Pillow talk. Lolita. Orgasm. Nope, these aren’t vaguely suggestive words we randomly strung together; they happen to be iconic shade names, created and christened by makeup brands to play up the sexiest features of your face. What a tease.
You see, whether it’s Charlotte Tilbury or Kat Von D Beauty, many of these started out as universally-loved lipstick shades — or blush or highlighter shades — which gained astronomical popularity, before evolving into full-fledged collections centred around one star hue. If they aren’t on your radar, then they very well should be. So maybe it’s time to put your ‘beauty junkie’ label to the test then. How many of these do you know — wait, own?
THE CULT COLLECTIONS
Go monochromatic, especially when you’ve got plenty of nude-pink hues or peachy sparkles, on the moodboard. Is it any wonder then that these shades can go from blush, to eyeshadow, and then onto your lips, in quick seconds?
Kat Von D Beauty — Lolita
WHAT: chestnut rose
Inspired by the Japanese fashion subculture, Lolita became one of Kat Von D’s cult “claim to fame” shades, ever since the tattoo artist and brand founder debuted her brand’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick line-up, back in 2015.
In fact, I first encountered Lolita when I swiped on KVD’s formidable Everlasting Liquid Lipstick too. A few years on, it’s still one of my go-tos for the comfortable matte formula and easy-to-apply applicator — hadn’t failed me then, and it still hasn’t. I do prefer the more terracotta hues of Lolita II, but the original Lolita shade, a tad pinker, is a majorly flattering shade too. The somewhat controversial name definitely makes you sit up to take notice, and fits in with KVD Beauty’s ethos of bold, empowering makeup.
So then, the obsession continues with an entire Lolita collection, featuring this key item, the Lolita Por Vida Eyeshadow Palette, with all its 18 romantic shades that range from matte to shimmer, foil and super-glitter. You’ll see the shade popping up across other beauty items too, lipsticks and eyeshadows included.
“Lolita” comes in: Lolita Por Vida Eyeshadow Palette, Lolita Eyeshadow Palette, Lolita Eyeshadow, Everlasting Liquid Lipstick, Ink Well Long-Wear Matte Eyeliner, Studded Kiss Crème Lipstick and more.
Charlotte Tilbury — Pillow Talk
WHAT: Iconic dreamy nude pink
There’s a dreamy quality to the origin story of Charlotte Tilbury’s most iconic shade — and it all began with a lip liner in 2013, meant to create a fuller your-lips-but-better finish.
“It started with a dream. I wanted to alchemise that nude and pink, pout-perfecting colour that I used to mix by hand,” says British makeup artist and brand founder, Tilbury. As in all dream-come-true scenarios, she, of course, figured out how to bottle that “delicate rose-blush-skin hue”, which then became the shade we all know and love. Doesn’t the whimsical name Pillow Talk make more sense now?
When worn, the Matte Revolution lipstick in Pillow Talk enhances the natural hue of your lips, just so, creating a plump, pillowy matte effect that we can see being a wild favourite. For the eyes, the Luxury Palette presents a quad of feminine champagne pink, a matte dusky rose, soft matte brown and a rose gold sparkle, for that soft and charming gaze.
UPDATE: There’s now a new eyeshadow palette in town, the Instant Eye Palette in Pillow Talk, where you’ll have 16 complementary shades to play around with, including a burnt terracotta, matte peachy-camel and blush berry-rose. They’re also helpfully labelled for different occasions, whether it’s your everyday ‘Day Eyes’, work-neutral ‘Desk Eyes’, smokey ‘Date Eyes’, or the mesmerising berry hues of ‘Dream Eyes’. This, along with new items Cheek to Chic in Pillow Talk Intense, and lipsticks in Pillow Talk Medium and Pillow Talk Intense, available 13 February at Sephora.
“Pillow Talk” comes in: Superstar Lips, Matte Revolution, Luxury Palette, Cheek To Chic Blusher, the Lip Cheat lip liner, and more.
NARS — Orgasm
WHAT: Peachy Pink With Golden Shimmer
At once sensual and playful, NARS’ Orgasm will make you blush — quite literally, especially when we consider that this heavenly shade started out as a cult-favourite blush in 1999. FYI: founder and creative director François Nars came up with the name of his product, before creating the colour.
Ever one to provoke, he has this to say too: “I think the combination of its audacious name and its universally flattering shade made it so popular. Even grandmothers like Orgasm.” And boy, the world certainly can’t get enough of its peachy-golden hue, which I swear, truly looks flattering in every skin tone. Prove me wrong!
Every so often, they refresh this collection with a series of new items that capture the seductive shade. Currently, we’ve got a liquid blush, lip lacquer, lip tint, a highlighter and more, in seriously the most irresistible packaging. I had to try the blush when I first saw it, and suffice to say, this cheeky love affair with Orgasm is still going strong.
“Orgasm” comes in: Lipstick, Oil-Infused Lip Tint, Afterglow Lip Balm, Liquid Blush, Full Vinyl Lip Lacquer, Illuminating Loose Powder, and more.
Shop online at narscosmetics.com or at NARS counters.
BECCA Cosmetics — Champagne Pop
WHAT: Soft gold with peachy-pink pearl
To say that Champagne Pop is popular, would be quite the understatement. The colour’s triumph represents how success in today’s digital era looks like — it was created in collaboration with YouTube beauty influencer Jaclyn Hill, with the shimmery rose-gold hue first appearing on BECCA’s hit Shimmering Skin Perfector® Pressed Highlighter.
Collaboration, check. Beauty influencer, check. These elements meant the launch was able to reach, then resonate, with a sizeable online community, which was surely what catapulted Champagne Pop to its fame. If you need an astounding statistic, here goes: in July 2015, a total of 25,000 Champagne Pop units was sold out on sephora.com, in just 20 minutes.
Of course, it happens to be a gorgeous shade too. The highlighter has an ideal mix of soft gold and peach-pink pearls that adjust to your skin’s natural undertones, and blends beautifully without clumping or making it look like you’re a glowing alien from outer space. They also launched a Collector’s Edition series last Fall, which sees the highlighter in a sunray press design on its glitter compact, and other covetable items like liquid highlighters and body shimmer, great for emphasising the collarbone area.
“Champagne Pop” comes in: Shimmering Skin Perfector® Pressed Highlighter, Glow Dust Highlighter, Glow Body Stick, Shimmering Skin Perfector® Liquid Highlighter, Glow Silk Highlighter Drops, Glow Gloss, and more.
Kylie Cosmetics — Candy K
WHAT: warm pinky nude
In the same way Kylie Jenner seemed to find instant success, so has her hit beauty brand, Kylie Cosmetics — but not without its fair share of controversy.
Her lip kits burst into the beauty scene with massive fanfare, inspiring vicious resell prices and cheap knock-offs, simply because these popular liquid lipsticks get sold out in 30 seconds. They went up 30 November 2015 at 9AM, but by 9.01AM, not a single one was left, and the site proceeded to crash. Sounds like our concert ticketing woes, only this is makeup. At the time, a beauty blogger also uncovered how Kylie’s Lip Kits were made in the same factory as the more affordable Colourpop, down to the similar formulas and packaging, which called for dissent over how much money people were shelling out for “the brand”.
So what, or who, is Candy K then, and is there more tea to be spilled? Not really. Candy K just happens to be Kylie’s middle school nickname. As mundane as its origin story is, we can’t dispute its universal appeal.
The warm nude shade has just enough pink to take it to a more exciting shade of MLBB, and it helps that the liquid lipstick glides on effortlessly, earning rave reviews from anyone and everyone. Makes sense that Kylie decided to cash in on the craze, going for an entire Candy K kit that puts together lipsticks, a blush-highlighter duo, and even eyeshadow, so we can all be blessed with a very wearable and flattering monochromatic look.
“Candy K” in: Velvet Liquid Lipstick, Matte Lipstick, Lip Liner, Blush/Highlighter Duo, Matte Shadow/Metallic Shadow Duo, Gloss, and more.
Shop online at kyliecosmetics.com.
We’ll always default to these classics — plenty of them being red lipsticks, of course. Here are the ones that everyone swears by.
M.A.C Cosmetics — Ruby Woo
This vivid blue-red is arguably the most famous red lipstick of them all, with Rihanna being one of the biggest advocates for its beautiful velvet-matte texture and daring hue. What do you know, the matte’s supposed to last all day too, hence its very cult appeal.
Retro Matte Lipstick, $33. Available at M.A.C Cosmetics counters and Sephora.
Dior — 999
Rumour has it that this shade (then, known as “9”) was worn at Christian Dior’s first-ever runway show. Well, Dior confirms a slightly more accurate version — in 1953, Christian Dior created his version of the perfect red lipstick inspired by couture fabrics, and sent models down the runway with shade 9 and 99. The iconic 999 red, now their flagship hue, is a more modernised take on those two archival shades. On top of bold colour, expect a creamy texture and pretty satin finish.
Rouge Dior, $52. Available at Dior counters and online.
Giorgio Armani — #400
The Red. Giorgio Armani’s not playing around here with their brand of universal, classic red, which also became known as Armani Red, since the same shade is used on their lipstick and cushion cases as well. We do love the Lip Maestro, essentially a liquid lipstick, for its intense depth of colour. Seriously, one swipe and you’ll get to experience that rich, vibrant red too.
Lip Maestro, $55. Available at Giorgio Armani counters and online.
shu uemura — RD163
shu uemura did an entire revamp of their lipstick range in 2019, and went from “hard to beat” to, well, “impossible”. Their highly-pigmented lipsticks are already quite the marvel, especially since they nail Asian skin tones so well, but the new Amplified and Amplified Matte textures manage to pack more colour and more intensity into the tube. RD163, then, sits nicely in between the cool and warm red tones, so you’re getting a universally-flattering shade that’s the Japanese brand’s version of the perfect red.
Rouge Unlimited Amplified Matte, $42. Available at shu uemura counters.
Revlon — Fire & Ice
We’re calling this a classic alright. Okay, legacy. Created back in 1952, your mom probably owns a tube of this, and in the iconic shade Fire & Ice too, a stunning Hollywood-red that came with a matching nail colour. The shade even had a quirky ad campaign that made full use of a magazine quiz — answer the questions a certain way, and you’ll be deemed a “Fire & Ice girl”, because we all know how accurate those things are.
NARS — Dragon Girl
Instead of a Dragon Lady, let’s aspire to be the cool, sexy woman of NARS’ Dragon Girl, the one who can effortlessly pull off this vivid siren red. Like many of the lipsticks here, there’s a ton of A-list devotees: Blake Lively, Olivia Munn, and yes, Taylor Swift when she’s going for that “red lip classic thing that you like”. The fact that it’s housed in a creamy, easy-to-control Velvet Lip Pencil makes everything even better.
Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, $38. Available at NARS counters and Sephora.
Clinique — Black Honey
Black Honey doesn’t sound like a neutral choice, but oh it is, because Clinique’s Almost Lipstick dispenses a sheer, ultra-light lip balm, and subtly deepens your natural lip colour with a berry tint. That formula is key here. This sheer wash of colour also means that the 90s cult-favourite, which used to come as a freebie in makeup gift sets in the 80s, is just as universally-flattering as the other lipsticks on this list. The fact that it’s not red, for once, feels refreshing too.
Almost Lipstick, USD19.50. Available at clinique.com.
YSL Beauty — Le Rouge
YSL’s lipsticks are always coveted for their gilded cases, but within, lies a truly magnificent formula too, and we can certainly vouch for the signature Rouge Pur Couture. As for the crimson shade of Le Rouge, it’s a bright red that not only looks rich and pigmented, but comes with a silky finish that feels luxe on the lips, with some real lasting moisturising properties too. Best part: you don’t have to look as flawless as Cara Delevingne to pull this off.
Rouge Pur Couture, $52. Available at YSL Beauty counters and online.
Chanel Beauty — Pirate
Quite an unexpected name for a brand as luxurious as Chanel, Pirate, a classic red with blue undertones, gained cult status as one of six shades formulated to mimic the iconic red lips of Coco Chanel. Yep, we want to steal this, asap. The colour is made more intense with the formula of the beauty brand’s famous Rouge Allure lipstick, known as much for its luminous and intense colour, as that click-to-open case which we just found out was inspired by the experience of opening a luxury car door. Very satisfying.
Rouge Allure, $54. Available at Chanel Fragrance & Beauty counters.
Fenty Beauty — Uncensored
Talk about going full circle! Rihanna’s version of the perfect red is Uncensored, launched in this tube of Stunna Lip Paint when she first debuted her phenomenally successful makeup line. Some even say it’s better than Ruby Woo. We’ll say this — the liquid finish gives a more seamless soft matte look, while also making sure the high-impact colour looks exactly the same when applied on the lips. As with most of Fenty Beauty’s makeup, this one’s made to flatter all skin tones, so you don’t have to overthink your purchase, really.
Stunna Lip Paint, $36. Available at Sephora.