Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REVIEW: House of Besame Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks

For as long as I can remember, my mother has been obsessed with costume dramas. Does she actually care about the plot of The Age of Innocence or Downton Abbey? Well, kind of, but she openly admits that her primary attraction to those sorts of shows is the lavish clothing wealthy people wore at the time. Even after discovering that the sort of people she's looking at didn't bathe too often and, therefore, said lovely clothing probably had a bit of a stench to it, she's drawn to anything that promises corseted women swooning over their beaus.

Despite the fact that I hate even wearing a bra and get most of my ratty black t-shirts from the thrift store, my mother's love of costume dramas rubbed off on me, as did my brother's interest in history. This prompted a fascination with cultural norms and beauty expectations throughout the ages, particularly the Revolutionary War era and the 19th century.

So you can imagine how deliriously happy I was when Besame, one of my all-time favorite brands, released a picture of their new Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks, which feature the Gibson Girl on the box. After I posted the picture on my Instagram story with the shrieking caption "OH MY EDWARDIAN GODDDDD," Besame messaged me and said they had actually sent the new lipsticks to me.

How excited was I for these new lipsticks? So excited that I immediately made my mother promise to forward the box to me ASAP if it arrived after I'd moved. After several stressful weeks of moving in to our new place a thousand miles from home, receiving these lipsticks was a treat.

The Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks are advertised as part of the new "House of Besame" line, which seems to be inspired by turn-of-the-century luxury beauty routines. They arrive in matte, pink tubes with the traditional Besame flower logo. At $22 per 0.12oz tube, they are the same size and price as Besame's breakout Classic Color range. The main difference, of course, is that these are meant to be sheer. These also have a different scent: the original Besame lipsticks smell very faintly of vanilla to me, but the Debutante range uses peppermint oil for a light mint scent.

There are currently three shades in the range. Berry Red is, as the name suggests, a relatively neutral, popsicle-stain red; it's slightly less brown and more vibrant in real life than it looks in this swatch picture. Mint Rose is a soft pink. Chocolate Kiss is a sheer version of the same warm brown shade from the Classic Color range.

While these lipsticks are more sheer than anything from the Classic Color Range, they're not as barely-there as some sheer lipsticks, ie Glossier Generation G. One swipe will net you visible color. Mint Rose and Chocolate Kiss are very slightly glossy, but only slightly, and this easily rectified with a quick blot if you prefer a more matte look. Berry Red has more of a traditional lip stain look to it.

From left to right: Chocolate Kiss, Mint Rose, Berry Red.

I fully expected Mint Rose to be my favorite of the three shades. But while it's certainly the one I'll wear most frequently, being so work-appropriate and my-lips-but-better on y skintone, I think the shade that impresses me the most is Chocolate Kiss. I love the original, full-on version of this shade, but it can be a bit tough for me to wear brown lipstick past autumn. This sheer alternative seems like it will be more wearable on different skintones throughout all four seasons.

As far as wear goes, these perform about the same as most sheer lipsticks: they last for a good 3-4 hours if you're gentle with them, but they will fade quickly if you eat a full meal or drink a lot.

I have two problems with these lipsticks. My first complaint is honestly a bit petty: the names of the lipsticks are on the bottom of the tubes and on the white barcode stickers on the boxes, but they're not on the box itself. I always loved the "This shade is a true replica of a shade from ____" stickers on the Classic Color boxes; it felt like it fit right in to the aesthetic. Having to locate the name on an obtrusive white sticker makes the experience feel a bit less lux than I'd expect.

My more substantial quibble is that Besame claims these lipsticks are moisturizing, but I can't agree; I actually found that they could be ever so slightly drying by the end of the day. I think this is caused by the peppermint oil, which dries my lips out a bit; your mileage may vary.

While the Debutante Sheer Color Lipsticks are never going to usurp the many Classic Color Lipsticks in my collection, they've earned the right to sit in the same drawer. They're easy to wear, beautifully packaged, and have me excited for whatever else Besame is planning for this new range.

RATING: 4 out of 5
House of Besame products are available at

These lipsticks were sent to me by Besame. As I made clear to the company, I only write honest reviews. I do not accept financial compensation for my posts.

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