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making faces :: a red story

red is a colour like no other. as the colour of blood, it is part of all of us, and is implicated in many of our common behaviours- the such of adrenaline that accompanies physical exertion, the flush of the cheek when angry, embarrassed or shy, the tumescence of sexual organs when we're aroused. it is fundamentally linked to life and death: menstruation is the female body's signal of the ability to procreate; the loss of virginity is most often marked by blood; we come into the world covered in our mother's blood; lose too much of it, though, and you'll die. it's no accident that our brains are wired to respond to blood like no other colour: it makes us react faster and become more emotional. when humans first started to devise methods of describing colour, red was the first one they described. when they started to dye materials and fabrics, red was the colour they started with. there are three primary colours, but red is the first among equals, the one that will always occupy a place of prominence.

in the world of cosmetics, of course, red is most linked with the lusciousness of full lips, lips that convey passion, class, danger, and, above all, modern femininity. whatever the strengths of a cosmetic line, you can rest assured that a bold red lipstick will figure among their offerings. so when shiseido announced that they were doing a new line of red-themed lipsticks, you could be forgiven for not thinking that this was particularly groundbreaking.

however, the way that they've done it is interesting: many of the colours are not what we would consider red at all, but other shades that have been changed through the addition of red. so you won't find bubblegum pinks, autumnal oranges or electric purples in here [and yes, i know that technically, there is a measure of red in all those], but what you will find are a range of shades from bold cardinal reds to deep berries, to deepened soft corals. it's all about playing with the range of reds, then seeing how the addition of red works on related shades.

with a bit of time and some dips into my shoppers drug mart optimum points, i've picked up three of the shades, which i think nicely sum up the range of colours available. the formula is mostly consistent [differences noted in the individual shade reviews below]: it's soft and hydrating and gives almost opaque coverage in a single pass, but the lasting time is not great. that's not uncommon for creamy lipsticks, but there are creamy formulas that perform better [guerlain rouge g or urban decay's now defunct revolution lipstick line]. i found that all the colours made my lips look fuller and softened the appearance of lines, which is always nice.

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the three shades i've collected are crime of passion, a muted coral; ruby copper, a bold cool red; and bloodstone, a deep red brick.

l to r :: bloodstone, ruby copper, crime of passion

of the three, 'crime of passion' is the one least likely to make one see red. but the shade of coral is intriguing. it's not an electric sort of shade, or even what you'd call a red-coral, but there is something in the colour that reminds me of the shift in the skin of a peach, going from light yellowy-orange to a deeper red. this is the colour where they meet in the middle. [i didn't even touch on the associations of red with food above, especially fruit, where it can mean either sustenance or poison. and that's where the ability to see minute differences in colour comes in handy.]

crime of passion

this is the lightest and slickest of the three colours i purchased, and it's also the trickiest to work with. it can apply a little unevenly [although that's not really noticeable unless someone is focused on your lips- but isn't that what you want????] and the wear time is fairly poor. on the plus side, it is comfortable, and it is a shade that's easy to wear every day, so you have to balance your feelings about reapplication with your feelings about practicality.

my taste in corals tends to run bold, but i do really like this one, because i find that the redness in it does indeed connect with something in my skin. it's not 'natural' per se, but it looks less 'makeup-y' than a lot of lipsticks.

here it is, combined with some shades from mac- shroom, ochre style [l.e. and there's nothing in the current mac line that compares; try makeup forever] and buck from the urban decay naked palette [the original]. i'm also wearing mac ripe peach blush ombre [also l.e., marc jacobs 'lines and last night' is the closest dupe i can think of], and marc jacobs velvet noir mascara.




the next shade i got was one of the 'signature' reds, called 'ruby copper'. i usually think about ruby as being a somewhat deeper shade of red, and copper is warm-toned, so the name doesn't really fit what you see here. it's a vibrant, cool red that might [looking at it in different lights, i'm not sure] have a very fine golden shimmer, not enough to warm the shade up.

ruby copper

confusing nomenclature aside, this is a great powerhouse red. yes, you probably have something similar in your collection [if you don't, it's probably because you don't like red lipstick to begin with], but the subtle shimmer gives this shade a dimension that many reds don't have. also, if you're as sick as i am of the matte lipstick trend [translation: if you've tried and painfully failed to wear really matte lipsticks], this also gives a softer, shinier alternative that's been missing from many launches lately.

the colour is pretty much opaque, and while its wear time doesn't compare to reds like guerlain 'garconne' or rouge d'armani 'the 400', it's an improvement on 'crime of passion'. the first time i wore it, i saw some feathering along my top lip. the second time i wore it, i didn't. since my lips were in better shape the second time, i'm going to say that making sure your lips are nice and smooth obviates this problem, but use a primer or lip liner if you're nervous.

here's a look with 'ruby copper'. i figured i would try to pull the gold tones from the lipstick by surrounding it with gold, in the form of burberry's eyeshadow quad #25, a limited edition release from a couple of years back [not the one that was released this year, which is warmer and a little more dupe-able] and with the burberry gold highlighter that came out with the same collection. [there's also a dab of dior's cheek and lip tint applied underneath.] i find that you can see the gold in the shade a little bit more, in that it doesn't look quite as cool as it normally does, but i don't think it's going to get any warmer or more coppery than this.




the final shade i got was 'bloodstone'. other than the berry shade 'rum punch', i think that this was the most predictable colour i could have picked up from the collection. it's the deepest and moodiest, an earthier red that does indeed look like a mineral mined from the earth. there's brown and rust tones blended in this one that aren't present in the first two, and that aren't really present in other shades from the line. and, while i really hate being predictable, this was also my favourite colour of the ones i got.

bloodstone

the principal reason for that is because it lasts longer than either of the other shades and has no tendency to feather or bleed. that's not surprising, given that it's darker [darker shades last longer] and has a less glossy finish [less creamy lipsticks last longer and bleed less] than the others. i can definitely see some tonal shimmer in this one, although it stops well short of what i'd call a frost finish. it retains the forgiving, moderately hydrating feel of the others, which is nice. so my preferring this one has nothing to do with me gravitating towards darker shades. i swear.

ok, i did also find that the shade itself was a bit more unique. at first glance, it looks quite warm, but when i wear it, while it's still warmer, it seems pretty neutral. and while it's one of the deepest shades in the collection, it's more of a medium shade when applied. [it looks darker in the tube.] i think this is a classic femme fatale sort of shade. it's not dazzlingly bright, cherry red that became popular in the fifties, nor is it the near-black of rebellious flappers. this is the red of the alluring and unobtainable woman, the one who appeals to your most earthbound urges, who's as who possesses the rare qualities of a gem and the potential danger of smoldering embers.

clearly, my instinct is to combine all these shades with a pretty neutral base, so what i came up with to wear alongside 'bloodstone' isn't terribly surprising. the eyes are a symphony of rouge bunny rouge neutrals- alabaster starling, angelic cockatiels, umber firefinch, papyrus canary and unforgettable oriole- along with nars baalbek liner. the cheeks are a combination of hourglass luminous flush and luminous light, because i was apparently really into being luminous that day. [i was trying out a technique of a "smudgy/ shimmery" inner eye with alabaster starling. i'm not sure that i like it, given that i find it just looks like i applied my makeup while drunk, which i didn't in case you were wondering. i don't know, maybe that's what it's supposed to look like. after all, looking hungover is apparently big.]





the new formula, dubbed 'rouge rouge', comes in sixteen shades total, meaning that you're likely to find something in there that floats your carmine-coloured boat. there are pretty good options for most complexions, although there's a definite lean towards warmer rather than cooler reds. i'd love to see them add some colours like a blackened red [again, predictable], a pinky wild rose colour, or a lighter warm pink reminiscent of flamingo feathers. for now, though, i'll take what's offered and enjoy it, because i have a feeling that my lips will thank me over the winter months. 

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