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September 1 2014

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Beauty Throwdown: Battle Liquid Lipsticks

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Over the past few years of increased lip-color love, pout perfecters have graduated beyond their original, solid bullet format. There are now glosses of the shimmering and matte varieties; thick, nubby colored pencils; subtly tinted pots of balm; jars of watery tint; and markers soaked with bright pigment. But the latest medium on everyone’s mind is liquid. Thicker and shinier than a traditional tint, with the dense pigmentation of a lipstick and the immovable grip of a pencil, they are designed to be lighter-weight with a lacquered finish that is extra impactful. How best to go about choosing from the spate of new offerings to just hit the market? A quick read through our guide below should do the trick.



The Contenders: Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait, $48, www.neimanmarcus.com; Shiseido Lacquer Rouge, $25, www.shiseido.com; Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick, $28, www.sephora.com; Bite Honey Lip Lacquer, $24, www.sephora.com

In Corner 1: Guerlain
While we may have plenty of experience with the French brand’s luxurious but complex packaging, we’re still apparently learning: It took us far too long to figure out how to unlock this sleek silver case to make that adorable mirror click open. Once we did manage to reveal the formula inside, we were pleased to discover that it has the signature, feminine scent that runs throughout the entire line. As for the spongy foam-tip applicator, it has just the right amount of slant so that the guggul-resin-infused product glides on, imparting dense color and a ridiculous velvety finish. After trying M27 (a lusty brick red), we found that while the color remains vibrant on the lips, it does have the tendency to transfer—onto glasses, fruit, and boyfriends’ shirts mid-hug (oops).

In Corner 2: Shiseido
We were feeling color indecisive with Shiseido, so we tested three of its new Lacquer Rouges, which debuted at Narciso Rodriguez’s Fall show: Drama (a deep crimson), Disco (a hot bluish pink), and Portrait (a nude rose). It has a similar, smartly shaped foam applicator as Guerlain, and an appealing creamy sheen with a lustrous finish (the product was inspired by Japanese lacquerware). Also, Shiseido gets major points for its easy, portable packaging.

In Corner 3: Hourglass
Hourglass’ liquid lipstick boasts 14 hours of continuous wear, which would have required us sleeping in it to fully test the claim; we can, however, say that it did manage to stand up to a steady stream of adult beverages without budging. Despite an oily initial slick, it dries down quickly to an appealing matte finish—a quality we appreciated. A lot. Not as impressive: the applicator. The wand is too bendy, which makes it harder to apply without the aid of a mirror and a steady hand, and the foam tip is straight, versus angled, which means it’s not as conducive for following the contours of the lips.

In Corner 4: Bite Beauty
Finally, there is Bite’s Honey Lip Lacquer. We should have been tipped off by the name that things with this liquid lip product could get sticky—and they did. The too-tacky formula seemed off-balance, as it contained not nearly enough liquid and an overload of gloss. It is, as it turns out, made with manuka honey, an ingredient we love—on toast, drizzled over yogurt or grilled fruit, scooped into our tea, but definitely not slathered onto our lips.

The Verdict:In our ideal world, we would have the scent and perfectly sculpted applicator of Guerlain, with the creamy initial feel and package of Shiseido, the more matte finish of Hourglass, and the price of Bite. But if we have to recommend just one, Shiseido wins by a drop.

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