Lip lacquers have increased in popularity in the past year with mask wearing calling for longer wearing, more transfer proof lip formulas (for those of us who refuse to give up our lippies!). Lip lacquers are essentially a hybrid between a lip gloss and a liquid lipstick – a glossy liquid lipstick if you will. They tend to have a tenacity that keeps them adhered to the lips with a gummy-like feel (in a nice way), while being fairly transfer proof and sometimes even promise to leave behind a stain once the product wears off. Often touted as a comfortable (I agree) and moisturising (we’ll get to that) lip formula with great longevity – can a lip product really give us the best of both worlds?
With most brands now offering them, we really are spoilt for choice. After resisting more recent releases and taking on the approach of using what I have, I’m going to review two formulas that I’ve had now for over a year: the Lancome l’absolu lacquer (been around for some time now) and the Armani ecstasy mirror lip lacquer (released/reformulated spring 2020).
Lancome L’absolu Lip Lacquer
This is a semi-sheer, buildable pigment that can look a bit patchy if applied sparingly and requires a bit of work to get a nice even coating – but it is doable. It adheres well to the lips and doesn’t smear over the face like a lip gloss would, making the bolder shades easier to wear. It does require re-application after eating, but wears well otherwise.
This formula, at least in the two shades I have, doesn’t have much staining effect and can’t really be worn blotted down like the Armani formula. I think the slight translucency helps the product to not look patchy as it wears down though.
It has a light floral/sweet scent, but I don’t find it overpowering or irritating at all. I find this formula to not dry out my lips at all – if anything it provides a little bit of moisture throughout the day.
Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer
A medium, buildable formula that can be worn opaque or blotted down to a stain.
Heavy staining effect: Great in terms of furthering the longevity of the wear, but unfortunately it unevenly stains if you happen to have dry patches on your lips as it clings to the them. Without this problem, it wears down evenly, but more often than not I have some form of dry or dermatitis patch around my mouth.
Strong floral fragrance – not an offensive smell but too overpowering for me. I prefer lip products with either no scent, or very subtle or appetising scents (such as the Dior lip maximiser and stellar lip shines, or Tom Ford lipsticks)
All shades in this formula dry out my lips slightly by the end of the day (some more so than others – i’ll mention which in the next section) and sometimes can feel a bit irritating (often an issue for me with heavily fragranced or staining products). Therefore I don’t wear them on consecutive days, nor do I reach for them as much as I would like. It is a shame since the formula is otherwise more refined than the Lancome counterpart and applies more evenly.
I own five shades in total: two in the Lancome formula and three in the Armani formula.
- Lancome L’absolu Lacquer shade 134 Be Brilliant: a true red that goes easy on the blue tones
- Lancome L’absolu Lacquer shade 202 Nuit & Jour: a light nude with soft peachy tones
- Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer shade 101: a medium warm nude with burnt coral vibes
- Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer shade 400: the classic red shade with subtle blue tones
- Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer shade 502: a soft, medium, neutral pink
Lancome L’absolu Lacquer: 202 – Nuit & Jour
This is the palest and sheerest out of the bunch. Not too pale for me, just a nice peachy-pink nude for spring. It can slightly settle/separate along lip lines, but this doesn’t happen every single time I use it.
Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer in 101
My least favourite colour in theory, yet it has ended up being the one I like the most. It has the benefits of the more refined cushiony formula of the Armani, yet doesn’t irritate my lips like the other two shades in this formula, unless I reapply frequently in one day. It stains the least out of the three, but also doesn’t cling badly to dry patches and wears evenly on me down to a lasting subtle stain. It isn’t moisturising but isn’t particularly drying either. Occasionally it feels irritating, especially if my lips aren’t in good condition to begin with and need to be babied. I reserve this nude leaning towards burnt coral shade for spring and summer when my lips are generally in better condition.
Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer in 502
This is probably my favourite shade of the bunch (in theory at least) – I’m a sucker for a neutral muted pink as it goes well with my neutral skin tone and the cooler eye shadow looks I tend to wear. I do have to be careful not to wear this if I have any dryness on my lips as it clings to those patches and stains them darker, leaving it looking patchy. You can see faintly in the picture above how it has started to cling to the inner part of my bottom lip. This shade has quite a bright pink shade, brighter than the shade initially appears. I would like this if it was even and non-irritating. I find that it dries out my lips quite a bit as well by the end of the day (more so than shade 101).
Lancome L’absolu Lacquer: 134 – Be Brilliant
The way this product sets on the lips makes it an ideal formula for wearing a shiny bold colour without the fear of it smudging and smearing all over the face. This colour wears well unless I eat something, in which case it almost completely disappears (apart from a line around the perimeters) and needs reapplying. Another colour that I reserve for spring/summer due to the lighter, brighter shade of red. The only issue really is that it’s difficult to apply evenly, as with the other shade in this formula, only it can be more noticeable with a bold shade.
Armani Ecstasy Mirror Lip Lacquer in 400
The shade 400 is Armani’s classic red shade that appears across most of their lip formulas. I absolutely love this shade in the lip maestro liquid lipstick formula, and the shade here is no less beautiful. Unfortunately though it irritated my lips and I had to declutter it. I should give a disclaimer that I have very sensitive, dermatitis prone lips and imagine that most people won’t have the same problem as me (no promises though as with anything), but something in this particular shade and formula broke me out into a dry red rash (something I’m used to dealing with). I will say that even before then, the stain of this lip product would attach and deepen more on patches that were already dry, so I had issues with the formula even before the bad reaction. I did try it for a second time with no luck before it was time to say goodbye.
I’m not completely in love with any of these to be honest. I find there isn’t a single one that ticks all boxes for me and they each have their own downfalls. The Armani formula is nice but the scent, irritation, and dryness experienced really puts me off using them. Shade 101 is the most wearable in this sense but it’s not personally my favourite shade, although I do think it looks nice in the warmer months. The Lancome doesn’t hurt my lips in any way, but they can be difficult to apply evenly which is a little disappointing. That said, they are the ones I reach for more due to the comfort of them.
I think I’ll get some more use out of these since the money has been spent, but I’m more likely to go and try out other formulas in the future than purchase more of either of these. Let me know if you have any recommendations!
This is not a sponsored post. All products mentioned in this post have been purchased by myself, family or friends.