Wednesday, January 28, 2015

REVIEW: ColourPop Lip Products

I have a distinct weakness for cheap lip products. More specifically, my knees tremble when a brand provides a wide range of colors that appear to be super-pigmented and will cost me a fiver. ColourPop fits that bill to a T: they've got dozens of colors in a variety of finishes, all for $5 each. As an added point of interest, for every lipstick, there's a liner of the same name; sometimes the lipliner matches the lipstick, and other times it's darker/lighter, but still a good pairing. The lipliners are also $5 each. Call me weird, but...I love lipliner. *swoons*

When you do the math for the pricing, however, you realize that ColourPop lipsticks are actually on par with most mid-end products. Here are some comparisons:

ColourPop Lippie Stix -- $5 for 1 gram
MAC Satin lipsticks -- $16 for 3 grams
Urban Decay Revolution lipsticks  -- $22 for 2.8 grams
Lipstick Queen Jean Queen -- $20 for 3.7 grams
Kat von D Studded Kiss lipsticks -- $21 for 2.8 grams
Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie lipsticks -- $18 for 3.4 grams
Clinique Long Last Soft Matte lipsticks -- $16 for 3.9 grams

You get a lower unit price with ColourPop, but also less product. In terms of price per grams, it works out to roughly the same price as a MAC, Bare Minerals, or Lipstick Queen lipstick. This is not inherently a bad thing, because the price for unit makes it a great option for collectors like me, people who want to try a bunch of different shades on the cheap, or people who don't wear makeup that often and therefore don't want to spend a ton of dough on it. But it's just something I want people to be aware of.

Before I go any further, please note that ColourPop calls their lipsticks "Lippie Stix." At the risk of sounding like a snob, I prefer to just call them "the lipsticks."

It took a little less than 2 weeks for my order to be processed and shipped. Some people have complained about the 2-3 week turnaround time, but I think it's pretty impressive for an indie company that exploded overnight.

YouTube videos and other blog posts have shown ColourPop products arriving in a box. Mine, however, arrived in a bubble mailer. The cardboard boxes that contain each product and an ingredients list don't seem to close that tight; several of mine had opened in transit. That being said, nothing was damaged.

The packaging for the lipsticks and pencils is basic but functional: they're plastic tubes that close tightly with a satisfying "click" and do not shake open in a bag. The lipsticks twist up, but the pencils need sharpened. While I haven't had to sharpen one yet, I'm a little loath to try it: plastic packaging almost always sharpens strangely and chews up sharpener blades.

#1 - Frenchie lipstick over Frenchie lipliner; #2 - Frida lipstick over Frida lipliner; #3 - Cake lipstick with Fancy lipliner around the edges; #4 - Fancy lipstick over Fancy lipliner; $5 - Pony lipstick over Pony lipliner.

I purchased 5 lipsticks--Frenchie, Frida, Cake, Fancy, and Pony--with the complimentary lipliner for each shade except for Cake. Why did I skip the Cake lipliner, you ask? Well, Cake is quite a milky shade, and I figured it would need a bit more dimension. Fancy is a very similar shade, so I assumed the Fancy lipliner would work well with Cake.

The lipliners for Frenchie and Fancy are identical to the lipsticks. Pony is a light, cool pink lipstick, and the lipliner is purple. The Frida lipstick and lipliner are very similar, but have different balances of pink and peach. (See the end of this review for comparison swatches.)

All of these shades are in the "satin" formula except for Frenchie, which is classified as a "matte."

Now, if you just go by these lip swatches, then Frida, Cake, and Fancy are going to look very, very similar. While they are in the same color family, I don't think they're anywhere near identical. This is more obvious when I show them in "full face" pictures:

 From left to right: Cake with Fancy lipliner at the edge, Frida lipstick and lipliner, Fancy lipstick and lipliner.

As the above image shows, these shades all have a coral edge to them, but they're not identical. Cake is a very milky, 1960s sort of Coral. It's not the kind of shade I can wear often, but I always enjoy this sort of color, and it's fun to have it in my collection. Because there's so much white in the base, I think this shade is best left to fair and light skintones.

Frida is softer, more beige, and more "work appropriate," with a good balance between pink and peach. I think it's a little too dark/brown for me when I use the lipliner. However, I could see it working on a wide variety of skintones.

Fancy is a light, bright coral that is more flattering in real life than it is in this photo. It doesn't have the pastel undertones found in Cake, so I could see it working for a lot of people, especially those with dark skin.

From left to right: Frenchie lipstick and lipliner, Pony lipstick and lipliner.

Frenchie and Pony are close to my usual wheelhouse of "bright reds and pinks." Frenchie is the shade I was most excited for, and it's a really gorgeous color. I'd say it's a relatively neutral red that leans towards the warm/orange undertones, but only slightly. I don't think it's all that flattering on me, however, and I'm extremely picky about my reds these days.

Pony is interesting because the lipliner and lipstick are such different colors. combined, they create a cool purple-pink color that's very similar to MAC Petals and Peacocks. (Again, please see the comparison swatches below.) I would even use the lipliner WITH MAC Petals and Peacocks because they're so similar. On its own, the lipstick is a pretty pink. I'm more likely to wear these two products separate.

The ColourPop lipstick and lipliner formulas feel identical to me. It's a formula that's relatively creamy, opaque, and easy to apply. The lip swatch photos make it seem like these products settle in to fine lines, and they kind of do. If you have a lot of lines in your lips, or a few that are very deep (I'm in the latter group), they're going to be accentuated. The same goes for any dryness. Be sure to exfoliate your lips before applying!

This is not a "weightless" or "moisturizing" formula. It is dense, and you will feel it on your lips, though it's not as heavy as most pigmented, matte lipstick formulas.

Layered, the wear is pretty impressive for these: they'll last for 6-7 hours and a meal with very minimal fading. I think layering over the pencil, however, contributes to the long weartime: if you layer any lipstick over a lipliner, you're going to get more longevity. Sans lipliner, you still get good wear from the lipsticks at about 5 hours before there's fading.

My biggest qualm with the creaminess of the formula is it's almost impossible to get the super-sharp lip line I like. You can see this in the lip swatch photos: the edges always look a smidgen rough and "feathery." It's not a deal breaker for many of the shades, but I don't think I'll run out and purchase a bunch of brights/darks. ColourPop's products don't really really smear or bleed, but the edges will soften even more throughout the day; I use a q-tip at the edges of my mouth at about the 4 hour mark.

These products have a faint sweet scent that I cannot detect when they're on my lips.

If I gave "half stars," I would rate ColourPop a 3.5. As it stands, I'm rounding up to a 4. The formulation of these lip products is nice, though nothing stellar. The color range and cost per unit, however, make it a great indie brand to try, especially if you're looking to try a bunch of new shades or build up your collection without breaking the bank. I will probably try more, though the softness of the formula makes me hesitant to go for the bolds.

RATING: 4 out of 5.

ColourPop products are available at This is an affiliate link that will give you $5 off of your first order and will reward me with $5 in store credit.

From left to right: ColourPop Fancy lipstick and lipliner (sorry for the typo!), ColourPop Cake lipstick, MAC Sushi Kiss lipstick, MAC Betty Bright lipstick, ColourPop Pony lipliner and lipstick, MAC Petals & Peacocks lipstick, Urban Decay Native lipstick.

From left to right: ColourPop Frida lipliner and lipstick, Hourglass Canvas liquid lipstick, Lipstick Queen Pink Sinner lipstick, ColourPop Frenchie lipliner and lipstick, MAC Scarlet Ibis lipstick.


  1. This is the most helpful review I've seen so far of the Colourpop lip products! Most of the other reviews I've read are along the lines of "zomg so great no complaints," which made me wary (especially as Colourpop seems to have sent out a lot of press samples). I still love Frenchie, but now I think I'll skip the others. I do want to try their eyeshadows, though.

    Also, have you seen this?

    1. Yeah, I was a little stunned that all of these reviewers are just raves. Even when I love a product, I try to pick out potential issues with it. I think that's just something reviewers should do: list pros and cons, even if they love or hate a product.

      God, I love MUA Circle Jerk on Reddit. XD

  2. The fact that they're touted as a bargain when you're getting less product for the amount you pay seems a little shady. It's not like I easily go through a full tube of lipstick, I'm far too much of a magpie with lipstick for that, but I'd like to know first. Also the fact that yours is the first review I've seen of them to mention that fact makes my inner skeptic sit up and take notice. I think if they ever come out with a line of unusual colors (green, blue, grey, etc) I might check out the lipsticks, but otherwise pass.

    And thank you for the bit on 'lipie' I hate that term. Hate it with the passion. It just sounds like baby talk, not something I want to see/hear when discussing make-up.

    1. They actually do have a blue, green, and a few other unusual colors. :)

      I don't know if I'd call it "shady." The amount of product you get is clearly listed on the site and on the tube; the company isn't hiding it. But I've noticed a lot of reviewers squealing over the unit price without considering the actual amount of product you get. I just wanted to point out that the price is actually on par with a lot of other brands when you calculate price-per-gram. $5/gram is still a decent price for a good lipstick, in my opinion.

    2. Ah, I wasn't aware of the unusual colors. I should probably actually check out the site :)

      And to clarify, I didn't intend to imply anything shady from the company, but rather from the reviewers. Most likely not on purpose on their part, but it does bother me. Because to tout the lipsticks as super affordable, which they kind of are at $5, while neglecting to mention that you get significantly less product then what people expect in a lipstick feels dishonest. On a price for product level they aren't actually all that cheap, they're on par with most midrange lipsticks. I've seen a couple of reviewers state that they're a great bargain and amazing product for the price, except now that I know the price/product ration I can see that's not quite true and I'm annoyed.

    3. The price per gram/ounce deal seems to be something a lot of reviewers just don't think about. I can't deny that I was one of those people. The value for how much actual product I was getting (versus how much the unit cost), y'know, it just didn't occur to me until a few years back. But I am surprised that it doesn't get mentioned more.

      I still think they're a bargain if, like me, you have quite a number of lipsticks and rarely finish one, or if you just want to try a new color without committing to a bigger, more expensive tube. But if you end up liking one or two shades and using them exclusively? Yeah, you're gonna go through the tubes pretty fast.

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