Well Red: Red Lipstick Swatches

Since overcoming my fear of all things lipstick a few years ago, I’ve amassed quite a collection of lip products – mostly lipsticks, a few lip stains, and three very neglected lip glosses.

At the heart of my collection are the high-contrast reds which, apparently, I can’t get enough of, because my current wishlist is filled with them.

Clockwise from 12 o’clock: Giorgio Armani Rouge d’Armani 400, Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Fever (review here), Laura Mercier Stickgloss in Poppy, Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Samsara, Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick #17 Ichijiku (review here), Lipstick Queen Medieval, Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge in RD-2 (review here), MAC Viva Glam I.

Here I’ve added a swatch of Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain in #10 Rouge Philtre (review here) on the far right, because I left it out of the earlier shots (on purpose. obviously.) even though it counts as a red.

So, as a reminder, these swatches (and the paper swatches) are, from left to right:

  1. Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Samsara: a berry red
  2. Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick #17 Ichijiku: a dark, vampy, brick red
  3. MAC Viva Glam I: another dark brick red
  4. Lipstick Queen Medieval: a sheer but buildable cherry red
  5. Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge RD-2: a sheer red that’s slightly warmer.
  6. Armani Rouge d’Armani 400: a classic true red
  7. Laura Mercier Stickgloss in Poppy: a sheer tomato red
  8. Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Fever: a vivid red to sheer rose pink depending on how sheer it’s applied.
  9. Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Stain #10 Rouge Philtre: another vivid classic red, that can be sheered out to a rose stain.

Can’t get enough red?

What’s your favourite shade of red lipstick? And are there any you’re lusting after at the moment? I’m in love with Guerlain’s new Rouge G l’Extrait in Luxure, and I can’t wait to actually get it.


Tubing Mascara Review: Lavshuca Separate Keep Mascara Volume

As you may know from this article about mascara smudging all the time, I’m a big fan of tubing mascaras. They’re getting more popular in the west at the moment, but the level of choice is still much higher in Japan (and, I’d assume, the rest of East Asia?). I think I’ll have to write a ‘What to Buy in Japan’ post on it, because it’s a little too tangential for this post.

Lavshuca Separate Keep

This is Lavshuca’s Separate Keep Mascara Volume which, according to the blurb, keeps lashes pointing upwards, defines each lash, and volumises. It is smudge-proof and can be removed with water (like all tubing mascaras). It is scent-free, and it contains ingredients that are good for your eyelashes.

Here’s how I got on with it.

Click the pictures to zoom in (and you should, because I didn’t buy a macro lens for nothing (no, I bought it to take poorly-lit close-ups of flowers, because that hasn’t been done before))

Obligatory artsy shot


  • The brush is small – my eyes are quite small I think, so I get bothered by big mascara brushes. They’re very unwieldy and I when I use them I tend to get more mascara on my eyelids than on my eyelashes. AND they make it mega difficult to coat the smaller lashes on the outer corners of my eyes. This Lavshuca brush is easy to maneuver.Lavshuca Fluffy bit
  • It doesn’t smudge or flake – all tubing mascaras claim not to smudge, but some are better than others, and many of them just flake instead. I haven’t experienced any flakes or smudges with this mascara (when using under-eye powder as outlined in this post).
  • It gives some volume – It’s not the most volumising mascara I’ve ever tried, but it’s also not one of those mascaras that’s just designed to look like natural lashes (like Clinique Lash Power).
  • It does separate lashes quite well – I bought this mascara mainly because it claimed to separate lashes, and it does the job better than most other mascaras I’ve tried.


  • It doesn’t separate as well as I’d like – it’s good at separation, but not great. I think my quest for each eyelash to be defined is pretty futile but hey, I’m picky and I’m not going to say something is perfect if it isn’t.
  • It doesn’t lengthen – I don’t mind this, because length is the one area where my eyelashes don’t need help. Also, the mascara doesn’t claim to lengthen. But, for those of you looking for lengthening, look elsewhere.
  • It is a total butthead to remove (excuse the offensive language) – OK so it’s not as bad as that Cezanne Volume Comb Mascara I reviewed, but it’s not exactly easy like Blinc or Fiberwig Extra Long. You need quite a hefty bit of rubbing to remove all traces of this mascara, which I imagine is quite damaging in the long run. A warm shower helps.

In Action

Lavshuca Separate Keep In Action


Why do I never smile in these photos


I like this mascara a lot, primarily because of the separation. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do for now. You may like it if you don’t have length issues and you want your lashes more clearly defined. It’s not for you if your lashes are sparse to begin with, or short. They do have a ‘long’ version that you might like to try.

You can buy this mascara from Adambeauty for HK$75 (£5.95, $9.67, €7.45)

Things to Buy in Japan #2: Drugstore Lipsticks

I love lipstick. If 2011 was my year of the cheek (I look back fondly on my 2010 self, naively thinking that, surely once you have a nude, a pink, and a plum blush, your blush collection is complete), then 2012 is most definitely my year of the lips. In my treasured lip collection, nestled amongst the Guerlain and the Suqqu, are the Japanese drugstore lipsticks – each with a formula that rivals the high-end ones I’ve come to love. (That was a well-punctuated sentence.)

If you’re in Japan, you should definitely check out their drugstore lipstick offerings – in many many cases they’re much better than their high end counterparts.

Drugstore Lipsticks!

Typical* Japanese drugstore lipsticks:

  • Have a kind of balmy formula
  • Are moisturising
  • Have a finish that is at least a sheen, sometimes a high glittery gloss (matte lipsticks obviously exist, but they don’t seem to be as prevalent)
  • Apply as a sheer tint, but can be built up with ease

I usually associate Japanese drugstore lipsticks with ease of use: they’re very flattering and moisturising, they can be layered, and they fade evenly – so no frantic mirror-checking needed.


Limited Colour Range

While the formulas (formulae?) of Japanese lipsticks are often wonderful, I find the colour ranges can be quite limited. While I tend to favour darker, rosy lipsticks, most lines of drugstore lipsticks in Japan are filled with pale pinks, nudes, and pale peaches. Luckily, usually in each range there’s a token red (perhaps two), and maybe a rose or two.


Quite a few drugstore lipstick ranges are pretty big on glitter, and in many cases the glitter is pretty subtle and doesn’t feel gritty. However sometimes you’ll find what is, essentially, a big ol’ stick of glitter with some tint to it. So beware the glitterstick, my son.

My Picks


Lavshuca is my favourite drugstore brand for lipsticks. I’ve already written about the Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge formula here, and Kate of Drivel About Frivol has fantastic swatches of all the colours available in the range. The Dramatic Memory Rouge formula is a great all-rounder: moisturising but not too balmy, shiny without being gooey, and you can build it up from sheer to full-coverage.

For a more lip butter-esque formula from Lavshuca, you could try the Moisture Melting Bar lipstick. It’s a very creamy formula that, in spite of containing a little bit of glitter, glides on smoothly.Jelly Lips N (Colour) Lasting power is not as good as the Dramatic Memory Rouge, about two hours. More lovely swatches over at Drivel About Frivol.

I haven’t tried the other lipstick ranges from Lavshuca myself but I’ve read good things about the Star Glow Rouge and my friend bought one of the super cute Jelly Lips (Colour) lipsticks and, although it’s a bit glittery, still loves it to this day. I’m toying with the idea of buying something from the Jelly Lips range myself, because they’re just so miniature and cute.


Kate is such a solid and reliable drugstore brand, it’s no wonder that they produce some lovely lipsticks. I’m a big fan of their Rouge High Glam formula, it’s a creamy formula that’s easy to wear and hides any imperfections. It’s a little different from the Lavshuca types because it’s thicker, more creamy than balmy. It actually reminds me a little of the Suqqu formula in the way it glides onto the lips.

Here’s Kate Rouge High Glam in PK-17:


Unlike Lavshuca and Kate, I never fully fell in love with the Media brand – in all honesty I think my brain was just influenced by the packaging: Media packaging is very classic and grown-up, and I think I’m still in my ‘oooh shiny!’ unicorn poots phase.

However, I do own a Media lipstick that I really love. The Creamy Lasting Lip lipstick is not like the balmy kind that I usually favour, it’s more classic and grown-up. It’s moisturising, durable, and it has a satin finish. I want to say it’s the perfect lipstick for job interviews but I imagine that that’d relegate it to the ‘boring!’ category in people’s heads. Basically it’s a lipstick you can count on, and it has more of a ‘classic’ finish than the ones mentioned above.

Buying Help

Most Japanese brands tend to use a shade naming system that’s pretty self-explanatory. They use two letters to indicate the colour family of the shade:

  • RS (Rose)
  • RD (Red)
  • PK (Pink)
  • OR (Orange)
  • BE (Beige)
  • and the less common WN (Wine), BR (Brown)

Then they follow that with a number which (as far as I know) doesn’t mean that much and is just an identifier. This system is pretty cool because it gives an idea of the shade without you having to endlessly swatch. Sometimes it’s a little bit iffy, i.e. some things I’d class as RS are in the PK category, but it’s a good starting point.

I’ve placed links to the Lavshuca swatches above and here are some swatches of the drugstore lipsticks I own: (I made sure my arm was extra goosebumpy, just for you guys! You’re welcome.)

Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge RS-1, RD-2, Kate Rouge High Glam PK-17, Media Creamy Lasting Lip PK-20, Lavshuca Moisture Melting Bar PK-5, RD-4, RD-3

Japanese brand websites (also linked above) also often have lip swatches of each shade. They’re not infallible, but they’re good to give you an idea of what kind of shade you’re buying.

Buying Online

To buy these lipsticks from outside Japan, you may want to try Adam Beauty. I haven’t diligently price checked, but Adam Beauty is my go-to for Japanese cosmetics now that I’m in the UK. Here’s the Lavshuca shopping page, and the Kate shopping page, but sadly I can’t find a shopping page for the Media Creamy Lasting Lip.

8 Word Conclusion

Drugstore lipsticks are flattering, moisturising, balmy. Sometimes glittery.

*I should add a huge (slightly obvious) disclaimer to this whole post: The observations in this post are all informed by my personal experience of living in Japan. Are there exceptions to the generalisations in this post? Of course, these are just patterns I noticed. Are all Japanese drugstore lipsticks automatically amazing because they’re Japanese? Uh, no – there are hits and misses just like everywhere else.

Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge Lipstick – RD-2

Lavshuca is a mid-priced, widely-available Japanese drugstore brand.
These Lipsticks retail for 1575 yen (£13.01/$20.20).


This lipstick has been my go-to this winter. It’s a sheer easy-to-wear red that I’m sure could be a MLBB (My Lips But Better) shade for some.

The Formula


I love Lavshuca lipsticks, and the Dramatic Memory Rouge is my favourite formula of them all. It is:

  • not sticky
  • medium-long lasting(2ish hours of fresh colour, then 2 hours of stain before it fades)
  • versatile: it’s quite pigmented on first swipe and it applies like a colour tint on the lips. From then on you can just keep on layering it until you get the right coverage – it doesn’t get gunky or sloppy with more layers.
  • flattering: none of this settling into lines business, and it doesn’t highlight dry skin areas either.
  • easy to apply: I only realised the importance of this factor (or that it even was a factor) when I tried a bad lipstick formula. This lipstick covers smoothly, and doesn’t cling to random areas.

IMG_6026When you apply it, there’s a satisfying amount of tug that reminds you that, while it may be a glossy lipstick that feels like a balm when it’s on, it’s going to last while.

Here’s a handy graph that shows the Lavshuca lipstick collection arranged by finish and pigmentation. The horizontal axis has ‘Matte’ on the far left, and ‘Shine’ on the far right. The vertical axis has ‘Pigmented’ at the top and ‘Sheer’ at the bottom. The Dramatic Memory Rouge is up at the top to the right.



(apologies for the goosebumps, I was holding my arm up to the window to get the best light!)



(With Lipstick Queen Medieval on the right)

This is my lip shade of the season (until I find a berry that doesn’t pull plum); I’ve been wearing it with a berry blusher. (Click on the pics for big)


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Birthday Round-Up!

This is like a Friday Round-Up except it’s on my Birthday (okay well actually the day after)! Smart huh?


Ok so as I’m alone in Japan for my Birthday, I took it upon myself to buy a few presents, as you do. I am ridiculously good at buying presents for myself, I loved all of them!

So first off I bought a few pretty things from the drugstore.


Lavshuca Moist Melting Rouge in 3 colours: RD-4, RD-3, and PK-5. So far I love these (and I will review them!). They are great MLBB colours with a formula that’s really easy to wear. They feel like a really pigmented balm. Their lasting power is better than I had expected as well.

Kate Gel Eyeliner in BK-2. I talked in my November Round-up about Kate Eyeliners but at that point I didn’t love them. This one has converted me though. Lasting power is incredible but the thing I love most about this eyeliner is its colour. It is brown but it has very little redness in it, unlike MAC Dipdown (I’ll post comparison swatches). Because of this it doesn’t bring out as much redness in and around my eyes, so I love it!

Integrate Gracy Cheek Colour in Rose 300. I was on the look out for a matte blush and stumbled across this one. This shade is exactly the colour of my natural blush so I use it for a really natural look. It blends out really easily but this compromises staying power. I have still been wearing it every day since I got it though.

I also caved and bought the new Majolica Majorca perfume. It took me a while to decide because I didn’t LOVE the scent, I just thought it was pleasant. In the end I bought it because the scent lasts so long, it’s easy to apply and on the day I tested it, I got nothing but compliments.

The night before my Birthday my Fyrinnae order arrived! I think their impeccable timing proves, as we all suspected, that Fyrinnae are indeed magic. Not only that, the order was in a parcel that was thin enough to fit into the dorm mailbox which meant I didn’t have to arrange redelivery or anything! Yay!


Obviously there are swatches to come but I just had to take a photo when I got them all. Fyrinnae enthusiasts will probably notice I chose very safe colours: neutrals and a few golds thrown in. La Noche, however, is bright blue: I couldn’t just order neutrals from a company with such special bright shades.

I am really excited to try Damn Paladins as it looks like a lovely grey-taupe. And of course Ashes will be one of the first I try because it is such a nice grey shade. Can you tell I like grey?

Recently I have been buying bath salts to try. In Japan there is a huge range of bath salts so my choice pretty much depended on which packaging was prettiest and which ones didn’t smell like ginger (I hate that smell). Luckily, Yu Ming just posted about Japanese Bath Salts on Beauty Box so I now have some idea of what to buy. In fact today I went out to get the Kikiyu bath salts so I’m excited to use them tonight!

A guide to getting Mad Men’s Joan Holloway look? Yes please!

Spiders are scary and Allie’s post tells me my fear makes sense.

And to finish, here is my birthday cake! It may look like ice cream to you, but I was pretending it was cake! Yummy.Ice cream