Monday, December 9, 2013

Product review: Maybelline Color Elixir by Color Sensational Lip Lacquer (Shades: Signature Scarlet 020 and Celestial Coral 010)

By Randi ReedDisclosure: Product purchased by me. Links to Maybelline products are provided for the reader's convenience and do not earn commission. Prices are in US dollars as purchased in the US and are provided for reference only.

I have a confession: Maybelline magazine ads have sold me a lot of their products. Knowing the magic tricks involved in product imaging hasn’t immunized me from a beautifully photographed lip color, and Maybelline’sColor Elixir by Color Sensational is no exception. From the first magazine ad I saw of it in all its shiny red glossiness, I had to have it. So, BFF and I each purchased one in search of the perfect Holiday Lip.

In writing this review, I realize I’m not sure what to call Color Elixir by Color Sensational. Is it lip lacquer? Liquid lipstick? Liquid lip balm? Highly pigmented gloss? Perhaps the folks at Maybelline aren’t quite sure either: while Color Elixir’s current magazine ad uses the word  “lip” it makes no mention of any of the terms that usually follow it. No matter, because Color Elixir seems like all of the above, rolled into one.*

Packaging: Maybelline Color Elixir by Color Sensational comes in a clear, squared-off lip gloss tube the same size as Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick tubes, making for easy product storage if you’re a collector. Cleverly, the inner tube holding the lip color is shaped like a lipstick bullet, which gives the appearance of a higher-end product. The “click” of the cap when closed seems more like that of an expensive product, too.

Signature Scarlet 020 in afternoon sun on Bright White printer paper. In real life it's not quite this bright.
Celestial Coral 010. On my monitor the sample on the paper is true to color, but the the tube photographed too orange.
Color: The color I purchased, Signature Scarlet 020, is the shade featured in the current Color Elixir magazine ad. As expected due to ink color variations, it’s slightly different than in the ad. In real life Scarlet 020 is a clear red that's not as blue-red as Color Sensational's Red Revival lipstick. It reads “holiday” without looking garish, and Santa and St. Valentine would approve. Upon opening the tube, there was a bit of momentary panic, because on the wand it looked much brighter than expected, but when applied becomes becomes a wearable red (even with my ultra-fair skin).

BFF’s chosen shade is Celestial Coral 010, which to our eyes, is a lovely rose rather than coral. As with Signature Scarlet, Celestial Coral appears overly-bright on the wand and settles to a beautiful pinky-rose upon application. If you're more of a pink or rose person than a red person, or if you're uncomfortable wearing red for a daytime event, this might be your color.

Texture and application: The texture of the product is a bit gloppy, and the arrow-shaped wand, while handy for getting the perfect lip shape, deposits too much product. I recommend scraping any extra product on the applicator against the opening of the tube as you would a mascara wand, then applying sparingly, building the coverage as necessary. Color Elixir isn’t paint-like and stays moist, but the moisturizers do make it spread and migrate, so applying clear lip liner (or one that matches your natural lip color) is a must.  Still, even with all these caveats, after some experimentation I liked the end result.

Fragrance / taste: Color Elixir has a floral fragrance and taste that reminds me of a department store lipstick I can’t quite place. While it reads “dressed up,” being fragrance-sensitive, I’d prefer a very light vanilla such as the one Smashbox uses in their lip glosses. Color Elixir’s fragrance and taste aren’t quite as heavy as some, so I can handle it for special occasions, but it’s enough to keep me from wearing this product as often as I might otherwise.

Wear: On the lips Color Elixir feels slightly moisturizing and a little more sticky than cushiony. I liked that it gave my lips a fuller, plusher appearance than lipstick, and that it had a good amount of shine without the patent-leather finish of lip gloss. It also didn’t dry out my lips, and for those of you who are wondering, yes, on a windy day, your hair will stick to your lips, although perhaps a bit less than with some brands of lip gloss.

Color Elixir is not a low-maintenance or long-wearing product, so after drinking coffee the usual goo was on my cup. Unlike a gloss, a fair amount of stain remained on my lips, so a touch up was necessary instead of a complete re-do. Without a good lip liner this product really moves around, though, and until I got used to working with it, I had to check periodically to be sure my lip color hadn’t moved to where it wasn’t supposed to be. I also wouldn’t recommend kissing someone while wearing Lip Elixir, because afterward they’ll likely be wearing more of it than you!

On the plus side, I did save space in my makeup bag by carrying Lip Elixir plus my favorite Smashbox lip liner instead of lipstick, liner, and gloss.

All in all, Color Elixir was an OK product for $8.99 . If you’re looking for low-maintenance lip color, this isn’t it. But if you see a shade you can’t resist and don’t mind a little trial and error combined with lip liner, the end result can be beautiful.

Score: 6.5 for the product as is, 8 for the end result after some experimentation with liner.

*Update December 17, 2013: The Color Elixir commercials that recently began running in my television market refer to this product as Lip Lacquer. I've updated the title of this post to reflect that. Thank you, Maybelline ad execs!

Follow us on Twitter @CosmeHaul.

Where to Research Ingredients and Green Policies of Cosmetics

©2013 Cosme-Haul and Randi Reed.