If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen the above photo a few months ago. It was a collaboration with Estee Lauder for the launch of their new Pure Color Envy lipstick collection, and also probably the biggest/coolest thing that I’ve been able to be a part of during my time blogging. I’ve been meaning to write up a post for a while now, both to share my thoughts on the lipsticks themselves, and to give you all a little background on how the collaboration came about. I’ll just jump right in because we have a lot of ground to cover.
How did you get 130 free lipsticks?!
Even before I started a blog of my own, I followed plenty of fashion and beauty bloggers for style inspiration. And as the blogosphere started to blow up, I noticed that all of these girls (and guys) seemed to be getting free stuff… like, a lot of free stuff. Not gonna lie, when I started my blog, I never once thought that brands would notice me, let alone send me samples of product. As envy inducing as they were, I just assumed those types of PR gifts were for bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers, and that I just wasn’t going to get there. After all I only do it part time, and don’t post anything like daily like many full time bloggers do.
As I continued with my blog, I did actually start to get a few samples sent to me. Three lipsticks here, a few highlighters there, some candy with a few lip sheet masks for Valentine’s Day (dear brands: please send more candy); I am always ecstatic to be on the receiving end of a PR gift and get the chance to try a new product and report back to my followers/readers if I think it’s worth it.
In my experience, the brand always reaches out to you, either themselves or through a marketing agency that keeps a list of “influencers” for brands to peruse and “cast” for their campaigns. I’ve never been sent a package with no warning, which I have seen on other blogger’s social media, so that must be something that comes with more reach and followers.
Estee Lauder reached out to me through one of the “influencer” marketing agencies. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to disclose the company’s information, since their client list may be private, so I will stay on the safe side and remain mysterious. Don’t worry though, I am planning on starting a series about blogging, and a complete list of these agencies is definitely going to be a future post.
Usually when a brand reaches out to me, they either ask if I am interested in a product and if they can send me a sample, or they ask me to sign up to a list through their website if I am interested. When a brand asks you to sign up, it’s usually for “consideration”. As in, they’re making a list of bloggers they know are interested in their campaign, and then they pick who they want to work with from that list. You might not actually make the cut. Estee Lauder sent me this type of email, and so, even though I signed up in a heart beat (the line has a 4-5 star rating on Beautypedia, so I knew I would like them), I assumed it was a mistake on their end and that I would never actually be picked.
Then about a week later, while I was at work, our office manager sent me an instant message:
“You have a package at the front desk. You might need a cart to get it back to your cube…”
What?? I didn’t order anything recently… I was so confused. That is, until I started opening the box. Yup, I had actually been sent a massive PR package with 130 lipsticks, liquid lipsticks, and glosses. It was huge and beautiful and I couldn’t stop staring at it. It was like I had my own personal beauty counter.
Did you have to do anything in exchange?
A photo that did not make the cut for my Instagram because I have weird E.T.-esque appendages.
The short answer to this is yes. In exchange for the very large and humbling gift (Me?? Really?!?? I still don’t believe it.), I was going to help Estee Lauder get the word out about their Pure Color Envy lipstick collection. I had done my research on the product beforehand, and I am always happy to help promote beauty brands with top notch formulations, because spending money on a beauty product only to have it not do its job properly is a major pet peeve of mine.
Their campaign was taking place on Instagram, and I was given a set of hashtags to include and a date range during which they wanted everyone involved to post their photo. They did not require previous approval of my photo, and they tucked a little note in my package stating that I needed to be sure to state that the lipsticks were gifted when posting about them. I really appreciated this because I have heard horror stories about companies specifically asking bloggers to leave these disclosures out of their sponsored content, which is against FTC rules for this type of marketing.
What did you think of the product?
I mean… just… wow. Seriously. First of all, there are 6 different finishes in the collection:
- Creme lipsticks – AKA normal lipstick
- Lustre lipsticks – shimmery, think 90s J Lo vibes
- Matte Lipsticks
- Shimmery/Sheer Glosses
- Semi-Matte Liquid Lipsticks
- Lip Vinyl Liquid Lipsticks – these look like patent leather on the lips, and leave quite the stain too. Think the finish of a gloss but with the pigmentation of a lipstick.
Let’s talk about colors first. The color range is INSANE. There are 130 shades, and I think it’s safe to say that there is something (more like many things) for everyone in this set. I’m extremely pale, and I found a lot of colors I thought looked great on me, and also many many colors that I thought would be absolutely stunning on medium, dark, and deep dark skin tones.
Also, you know how you end up with 4 different lipsticks that are the same color but technically different because of undertones? This one is a mauvey nude, this one is a pinky nude, this one is a rosey nude, this one is … you get the idea. This collection had a really impressive number of shades where I was looking at them and really couldn’t detect an undertone that was skewing the color in a certain direction. The collection is aptly named and they are truly pure colors.
I also noticed quite a few shades that weren’t nude, but still managed to look totally neutral on the lips. They were colors but not statements, which I think is a great way to spice up this nude lip trend that has been going on forever in the beauty industry. The shade Nectarine comes to mind as an example. This is hard to explain in words, but it kind of looks like someone turned down the saturation on a pinky-burnt-orange lipstick. It’s muted. You know what I mean. I hope. I really like it.
The last thing I wanted to comment on re: color is the shimmer shades. I really didn’t think I was going to like these. I’m not a sparkle girl. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them don’t look too glittery/shimmery on the lips. Instead, they give a little more of a wet/glowy look. After trying them out some more, I think that a Lustre red or burnt orange color (like Killer Kiss or Slow Burn, respectively) would make such a great summer date night look when paired with a sheer/bronzey/dewey base and some killer mascara.
On the other side of the coin there are shades like Tiger Eye, which literally looks like liquid gold. If I tried to wear this shade I would look like I was trying to dress up as a robot. It’s disappointing, but I can accept that. But if you have a darker skin tone and are looking for a statement-yet-neutral lip to rock with your summer whites (or reds, or pretty much any color), good lord you need this. Please, let me live vicariously through you.
If you don’t want to shell out the cash for a separate set of Lustre lipsticks, then using one of the shimmer glosses as a top coat on the shades you already have is a great alternative.
While swatching, I noticed that the lighter shades (in addition to the glosses, obviously) were more likely to be a sheer/subtle wash of color, while the brighter and darker shades were extremely pigmented. The Vinyl collection was especially impressive given the thin nature of the formula. They managed to feel like glosses but have the pigmentation of a liquid lipstick. These were also the only finish that gave a lasting stain effect the longer you wear them. Wear time on the rest of them has been average. You’ll most likely need to reapply throughout the day, but I don’t mind this because I find long-wear lipsticks really drying.
While the packaging isn’t very flashy or unique, the caps to the lipsticks are magnetic, which I hugely appreciate. It really reduces the anxiety that your lipstick cap might fall off in your bag and ruin its interior.
What are you doing with them now?
Noodle arms: take 2.
I’m embarrassed to say that I went through all the colors and decided to keep 14… then a few weeks later went through again and picked out another 6… then while writing this blog post I’ve set aside another two for myself…
Don’t judge me.
But obviously not every shade is for me. In between these sessions of oo-ing and ahh-ing and adding even more to my personal collection, I’ve basically been the lipstick lady among my friends. I gave a few to my sister and her friends. My mom picked out a few for Mother’s Day. I gave a some to my roommate. I brought the box to a friend’s barbecue and helped everyone pick out a shade, or seven – Ph.D. students need all the help they can get. And I still have a little over 50 left.
Although, that’s not necessarily a bad problem to have… please excuse me while I go look through this box again.