A lesson on cost-per-wear, and why Shiseido’s new lip collection is worth the splurge

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed my preferences in makeup shifting. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been working for a while, and so (ideally) better understand the value of money. Or perhaps it was the rude awakening that was destashing two train-cases worth of barely-used drugstore makeup. Whatever the reason, I find that beyond K-Pop related fangirling, I’m harder to excite in the cosmetics department, having shifted my “collector” tendencies to skincare products and generally sticking to (and using up) the same makeup staples and shades.

The trade-up, I guess, of having a more “solidified” taste is that I can now justify to myself splurging on more high-end purchases! A few years ago, I would have balked at the price of Estée Lauder’s “entry level” Pure Color Love lip bullets (P1,275 each), considering how many cheaper lippies I could have gotten for the price of one. But having had to give so many of that “cheaper” collection away (or else risk it expiring barely-used) I’ve discovered the value of the “investment” purchase. While the jury is out on whether “luxury” really matters overall in the makeup game, some products really are worth the bigger price tag.

One of these worth-it buys has to be Shiseido’s new range of lipsticks. I spotted them in one of Liz’s Facebook lives, and found myself intrigued by their effortless application and dewy-matte finish. As someone who’s found she isn’t a fan of flat mattes (most of the lipsticks I gave away were of the matte liquid variety), I rarely am drawn to anything advertised with that finish, but the Shiseido Modern Matte looked velvety-smooth, even in the deep-wine Velvet Rope shade Liz used in her demo. Considering that plum and burgundy mattes tend to be patchy in even the best formulas, I was impressed by the one-swipe, pigmented coverage, enough that I found myself visiting a Shiseido counter the moment I could hie off to the department store.

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I ended up buying three different Shiseido lipsticks from their then-latest collection: the aforementioned Modern Matte, the VisionAiry Gel Lipstick (which is, as Liz described it, a “liquid lipstick in bullet form”), and the ColorGel Lip Balm. Since the general rule with luxury lipsticks is to buy it in your go-to shade (save the experimentation for cheaper options!) I pretty much stuck to a pink-red palette, with the ColorGel Lip Balm in Dahlia being my only nude-pink.

From left: Modern Matte   in  Shock Wave , VisionAiry Gel Lipstick   in  Firecracker , and ColorGel Lip Balm in  Dahlia

From left: Modern Matte in Shock Wave, VisionAiry Gel Lipstick in Firecracker, and ColorGel Lip Balm in Dahlia

While in the store and on my arm, Modern Matte in Shock Wave looked rose-pink but on my lips the color registers as being more on the coral side of the spectrum: a trendy-but-wearable hue that’s certain to be a hit considering 2019’s Pantone Color of The Year. The formula feels like an upgraded version of a creamy matte: rich and buttery when applied, settling into a slight velvet sheen. It isn’t 100% transfer-proof, which I don’t mind at all, as I’m happy to trade staying power for comfort. As promised, the Modern Matte is lightweight, and while not necessarily “hydrating,” definitely isn’t drying in the way standard mattes usually are.

Modern Matte in  Shock Wave

Modern Matte in Shock Wave

VisionAiry Gel Lipstick in  Firecracker

VisionAiry Gel Lipstick in Firecracker

Aside from being a gorgeous, daily-wear matte, the Modern Matte also levels up in terms of packaging experience. Its heavy, polished-metal case definitely has the “weight” factor that makes you feel like you’re holding something well-made and substantial, but what really delights is the magnetic closure, which causes the lid to glide open and shut. For those who don’t mind packaging very much, this may not be a big deal, but I am a sucker for a good user experience, and the Shiseido Modern Matte definitely provides that!

Despite the name, the VisionAiry Gel Lipstick doesn’t exactly feel “airy” when applied. Rather, the texture is that of a gel-balm that “wraps” around the lips as it settles, locking hydration in and leaving lips looking plump and slightly glossy over the 5 to 6 hours of wear I can usually get out of this lipstick. The shade Firecracker is, as the name suggests, a fiery red with tomato richness, not quite orange but not quite blue. I’ve found this is my go-to red for more retro-inspired looks, and quite like how the shade doesn’t “feather” into the skin around my lips like other reds do. Again, it does transfer when eating and drinking but I don’t mind at all.

ColorGel Lip Balm in  Dahlia

ColorGel Lip Balm in Dahlia

If I had known that the VisionAiry Gel Lipstick would feel like a balm when worn, I might not have purchased the ColorGel Lip Balm at all, but I’m quite glad I did! While this lip product works well as a hydrating “booster” under other shades, it also looks fantastic on its own: a glossy, dewy balm-stain that manages to be both super-pigmented and look very natural and sheer (probably owing to the MLBB color as Dahlia looks almost exactly like my actual lips). While this product does not have much by way of staying power - after all, it is a balm and is designed to slip - there is enough of a stain that I can comfortably wear this on its own for 3 to 4 hours, including light drinking and snacking. The glowy effect that the subtle gloss provides means I like reaching for this on no-makeup days, as it adds a sense of freshness to my look. I’ll admit that of the three Shiseido products I purchased, the ColorGel Lip Balm is my surprise favorite: I’m even considering adding more of the shades to my collection! (So much for not hoarding.)

Layering  Dahlia  and  Firecracker  for a berry-tinged stain

Layering Dahlia and Firecracker for a berry-tinged stain

So are these luxury lippies worth it?

Make no mistake: with price tags over the P1,000 mark, the new Shiseido lipstick collection does not come cheap. However, these products definitely provide a wearing experience that’s worth the heftier sum you shell out. Hydrating, with intense color payoff, and a seamless, natural-looking finish even for the “matte” of the bunch, these lipsticks pamper your pout as you wear them, and there really is something to be said for the boost you get wearing something you know is “special.” If nothing else, that extra confidence is definitely worth the investment.

Will you be springing for anything in the Shiseido collection? Let us know in the comments below!