The new Triple Tone Lipstick from Smashbox is such an excellent idea on the face of it: three lipstick shades in one bullet, arranged from dark to light so that they create an instant ombré effect on your lips. A dark, punchy lip-line graduating to a lighter, plumping shade on the fullest part of the lips, it’s seems like a very quick and convenient way to make a bold makeup statement. I can’t say that I’ve ever wanted to ombré my lips, or any other part of me for that matter, but the imagery on the marketing paraphernalia looked so enticing, so graphic and visually pleasing, I had to give it a go.
The idea behind application is that you simply swipe on and then pat to blend out any harsh lines. Personally, I think that patting to blend makes the whole thing slightly pointless – if I’m applying three shades then I want some sort of evidence that I’ve done so. (“LOOK AT ME! I’M CRAZY AND EXPERIMENTAL, ME!”) It’s a bold look, so why not be bold? At any rate, Smashbox make absolutely beautiful lipsticks, and as the texture of the Triple Tone is buttery and gorgeous, the three shades blur into one another slightly anyway. So I would say no need to pat. But pat away if that’s what you want to do.
I’ve been distracted by the patting thing, but that’s not the real issue at hand. It’s the actual application of the colour that we need to talk about. Because applying to the top lip is easy peasy and the effect is brilliant – I honestly couldn’t believe that I suddenly had this clever, eighties-style lipstick going on after just one swoosh-over – but applying to the bottom lip is a total ‘mare.
You have to switch the lipstick around to get at the bottom lip, which means that, to all intents and purposes, the slant of the bullet is the wrong way around. The shape, once you turn it upside down (which you need to do if you’re going to get the dark part on your lipline and the lighter shade in the middle) is just not conducive to a good lipstick application. I tried this numerous times, and practice did not make perfect.
I ended up going through a hell of a lot of cotton buds and makeup remover, and even after a proper clean-up mission on my trial for these photographs, I ended up with a bit of a mess. I like to call the finished result my “ombré lip with blurred-out lower edge”, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s just impossible to get a neat, defined lip-line on the lower lip with the bullet upside down. At least, impossible for me. People with half an ounce of skill would probably do OK…
When you think about the shape of the lipstick, it does seem unlikely that you would ever get both upper and lower lips neatly finished. Because you have to apply with a flattened lipstick surface, otherwise you wouldn’t get all three tones in one swoop of the bullet.
It’s so frustrating, because my top lip is ombré perfection: Smashbox have, with their quirky idea, convinced me to buy into that whole over-lined, dramatic 3D effect. The concept is marvellous and a whole load of fun, but the execution is just slightly off. Maybe it’s just me, with my cack-handed lipstick skills and inability to do anything remotely intricate, but I suspect that a few people would find their ombré-ing a little on the smudged side.
I had an idea (brace yourselves): the Triple Tone could be a lipstick of two halves – one bullet for the upper lip and then a bullet in the other end of the casing with an opposite slant for the lower lip! (Smashbox: please send royalties to my home address, haha.)
Seriously, though: I love the final effect. Some shades give more of a dramatic finish than others – surprisingly I find the Red Ombré to be quite muted, just giving a very wearable, sculpted sort of look – and the darker edging does wonders for my gradually disappearing natural lip-line.
You can find the Triple Tone lipsticks at Smashbox here* – they are £17.50 each. And now, your thoughts, please: firstly on the whole idea of an ombré lip, which has been knocking around for ages now but is notoriously tricky to actually do. And secondly on my marvellous double-bullet idea. Think it would work?