Since Covid happened, I've been getting more into makeup, and that includes lip products. So I decided to do swatches and reviews to help anyone who is considering buying these shades. I have a mixture of drugstore, midrange and high-end lip products. I will link to a website where you can buy the product in Japan, where possible.

I match Fenty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation Shade 250, which is described as for "medium skin with warm peach undertones". So most of these lip products will have a warm or neutral tone. All of them are matte or matte-like because I dislike glossy lips.

After purchasing multiple products, I do think that price does have a correlation with quality to some extent. But you can find some pretty darn good products at drugstore prices, like the BBIA lip tints, they're just not extraordinary like the high-end products. My advice is to check multiple reviews before buying a product, so that you don't waste your money.

Without further ado, here's the swatches. I took them in afternoon daylight.

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Maybelline Color Sensational
I can't find the exact shade since it isn't numbered overseas, but above are the shades available in Japan. Would not repurchase because the quality is poor.

  • Pros: Highly pigmented color. Lightweight and not drying.
  • Cons: Bad chemical smell. Lots of transfer while eating and drinking - I could taste the lipstick in my mouth, which wasn't fun.
  • Colors:
    • Divine Wine: Burgundy red. This color is quite rare in Korean lipsticks, for some reason. Temptalia has swatches. I think it would work on both lighter and darker skin.

Giorgio Armani Rouge D'Armani Matte Lipstick
If I had to choose only one lipstick to own, it would be this. If you want to look expensive, pick this one. Definitely a luxury product. I saw a review on Sephora by a makeup artist saying that this was the best lipstick she'd ever tried. 100% would repurchase.

  • Pros: This is by far the most vibrant, pigmented red lipstick I have ever used. It stays on your lips all day throughout eating and drinking. It even lingered after washing with soap. Even though it's a matte lipstick, the formula is lightweight and not drying. The packaging is sleek and the magnetic closure is convenient and satisfying.
  • Cons: At ¥4,620 before tax, it is the most expensive lipstick in this post, but I think it's well worth the price. The applicator shape is somewhat awkward and makes it difficult to apply precisely, so I would recommend a lip brush.
  • Colors:
    • 400 Four Hundred: Based on the swatches, it looks more blue compared to the other reds. But I'm able to wear it fine, as someone with warm skin. So I think this is a neutral red that people with different skin tones can wear, as you can see in this article. I would wear this if I was going out, but it's too vivid for the office.

Romand Zero Gram Matte Lipstick
This is a Korean drugstore brand. The lipstick has a blurring effect on your lips. Most of the colors are pigmented, but also somewhat muted, possibly due to the blurring effect. Minsco has a great video review where she swatches them and states which skin tones each color suits. Would repurchase if I wanted cheap lipsticks, or I could not find equivalents in other products I like better.

  • Pros: Affordable - ¥1,089 before tax. Lightweight and not too drying for a matte lipstick. I think this is a good beginner lipstick for those reasons. Large color range, so you can definitely find something to suit you. Can survive one meal, but I would encourage re-application.
  • Cons: As someone with warm medium skin and pigmented lips, there is no good MLBB option for me in this line (possibly 01 Dusty Pink, but I don't own it). The nudes are too light for me. I think the line generally suits light skin tones better. The reds are fine for darker skin tones, though. Not many brown-based colors in this line, if you like those.
  • Colors:
    • 03 Silhouette: A neutral pink-red which Minsco describes as marsala red, I think that's fitting. Suitable for office use.
    • 07 Envy Me: A warm nude. I tried it, but it was too light for my lips. I gave it away.
    • 13 Red Carpet: A vivid red which is kind of similar to the Giorgio Armani 400, but not as pigmented. It's described as cool-toned, but I can wear it, so I think it's more neutral, leaning slightly cool. This color is interesting because I've seen it show up as slightly berry, coral or even orangey on my lips.
    • 15 Midnight: A cool purple-red, not a true plum though. I gave it away because it was too cool-toned for me and made me look sallow.

MAC Powder Kiss
This was my first lipstick. It's the least pigmented out of all the lip products here. Has a vanilla taste when applied. Would repurchase for the MLBBs.

  • Pros: The coverage builds up gradually, so you can make it as light or as dark as you want it to be. This means you can combine shades and use most of them in the office. Lightweight and non-drying. Decent staying power - lingered on my arm after washing with soap. Lots of brown-based colors, so this line is the most suitable for PoC, in my opinion.
  • Cons: Not cheap - ¥3,520 before tax. Since the colors are muted, I would not recommend it for high-contrast color seasons like Winter.
  • Colors:
    • Devoted To Chili: A warm brick red MLBB. Since it's muted, it's a red that is suitable for everyday use, which is not easy to find.
    • Sultry Move: A warm brown-pink. (the swatch doesn't show it well because of the lighting). This is exactly the color of my lips. It's less pink than in MAC's pictures though. I use it for combining shades sometimes.

BBIA Last Velvet Tint
I could not find a domestic seller in Japan, so I linked a Korean seller. This product has different series, with each series containing about 5 colors. They're so popular in Korea that they have 8 series now. The colors are mostly warm-toned. Has a sweet smell when applied. Would repurchase for the MLBBs.

  • Pros: Highly pigmented. Lightweight and non-drying. Can survive 1 meal. Lots of nice MLBBs.
  • Cons: Since it's a lip tint, the lifespan is not as long as a lipstick (1 year vs 2 years). Specifically for Japan, it's difficult to find a seller. Maybe there are some in Shin-Okubo, but I haven't checked. The marketing materials are also confusing, since you have to search through 8 product lines.
  • Colors:
    • 13 Serious Boss: This is from series 3 (Boss series). Warm pink MLBB with a bit of brown. It shows up weirdly red in the swatch, but the actual color on the lips is much more pink. This is a better representation of what it looks like after application and fading a bit, though on me the pink is darker. It's my favorite MLBB because it brightens up my face.
    • 25 Final Note: This is from series 5 (Note series). Warm brown leaning red. I realized after getting this that I don't like colors which are too brown or too dark.
    • 35 Feign Joy: This is from series 8. Warm orangey peach nude. It's less orange in real life than the swatch though. It's the most muted of the 3 BBIA tints I have. It would be great for autumm. It didn't look so great when I wore black with it though. It reminds me of 3CE's Inked Heart.

3CE Mood Recipe Matte
I unwittingly bought one of these one month before expiry, so the properties of it might have changed. Would not repurchase as I did not like anything about it besides the color.

  • Pros: Highly pigmented. The colors in Mood Recipe are beautiful and unique. Fits PoC well.
  • Cons: Did not apply smoothly and left patches of product on my lips. Was the most drying out of all the products. After eating, it transferred off in patches rather than gradually like other products, so my lips looked really bad. The packaging also looks plasticky and cheap.
  • Colors:
    • 909 Smoked Rose: A warm rosy brown. It's quite dark.

Etude House Better Lips Talk Velvet
I like the colors and presentation a lot, but would not repurchase as the quality is poor.

  • Pros: Highly pigmented. Lightweight and non-drying. The marketing material is really helpful because it describes the tone and color season each color is good for.
  • Cons: No lasting power at all. Some of the colors in the marketing material differ significantly from real life, based on Youtube reviews.
  • Colors:
    • BR404 Frightened Red: A warm, deep red-brown. It's deeper than the swatch. I like the color in theory, but not on me because I thought it was too deep.

Overall, my favorites are Giorgio Armani Rouge D'Armani 400 and BBIA Last Velvet Tint 13. I definitely plan to repurchase them after expiry.