Thursday, 30 December 2021

"The Lipstick Effect" in the time of Covid, plus my discontinued Burberry Nude Rose dupe merry-go-round

Readers will doubtless be familiar with the term "The Lipstick Effect", whereby in times of economic crisis consumers are drawn to self-comforting purchases of luxury goods, but trade down to smaller and cheaper options such as a niche scented candle or high end lipstick rather than fur coats or Louis Vuitton leather goods (to cite an extreme example). We've had nearly two years now of stop-start social isolation and travel restrictions, and as Christmas approached I found myself ineluctably compelled to buy myself all manner of affordable treats, from Blonde Chocolate Honeycomb pieces from Aldi to Turkish Delight from T K Maxx and fox-themed Fairisle socks from H & M. But beyond all that - and there were many more items than I care to disclose, some of which should perhaps be set aside till next year! - I also had a nagging urge to replace my go-to daytime lipstick, Burberry Nude Rose, which is as flat as a pancake now and which I have already re-bought several times.

A cursory squint on Google revealed that the price of Nude Rose (not the most recent lipstick of that name, which was a "Lip Velvet 405" and more of a definite pink, but rather the original Lip Cover No 25 version) had shot up to £28 since I last bought it, when I am sure it was more like £22, which I know is already quite steep for a lipstick. Yet I was bewitched by the haptic allure of the ruggedised Tartan bullet, and the easy-close magnetic cap, with its satisfying thunk...Anyway, my search also confirmed that the Nude Rose I had owned was discontinued, prompting another flurry of googling to hunt for any remaining stock knocking about in some remote corner of the Internet.

I quickly found an example of the correct Nude Rose for sale on a discount clothing site in the US for $30, which unfortunately necessitated a US address. I approached a friend in Portland - the driver on the West Coast leg of the Monochrome Set tour in 2019 - whom I knew to have plans to travel to Europe as soon as it was practicable. He was very happy to act as shipping address and onward mule once he was able to cross the pond again, should the postage (and/or customs charges) directly to the UK prove punitively expensive, as they may well have done.

As soon as I heard from my friend, I went back on the clothing site, but the lipstick was gone...This news in turn prompted a plummet down the rabbit hole of dupe identification, which swallowed up two entire evenings and drove me just shy of utterly exasperated and stir crazy.

First up, I found a YouTube video, where the reviewer, MrsTheDoll, presented a quintet of alternatives to my beloved Burberry:

L'Oreal Fairest Nude (800) / L'Oreal Balm Nourishing Nude (818)  / Maybelline Colour Sensational Nearly Bare (205) / MAC Hug Me / MAC Half 'n' Half 

Well, of course this triggered yet more googling to see if I could confirm these comparisons from other reviews, or even acquire "reverse dupe confirmation" eg by putting in "MAC Half 'n' Half dupe" and seeing if Nude Rose popped up in the other direction, as it were.

MAC Half 'n' Half ~ Source: Asos

What happened instead was that the "reverse dupe" tactic tended to throw up completely different lipsticks, which I dutifully proceeded to google and attempt to "dupify" in their own right, and so the trail went on and on and on...and on. Many of the lipsticks mentioned proved to be discontinued as well, though it might have taken me several hours of keen pursuit before this dawned on me(!); some of them were too sheen-y or too sheer or too matte or too expensive or too perfume-y (if the reviews were to believed), and thus I continued to shuttle from blog to blog and video to video like a ball bearing in a desperate game of bagatelle trying to align all the requisite attributes in a coherent pattern, including verifying the most important variable of all - colour.

In the end, I impulsively bought L'Oreal Beige a Nu for about six quid including postage - it had the twin advantage of being one of the few nudes I was considering that you could still actually buy anywhere(!), and it was cheap. And looked broadly in the right colourway. Okay, triple, not twin advantage. But it wasn't mentioned as a dupe for Nude Rose! Hmm, though I see it is cited as a dupe for Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk, which looks very nice, haha. Beige a Nu isn't as creamy and moisturising in feel as the Burberry, not by a long chalk, but it is in the general ballpark, all things considered, and not too much money to waste on a punt - I will certainly wear it. 

L'Oreal Beige a Nu ~ Source: Luxplus

And then, on a whim, I re-googled Nude Rose on my phone (which uses a different browser and search engine from my net book, with a less American slant), and suddenly I saw a couple of stockists pop up, both purporting to sell the very article I had been hunting for all along! One was another discounted fashion outlet, the other a pharmacy. I bought one immediately (for just £15), then regretted I hadn't gone for two, in the spirit of always having a back up for discontinued items of great importance. So I placed an order with the other store and am still waiting for it to arrive. The pharmacy lipstick has come and is the real deal - you cannot believe how happy I was to be reunited with it. Having used Nude Rose consistently for so many years, and had so many happy times while wearing it - Undina knows how much I am wedded to the brand, as a fellow Burberry owner - it feels like a part of me more than a mere accessory, if that doesn't sound too grandiose. Oh look, I even wrote a post about Burberry's lipsticks back in 2012 before I bought my first one!

Note that I learnt in the course of my research that the term "nude" is a very broad church indeed, and includes my one quid bargain from Poundland (Choca Mocha No 4) for which I also have a back up. ;) So here is my current line up of "core" nude lipsticks, with the Burberry on the left, then the L'Oreal, and the Poundland on the right.

So, having wasted umpteen hours hunting down a substitute - only to end up buying the very thing I really wanted in the first place, in addition to the L'Oreal that I found, which wasn't even listed as a dupe for Nude Rose anywhere, but which just looked "about right" to my exhausted eye, haha - my advice would be to get the one you want when you see it, and don't mess about. For the principle of the "Lipstick Effect" allows for a pricey lipstick purchase in lieu of a much more extravagant outlay. With Louis Vuitton tote bags hovering around the £1000 mark - and arguably being a bit obvious and/or vulgar - a £15 luxury lipstick (or even two of them, hehe) seems like the epitome of self-restraint.

Oh I say, I just spotted another dupe of the Charlotte Tilbury I mentioned in that same link: Rimmel Rose Nude 45. It is "Nude Rose" reversed and only costs about a fiver. Or is it too pink for my warmer toned skin? Hmm, shall I "buy the bullet"....? Or will the next lipstick look exactly like the ones I already own, which as all wearers of lippie know, is the way it goes...

Have you driven yourself round the twist hunting for a much loved beauty item that is discontinued? Whether perfume, makeup or skincare? Did you win?!


Tara said...

Hi V.

I know The Lipstick Index (Effect?) and yes,I'm sure it's a
real thing. A new luxury lippie can give you a real lift.

Unfortunately I've turned to cashmere loungewesr which I laughed at this time last year. (Albeit from H&M with 20% off).

Pleased you got your Burberry original for a reasonable price. I remember searching for Mac Night Rose when it got discontinued but those liquid lipsticks with gloss were of their time.
I think many of us have been there.

Vanessa said...

Hi T,

It's an Effect and an Index, I think? Ooh, I love the thought of your turning to cashmere loungewear - I think Undina may have blazed that trail before you if my memory serves me. You can't beat ultra soft fabrics. ;)

I know what you mean about liquid lipsticks with gloss having their moment - I was deeply attached to an Estee Lauder one and bought it on repeat for years - it was the Nude Rose of its day for me! Can't even remember the name now but I wouldn't buy anything like it now.

I realise the EL gloss is pictured in that post I linked to from 2012, in the line up of "peach and brown probationers", lying on its side, hehe.

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, this is striking home. During the past couple of years I must have bought half a dozen lippies, and several eyeshadows, at the drugstore. Drugstores were often the only place open aside from the grocery store, and during my serious drugstore shopping also getting something frivolouswas a real comfort. Didn't find anything that Changed My Life, including my crack at a L'Oreal, the Nu Confidant talked up in magazines, but they did still cheer me up.


Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Good to know I am not the only one prone to lipstick profligacy in the pandemic. ;) It is very true that drugstores were one of the few places open during the toughest restrictions, which I hadn't considered as an added factor in this "lipstick effect". That L'Oreal range of Les Nus had passed me by, but I love the shape of the bullets and think I'd be drawn to the same one as you. I am still circling J Lo's Nude(!) but have resisted for now, telling myself it might be too brown, hehe.

Undina said...

Vanessa, you should kill that bot above!

I’m impressed that you remembered my cashmere loungewear! I was just enjoying it during my holidays staycation.

I just recently threw away my flattened Burberry lipstick. The brand has disappeared from all stores around that previously carried it, so I don’t know when/if I find another one to wear.

I went crazy with lipsticks. First, I was buying backups of different Lipstick Queen’s products because their site closed, and I wasn’t sure how long my favorite Hello Sailor and Frog Prince will be available (I think they still are). And the one that I gave you (I think it was Goodbye from a Butterfly Ball collection, and it didn’t work for you), is completely discontinued: I’m on my last bullet (It was a good joke!), and I can’t find it any more.
Then I bought Lisa Eldridge lipsticks. And lip balms. In general, I think, my lipsticks collection is comparable to my perfume collection (but lipsticks don’t store as well as perfumes).
In my opinion, when it comes to lipsticks, it’s better to have just one or two very expensive lipsticks that you love than a dozen of “dupess.” I’m glad that you found your lipstick. But you should look for another color or brand before this one is used up: while you try something in parallel, it will be easier to accept that the new one is also good (or maybe even better). But nothing can compare to our memories of things we used to love! ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I killed the bot!

Interesting that we are flattening our Burberrys at a similar rate, hehe, and I take on board your advice to find another "high end love" to pursue next time. I actually have the same issue brewing on a Lip Balm from Revlon called Creme Brulee that Katie Puckrik got me onto - it nicely tones down any lipsticks that are too red on me to start with (which is most of them!). And my favourite red lip gloss was discontinued so I am soldiering on with one that is more vivid than I like, so I put it *over* the Creme Brulee or the Burberry to add a hint of red - it seems to work both ways ie under and over. Will be lost when that is down to a stub.

I still have Goodbye and have only used it once or twice because as much as I aspire to wear all sorts of colours, I don't suit ones with any blue undertones, especially given my thin lips. I have just dug it out and it really does look like new, so I don't know if you could accept it back if I gave it a wipe? Or is that an outrageous suggestion?!

Anonymous said...

I can relate to the lipstick effect. But my standby is always Nivea blackberry lip balm on top of a spf lip balm (sadly, the Nivea doesn’t contain sunscreen). The lipstick effect is more to perfume, in which I caved, and bought CDG Kyoto, from the incense range, to accompany the Avignon. Both are very soothing for this turbulent time.

Please send my regard to Truffles.


Undina said...

Let's agree that whatever you won't use up by the time we meet (or at least have a "muling opportunity"), I'll get from you and see if it's still fine to use: I have absolutely no issues with getting a not pristine lipstick from a friend, my concern is mostly about its shelf life. And thank you for your offer! :)

Vanessa said...

That sounds like a good plan to me. I will also send you a photo so you can get a rough idea of the condtion - though I realise that if it has dried up over time that wouldn't show in a picture!

Vanessa said...

Hi Joyce,

Sorry for the late reply - I must have missed your comment earlier, don't know how!

I had never thought of applying spf to my lips, though it makes perfect sense. I guess if the skin on my face gets wrinkly due to lack of sunscreen I will notice that more, but sun damaged lips can be awfully uncomfortable, so it is something I really should consider.

You are well stocked up with churchy incense scents now(!), and I do agree that we need ones that soothe at the moment.