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Natural lip colours: Clinique, NARS, and Smashbox swatch and comparison


There have been requests for swatches of the NARS and Smashbox lipsticks that I’d bought on my Sephora VIB hauls on Thursday and also last week, so I figured I may as well compare them both. I had been looking for a “my lips but better” lipstick shade (inspired by Sunny), as I had never purchased lipsticks before and I figured I should probably start with baby steps. And of course, it’s never out of style to look yourself (but better)!

I also wanted to compare the new purchases with my usual go-to natural-looking Clinique lipstick, which my mother had given me.

Left to right:

  1. Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick in Creamy Nude
  2. NARS Lipstick in Dolce Vita (sheer dusty rose)
  3. Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Primrose (mauve pink)

The 3 lipstick shades seem to almost be a gradient in themselves.

Here are the lipsticks again with flash:

With flash, it’s much more obvious that the Clinique lipstick is more brown-toned and that the Smashbox one is more pink-hued.

Upon a 1-swipe swatch, Dolce Vita was definitely the most sheer, while both Creamy Nude and Primrose packed on quite a bit of colour. They can all be built up, as shown above with 3 swipes. I had always been using Creamy Nude for almost every occasion, as it was the only lipstick I owned that gave me a natural lip colour. It showsup beautifully natural in photos as well – I took my graduation pictures with it on (not that I had any other natural lip colour lipsticks at the time).

I decided to take separate natural vs. lipstick pictures for each one because I felt that they should really be compared to bare lips instead of each other. So each bare lip image was taken right before each lipstick application. I do feel that each lip colour seems noticeably different, though.

First up, Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick in Creamy Nude:

Clinique has two different formulations for this particularly ridged silver lipstick packaging: Long Last Soft Shine and Long Last Soft Matte. My mother had given me this lipstick as it was natural enough for my teen years but provided enough colour for those special occasions where there would be photography. I’ve never experienced any drying of my lips due to the lipstick – it applies very smoothly and feels quite creamy like its namesake. Of course I’ve also applied lip balm underneath on the days my lips are feeling extra dry and sensitive, which serves to make the lipstick even more smooth and silky. I can’t comment with confidence on its lasting power because I usually find myself eating during the special events where I happen to wear lipstick – not surprisingly, lipstick has usually disappeared (been ingested) by the end of the meal. I would like to say that I imagine that it does last for quite a while, though. Clinique’s Long Last lipsticks (in fact, I think all of their lipsticks) retail for $18 CAD.

Next up, my one-week-old NARS Lipstick in Dolce Vita:

Not only was this my first lipstick purchase, it was also my first NARS purchase. During the Sephora VIB event last week, I’d asked a sales associate (SA) on a whim for recommendations for a lipstick that was close to my own natural lip colour, as I was new to lipsticks and didn’t wear them often (okay, hardly at all). Dolce Vita was the first one she picked up and when she applied it to my lips with a lip brush and I looked in the mirror, I wanted it. My first impression was that it simply filled in the lighter areas and evened out my lip colour without making it look like I really had lipstick on. I have barely had this for a week so I haven’t worn it too often, but it didn’t seem to dry my lips out and also applied smoothly. From what I remember, it did seem to last quite a number of hours that first day I had it on while shopping – all successive times, I’ve went out for food after application (I need to stop doing that).

NARS lipsticks come in 3 finishes: sheer, which “creates the most natural, stained-looking lips”; semi-matte, which “produces velvety, full-bodied lips”; and satin, which “fashions creamy, moist-looking lips” (descriptions form I’m not sure how accurate these descriptions are, but Dolce Vita is labelled as a sheer dusty rose. The formula certainly seems sheer enough from the swatches on my arm, and it was a great shade to enhance my own natural lip colour. I will definitely be using this more to see how much I really like it. NARS lipsticks retail for $30 CAD.

My most recent acquisition (and, you guessed it, my second lipstick purchase) was Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Primrose:

Enthused by my first lipstick purchase, I set out to find another flattering shade a mere week later (which wasn’t as easy as I thought, as I’m apparently a big lip colour wuss – that or lip colours other than my own are just too foreign to me). My friend angelandthings suggested Primrose, as it seemed natural enough for my preferences. At first, we were hesitant because it seemed so similar to Dolce Vita. I ended up picking it up anyway, just to be able to compare colour and consistency between the two.

Primrose is described as a mauve pink. It definitely gives a kick of pink to my lips – it is more obvious that I am wearing lipstick but not outrageously so. Primrose is more pigmented than Dolce Vita – or perhaps it’s just that it doesn’t match my lip colour quite as well so it’s more obvious. I applied this for the first time today in order to do this lip swatch so I can’t comment on whether it is drying or its lasting power. I did feel that there was a little more drag while I was applying it, though. This definitely merits more testing as well. The Be Legendary lipsticks retail for $22 CAD.

All subsequent lipstick testing will have to wait a while, though. As you could probably tell from the pictures, I woke up this morning with drier-than-usual lips that were flaky and super-sensitive. Applying various lipsticks and removing them with makeup remover in quick succession probably didn’t help. Then, I proceeded to lick and chew on my lips absentmindedly this afternoon (bad habits, I know!) and now they’re stinging. So I’ll have to wait until they feel better before I put anything else on them.


Author: pearlessence

She who loves shopping, baking, gaming, and all things Disney! All on a student's meager budget :)

29 thoughts on “Natural lip colours: Clinique, NARS, and Smashbox swatch and comparison

  1. I love all the colors!! Especially the Clinique and Smashbox one!

    • Haha thank you! I’m not sure if I should be surprised that you prefer the ones with more pigmentation – is that how lipsticks are supposed to work? I should try to be more adventurous 🙂

      • I guess it depepnds on what look you are going for. I tend to co ordinate my lips with my whole makeup look so its kind of always changing for me. But those colors are perfct pinky nudes that you picked out

      • I’ve never thought of coordinating – I’ve usually just found the shade that worked and stuck to it. Interesting concept, I’ll have to be more adventurous!

  2. Use a lip balm and stop biting on your lips! It’s not good for them (as you know already)! Primrose and Dolce Vita do look very very similar on your lips. Probably because you have such pigmented lips to begin with. 🙂 I say you start venturing out to colours that are more different than your lip colours (but not super outrageous). :p

    • I’m trying! But they just look so strange! D: Haha do you think either is better than the other? I’m leaning towards Dolce Vita simply because it seems so natural.

      • I will need to see you in person for that! They look identical on your lips on camera!

        I have never tried NARS lipstick so I don’t know how they “feel” or how long they wear. I really liked Primrose because it didn’t taste or smell like anything, and it lasted about 3 hours on it.

        So it’s up to you! :p They both look really natural to me!

      • I’ll have to try them both some more and see! And perhaps get you to help judge when we meet up haha 🙂

  3. Those are all really pretty colors. How are you liking them all now?

    • Well, I’ve had the Clinique one for a long time so I like that one just fine. I’ve only tried the NARS a few times but I love how well it complements my natural lip colour :). I only wore the Smashbox for the first time today and only for a minute or two while I did the swatch 😦 so I’ll have to try it again and see!

  4. the clinique one looks gorgeous! does this settle into lip lines?

    • Every lipstick I’ve tried seems to “settle into lines” as you put it, but it could just be because I have ridiculously dry lips! It’s definitely not noticeable unless I’m stretching my lips out inches from a mirror and looking for it. Lipstick settling should be minimized if you apply a balm, first. You can definitely try it in stores or at a Clinque counter, just in case 🙂

  5. I really like how Dolce Vita looks on you! Out of the three, it looks like the one with the formula that smooths your lips the most! I’ve heard so much about this one by now. Must try it at some point 🙂

  6. You picked up the perfect shades! They all compliment you so well! I absolutely adore the NARS one on you!

  7. Great color choices! I love a good nude lip color. Most of the time I don’t wear lipstick, because my boyfriend likes my lips au naturel for obvious reasons, but I do wear my Sugar Rose tinted lip treatment a lot because it is light and helps keep my lips moisturized. You have such pretty full lips you could pull of almost anything I bet. 😀

    • I don’t seem to be able to pull off the nude lip colour very well, but I do love lip colour matching my natural lips! Moisturizing lip products are definitely a must 🙂 Thank you for the compliment, I’ve actually always wanted thinner lips when I was younger… but I’ve found that as you move out of puberty, you learn to love yourself a lot more 🙂

  8. Love it! Sounds like Sephora was a blast. Glad you liked Nars, me too. Still can’t believe it’s 30.00 in Canada! Yikes!

  9. I love the Smashbox color!! Hm, I think I’ll start collecting Smashbox makeup now 😛

  10. I liked the smashbox in the rube but after seeing them on your lips I love the Nars dolce vita!
    Thanks for this 🙂

    • Yeah, the Smashbox Primrose looks lovely, but it does give a more pigmented pink colour – not as natural as NARS Dolce Vita – on my lips, at least. Lipstick colours are never what they seem until you see them on your own lips! I picked up so many I thought were really pretty until I tried them on >___> I hope it helped 🙂

  11. Pingback: L’Oreal Infallible Le Rouge lipstick: Swatches and review | pearlessence

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