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How to get the most lipstick swatches (without wrecking your lips)


BEAUTY, Featured, Lip Articles | by — February 1, 2014

How to get the most lipstick swatches without wrecking your lips


I was asked this question a long time back by a fellow beauty blogger, who was intrigued by how I manage to swatch the number of lipsticks I do with such consistency.  The truth is that no single swatch session is the same.  On some days I barely manage to swatch a few, whilst on other days I managed to swatch as many as the products featured in the picture above.

That’s 15 lipsticks and 14 glosses – in one sitting!

What influences how many lip products I can swatch in one go are:

  • the quality of the lipstick
  • the lipstick formulation (eg. matte, stain)
  • my lip condition.

Before I start a swatch session, I will prepare my lips for 2 consecutive days not just in terms of hydration, but also strengthen the lip surface so that it will be more resilient to changing lip colours multiple times.  The best lip balms that both hydrate and strengthen the lip surface are by Uriage, Lanolips and Clarins HydraQuench.  Dr Lipp mainly protects and strengthens the lip surface over night.  To speed up lip exfoliation, I use Carmex. I also try to drink as much water as I can – eg. 1.5 to 2 litres a day – to ensure my lips are as hydrated as possible.

On the day of the swatch session, I will swatch an unforgiving colour (eg. nude, sheer coral) to see if my lips are ready, as these shades will accentuate lip flaws that only become really visible with such a shade.   If there’s a lip flake or two, I will apply extra lip balm and wipe down with a cleansing wipe to see if it comes off.

If the lip flake still lingers on, I may swatch only lip glosses that day, or cancel the swatch session altogether until my lips are ready.  Otherwise I’m good to go & proceed to my swatch routine below.  You can also see a pic of my swatching kit here.

How to get the most out of lipstick swatching (without wrecking your lips)

  • I prepare my lips with a smoothing lip balm such as Mecca Cosmetica Lip De-Luscious which is possibly the best lip balm for swatching as it makes lips look super juicy.  I adjust the amount according to the type of lipstick I’m swatching.  Less for sheer lipsticks, more for creamy matte.
  • Remove lipstick by wiping down gently with a gentle cleansing wipe – eg. Nivea Pure & Natural Facial Cleansing Wipes.  For stubborn stains, use Clinique Take the Day Off.
  • Re-apply lip balm using circular motions to stimulate circulation.
  • In terms of lipstick formulations, start from sheer to shimmer, then move on to mattes and finish with creams.
  • In terms of lipstick shades, start with nudes, pinks, then violets and finish with reds and darker colours.
  • Once you’re done with lipsticks, start swatching glosses in the same order for both formulation and shades.  Lipglosses hide a multitude of lip flaws.

Other tips

  • Don’t swatch staining lip products if you have a large amount of lipstick to swatch. Dedicate a separate day for lip stains.
  • Don’t remove lip products from the lip brush with a brush cleanser as this will strip your lips of moisture.  Instead use a cleansing wipe to clean the lip brush as best you can.
  • Lips look their fullest after a hot shower, or after sipping hot tea.
  • Having multiple lip brushes is handy so that you can rotate them for different shades.  See my post on which lip brushes I recommend for which lipstick formulas.
  • Molton Brown Pep-Rich Lip Booster is another awesome lip booster that revives tired, flat looking lips into plump, firm and sculpted looking lips.  It’s so expensive that I save it only for tutorials.

I realise that now that I have blogged about how I get through a swatching marathon, the obvious question that will come next is how I photograph my lip swatches with consistency.  To answer that question, I will have to whip out my Wacom Tablet to draw a doodle about how I position myself in front of my lamp.  Bear with me while I attempt to draw a post-worthy diagram and stay tuned…

I hope this helps other beauty bloggers out there with their lipstick swatching!

As for everyone else, there is absolutely no need to try this at home.


Splurge vs Steal: Lip Brushes

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BEAUTY, Featured, Lip Articles | by — January 11, 2014

 Splurge vs Steal - Lip Brushes

When I first started using makeup, I used to associate the term “lip brushes” with those miniature lip brushes that comes with lipstick palettes, and they were pretty useless and felt more like a chore than getting primped. It wasn’t until I saw the expression on Nicole Thompson’s (Senior Artist, MAC Cosmetics Australia) face when I confessed that I’m not a big user of lip brushes that I was intrigued and decided to invest in higher end brushes to see what the fuss was about.

I now own 8 lip brushes, 6 of which are featured in this post (the others are Shiseido, which I love and Bloom Cosmetics, which is so so).  I acquired some to have extra brushes on rotation for swatching, whilst others I reserve for my favourite lipsticks and the best one for tutorials.  Having used each and every one of these for swatching, lipstick application on the go and tutorials (which require picture perfect precision), I am proud to report back to Nicole that I’m a convert.

If you’re undecided as to which lip brush to invest, my advice is that choosing between synthetic vs. natural hair, and the brush shape (eg. fine tipped, flat edge and tapered) has everything to do with your lip shape, lip condition and the texture of lipstick you typically go for.

Synthetic lip brushes suit most lipstick formulas, are easier to clean, are less prone to splaying and deliver a more precise lip line.  Natural bristles however are unparalleled in their ability to blend creamy formulas seamlessly into every little crevice in your lip surface for a flawless finish.  Tapered lip brushes suit all lip sizes particularly those with a soft lip shape, whilst fine tipped lip brushes allow for better control for achieving a more defined lip shape. My latest obsession is the flat edged lip brush for achieving ultimate precision.

If you have yet to own a lip brush, may I suggest you start with either Ecotools or MAC 316 as they’re more affordable and the most versatile for all lipstick formulas and lip conditions.  For more mature lips, I recommend Bobbi Brown and for a little luxury, go for Shu Uemura.

Ecotools Detailed Lip Brush

Compact in size & travel friendly, this synthetic lip brush is exceptional for its price point and the fine tip makes it easy to control and apply precisely.  Better suited to pigmented formulas, as sheer formulas can appear streaky when blended with synthetic bristles.

RRP: $8.99 AUD / $3.99 USD

NP Set Lip Brush

Another affordable lip brush that has tapered synthetic bristles that suits all lipstick formulas.  The wide tapered shape allows you to pat on colour as wella s blend.  This brush served me well for about 2 years, and after relentless swatching and washing, the bristles have finally curved at the tip making it harder to apply a precise line.  Since the average person doesn’t use lip brushes repeatedly as much I do, you’ll get better mileage of this brush than I did.

RRP: $10.99 AUD

Bobbi Brown Retractable Lip Brush

The natural bristles combined with a tapered tip delivers unparalleled flawless finish, blending creamy lipstick formulas into every single crevice of your lip surface.  I highly recommend this to anyone who have lip lines especially mature lips. My only pet peeve about this brush is that the natural bristles are prone to splaying if you accidentally placed the cap in the wrong angle, and it’s hard to get the shape back to as new even with the smallest Brush Guard brush sleeve.

RRP: $40 AUD / $26 USD

MAC 316 Lip Brush

This is my all-rounder lip brush that suits all lipstick formulas, and is also compact for travel.  It has a decent weight helping you to control a precise application.  It’s my most-frequently-reached-for brush when I’m packing a lip brush with me to touch up on the go.  The synthetic fine tipped bristles makes it easy to achieve a precise edge for all lip shapes.

RRP: $40 AUD / $20 USD

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Brush

I have been wanting to purchase a flat edged lip brush for ages but procrastinated despite seeing a similar ones from Hakuhodo (B523BkSL Lip Brush Flat and 270 Lip Brush Flat).  Then when an opportunity came along to purchase a set of Charlotte Tilbury brushes from Net-a-porter, I knew this was my chance to get my hands on it as part of the eye & lip brush set! The bristles are firm and even in length with a flat edge, making it suited to richly pigmented lipstick shades that need to be patted and layered on and defined with a precise edge.  If you prefer a natural bristle with a finer tip that’s still flat edged, try the Hakuhodo 270 Lip Brush Flat.

RRP: £18.00

Shu Uemura Kolinsky Portable Extra Lip Brush

This is the most luxurious lip brush I have, and is also the heaviest lip brush out of the lot.  The Kolinsky bristles are amazingly soft but resilient, making lipstick application a dream.  Whilst I’m pleased that the packaging is travel friendly, I can’t bear the thought of losing such an expensive lip brush so it’s permanently at home docked at my swatching station.  Luckily I didn’t pay full price for this in Australia, there was a sale a while back and I grabbed it for close to the US price.

RRP: $75 AUD / $35 USD

I’d love to know which lip brushes you use!
Which are your favourites?


The Ecotools and NP Set brushes were provided for consideration.  I purchased the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Brush partially from a voucher gifted by Net-a-porter PR.

2013 Christmas Gift Guide: The Lippie Edition


BEAUTY, Featured, Lip Articles | by — December 7, 2013

2013 Xmas Gift Guide Lippie EditionI don’t know about you, but shopping for gifts is not one of my strengths.  I fall into the habit of wondering if I had gifted something similar the previous year, and finding nice gifts (the kind that you’d like to receive as well) is especially a challenge in the $20 – $50 price range, especially if you want your gift to stand out from the rest.  This year’s gift guide is for the lippie lover, with ideas that suit everyone from those starting out on lipstick through to those that love their classics.

All items featured are available to purchase within Australia.  I offer worldwide shipping on my Pout Perfect print edition book.

  • Pout Perfect Book (currently on sale for $14.99, normally $19.99 AUD) – a great gift idea my friend has done with my book is to pair it with a shopping voucher (eg. Priceline) to help the younger lasses in your family get started with their lipstick wardrobe.  My book teaches you how to shop for lipstick, how to choose the right shade that suits both your colouring and the occasion, and also tips on how to apply it flawlessly.
  • Clinique Whole Lotta Candy* – perfect for busy women who are constantly on the go and need a low-maintenance pop of colour.
  • Burts Bees Party Lips – at just $19.95, this is ideal for Kris Kringle or as a stocking filler.
  • Estee Lauder Bold Lip Set – a timeless classic and festive shade, great for your mum, aunts or your mother-in-law.

Will you be gifting yourself a lippie this Christmas?


Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration.

Top 10 Lippies of 2013

Top 10 Lippies of 2013 Beauty Swatch
After tuning into a whole year of lip swatches, I bet you’re wondering which ones are my favourites beneath the objective reviews.  Whilst I do love finding gems in budget brands, there’s nothing like a sophisticated formulas to make me go weak at the knees.  Here are my top favourite lip products that were featured on Beauty Swatch in 2013 in no particular order.  To view last year’s picks, visit my Top 10 Lippies of 2012 post.

1. Burberry Lip Velvet – A soft wearable matte that gives lips a soft focus demure finish.  Great for those that want an everyday matte finish without looking over dressed.

2. Bobbi Brown Sheer Lip Color – Bobbi Brown’s take on the sheer lipstick trend doesn’t compromise on pigment nor longevity.  Blends seamlessly into every crevice of your lips making it almost believable that your lips are naturally in that colour.

3. Chanel Rouge Allure Moire – My favourite shade “Indecisé” is the ultimate sophisticated pearl nude that looks stunning in all angles of lighting.

4. Chantecaille Lip Chic – Hands down the most moisturising lipstick I’ve ever tried that keeps my lips soft all day.  Also the only lipstick I’ve come closest to hitting pan since my blogging.

5. ck one shine lipstick – The translucent yet lip hugging sheer formula makes even the trickiest of colours look flawless with no slippage or settling into lines.

6. Clinique Chubby Stick Intense – The ultimate low maintenance lippie in a range of punchy colours that doesn’t require lip balm, lip brush or lip liner whatsoever.

7. Sisley Hydrating Long Lasting Lipstick – The most comfortable long wearing moisturising lipstick that makes your lips feel like soft fabric.  Shade “Geisha” is my favourite glamour red.

8.  Shiseido Lacquer Rouge – my favourite liquid lipstick that provides creamy moist coverage.  Comes in a range of “my lips but better” and work appropriate shades for a understated polished look.

9. YSL Rouge Volupte Shine – The punchiest sheer lipstick you’ll come across that’s also moisturising.  Runner up in the 2013 Australian Beauty Awards lipstick category.

10. YSL Rouge Pur Couture The Mats Lipstick –  The most luxurious matte finish I’ve tried that gives high definition pillowy lips that you typically see in editorials or runways.

What are your favourite lippies of 2013?

Budget lip liners that match luxe lippies

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies

I’ve been drafting this post in my head for over a year now & even accumulated a few lip pencils in anticipation that they might be a good match for a potential lippie one day.  But it seems that it wasn’t until I acquired my new camera and wooden accessories that I finally got around to putting this post together.

The inspiration for this post came to me from the many times I’ve tried on a luxury lipstick brand on counter and was even prepared to purchase a matching lip pencil if they had one.  Instead I was suggested a completely different shade (eg. a MLBB lip pencil to go with a red lip pencil, or a rose pink pencil for a hot pink lippie and so on) in an effort to please me.  On such occasions, I immediately make a beeline for MAC and Bobbi Brown to search for a matching lip pencil, but I realise that not everyone is prepared to fork out thirty-ish dollars for it.  So I set myself a challenge of finding lip pencils from budget brands to match higher end lipsticks.

I happened to find matching lipsticks & lip pencils across 4 colour groups – red, nude, two pinks and wine.  I skipped orange as my Inglot coral lip pencil didn’t match any of my orange/coral lipsticks.

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 2

The Lipsticks (L-R):

Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet – L’Exuberante (pink)

Nars Pure Velvet Lipstick – Vesuvio (red)

Clinique Chubby Stick – Heaping Hazelnut (nude)*

Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick – Nocturnal (wine)

Clinique Long Last Lipstick – Spanish Rose (pink)*

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 3

The Lip Pencils (L-R):

Australis Lip Pencil – Kiss Me Quick (pink)

Revlon Colorstay Lipliner – Red (red)

Rimmel Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner – Natural (nude)

Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Stay On Lip Contouring Pencil – Wine (wine)

Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Stay On Lip Contouring Pencil – Indian Pink (pink)

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 4

The reason I paired Clinique Chubby Stick in “Heaping Hazelnut” with a warmer nude lip pencil is because I have a flushed lip tone.  You can of course opt for a lighter or warmer nude pencil depending on your lip tone.  I got so many compliments with this combination that one of my friends immediately purchased both items the same day she spotted me wearing this.

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 5

Surprisingly there are not that many blue red lip liners out there from budget brands, and Revlon’s lip liner was the closest budget brand I could find.  Natio and Sax also do great red lip liners but they lean towards neutral red.

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 6

Australis paired with Chanel? Who would have guessed!

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 7

I wore this combo when I met Michelle Phan in Melbourne last year.  The wine lip pencil really vamps up the lipstick so you can dial it up or down to your taste.

Budget Lip Liners that match Luxe Lippies 8

Clinique’s Spanish Rose is pigmented enough to be worn alone, but it also goes beautifully with Rimmel’s “Indian Pink” lip liner.

Other lip liner brands I love

  • Natio
  • Bourjois
  • Bobbi Brown
  • MAC
  • Chanel
  • Dior
  • Lancome
  • Clinique
  • Burberry (on my wish list)
  • Serge Lutens (also on my wish list)

Hope you liked this post!

Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration.  All other items were purchased by me.