It's no secret that Besame makes my absolute favorite lipstick formula. I love it so much, I wrote them a gushing email and they ended up sending me a few other products to try. There's no shame in having a favorite formula. What is slightly more shameful is the fact that I own eleven tubes, ten full size and most purchased in the span of a year. I could own more, but I've told myself that I've already gotten rid of several redundant or unflattering colors, and I know that most of the shades I haven't tried wouldn't work in my collection.
Then again, I'm barely resisting Tango Red. Thank the Lord moving is expensive.
For now, I thought it would be helpful to wear all of the lipsticks back-to-back, especially since I own or have owned almost every red the company makes. There are a few shades that I've swatched, but no longer own: 1930 Noir Red looked almost black on me and had a "meh" formula, 1935 was beautiful, but I didn't need another cool red, and 1969 Dusty Rose wasn't flattering on me at all. The shades I haven't owned are 1922 Blood Red (too similar to Merlot), 1939 Tango Red (I don't need another warm red), or 1952 Wild Orchid (it's too purple and it's only available at certain times, anyway). I don't own any of the Snow White shades, either.
Bear in mind that I attempted to come up with the most basic, simple makeup I could so that I could wear a bunch of different shades without them looking too "off." Also, I had to apply and remove almost a dozen decently long-wearing, pigmented lipsticks; my mouth ended up looking quite the mess, and my application is nowhere near as sharp as I usually like. That said, I think this will still be a useful comparison post!
1920 Besame Red
NOTE: This shade was sent to me by the company.
Their Description: "True red with a cooler, blue-toned base. Bright, vibrant, and head turning."
My Description: I find that it's pretty much impossible to make a bright red totally neutral; it will always lean a little cool or a little warm. Besame Red is the former. While they call this "bright, vibrant, and head turning," I think it has a slightly more muted quality than their other cool reds (scroll to the 1940s for that). It's a surprisingly wearable shade that I reach for more than I ever thought I would. Fair warning, this shade always leaves a strong pink stain on my lips after I remove it.
Their Description: "Neutral orange-red, with mostly orange pigments. Perfect for golden and olive skin tones, bright and beautiful on light skin too."
My Description: If I had to come up with a list of my top three favorite Besame lipsticks, Carmine would definitely be on it. As per their description, this is a very warm red; in fact, I'd say it's just one step shy of being a straight up orange. I find this shade truly bright and eye catching on my fair, yellow-toned skin, and it really does look stunning on tan and olive complexions.
NOTE: This shade was sent to me by the company.
Their Description: "Dark brown brick-red shade. Neutral enough for daily wear on any skin tone."
My Description: It's interesting that Besame calls this "neutral enough for daily wear on any skin tone," because I think it's very vampy on anyone with light to medium skin. While it's too deep for me to wear daily, it's a great every day red on dark complexions, and I love it for special occasions. The richness of this shade always garners compliments.
1941 Victory Red
Their Description: "A highly pigmented and saturated red. Denser, brighter, deeper and a bit darker than Bésame Red. Ideal for all skin tones."
My Description: This photo isn't quite doing justice to how bright Victory Red is. "Saturated" is the perfect description for this very cool-toned, bold, brilliant red shade. Victory Red has a slightly glossier formula than my other Besame lipsticks; if I want their usual satin finish, I have to blot it. Even blotted down, this is not a red for the faint of heart. I also have to note that some darker skinned people have mentioned that this shade turns pink on them, so it may not be the best color for deeper skintones.
1945 American Beauty
Their Description: "A cool berry red shade from 1945 with magenta undertones."
My Description: Is this color flattering on me? Not really, thanks to all of the purple in it. Do I keep it anyway? Yes, because it's so damn pretty. It's a winner for those of you who want a red that's cool toned, but not incredibly bright. American Beauty reminds me of Revlon Cherries in the Snow, but it's more matte. In fact, this shade is more matte than any of my other Besame lipsticks.
1946 Red Velvet
Their Description: "A deeper red suitable for every day wear. This neutral undertone red looks wonderful on all skin tones."
My Description: Now, this is a neutral, deep red I could see most people wearing every day! I've never seen this shade look bad on someone. As the name suggests, it's a rich, velvety red shade. My tube is in the special edition Agent Carter packaging, which is gorgeous and worth every penny.
1955 Exotic Pink
Their Description: "A bright bold flamingo pink from 1955."
My Description: It seems that this color was discontinued, then very, very briefly brought back when the company found an extra box of lipstick in storage. In my opinion, it's a shade they need to bring back to the rotation. Not only does it provide a break from all of the reds (and yes, I love red, but we need a breather sometimes), it's also a gorgeous shade in its own right. As weird as it sounds, this is the sort of shade that makes me think of "ribbons" and "orchids," very beautiful, fun, cool-toned pink things.
1959 Red Hot Red
Their Description: "A bold and brazen warm red. Similar to Bésame Red but warmer, with more yellow tones. A classic fire engine red."
My Description: I didn't need this shade, but I was splitting the limited edition Agent Carter lip kit with a friend, and she didn't want either of the reds. And when have I ever turned down a red? So here we are. Honestly, if you have one of the other true reds from the range, you probably don't need this color. Yes, it's slightly brighter and warmer than Besame Red, but they're so similar on the lips that nobody would even notice. If I had to pick, actually, I'd go for Besame Red because that muted quality makes it unique. You could also call Victory Red this shade's glossier, cooler-toned cousin. This is still a lovely lipstick; I'm just saying it seems redundant in the range.
1963 Portrait Pink
Their Description: "Pastel baby pink without shimmer, ideal for paler skin tones. A barely there pink for days when you want something simple and light."
My Description: I bought this lipstick expecting a truly mod, milky pink, but it ended up being brighter and less white than I expected. (For a real mod pink, I ended up going for Rodin So Mod.) You may find this more mod if you have light to medium skin; if you're darker skinned, I think this will be a bit too white based for you. As it stands, I like this shade, but I mostly use it as a mixer.
1965 Portrait Peach
Their Description: "Delicate soft peach color and cousin of our Portrait Pink."
My Description: "Delicate" and "soft" are subjective, so I'll just note that while this is, yet again, not a pastel peach on me and it's brighter than I initially expected, it actually feels very 60s. It reminds me of the shades Audrey Heburn wore in movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's. This is one of my favorites to wear with dark eye looks for a pop of color, and I love how it adds a bit more saturation to beige nudes like NARS Raquel.
1970 Chocolate Kiss
Their Description: "Neutral milk chocolate brown, especially flattering on red-heads. A great nude shade for medium to dark skin."
My Description: I can't recommend Chocolate Kiss for darker skin enough, but I also quite like it on my fair complexion. I think it's because this is a brown with a lot of red in it. It reads more terracotta than straight-up brown on me, and I like it. I only have a mini because it's not the sort of shade I wear often, but I always enjoy it when I do wear it.
All Shades Together for Easy Comparison