If you're a fan of Charlotte Tilbury's bullet lipsticks, then you're in good company. Because I own most of them. However, after the massive fail that was the Hollywood Lips launch (seriously, those were the worst liquid lipsticks I've tried and the competition is stiff, believe me) as well as a host of other blah product releases, Charlotte really needed to bring it with her (limited edition, naturally) 'Cities' lipsticks. So, is this holiday collection a slam dunk win or just another big fail from CT? It's that burning question which today's post will attempt to address.
Before going any further though, it’s probably time for me to introduce the stars of this new collection:
American Sweetheart (K.I.S.S.I.N.G.): "a naturally tawny pink moisturising lipstick.”
Shanghai Nights (Matte Revolution): "a deep rich sultry red matte lipstick.”
English Beauty (Matte Revolution): "a pretty, naturally nude pink lipstick.”
Like the committed beauty blogger/beauty-blackout prone individual I am, I ordered all three of Charlotte’s ‘Cities’ lipsticks as soon as they became available online. I’d only been itching to get my fingers on these since…July? Perhaps even earlier. (Some lucky beauty blogger posted a sneak preview of these lipsticks over the summer, and no, the prospect of receiving similar perks did not factor into my decision to start blogging at all.)
Here's the lowdown on the Cities lipsticks:
“Charlotte Tilbury has just dropped her NEW limited edition lipsticks inspired by the cities she loves the most: New York, London and Shanghai. These beautiful cities lipsticks in matte and moisturizing formulas make the perfect presents, or just a naughty treat for yourself!”
First thing to establish - I did NOT write the above paragraph. I mean, give me some credit - it’s, like, really, really, REALLY badly written. (Right??) A few other observations I'd like to make:
Cities, Charlotte, that was your theme - it's not that difficult to stick with! America is not a city. 'New York Knockout' packs WAY more of a punch anyway. And as for ENGLISH Beauty - Charlotte darling. Given the post-Brexit referendum turmoil that's got the UK in political strife, did you really have to go there? Why not just London Lovely? London Looker, perhaps? Anything but ‘English Beauty’. It just has a rather...UKIP sort of vibe. (UKIP, dahling - so unglam.)
If you only have the spare change for two of these L.E. lipsticks, my advice is to give English Beauty a skip. You'd think Charlotte might have tried a little bit harder to do her country proud. The obvious thing to do would have been to come up with a soft petal pink shade, name it 'English Rose' (if we must abandon the ‘Cities’ theme) and release it in the K.I.S.S.I.N.G formula (it’s just a better fit with ‘English Rose’, I think.)
Instead, Charlotte served us up another lukewarm Matte Revolution, a bland mix of Pillow Talk and Miss Kensington imo. Check out the before and after pictures. In the ‘before’ picture on the left, you can see my lips totally bare of any product. Not even a bit of clear lip balm. Totally bare. In the ‘after’ picture on the right, I'm wearing several (generous) coats of English Beauty. It’s hard to see any difference though, isn't it?
Striving for objectivity here. I suppose English Beauty would be a nice nude lipstick for someone completely unfamiliar with nude lipsticks. And, while it's not particularly striking, I wouldn't call it unflattering. You can even wear it during the daytime aka without a hard-core smokey eye (this is a good thing because the number of occasions I attempt that look is...not high).
In terms of formula, I think English Beauty is superior to Miss Kensington (also limited edition), which has a slightly streaky, noticeably thin feel. Regardless, neither of these lipsticks showcases the Matte Revolution formula at its best. I'll never get the love for the Matte Revolution formula over the K.I.S.S.I.N.G. formula. At its best, the Matte Revolutions are great. But there are some real duds: Sexy Sienna, Miranda May, Miss Kensington/Miss Bloomingdale’s (same shade, different name). And, while not a DUD, English Beauty is definitely one of the weaker shades in this range. I guess if this is the nude you've been looking for, grab it. It's LE so you’re excused from waiting. Charlotte Tilbury’s official website recommends pairing English Beauty with Pillow Talk Lip Cheat which is perfectly reasonable. Personally, I would pair it with Pink Venus instead just to breathe a little bit of colour into our rather washed out English Beauty. But that’s just me.
Ugh, the name. I don’t think of New York City as a place brimming with American Sweethearts, to be honest. (And in case you’ve forgotten, this lipstick was supposedly inspired by Charlotte Tilbury’s love of New York). An American Sweetheart - in my non-American head anyway - is from the Midwest, if not down south. She’s rosy cheeked, has a smattering of freckles across her nose, and knows how to bake a mean apple pie.
I actually love this lipstick. It should be permanent. It’s unlike any other lipstick in the K.I.S.S.I.N.G. range, and it's such a fantastic universal colour (okay, almost universal colour). 'Tawny' is indeed the word - I'd describe the colour as like a ripe, end-of-summer honeyed peach, blushed all over with pink. It makes your lips look positively - time to cringe, everyone - juicy. Yep. (It’s true though). If you love Bitch Perfect and Stoned Rose (and who the heck doesn’t?), you’ll love this. I’m contemplating buying a backup. (Translation: I am definitely buying a backup.)
Wear-time is standard for the formula - 3 hours or so, with limited eating and drinking. A lip liner certainly helps. Charlotte Tilbury’s website recommends Pink Venus Lip Cheat, which does a good job at bringing out the subtle coral pink undertones in American Sweetheart. It’s also great with good old Pillow Talk. Would work with Iconic Nude too. Play around with it and have fun. Coverage is slightly shy of opaque but in a good way, and this is a cream lipstick that doesn’t seep into lip lines. I did find it a little less long-wearing than my favourite K.I.S.S.I.N.G. lipstick, Stoned Rose, but honestly...I don’t mind reapplying my lipstick throughout the day. Pulling out the tube is half the fun! Needless to say, American Sweetheart gets a whole-hearted endorsement from me.
Shanghai Nights is an objectively good name for a lipstick, I think (Disagree? Comments section is below!). It's not a sexxxxyyy name, thank god. And it doesn't fetishise East Asia i.e. paint the region as a land populated by geisha ladies. While this shouldn't be a laudatory factor in itself, just look at Tom Ford's (time to cringe again) Open Kimono lipstick for a sign of how far we have to go. I know - Open Kimono. WTF was Tom Ford's creative team smoking when they came up with that abomination?
Shanghai Nights is a medium-deep true red with blue undertones. Diehard Charlotte Tilbury lipstick fans may be curious to know how it compares to last year's limited edition holiday lipstick, Opium Noir, which was exclusive to the Film Noir Nights set on Charlotte Tilbury's website. (Opium Noir = another great name, athough disclaimer, we don't endorse glamorising drugs, blah blah).
Luckily, as a fellow diehard Charlotte Tilbury lipstick addict/accumulator, I'm able to provide the comparative assessment between Shanghai Nights and Opium Noir that The Beauty Blackout's readers are positively burning to know. Are these lipsticks dupes? ....NO. They are not. (Add to cart).
In fact, Shanghai Nights is a winner, while Opium Noir sadly was not. Opium Noir was another sub-par Matte Revolution lipstick, although in a uniquely bad way. Rather than being thin and streaky, Opium Noir is overly emollient and extremely migration-prone (not a good thing in a dark burgundy lipstick!) It transfers everywhere, is a real bitch to apply and feathers away at the corners of my mouth.
Shanghai Nights, I am pleased to report, is a solid Matte Revolution. In terms of colour, Shanghai Nights is definitely a red, albeit a slightly muted one. Opium Noir's berry undertones make it less of a red and more of a berry burgundy - it should really have been called Kir Royale. Wait, scratch that - Kir Royale is a fabulous name for a lipstick - it deserves much better than whatever the concoction is that made up Opium Noir.
Is Shanghai Nights the most show-stopping red I've ever encountered? Definitely not. It's hard to find many reds that meet that description (the last was McGrath Muse, which is very different from Shanghai Nights, so yes, you may buy both, you're welcome!) Did I need Shanghai Nights? Nope. I do think it has the nicest packaging/cardboard box out of the three City lipsticks though. And it's on theme! For all these reasons, Shanghai Nights gets a thumbs up from me. This one and American Sweetheart, people. These two are the ones to get.
Charlotte Tilbury started off 2017 with two winners - Pillow Talk and Valentine lipsticks, both of which should be permanent if you ask me. After that, things nose dived. I despised her Hollywood Lips liquid lipsticks (despised). Her Hollywood Contour Wand was passable but ultimately underwhelming; oh, and it's also rather unfortunately named in light of current events, as a good friend recently pointed out to me. Her Instant Eye Palette was....something I have yet to form any conclusions on (translation: not very exciting). I did like Beauty Glow! That was enough though. No need for the fourth Instant Look in a Palette, and no, I didn't get that one. Yawn.
With the 'Cities' lipsticks, Charlotte has redeemed herself. I'd give English Beauty a C+, American Sweetheart an A and Shanghai Nights an A- (although be aware that my personal bias may be responsible for the disparity between the last two). Overall grade for 2017? I'd give Charlotte Tilbury a B if I was feeling generous, otherwise a B-. Which is very kind I think given the hot mess that was her liquid lipstick launch . How do you think Charlotte Tilbury performed in 2017? Predictions for 2018? Let me know in the comments section! I promise no judgement from me if you love the Hollywood Liquid Lipsticks. Okay, that was a lie. (Whyyyyyyy though?)
*Of course, Charlotte - if you really wanted to own up to your love of the Middle East (and why else would your “global” website only cater to the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar?), then there are options aplenty. Dubai Darling! Doha’s Dazzler! Riyadh Royalty! Kuwait Kisses! The possibilities are endless. If you need someone with a little bit more pizzazz to write your ad copy, Charlotte, good news - I’m available and fairly flexible when it comes to negotiating.)