Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sephora birthday gift 2015: NARS Rikugien & Cruella

Sephora's 2015 free birthday gift for Beauty Insiders is a NARS lip pencil pairing - Rikugien and Cruella. NARS satin lip pencil in Rikugien is described as a "rose pink"and contains pearl. Cruella, a velvet matte lip pencil, is described as a "scarlet red." I was really excited to receive my birthday gift - NARS lip pencils are cult products and I have never tried the formula before.

Sephora Beauty Insider 2015 birthday gift

Happy birthday to me!


In terms of value, this is a very generous gift.

Full size Satin Lip Pencils are .07 ounces for $26. The Rikugien mini is .05 ounces, with a value of $18.57. The full size Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are .086 ounces for $26. The Cruella mini is .06 ounces, with a value of $18.14. The combined value of the Sephora 2015 birthday gift is $36.71 - a nice gift in my book.

NARS 2015 birthday gift - Cruella (Velvet Matte Lip Pencil) & Rikugien (Satin Lip Pencil)


Rikugien is exactly as expected - "rose pink" is pretty darn accurate. My natural lip shade is very similar to Rikugien, just a little less pink and even toned. I own many neutral pink lip colors - I would put Rikugien in the same color neighborhood as Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rush, NYX Butter Lipstick in Pops, Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Temptress, and Too Faced La Creme in Believe. Unlike the four other lipsticks mentioned, Rikugien has some pearl in the formula.

NARS Rikugien Satin Lip Pencil & Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil


Cruella is described as a "scarlet red" and was more bright and warm/orange toned than I anticipated. Against my fair, cool toned skin, Cruella is jarring. I can't tell if the color looks off to me because I am not used to wearing opaque orange toned red lipsticks or if the shade is genuinely unflattering on my skintone. (My ever nice husband claims it looks nice on me, but take that compliment with a healthy dose of salt) I don't care for the shade at full opacity straight from the pencil, but I enjoy it more worn sheerly applied with a lip brush.

Swatches: (no primer) NARS Rikugien (L), NARS Cruella (R)


I have dry skin and dry lips, so testing out these lip pencils in the middle of the winter in a cold, windy Alpine climate didn't do me any favors. I found both products to be drying, especially the velvet matte formula. I was expecting to find the velvet matte formula drying (because, duh), but the satin formula really surprised me. The drying feeling snuck up on me after about 2 hours of wear and the product felt uncomfortable after about hour 3. The formula of Cruella was more honest - uncomfortable and dry on me from the beginning and remained consistently so.

Other than the uncomfortable drying, I think the formula is nice in terms of color, opacity, and longevity. I give Rikugien is a 3/5 for formula and Cruella a 2/5. On someone with less dry skin and more patience, I could see these being lovely.


Lip swatches: NARS Rikugien (L), NARS Cruella (R)

These swatches are as honest as you get - I didn't exfoliate or prep my lips, use a lip brush, spend an inordinate amount of time making my lip lines perfect. I applied Rikugien and Cruella straight from the pencil with a few passes to show the color and formula realistically. Any formula can look Instagram ready in a lip swatch with TLC, but I wanted to show these as you would experience in real life.

Lip swatches: bare lips (L), NARS Rikugien (center), NARS Cruella (R)

See how dry Cruella looks? I can't recommend the velvet matte formula for anyone with texture or dryness issues on their lips. If you do want to rock the velvet matte lip, make sure you exfoliate your lips and prep with a balm first. I also recommend wearing a lipliner with a deeper shade like Cruella to perfect the lip line.

Overall, I am pretty happy. I really like the color of Rikugien and will use it regularly. Cruella is a miss for me in color and texture, but I can work with it. I don't see myself buying any NARS lip pencils because I find them drying, but it was fun to try out the formula of a cult product for free.

Ulta also offers a free makeup birthday gift! The Ulta gift changes quarterly - Q1 was the Ulta Complete Eye Palette in Indie (review here), Q2 was a mini Urban Decay Voodoo eye pencil, Q3 is a mini Urban Decay Perversion mascara (review here), and I haven't heard what the Q4 gift is yet. If you know, please leave a comment!

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