Definitely Liquid, Not Quite Matte


What is it about spring that makes me suddenly want lipstick that isn’t completely dry-paint matte? Is it the slight breeziness making my long hair go “ooh yeah girl gimme something on your face I can stick to”? Is it the increased heat and humidity requiring face-mopping and making my skin go “ooh yeah girl let’s wear something you’ll unknowingly smear all over my lower half with those blotting papers”? IT’S A MYSTERY.

Whatever the cause, lately I’m wanting C-O-L-O-R but I’m also drawn to some of my less-chalky offerings, so let’s do a quick comparison of four different formulas and see what they’re like.

NARS POWER MATTE ($26/.18oz at Sephora) is mossstly matte but it’s nowhere near the dry-paint chalk matte of most “matte liquid lip” formulas. I already covered this one here so we won’t rehash the whole thing. The short version : it’s a very thin and “fluid” formula, almost like a slightly creamy ink? It has a very slim very tapered fuzzy doefoot and is INSANELY easy to get a crisp line with. Pigmentation (for this shade, at least) is solid, and it covers opaquely and sans streaks. This particular shade (Star Woman) also wants to leave behind a bit of stain, which I dig.

NARS Power Matte “Star Woman,” freshly applied.

Freshly applied, Power Matte really has kind of a satin finish. After a bit of wear (or after blotting, as shown below), it’s definitely matte, but retains its great coverage.

NARS Power Matte “Star Woman,” blotted.

This one WILL transfer a bit to cups etc, but it’s so pigmented that the wear is still A+. Also, these feel pretty comfy and non-drying on the lips to me. I love this one so much I can even forgive it for being vanilla-scented.

ARMANI LIP MAESTRO ($38/.22oz at Sephora) is more of a traditional “liquid lipstick.” I grabbed a mini of this as a Sephora points-reward thing, and I fully expected to hate it. AND YET! It’s actually pretty good!

Armani Lip Maestro “400,” just applied.

Oddly, I think all the shades of this stuff are designated as “matte” on Sephora’s site, which they most certainly are not. Freshly applied, this has a satin / slightly-glossy finish, with deep rich pigmentation and good coverage. As per the Armani usual, there’s no added fragrance, so it just smells like “makeup.”

Armani Lip Maestro “400,” blotted.

Blotting it takes down a lot of the shine, as well as a bit of the apparent depth/pigmentation, but the color still wears really well. I also appreciate that this formula adheres to the inner-lip area better than most. It feels comfortable and very moisturizing on, isn’t sticky/tacky, so it’s a good compromise between “I want a little shine and softness” and “I really don’t want my hair stickin’ to my face.” It does transfer, but it lasts for a few hours and, like the NARS, is easy to add more / touch up without thickness or weird texture issues. I will almost definitely buy a full-size of this, probably in plummy-fuchsia 502.

CIATÉ LIQUID VELVET ($19/.22oz at Sephora) is, despite being described as “moisturizing,” is instead a tube of silicone-and-powder-feeling glop, and is maybe one of my least-favorite lip products ever. Ugh. UGH. I don’t know if it’s just this particular shade (“Risqué) or what, but the finish on this is dire as HELL.

Ciate Liquid Velvet “Risque,” just applied.

This took work to get anything like smooth/even/non-streaky coverage, and has that weird plastic-y feeling of too much silicone, so it just kind of sits on top of your lips and doesn’t cling to them (and certainly doesn’t feel “moisturizing” to me). But the real fun comes literally ten seconds after you put it on, and the product you applied to the inner lip area moves out to join its pals on your lips proper.

Ciate Liquid Velvet, blotted.

Not only does it have poor adhesion, but look at the finish post-blotting, in a smile :

Ciate Liquid Velvet, blotted.

No lie, that’s less than three minutes after I applied it. It pills, it builds up into chunks and ridges, it doesn’t stay in the creases of your lips, yet it does adhere to every single flake and imperfection. That’s a big fat THANK YOU BUT NO THANK YOU.

COLOURPOP ULTRA SATIN ($6/.11oz at ColourPop) is one you’ve all probably already tried, and quite likely have numerous shades of in rotation. I do too, but I went with this mini of “London Fog” to diversify my color palette there a little.

ColourPop Ultra Satin “London Fog,” freshly applied.

These are a thin slightly-creamy fluid, kinda similar to the NARS Power Matte. Also like those, they’re CRAZY pigmented, look satiny with a soft sheen when first applied, and look more satin-matte when blotted (or just worn down a bit from transfer etc.)

ColourPop Ultra Satin “London Fog,” blotted.

These aren’t quite as easy for me to get a super crisp line with as the NARS, but the performance is overall pretty similar — thin, comfortable if not really moisturizing, great pigmentation and wear, easy to touch up…and with some bonus points for the lack of scent.

And in case anyone needs a refresher on what the wands are like for these :

Got a fave formula for not-quite-matte / not-quite-shiny? Or something that works particularly well when blotted down? Tell meeeee. <3