You know how a lot of people dislike the word "moist"? I think I'm starting to feel that way about "succulent." It just tends to be used in really gross, overtly pervy situations. And it's a shame, because at the root, succulent is a really cool way to say, "Juicy, plump, and totally delightful." DAMN YOU, FILM INDUSTRY, FOR RUINING GREAT WORDS FOR ME!!!
Those of you who have followed me from my YouTube days probably already know that I get offered a decent amount of free swag, and I usually turn it down. Maybe the company seems sketchy, or the line doesn't suit my tastes, or I just don't feel excited about what they're offering. For every 1 offer I accept, there are 10 I turn down. And even when I accept an offer for free things, most companies back out when I tell them that if I hate their product, I'm going to write a review that says so. (Kind of understandable: they're a business and they want to make money.)
So I was pretty excited when Kismet agreed to send me their new Succulent Collection Liquid Lipsticks in exchange for an honest review. You've probably guessed that I love lipsticks, and I'm especially fond of super-pigmented ones in bright colors. The thing that really got me interested in these is that, unlike most of the liquids being produced now, the Kismet liquids are in no way, shape, or form, matte*.
Kismet's liquid lipsticks cost $22 for each tube, or $80 for all 4 shades in the current range. Every shade is vegan, cruelty-free, made in the USA, and free of gluten, lanolin, and parabens. (I believe these are also talc-free, but I may be reading the ingredients list incorrectly, so don't quote me.) I'm not sensitive to lanolin or gluten, and to be honest, I'm not too particular about parabens; however, this is a good product for people with sensitivities to those ingredients.
The applicator is a stiff doe-foot that is slightly flattened. This is my preferred applicator for liquid lipsticks because I can get a relatively precise line with little fuss. Note that I said relatively precise: as with most pigmented lip products, a lip liner or brush will serve you well if you want the sharpest line possible.
Before I go in to more details about the formula and application, let's go over the specific shades.
Flamingo is probably my personal favorite from the range, even though it's not a wildly unique color. (I just have a weakness for bright pink!) It's an orchid pink, definitely cool-toned and full of purple. Despite the saturated color, I found this very easy to apply, provided I used the tip of the applicator to line my lips first. It's a definite eye catcher!
Comparisons: MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus and NYX Pinky lip liner are both more neutral/less purple. Bite Lingonberry is more purple and a smidge darker. All of them have a creamy finish except for Pinky, which is matte.
Speakeasy is the oh-so-necessary red. It's a classic blue-based shade that gives you instant Marilyn Monroe lips. It is the darkest shade in the range and is the easiest to "screw up," so just be careful when you apply it. I highly recommend using a lip liner with Speakeasy; I didn't for any of these photos (because I wanted to show the product in a fair light), and getting a perfect line with this one was a struggle.
Comparisons: Stila Beso liquid lipstick is lighter and more neutral. MAC Scarlet Ibis matte lipstick is lighter and more orange. NYX Auburn lip pencil is darker and more plum. All three of these comparison shades apply matte, while Speakeasy is obviously a glossy shade.
Elope is the neutral shade. It's a midtone brown pink that's a little dark for my skintone and probably too light for truly ebony-skinned people, but will most likely work well for everybody in between. The Kismet formula is especially favorable towards this shade, and you can get a glossy, opaque, neutral lip look with minimal fuss or effort. Even though it doesn't flatter me, I'm a bit addicted to how it looks. I have a feeling this will be the most popular shade in the range.
Comparisons: MAC Blankety is far lighter and has hints of grey in it. MAC Faux is lighter and more pink, giving it an overall "softer" effect. NYX Nude Pink pencil is lighter and more peach. Elope is the glossiest of these shades.
On Point was probably the standout in the range. It's bright enough to grab your attention, but still appropriate for work. I'd call it a "pink plum," with an equal balance of both colors. I can see this one working on almost every skintone.
Comparisons: Chanel Fantastic cream blush is slightly darker and a bit more purple. NARS Rikugien satin pencil is very different: less vibrant, glossier, more sheer. Hourglass Empress liquid lipstick looks equally glossy here, but it dries down matte; it is darker and contains none of On Point's pink tones.
Now more about the formula: these lipsticks are not the "modern matte" liquids that are so en vogue right now. They have a more "traditional" liquid lipstick formula: the pigmentation and wear of a lipstick with the shine and application of a gloss. As such, the formula is thick and creamy--you will hear a "popping" noise when you pull the wand out of the tube. They also apply opaquely with the tiniest amount of product, so wiping off the wand and taking your time is a necessity.
With that said, I was surprised by how light and soft these felt on my lips. Kismet claims that these lipsticks contain vitamins C and E and are designed to make your lips "soft and supple." I personally don't think any makeup product can replace good skincare, and sure enough, the Kismet lipsticks won't replace lip balm. But they are definitely comfortable to wear, and unlike most liquids, they are not drying in the slightest.
The smoothness of the formula also makes it very forgiving on texture. I skipped my usual exfoliate-and-moisturize routine once to see if the product would still apply smoothly, and it absolutely did. People with chronically chapped or deeply-lined lips will probably find this texture appealing.
(Color slightly washed out by strong camera flash.)
The wear on these is pretty impressive as well. Again, these are not a modern matte formula: if you drink coffee while wearing a Kismet lipstick, you will notice a lipstick mark on your cup. However, casual eating and drinking does not completely fade the colors because they are so pigmented, and they are not particularly prone to smearing. In other words, you'll get lipstick on your cup, but it won't leave your lips bare.
The above photo shows On Point after about 4 hours, during which time I drank several glasses of water and ate a caprese salad. The product has faded very slightly--it's less glossy, and you can see a bit of skin peeking through at the center of my lips--and there's a very, very faint bit of smudging around the edges. Pretty good! I later ate a bowl of shrimp linguini that kinda decimated this stuff, but I have yet to meet the lipstick that can survive oily noodles.
The formula is smooth enough that if you want to add another layer for a touch-up later on, you can.
My apologies; I'm sure this photo will give some of you nightmares.
I have two issues with this product. The first is minor: I'm a bit disappointed in the color range. While the current colors are very pretty, I feel that releasing a new formula with only 4 shades isn't the best idea. First, you're up against brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills and Colourpop, which produce new shades like they're going out of style. This is something that attracts a wide range of customers. Second, you're missing some of the shades that really draw people to this sort of product: seasonally appropriate colors, like a deep plum for autumn or a bright orange for summer, and more office ready shades, like mauves and soft pinks. This is easily rectified, however, and I'm sure the company will continue to produce shades as the line expands.
The bigger problem is that this product can, and will, get on your teeth. In all fairness, this only happens to me for the first 15 minutes or so of wear, and it's never an extreme amount of lipstick. After that 15 minute period, it's smooth sailing, and I can smile freely. But it is a bit weird to me that no matter how carefully I apply these, I will definitely get lipstick on my teeth for a few minutes. Hence, if I want to wear these out, I have to put the lipstick on at least 15 minutes before I leave the house.
Overall, Kismet's Succulent Collection Liquid Lipstick range is solid. It sidles up to the current trend, but doesn't completely follow it. It will be an especially good product for people who want opaque, glossy color without the common irritants.
PS: Kismet was awesome enough to provide us with a coupon! If you are interested in purchasing Kismet products, feel free to use the code GREATLIPS15 for 15% off your purchase.
RATING: 4 out of 5
* There's nothing wrong with matte liquid lipsticks, but gaddamn, beauty companies, give me some finish variety!