Thursday, 30 April 2009

REVIEW: DARK REDS - NARS Shanghai Express & MAC Dare You

As promised, something more widely available. NARS stuff is much easier to find in the US I think and MAC's Dare You was going to be a limited edition lipstick, but it's still on the UK MAC website so I assume it must be a permanent one now.
Both are dark red lipsticks, more so than MAC's Viva Glam and Dubonnet, despite saying in the review that they were dark. These really ARE dark, with a brown/brick undertone. Now lets get to reviewing.

(L-R: NARS Shanghai Express and MAC Dare You)

Starting with NARS Shanghai Express, this is a dark brick toned red on me. I kind of wish there was a bit more red in it but it might just be my skintone, I tried it with a bit of red lipgloss over the top and it looked lovely. I will try it with a brighter red lipliner next time and will update this paragraph about what I think.

It is very pigmented and I can imagine this really suiting a girl with light to light-medium skin if she wore no blush and teamed it with slightly smokey eyes. It would probably work with dark skinned ladies too.
Really dramatic and I like the fact its a semi matte - matte looking but not as bone dry. Some people may still find this a little too dry though and as usual, I would suggest lipbalm on lips before applying.

MAC Dare You was the first dark red lipstick I bought. I got it as a sample cheap off Ebay and at first, I wasn't sure. I liked the colour but thought it was more brown than red, whereas other people seemed to think it was predominataly red. I think this would be a great red on girls with a darker skintone as I can see why brighter reds would turn pink or orange on them.

Where the NARS lipstick is brick toned, I would call this brown toned as it is more brown than brick. It is a lovely dark reddish brown on me with some cute red sparkles, I love how it doesn't go on muddy looking or so dark you look like you're in a witch fancy dress outfit.
It is a cremesheen formula so shouldn't be too drying, but I've found with this formula that it doesn't last as long unfortunately.

Conclusion - I don't think I can choose a favourite out of these 2 because although they are quite similar (Dare You is just slightly darker), they are both lovely, rich and dramatic looking colours that would look great with smokey eyes for a glam/grown up goth look without making you look like a teenage Marilyn Manson fan.

However, pricewise I would go for Dare You because MAC is a bit cheaper than NARS and although I do favour mattes, Dare You has a lovely red metallic sheen. Because of the prices, I would suggest you try both out at a counter before buying, especially in the case of NARS.

They may both be fairly pricey, but there is a reason they cost this much and it is because the colour pay off can not be found in drugstore lipsticks. If anyone can find me a lipstick that is the same colour and quality as these 2 for under £10/$15 in a drugstore, I will be surprised. There is usually dark browns that don't have much red in them, or dark reds that are more berry toned, but nothing quite like these two high-end wonders.

(L-R: NARS Shanghai Express and MAC Dare You)


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

REVIEW - MAC Port Red, Racy, Ruby Darling

I'm sorry to say I'm going to inflict more MAC onto you today. Honestly, I'm not an employee! They have done some amazing reds in the past and continue to so this is why I am constantly talking about them and name dropping. I promise to be truthful though, if I don't like it, I will say so.

There'll be no trouble with that with my next 3 lipsticks as I like all 3 of them. All 3 are limited edition MAC frost finish lipsticks that are no longer available. Sorry. They are so nice though so I feel I have to tell you about them in case one of them might end up being your perfect red. They are (L-R below): Port Red, Racy, and Ruby Darling.

Port Red is my favourite MAC lipstick, along with Viva Glam. It is a darker, but still deep and bright red which is slightly mettallic on the lips. It is quite blue/cool toned but doesn't go pink on my NC25 yellow toned skin, it's just the perfect ruby red. A note to all girls similar skintone as me - try seek this one out and try it!

Not only is it a beautiful shade, the lasting power is fairly good, beaten only by the much more drying matte MAC lippies. It is not for the faint hearted as it is so bright, but it is incredibly retro and sexy looking so I will continue trying to find back ups of this so I will never run out ever in my life.

Racy is more toned down than Port Red as it is more warm toned. It's still quite bright though, but not quite in-your-face, so perfect for those who want to stand out but not THAT much. It is still flattering though, with a slight copper undertone which makes it a bit more universally flattering than Port Red, but slightly less retro unfortunately.

Ruby Darling is great for all you shy girls out there. I find it a little bit too brown and muted, though many people have raved about it's magnificance on so it must work for the majority. It has a slight red shimmer which makes it stunning, otherwise it's just a red toned brown in my opinion.

As I have said, unless you are after a daytime red or just general muted red, I don't think this is the true retro red that many search high and low for. I will wear it on a daytime basis but for the nighttime, I prefer something that stands out more.

(Top to Bottom - Port Red, Racy, Ruby Darling)

My conclusion is that if you are looking for a brighter red, I would go for either Port Red or Racy. Port Red is my favourite of the 2 though as it is much brighter. I can see it going pink on some with darker skintones though, so beware. Ruby Darling is perfect for daytime looks and for anyone wanting a red thats not so harsh.

Unfortunately all 3 of these lipsticks were limited edition so hard to get hold of, it's such a shame as they are all great in their own way. If you think you want to try these colours from seeing my above swatch, I would try Ebay or swap sites like the one I mentioned earlier. I promise to do more attainable lipsticks next time.


Saturday, 25 April 2009

REVIEW: SHEER REDS - NYC Sheer Red and Pout Precious

As I have discussed some fairly bold reds so far, I am now going to talk about sheer reds. These are a great alternative to full cover lipsticks and are less full-on, making them perfect for a daytime look that still looks glam, but not TOO glam. They also look great with smokey eyes as sometimes full red lips can be too overpowering with dark eyes.

Here, we have Pout Beloved on the left and New York Color's Sheer Red on the right. First, we shall look at the NYC lipstick as that is the one that is most readily available. For a sheer lipstick, it crams in quite a lot of colour but remains faithful and is transparent.

It has a nice brown tone to it, meaning when applied on the lips it does not go pink like a lot of sheer reds do. Fading is prone, but this is no suprise and no problem seeing the lipstick costs a mere £3 GBP in Superdrug in the UK, and even less in the US. All in all, it is a stunning shade for a sheer colour, making it more than just a lipbalm.

Pout's Precious appears to be more of a lipbalm than a lipstick, with it applying a reddish toned pink. It also has some small glitter particles in it, which seem to stay on your lips after the lipstick has faded, which can either be annoying or great depending on what you like. Pout lipsticks have a very strong fruity scent, which I think is lovely but it may not be everyone's cup of tea, just to warn you.

The color isn't bad though, it's just a slightly reddist version of my own lips, like I've been eating watermelons or strawberries. The texture is creamy, meaning your lips aren't as prone to drying.

Pout has been discontinued now, sadly. It was a high end British brand with the most adorable products and packaging. However, if you go on, many products are still available on there for discount prices - waaay cheaper than they were when the brand was still going.

Pout also claims to have an ingredient in all lip products that boosts the size of your lips slightly if you use it enough, so I do recommend you try get hold of one of their products. Their brush sets are amazing, too.

Conclusion - It's hard to compare them both as they are quite different in colour, so it depends what you are looking for. NYC Sheer Red is more of a lipstick because of the pigmentation and general colour, so if you're looking for a toned down red, that may be your best bet.

Pout Precious' colour is more natural than that of the NYC lipstick, a fruity red-pink , so if thats more your thing then I would suggest that. The only thing I can think could be a problem is Precious doesn't differentiate from normal tinted lipbalms that much, bar the lip-boosting qualities... it's just a tinted lipbalm in a posh tube really, so myself, I would rather try another product from the range rather than this.

I am going to do a review later on a full cover red lippie by Pout, so keep your eye out for that in the near future.

(Top to Bottom - NYC Sheer Red and Pout Precious)

My next review will either be the US lipsticks I discussed earlier (if one of them shows up), a few Limited Edition MAC Frost finish lipsticks, or NARS Shanghai Express. So look out for that towards the middle of next week.


Friday, 24 April 2009

REVIEW - MAC's Russian Red and Ruby Woo

After reviewing 3 lipsticks available in Britain, I was planning to do 3 American lipsticks but after ordering Maybelline's Empire Red off Ebay, I have been awaiting it's arrival to do the review and it still hasn't showed up.

Nevermind, instead I will review 2 more MAC lipsticks. In fact, these two are the most hyped red lipsticks of all and they are of course Russian Red and Ruby Woo (left to right in below photograph).

Starting with Russian Red, the least pink of the 2, it is a matte colour with amazing lasting power. The colour is blue-toned, yet not pink on my skin at all. When I have tried other apparent true-reds, they have either turned orange or pink on me, but Russian Red is neither. It is a bright true-red, though this may not be the case on everyone.

As I have said, it is matte so can be drying, therefore I recommend some lipbalm underneath if you want it to remain matte, or some clear lipgloss over the top if you prefer glossy looks. There is also a lipglass available from MAC with the same name so this may work over the top too, but I haven't tried it so couldn't vouch for it's performance.

Ruby Woo is even drier than Russian Red, it isn't easy to apply without lipbalm underneath as the texture is quite chalky and can drag on your lips if they are dry. It then sets after a few minutes, meaning minimal fading as it usually takes a make up remover to get rid of it.

The colour wasn't red enough for me, though. It turned slightly fuschia on my lips, maybe because of the texture, which I quite liked. Maybe there's too much yellow in my skin for it to be a true red. I didn't mind the colour, it was quite nice, but the pink undertone put me off because I just prefer red.

In conclusion, my favourite has to be Russian Red which is nothing but red on me. It is also less hard work as Ruby Woo requires a careful application and will not apply consistently without lipbalm due to the dryness.

I recommend you try the 2 lipsticks as both get lots of brilliant reviews and are retro, matte blue-toned shades. They would probably suit cool toned ladies best, though I am thinking if you have significant yellow undertones like myself, Russian Red may be better suited to you as it is the most universal of the 2 lipsticks and also less hard work.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

REVIEW - Rimmel Diva Red, GOSH Lambada, Collection 2000 Red Red

(L-R: Rimmel Diva Red, GOSH Lambada, Collection 2000 Red Red)

Now, to prevent me from looking like I am advertising for MAC, I will now do 3 lipsticks that you can get for under £10 GBP on the British High street. The problem is, MAC are just so famous for their range of reds so I will continue reviewing their items later, but today I will go affordable. We are in the midst of a reccession afterall.

First, I will start with Rimmel's Diva Red. It is a moisturising lipstick and I believe it has been repackaged in a shiny purple tube. I have the previous version which is in a way less impressive and more cheap looking pink tube, but the colour will be the same. This is either the first or second red I bought, before I started on the more high-end brands.

It is definitely a blue toned red and certainly not a tamed one, if you wear this you will definitely stand out so I wouldn't reccomend it to those why are a little shy. It does have a hint of pink in it so may turn fuschia on those with darker skin, so beware.

It isn't drying due to the formula but can wear off easily. This is one of the reason I prefer mattes, apart from the fact I don't like glossy lips. It is slightly glossy but not too much, but my main gripe with it is the colour looks a bit cheap on me. If you are after an affordable red though, I would give this a go as the pigmentation is very good for the price (about £5-6).

Next, we come to Collection 2000's Red Red lipstick, which is a tomato red. I don't really suit it as I have yellow undertones which makes it look too orange, but if you are warm skinned you should give it a try. The pigmentation isn't as good as Rimmel but if you prefer a slightly less bold blue-red, you can't go wrong as I think it costs about £2-3.

And leaving the best til last in my opinion, it is GOSH velvet touch lipstick in Lambada. I think this lipstick is underated, whenever I see discussions on perfect reds I never see this one mentioned. It is fairly neutral but very bright, without being too blue like Rimmel Diva Red, or too orange like Collection 2000 Red Red.

It goes on very pigmented without drying your lips, it is a little bit shiny but it feels lovely on and looks spectacular. I think this would suit girls of a lot of skin tones, though test it out, don't just take my word for it. It is incredibly afffordable, at £6-7 but with quality that rivals MAC. The packaging in quite sleek like MAC's too so if you are looking for a cheap Russian Red duplicate, it's worth giving this one a go.

Conclusion - My overall favourite is GOSH Lambada, which is one of my favourite reds. It's affordable but looks expensive, whereas the other two look a bit cheap on my lips. Do try them out though, but I think Lambada has the ability to looks great on more girls and if more people hear about this, the more it will come out from under it's rock.

(Top to bottom: Collection 2000 Red Red,
GOSH Lambada, Rimmel Diva Red)

All three lipsticks are available from Superdrug in the UK, Collection 2000 and Rimmel are also stocked in Boots too. For overseas customers, Rimmel is available from Sephora and I think GOSH is more widely available in Canada than the US, but I'm not sure. Collection 2000 is a UK budget brand so probably only available in the UK, but you could always try as some sellers ship to other countries.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

REVIEW - MAC Dubonnet and Viva Glam

My first two reviews are of two darker reds: MAC Dubonnet and Viva Glam 1.
These aren't really THAT dark at all, but not your retro bright reds. However, these are retro in another way in that they exude a more sophisticated and glam feeling than brighter reds do.

(L-R Dubonnet, Viva Glam. Please note: the flash on my camera makes them look a brighter red than they are, please see pic of Dubonnet below for slightly more accurate colour portrayal.)

I'm going to start with Viva Glam, which I admit is my favourite red. On me it is a bright red with a hint of brick, but a bit more toned down than postbox red. I think it would look better on cool/yellow toned girls as I can see it turning too brick on a warm toned girl with peachy skin.

I love the look of matte lipsticks, which Viva Glam is. Mattes can be drying, but a little bit of lipbalm underneath helps keep your lips moist and makes application much easier.

Dubonnet is one of those hyped up MAC reds, alongside Russian Red, so I caved in and this was the second MAC lippie I purchased. However, when I applied it, it just looked a little bit too brick on me. I don't know why because swatched next to Viva Glam, they look identical.

Maybe it's because it's not a matte shade, maybe the slightly shiny texture just doesn't suit me. I'm not sure as it puzzles me so much that the two lipsticks are more or less identical in colour when swatched, and Dubonnet actually looks redder in the tube, yet Viva Glam just looks more red on my lips.

(MAC Dubonnet. A fairly accurate portrayal of it's colour in this pic, Viva Glam is similar but less shiny)

Conclusion - Don't let my review put you off Dubonnet though, as the reason it is hyped is because it works for many people. I am unfortunately not one of those people but you MIGHT be, therefore I suggest you try both out at a MAC store.

Put one shade on one half of your lips and the other on the remaining half and compare in different light, take a photo if you can so you can take your time to compare and find your favourite.
If they do look the same colour on you though, pick the finish you prefer. If you don't like dry or matte finishes, get Dubonnet. If you prefer mattes and don't mind finding ways to combat dryness, get Viva Glam.

Myself, as a Viva Glam girl, the added bonus is all the money goes to an AIDS charity so you are spending your money to be stylish AND to help others.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

How to wear red lipstick

I apologise if the title sounds patronising, it isn't meant to be because I am no make up expert myself. I don't want this to be a tutorial as I'm not an expert at all, there are so many good guides on the internet these days so think of this as tips, rather than an expert opinion.

The universally popular Russian Red, by MAC

Finding the right red

I have heard of girls searching for years and years for that perfect red and still not getting there. Everyone has an idea of what their perfect red looks like, it's just finding it thats the problem.

The general rule is that cool/yellow toned girls should stick to blue toned reds. To get a balance is quite difficult as I find a lot of blue toned lipsticks in drugstores far too pink, but keep searching. As a yellow toned girl myself, I would recommend MAC's Russian Red and Ruby Woo for bright red lips, then Dubonnet and Viva Glam for darker vampy lips. Rimmel's Diva Red and GOSH's Lambada are also really good as bright reds.

Warm/peach toned girls should try warmer reds. I'm afraid I don't know much about these as I don't use them often, but think postbox red or tomato red. I know Collection 2000 in the UK do a red called Red Red which is tomatoey, Barry M also do one called Pillarbox Red, and MAC's Lady Bug and Lady Danger may also work.

Redheads/ginger haired girls should try more rustic or brick reds. MAC's Chili is nice and again, Dubonnet or Viva Glam would also possibly work here. My redhead friend who is not bright red, but a more subtle ginger used Bourjois' Rouge Allie #17 (from the discontinued Perfect Rouge range, still available from ebay) and it was perfect on her so it's worth a shot as it's a bargain!

Having said that, sometimes sticking to these guidelines means you may be missing out on that perfect red. Sometimes it just shouldn't work, but it does. Just try as much as you can in and check it in both natural and artificial light, take a photo, see how you feel.

Applying your red lipstick

1) It is best to apply any foundation or powder first. Powder round your lips to form a dry base for the lip colour (Apply eye make up last, see later for why).

2) Apply a lipliner that is similar to your lipstick allover your lips. This is needed to stop the lipstick bleeding which is a common occurance with reds, and also because pencils are precise, meaning you don't have to be so careful with the lipstick later.

I own lots of reds but only have two lipliners: a bright cherry red one (Rimmel's 1000 kisses liner in Red Dynamite), and a darker brick red shade (MAC liner in Brick). This usually covers all bases.

Some people say you should get a lipliner that matches the colour of your lips but I disagree. This means your lipstick would have to be applied right to the edge of your lips to cover the lipliner, which makes it easier for the colour to bleed!

3) If you have a drying or matte lipstick (MAC's popular shades Russian Red and Ruby Woo are pretty drying), apply some lipbalm to the inside of your lips, taking care not to go too close to the edge of the lipliner.

4) Now you can apply your lovely red lipstick, taking care not to go over the lipliner's precise lines. Most pros use a lip brush, but I find this too time consuming so what I do is dab the lipstick on lightly, purse lips to even the colour, then apply more until the desired shade.

5) Now you can do your eyes. The reason I think it's a good idea to do your eye make up last is because if you did it first then applied the lipstick last, your eyes may be overdone and look too much with your stand-out lips. It's much easier to do eyes last so you can gradually build them up until you feel happy at the balance, without looking like a clown.

Most people say that if you do wear red lips, you have to tone down your eyes. I don't think this is always the case because goth was a popular look in Winter '08 which saw dark red lips teamed with dark smokey eyes. Some girls suit this look, but then some don't. It's best to test out different eye products with your red lips one day you have time, play around, see what suits you.

If strong eyes and strong lips DON'T suit you, I would suggest use a pale gold eyeshadow (my fave is Barry M's pink/gold #3 dazzle dust) and then a thick line of black liquid liner on your top lashes, flicking them out at the outer corner of your eye. Add mascara or false black lashes and hey presto, a timeless classic red lips look!

Pillarbox Red lipstick by Barry M, add matching red nails for instant glamour!

My recommended products

If you are wanting to read some reviews on any of the products mentioned, visit as it has an extensive review database from thousands of users across the world. They also have a swap section where you may be able to get hold of rare items and get rid of things that haven't worked out for you.

Apart from the above mentioned products, my personal favourites are listed below. For reference, I am a NC25/NC27 in MAC's foundations, powders and concealers and have light-medium yellow toned asian skin. I couldn't tell you if these would suit you as well as me so I suggest you test them out in store wherever possible.
(* = limited edition/discontinued)

- MAC Viva Glam matte lipstick (deep brick blue-red)
- MAC Port Red frost lipstick* (deep metallic blue-red)
- MAC Russian Red matte lipstick (bright blue-red)
- MAC Dare You cremesheen lipstick (deep red brown, great w. goth/smokey eyes)
- MAC Cult of Cherry lipglass* (bright blue-red, looks great over Viva Glam)

- MAC Brick lip liner
(brick red, perfect under Viva Glam)

- NARS Cruella velvet lip pencil (deep scarlet red)
- NARS Shanghai Express lipstick (dark/deep brick red)
- GOSH Lambada lipstick (bright neutral red)
- Rimmel Dynamite Red 1000 Kisses lipliner (cherry red, good under Russian Red/Ruby Woo)

Where to buy

Anna Sui products are available worldwide on Store list can be found here.
Barry M
is available from Boots/Superdrug in the UK and worldwide.
Besame can be found at worldwide.
is in Boots, Superdrug and Debenhams stores in the UK. It is widely available in Europe and from Ulta in the US.
Collection 2000 can be bought in the UK from Boots or Superdrug.
is available in Superdrug stores in the UK, and on in the US.
can be found in most good department/drug stores worldwide, especially in the US and UK.
Lola Cosmetics
are available in the US at Sephora,, and
is available from MAC stores and on
can be found in most good department/drug stores worldwide, especially in the US and UK.
is available in the UK from and, Sephora in the US, and worldwide.
NYC (New York Color)
is available in UK Superdrug stores and in good drugstores in the US.
has unfortunately been discontinued but many items are on for bargain prices.

can be found in most good department/drug stores worldwide, especially in the US and UK.
is available in the UK from Boots and Superdrug, and Ulta in the US.
* Products marked
with a star are discontinued or limited edition items that are no longer available. You may be able to find these on Ebay occasionally, or if you are on a swap site like you may be in with some luck there.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Hello and thank you for visiting.

As my profile says, I am Elle and I'm from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
Like many girls out there, I have been searching furiously for the perfect shade of red lipstick. Most High street brands' reds have failed, often looking far too orange/plum/brown/pink. Same problem? Read on!

What I will concentrate on is bright, retro reds that are not for the faint-hearted! This is because it is a look that is an interest of mine that I feel is incredibly difficult to do if you don't have the right lipstick. I hope to ease this...

BUT every girl is looking for a slightly different type of red to one another, so I just can't cater for everyone. However I will try my best with suggestions to the best of my knowledge as I believe every single girl out there CAN wear red, it's just WHICH red that is the problem!

I hope to post some reviews (and maybe some pictures if I'm feeling adventurous) of lipsticks I have already tried and tested, regardless of whether they have worked for me or not. I will then add reviews as I test new ones. I will do quite a few higher end brands as I feel they have the financial means to make a red that little bit more spectacular, but I will also do cheaper brands as much as I can.

Hope you enjoy my blog and come back!
Elle X