In possibly the most bizarre (or rather, mismatched) beauty partnership in the history of celebrity makeup collaborations, drugstore brand L’Oreal Paris joined forces with high-fashion French label Balmain to create a range of 12 exclusive couture matte shades (Legend, Power, Rebellion, Freedom, Liberation, Domination, Confidence, Confession, Fever, Urban Safari, Balmain Instinct & Glamazone) designed under the creative direction of Olivier Rousteing (the man with those unbelievably high cheekbones in the promotional picture below) himself.
Drawing inspiration from the diverse ethnicity of the 12 supermodels fronting the campaign, the revamped Color Riche Moist collection is divided into three colour themes to represent the three tribes of L’Oréal Paris × Balmain Paris femininity – Glamazone (green), Couture (black), and Rock (blue). They are formulated with pure pigments and camellia oil and were made available for preorder on U.S. online retailers Ulta and Barneys New York (where I bought mine using ComGateWay’s BuyForMe service) last October, and subsequently rolled out in stores (Singapore included) in January. Judging from the almost-empty racks in Watsons within the first month of launch, I reckon this collection had a remarkable reception.
Each lipstick is housed in premium packaging inspired by precious gemstones (albeit not as lavish-looking) bearing the iconic logo of the Balmain. Prices, although significantly higher than those in the regular line, are nevertheless kept relatively affordable despite the prestige name attached to it. So if you have been dreaming to own an authentic designer piece without taking out a mortgage, this is the opportunity you have been waiting for!
Since this collection has already been out for awhile, many of the shades would’ve been sold out by now in Singapore so pardon me for the delay in posting this review. This was supposed to be completed before the new year but life somehow got in the way (and someone has got to pay the bills, y’know 😕 #life). That said, many of the shades are still pretty much available on Robinsons Singapore for a steal. Otherwise, you can still snag them all on Barneys New York through ComGateWay’s BuyForMe service if you don’t have a U.S. credit card.
My ComGateWay’s BuyForMe cost breakdown (FYI)
Cost of lipsticks: US$14 × 9 = US$126
BuyForMe service charge (5%): US$6.30
PRIME Shipping (estimated as cost was for multiple parcels): US$15
Estimated cost of each lipstick: US$16.37 (≈S$23) or less after discounts
* STILL CHEAPER THAN IN SINGAPORE 🤩 *
Being one of the first cosmetics brands I was introduced to when I transcended into the makeup realm in my teens, L’Oreal surely has an element of nostalgia associated with it. Hence, talking about it certainly feels like a major throwback. Years after making the switch from drugstore to higher-end products, things have turned full circle now that NINE L’Oreal × Balmain lipsticks (through careful consideration – I would’ve gotten all if my bank account permitted) have earned a spot in my stash!
Uncapping the lipsticks one by one, what struck me was the unmistakable smell that wafted from the bullet (which the online beauty community had warned about) – a whiff that will either wrinkle your nose or make you huff it like puppy breath. For me, it was both, or rather a gradual transition from pleasant to kinda revolting. What I initially thought was an artificial-but-still-bearable sweet floral scent morphed into a reminiscent of headache-inducing cheap perfume peppered with stench of sweat (or what many would describe as old lady perfume) after some time, and it was the same for the rest of the lipsticks in this post. Fortunately, the smell did not last long on the lips but it certainly made me more hesitant to wear them.
Legend is described as a dark brown with a matte finish. This reddish ash brown tugs and skips slightly on the lips and lends a somewhat streaky application with a medium but buildable (to some extent) coverage. The amount of pigment deposited isn’t as intense as most mattes but it’s still passable. It provides minimal shine and does not leave a tacky surface nor settle into my lip lines. The texture, however, feels drying although it does not appear so.
Power is described as a red brown with a matte finish. A cool-toned brown when swatched on my hand, the lipstick transforms into a deep rusty brownish burgundy when applied on the lips. It provides medium pigmentation and a semi-sheer coverage which builds up to a more dramatic colour in about three swipes and is neither drying nor hydrating. The consistency is slightly leans more towards satin than matte.
Every additional coat seems to intensify the grainy appearance of the product and accumulate in my lip lines. Furthermore, it also left a texture that resembled dry erase marker grime on my lips, and its streaky and patchy consistency made me look like I had scabs all over my lips even though they were as smooth as baby’s bottoms. Hence, I reckon this would exacerbate any dryness or imperfections on the lips, so exfoliate away! Nevertheless, this shade instantly adds glamour to the face and is suitable for all skin types, especially darker ones.
Rebellion is described as a blue with a matte finish. This deep cobalt blue has a dry consistency that causes it to tug and drag during application, thereby giving rise to a slightly uneven and patchy appearance and a weighed-down sensation to the lips. For the same reason, it is also prone to settling in my lip lines.
It has a semi-opaque pigmentation which strangely stays the same even when more layers are built upon it. Hence, what you see on the first swipe would virtually be how it is like at its fullest potential. The slightly tacky texture tends to lift and separate the colour when I press my lips together, leaving very visible gaps at areas that have been touched. So, bring along a pocket mirror and be prepared for frequent touch-ups if you want the colour to remain immaculate throughout the day!
Liberation is described as a dark purple with a matte finish. This beautiful deep cool-toned purple has a consistency similar to that of Rebellion but better to some degree, mainly because it applies more evenly and its patchiness, being only noticeable at a close distance if there aren’t any flaws on the lips for it to throw spotlight on, are more forgiving and can mostly be mended with additional coats of colour. This shade is buildable to full opacity in just three swipes and does not budge as easily as Rebellion. That said, I still couldn’t shake off that drying sensation when I wore it.
Confidence is described as a metallic rose gold with a matte finish. Probably the most disappointing purchase from this collection, this gold shimmer-infused light-medium peach is hardly pigmented anywhere on my skin. Running the bullet across my lips, I felt as if my lips were undergoing another process of exfoliation. The bullet was dry and uncomfortably grainy, and it coarsely deposited a colour (or lack thereof) that disappeared into the void, leaving just unevenly dispersed glitter – most of which decided to settle into the cracks on my lips and only reveal themselves when the right amount of light hits them (an effect that can also be achieved by any lip gloss – easily and more affordably). People with darker skin tones would have better luck at this shade. But still… I wouldn’t recommend this at all.
To be fair, L’Oreal had advised that this be used as a lip topper but I can foresee it rubbing off the lipstick (unless, of course, it’s a matte liquid lipstick) it is supposed to enhance. So, really, I do not understand the point of this shade.
To add insult to injury, the scent of this particular lipstick is exceptionally unpleasant and pungent, so much so that I actually feel paranoid wearing this for fear that I may inadvertently ingest the harmful chemicals behind this nauseating smell. Regardless, steer clear of this trash!
Confession is described as a peach with a matte finish. One of my favourites from this haul, this warm-toned coral glides moderately smoothly on the lips with minimal tugging and yielded an evenly pigmented and opaque payoff in one stroke without emphasising every single line and crack in the lips.
While the lipstick feels creamy and a notch more moisturising at first, it does eventually wear down to a completely matte texture over a couple of minutes and this causes it to feel somewhat drying and prone to flaking. But I am happy to turn a blind eye to these minor flaws on account of its other merits. This shade stayed on well for nearly four hours before fading to a lighter orange stain.
Fever is described as a red orange with a matte finish. The most sought-after shade in this collection, this one-of-a-kind muted brown-toned burnt orange sold out unexpectedly in a flash during the pre-order period and again when it was restocked for a brief moment, though it is not difficult to fathom why.
As daunting as it seems, Fever is actually incredibly wearable and complementary on all skin tones, especially olive complexions. Apart from the richly pigmented colour it provides, it applies evenly across the lips and is buildable to a full coverage in a matter of three coats, tops. The pictures above don’t do it justice (and I dare not adjust the colours much because they may appear differently on screens with varying colour resolution), but this hue of orange is really unlike what I’ve owned or seen before. It also has relatively good staying power as I was able to sustain that orange pout for about three hours before it came in contact with grease. The consistency, however, feels slightly heavy and there would be some inevitable tugging and dryness, but this can be alleviated with a little lip balm beneath it.
Balmain Instinct is described as a green with matte finish. Loaded with fine gold glitter flecks, this olive green is the unusual lipstick colour I never knew I would dig. The green is subtle enough to rock solo or blended with another conventional colour of your choice to spice up the look a bit while the shimmers prevent you from resembling the walking dead.
But these still do not discount the fact that it has a streaky consistency which causes it to accentuate my lip lines. On top of that, this shade fails to deliver in the pigment and texture departments – it takes at least eight coats for the colour to build up substantially (and rubbing off some existing product in the process) and even so still appears sheer and patchy. Judging from how terribly it applies, I reckon it also won’t hold weight in the longevity arena – I can totally imagine it dissipating into the lip lines as the hours go by.
Glamazone is described as a brown with matte finish. At a glance, this grey-toned brown may seem similar to Legend but this certainly looks duller and patchier in appearance. In addition to that, this shade has a slight glistening sheen and a sheerer coverage which can barely build up. But on the plus side, its lightly creamy and emollient texture enables it to glide across my lips without tugging and settling into my lip lines. It is also noticeably more hydrating and comfortable to wear. Considering that the lipsticks in this collection generally have the tendency to dry my lips out, this is actually a feat!
All in all, this collection is a hit-or-miss, but mostly a hit if we disregard their awful smell. But on a serious note, I find the consistency and pigment yielded by many of the lipsticks pretty much comparable to those from mid-range beauty brands. The payoff of Fever, Liberation and Confession far exceeded my expectations of a drugstore brand, to be honest. And you know how drugstore lipsticks always advertise their lipsticks to be matte but in actual fact are more lustrous than my engagement ring? I am so glad none of these L’Oreal lipsticks turned out that way!
What are your thoughts about the lipsticks in this collaboration? Let me know your views in the comments below or simply take a quick poll!
Thanks for reading!