Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Red Isn't Red: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Sheer F-Bomb

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Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Sheer F-Bomb

Look! A real review! I've been bogged down in work stuff and cat nursing (which you can read a little about here if you missed it), but I'm settling into more of a routine now, so I've finally found time to write more than a couple of sentences.

Remember when I had too many sheer red lip products? Probably not, but I did. Because I had so many, I gave some of them away. And then a few of the ones I kept went off, because I have too much shit, and I got bored with these reds for a while. In the end, I was left with just Revlon Balm Stain in Romantic, which is a formula that I love (and one that seems to last forever without going bad).

Revlon Balm Stain in Romantic

In theory, I like Romantic. It's easy to apply and easy to wear, and the warm, slightly orangey red is pretty. So I've kept trying to love it, but there's something just a bit off with my complexion when I wear it. It makes my face a little sallow or sickly or something, so I'll end up looking in the mirror a couple of hours later and grimacing.

I decided ultimately that I needed a new sheer red, because the right one can liven up a look without being too dramatic or competing with my eye makeup like a fully opaque red might do. Yes, I know I could just apply an opaque red in a sheer layer or mix it with some balm, but I was feeling impractical and lazy. In the end, I should have used something I already had, because my new lipstick was a bit of a letdown.

I ended up buying Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Sheer F-Bomb, which is described as "sheer, classic red," toward the end of last year when I had a $10 credit burning a hole in my Beauty Junkies account. I hesitated a bit before getting it, because in close to half the lip swatches you see when you google it, it looks more pink than red. Makes sense, right? Light red is pink, after all, and if you sheer out red over pink lips, you're going to get pink-red, logically. But I still hoped for the best.

Well, you can guess what I got. Though the bullet (above) looks completely red, but on my lips it looks like a fuchsia pink.

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Sheer F-Bomb

I mean, that's not really red at all, is it? My complexion seems to enhance the pink in it much like it does with Revlon Cherries in the Snow (reviewed here). In the swatches below you can see that Sheer F-Bomb is closer to Cherries in the Snow than to any of my other reds.

Left to right: (1) Urban Decay Sheer F-Bomb, (2) Revlon Romantic, (3) NYX Matte Perfect Red, and (4) Revlon Cherries in the Snow.

And here's Sheer F-Bomb compared to Stila Convertible Color in Poppy, which is more opaque (and which I never wear on my lips, because I find it too drying).

You can see at the top of the Sheer F-Bomb swatch, where it's thicker, it looks red. Just like the bullet. I can't build it up to that color on my lips, though.

All is not lost. If I layer Sheer F-Bomb over Romantic, I get the neutral true red that I had in mind all along. Mind you, it's less than ideal to own two lipsticks that aren't great on their own, but at least I have something that I like here. (I don't mind a sheer pink, but I own enough of those already, and that's not what I was looking to add to my hoard with Sheer F-Bomb.)

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Sheer F-Bomb layered over Revlon Balm Stain in Romantic

Red! And of course I can adjust how warm or cool it is by adding more or less of one of the two lipsticks.

As for the formula and performance of Sheer F-Bomb, I'd say it's fine. Decent. It's nowhere near as lasting as a Revlon Balm Stain, though it does leave a light pink stain behind. It's also not as moisturizing as I've found most other Urban Decay Vice (and Revolution) lipsticks to be. Very slightly drying for me, in fact. It's a notch or two higher on the pigmentation scale than a Revlon Balm Stain. Oh and I hate the shotgun shell cases of the Vice lipsticks. So edgy. Blah.

It may be that if your lips are less pink than mine to begin with, you will get a lip color out of Urban Decay Sheer F-Bomb that's closer to how it looks in the bullet. Then again, the swatches on my arm are quite pink too. If you've been dreaming of a sheer version of Cherries in the Snow, you've got it--but you're probably better off not being as lazy as I am and just sheering out your favorite red lipstick yourself.

In conclusion: sheer red lipstick is tricky.

Are you into sheer lip colors, or are you strictly all about the opacity?


  1. On the rare occasions I wear makeup, I am 99% all about sheer red lips. (The remaining 1% is opaque metallic red lips because that's how I roll.) But I'm much more into gloss or balm as opposed to finding sheer lipstick, if that makes any sense? Texture differences I think is what I'm getting at. My absolute favorite was a holiday edition gloss from many years ago that had just the right amount of sparkly. I'm sure it's nasty now but I've kept it for comparison purposes.

    Hmm. I can vouch for - my most recent wear, on a business trip - the Nivea tinted balm, with the pigmented outer and regular balm core stick. I like the texture, but with how pigmented my lips are, it isn't always particularly noticeable that I've got red on. Which is good sometimes and bad others, I suppose. But it's nice for drugstore prices and feels soft on. I'm all about drugstore products pretty much exclusively, except for the one eyeliner that's ever worked for me (a Clinique twist up).

    1. For some reason my lips don't get along with Nivea balms! I had the "kiss of cherry" one and threw it out, because every time I used it, my lips ended up feeling worse. I do like sheer red glosses, too, though! Right now I just have the NYX Butter Gloss in Red Velvet, as far as true reds go, and it's a nice shade, but really doesn't last long.

    2. Oooh, I was cleaning up from packing and I found my other favorite 'business' red:

      Maybelline Shiny Licious in Cinnamon Apple. The line is discontinued but some people still have it on Amazon. It's a very sheer sparkle red gloss. Why do they always take away the things I like.

  2. My only sheer red is NARS Flamenco (now discontinued), which I've had for years. It's a little warmer than Sheer F-Bomb, and it looks truly red on me, which is remarkable. When I wear red, though, I usually go for a matte finish.

    1. I think the warmness makes a big difference, because Romantic definitely looks red, it's just not the best color for me. I guess maybe the yellow in it neutralizes the purple (pink) in the lips and leaves you with red? My attempt at color theory for today.

  3. Ooh, it does look really nice over Romantic. Probably more high-maintenance than sheer lipstick should be, though... I tend to shy away from warm reds on myself but Romantic is one of my go-to lip colours for some reason. I find it has a really nice effect on my complexion, actually. But reds can be really tricky; undertones make such a huge difference.

    1. I wonder why Revlon didn't put a true red in the Balm Stain line? There's only Romantic and then the sort of brick red Adore (which I do adore). Maybe I just answered my own question with this post: because it would look pink?

    2. But then again they managed to include two reds in the Lip Butters that actually looked pretty red on me.


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