them than most other colors, which seems to create issues. As I searched for alternatives, those things were common complaints that I found in reviews of corals from all sorts of brands, from Maybelline to MAC.

Wet N Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Purty Persimmon
Wet N Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Purty Persimmon
At the same time, I picked up Wet N Wild MegaLast lipstick in Purty PersimmonThis is a spectacular lipstick, but let's face it: it's not coral. It's red-orange. Brilliant, vibrant, gorgeous red-orange. It's very pigmented and has a nice formula. It's easy to apply straight from the bullet, which I find isn't the case with really slippery lipsticks. I'd call the finish satin-matte. You can see my face with this lipstick on it in this Instagram photo. The downside is that it was quite drying. I wore it to a party a while back and after about 3 hours, 2 glasses of wine, and some finger food, it was partially worn off and my lips were fucking parched. When you remove it, it leaves a bright pink stain behind. Not orange, pink. I don't mind that, but be warned. Another problem is that the lipstick doesn't fully retract, so it smears all over the lid, as you can see in the packaging photo at the top of the page. That's after using it less than 5 times. While I think this is an amazing lipstick (especially for $3), it did not fulfill my quest.

ULTA Automatic Lip Liner in Scarlet
ULTA Automatic Lip Liner in Scarlet
I added in an orange-red lip liner pencil from ULTA (called Scarlet), because I was curious how it would compare with the others, since it always looks really corally next to my other reds. In the comparison above and the photo here, you can definitely see that it's not coral. It's close enough that it could be used as a liner with a coral lipstick if necessary, but it's not very comfortable to wear all over the lips in an opaque layer. It's pretty waxy.

Life's Entropy Lip Theory Liquid in Apoptosis
Life's Entropy Lip Theory Liquid in Apoptosis
Here's something fun. When I ordered the foundation elixir from Life's Entropy, I threw in a couple of samples of the lip theory in the shades that looked the most like coral to me. Well, Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Apoptosis is another orange on me, despite how it looks in the brand's website. (Maybe I should have tried Coralation instead? But that looks peach.) No regrets, because this stuff is awesome. I don't own any OCC Lip Tars, but from what I've read, these are very similar. All you need is the tiniest dab on a lip brush to cover your whole lips, and it's perfectly opaque and smooth and wonderful. Here it is on my face. These lip theory liquids look stunning and wear beautifully. Highly recommended. But not coral.

Life's Entropy Lip Theory Liquid in Recursion
Life's Entropy Lip Theory Liquid in Recursion
Same deal with the other Life's Entropy Lip Theory I got in Recursion. It's an orange-red or maybe a strawberry red. Very pretty, not coral. You can see here that I overdrew my top lip a little and it is so opaque and smooth that it works well for that sort of thing.

L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm Pop in Caring Coral
L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm Pop in Caring Coral
At last we come to my most recent purchase and biggest failure of all, because I bought L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm Pop (or Pop Balm?) in Caring Coral after much research and deliberation. I guess I should have known better, actually, since the photo that sold me on it is from XOVain. First of all, it doesn't "pop." I know, it's a balm, so obviously it's going to be sheer. But the Pop Balms are supposed to be a brighter version of the regular Balms. Also, shouldn't a balm be moisturizing, rather than incredibly drying? Because this dried my lips up like crazy. Finally, that's not coral. That's peach.

See, here's a comparison with Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait.

Comparison swatches of L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm Pop in Caring Coral and Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait
Comparison swatches of L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm Pop in Caring Coral and Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait
Peach Parfait is rosier, but you get the idea. I returned the L'Oreal Balm to CVS. The wrong color I could deal with. I could have used it to pretend to be Delphine from Orphan Black (below), although I am terrible at accents. But dryness from something that dares to call itself a balm was a deal breaker.


So, I have failed in my quest thus far, and I probably should stop accumulating more shit at this point. I know what you're going to suggest: if my lips are so pink that they turn sheer corals into pink, wouldn't it make sense just to get a sheer orange? Orange + pink = coral, right? But see, I've tried that before. I had the Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti and it made me look like I was dying of consumption. Orange is very tricky on me. I'm not willing to take that risk. I've lucked out with some opaque oranges here. I shouldn't press my luck.

Maybe I should just make it the Summer of Hot Pink, instead.

15 comments:

  1. Coral is stupidly hard to find.
    If anyone has found a perfect coral nail polish, speak up. I have looked up swatches and still have too many orange polishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Okay, here are my nail polish suggestions, based on polishes I own, which you can google and see what you think. Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Caribbean Coral and OPI Guy Meets Gal-veston (this is a beautiful jelly). Maybe one of those will work for you. But I think skin tone even affects how nail polish looks on different people, which makes looking at photos online tricky (not to mention lighting and display settings, argh).

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    2. Old news, but I got my hands on OPI Guy Meets Galveston and it IS the perfect coral jelly. Thanks!
      I'm planning on wearing it when I go to Galveston later this month.

      Delete
    3. I'm glad you liked it! I should wear that one this week. It's been a while. I wish all jellies had that kind of formula.

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  2. Finding the perfect coral is like finding the perfect red. Sounds easy, but isn't really. I'm glancing at my makeup drawer and I think Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in "Audacious" qualifies as a proper coral - it's bright as hell though.

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    Replies
    1. I kept picking that one up and contemplating it! It's definitely the color I am looking for. I just had such terrible luck with the two other matte balms I tried last year that I'm wary of trying another one. Some of the reviews I read mentioned that it highlighted dryness and was patchy, which is something I'm trying to avoid if possible. Did you notice that with Audacious?

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    2. It's fucking patchy, and highlights rough patches like the apocalypse.

      Then again, it is a gorgeous colour. I usually use a finger to smooth out everything. I can live with it for the colour, I think.

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  3. Have you tried mixing lipsticks? Might be more of a pain than you are willing to deal with, but you could try dabbing a bit of Purty Persimmon over a pink lipstick.

    Also: I have approximately 8000 drugstore lipsticks I am trying to get rid of so I would be happy to send you everything vaguely coral-ish, but I suspect that the last thing you need is 20 (mostly) sub-par lipsticks added to your stash. But let me know if you do want them, just email me at my blog email.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good idea. I'm not sure I have a pink that will work, but I should do some experimenting.

      You are probably right that I shouldn't collect anything more, but that is tempting! Let me think about it and get back to you. Thanks for offering!

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  4. Ugh, coral is such a hard color to nail. I too have embarked upon the quest for finding the Perfect Coral, and Revlon's Kiss Me Coral was the winner for me. It's a pinky-orange that I love to death, though it is a touch on the dusty side. BUT! If you're looking for something nice and bright, Maybelline creamy matte is Craving Coral is a pretty rad shade.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I will add those to my list.

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  5. Kicked up Coral from AVON is good too

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    Replies
    1. I'll add that to my list too! Thanks!

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  6. I got interested in Life's Entropy from your post!! I was contemplating buying their lip liquids, but I absolutely detest liquid lipsticks as a whole. These don't dry down do they? And do they smear easily? Gosh, decisions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They don't dry down, but because you only have to use a teeny tiny dab, they aren't prone to smearing. I usually hate liquid lipsticks too, but I like these a lot. I think it's worth trying a sample size if you haven't used something like this before (OCC Lip Tar, etc.), because I liked it more than I expected. If you don't like it, it's not a big waste, but if you do, the samples are generous enough to last a long time.

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