Monday, September 26, 2011

Clinique High Impact Lip Color SPF 15 in After Party Review and Swatches

Most of the things featured on this blog are either cheap, a great value, or both.  Clinique After Party is neither.  So why am I talking about it?

Between the trip back east to visit the boy, and the start of a teaching job, I felt I was in need of something to make me feel mature and capable, and nothing screams "adult" to me like a nice lipstick (and nice jackets, but that's a post for another blog).  I decided I wanted a nice, sheerish berry-plum, because darker colors are nice for fall and I feel much more comfortable in berries than I do in reds.  I checked out Sephora's Rouge Creams to see if there were any colors there that fit into my desired look, but they were all bolder than I wanted.  So I went to the Clinique counter at Macy's, because their lipsticks are the cheapest out of all the department store brands, and with the help of a lovely SA found a lipstick that I liked.  This was no mean feat: I told her I wanted a sheer to medium neutral-to-cool berry with minimal sparkle.  

First, she tried the Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, of cult makeup fame, but it was way too brown for me (which I suspected it would be, after seeing swatches online).  She then tried a few more on the back of my hand, but they were all also too brown, or too dark, or had too much shimmer (there were a couple that I liked and would buy, but they weren't what I wanted, so I had to pass for the time being).  She finally decided to try the full coverage lipstick range to see if there was anything there that would work, and indeed there was!  Hurray!
Clinique After Party tube and raised lipstick (sorry it's not in pristine condition!); I adore the lipstick casing

After Party is a gorgeous neutral-warm berry with slight shimmer (yet I love it dearly, not least because it shifts to neutral when I wear it).  It can be applied very opaquely, by swiping straight from the tube onto bare lips, or more sheerly, by dabbing on bare lips or lightly applying over lip balm.  
After Party in sunlight; 1 swipe (top) and 2 swipes (bottom)

After Party, dabbed onto bare lips, in sunlight

Same swatch in shade

Applied over lip balm in cloudy light

When applied to its full intensity, it lasts 3+ hours on me and fades very evenly, and when applied over lip balm/more sheerly, it lasts more than an hour (but the amount of product necessary is negligible––a couple of dabs is all I need).  It applies smoothly, but it's not particularly creamy, which is nice for controlling the amount of pigment deposited.  The shimmer is subtle and doesn't migrate, and, while it's definitely not moisturizing, it doesn't dry my lips out, either––and the SPF is a nice bonus!  All in all, a raging success.

$14.50 for 0.14 oz, available from Sephora, Clinique, and department stores

Quality: 10
Effectiveness: 2.25 (supposed to last 8 hours, which it definitely does not, and it's not "highly moisturizing", either)
Ease of Use: 4.5 (I can't just swipe and go, because it is so pigmented, but dabbing it on is easy peasy with a mirror)
Senses: 5 (no smell or taste)
Pigmentation: 5 (more pigmented than I would like, yes, but it's supposed to be moderate- to full-coverage, so I can't really knock points off for that)
Duration: 4 (it does last a long time on me compared to other lipsticks, though nowhere near the purported claims)
Consistency: 5 (I like how firm it is, while still being blendable and spreadable on the lips)
Price: 2
Value: 4.25 (it's on the large end of lipstick sizes, and the firmness of texture combined with richness of pigmentation means you don't need much product to achieve lipstick glory, so the tube will last a very long time)
Packaging: +0.5 (so classy and luxe)
Grade: B

I had to knock off several points for not living up to its claims and for the high price, but I really do love this lipstick in spite of giving it only a B.  It's my first Clinique lipstick purchase, and it's only whetted my appetite for more (darn).  I definitely recommend going to a Clinique counter and having an SA help you if you're wanting a nice new lipstick, because the choices are frankly overwhelming, and it's nice to have someone to help you navigate––just don't be intimidated or allow them to make you buy something you don't love!

What do you think of After Party?  Have you tried any Clinique lipsticks?  Would you be interested in seeing more high-end products featured on the blog?  What's your favorite fancy lipstick?  Would you like me to stop asking questions now?
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