If you’re new here, let me tell you something: I am a huge sucker for inexpensive makeup. Some of you may roll your eyes at this- maybe you can easily afford high end or you think many high end products are “worth it,” or maybe the opposite and you wish you could afford more mid to high end products. I’m not going to tell you that your preferences are wrong- but here’s the thing. If I can find a product that works well and is inexpensive, I’m going to be super excited about it.
In my last Lip Monthly bag (July), I got a lipstick from City Color that I loved. When I found out that each one is super affordable ($4, normally), I was super excited! I then found out that they had packs on Amazon, where you could get 6 lipsticks for less than $12, I was even more excited. I was geared up to buy some, and then I looked at my collection and thought… “Hm, better not.” I simply didn’t have any holes in my lipstick collection to fill, so it felt wasteful. But, I was seriously lacking in the lip liner department, and I saw a 12-pack (essentially all of City Color’s colors) for $14. And nearly $1 a lip liner… I figured it was worth the gamble.
Now, like I said before, I don’t just love inexpensive makeup- it also has to work well. For me, a $20 lipstick that I love to wear is a better deal than a $1 lipstick that I never reach for- or vice versa (I’m more impressed by a cheap lipstick that wears beautifully than a name brand lippie that looks awful on me). The same is true for lip liners. While these may be cheap, if they don’t work, they aren’t worth $14. To me, though, it’s worth it to try- and hopefully my experience with them can help you decide if these are worth it to you.
First things first: quality impressions (build). To me, these don’t appear to be great quality right off the bat. I mean that they appear cheaply made. This bright pink color seemed to “bleed” onto the pencil itself, staining the white lettering pink…
More so, there appeared to be some kind of wax “melting” off of the pencils- both on the barrel and on the actual pencil
Those are just two of the colors- the other colors had this problem too, but I didn’t think you needed to see all 12 up close. You may notice in the pictures that my fingers, where the pencils rested, are stained. The formula is very, very soft, and just holding onto the pencil to try to take a picture smudged some of the pencil color onto me. While I don’t like super stiff “tear your skin” pencils, these ones were just a little too stiff for my liking.
Funnily enough, the reviews on Amazon have mixed opinions about the pencils’ hardness, which to me just means there are differences in quality between batches, or, alternatively, the hardness is impacted by temperature (it’s currently summer and my apartment usually stays in the upper 70s- we don’t have air conditioning).
Shade selection and swatches: Overall, the 12-pack has a decent shade selection, but I didn’t manage to find a true nude for me. This is true for just about any lip liner line, though. The 12 colors in this pack contain 3 nudes, one being a near-match for my skin tone, a dark wine red, two different berries, a couple brownish-reds, one red, a couple pinky-corals, and a vibrant pink. You can see them below (first pic is in natural light, second is with flash).
Top to bottom, we have:
- Antique pink
- Ruby (the only one that actually looks red, btw, but it’s still fairly orangey)
- Ultra pink
You can see that there is a good range, but some colors are very close to each other and not all shades you could want are represented. I’m unsure if they match up to a City Color City Chic lipstick, but I’m not sure which one (if any) would match with the one I have, Je t’aime. That said, I think Porcelain would be a great “lip blanking” pencil.
Application and wear: These work pretty well. When I used them as a liner, they appeared fairly soft. When filling in my entire lip, they appeared a little bit patchy and did emphasize my dry, flaky lips. They had a pretty matte finish to them. I would not wear them alone this way. I used Porcelain as a lip-blanking pencil and found it was a little yellow for my skin tone (noticeably different), but when I wore another lipstick on top, I did like the results. I didn’t notice any feathering, but my lipstick still didn’t last throughout my 13-hour work day!
Overall: These are pretty good for the amount you pay, but the down side is that in order to get these for so cheap, you do have to buy the set, and I don’t think I’ll use all the colors. The shade selection isn’t great, with most being nude, brown, or orange-toned. None matched the color of my natural lips, and none matched my actual skin tone. They make good layering pencils, though, and I would use them for that purpose, especially if you have any sheerer lip colors you want to warm up or darken at all. It would be nice if City Color had lip liners that matched all of their lipsticks!