Ulta Sale Haul: NYX and Revlon Swatches, Reviews, and FOTDs

It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to post these reviews. When Ulta had a 40%-off sale on NYX and Revlon two weeks ago, I seized the chance to order a few things I’d been wanting for a while. (I came in $.77 over the $25 free-shipping minimum, which made me inordinately proud.) My order arrived this past Tuesday, but I forced myself not to open the package until I’d submitted an article I’d been refusing to let go. I did that on Wednesday, but the next four days were cloudy and rainy, which meant that I had almost no natural light by which to photograph my new goodies. Long story short: the weather, my schedule, and my neuroses didn’t line up until today. So today I present, from left to right: Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet, NYX Slide-On Eye Pencil in Golden Bronze, NYX Jumbo Pencil in Iced Mocha, Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy, NYX Round Lipstick in Castle, Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Embellished. Warning: embarrassment of photos ahead.

Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet is a repurchase: I bought a tube last winter, treasured it for about a month, then lost it somewhere between New York and Washington, D.C. I decided to hold off on buying another until the fall, because I assumed (correctly, it turned out) that I wouldn’t want a sheer dark berry-red during the warmer months. But now it’s the season for all things berry and dark, so here’s the replacement!

I love how smooth and rounded the Lip Butters look when new, even though that shape makes application trickier than it should be…

I find that the hydration levels of the Lip Butters vary from shade to shade, but Red Velvet is one of the more moisturizing shades I’ve tried. It’s also one of the most pigmented, delivering semi-opaque color that gleams without glitter or shimmer. This is one swipe.

Red Velvet reminds me of NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco, another sheer berry red, so I thought I’d compare them. Just for fun, I threw in a matte lipstick in a similar color. Left to right: NYX Alabama, NARS Flamenco, Red Velvet. Flamenco looks to me like the pinkest of the three; Red Velvet is slightly browner than Flamenco (as well as more opaque), but less brown than Alabama.

On my lips, the color pulls cooler: more berry, less brown. Top, one layer; bottom, two layers.

Full face, with NYX Iced Mocha on eyes:

NYX Slide-On Pencil in Golden Bronze was a risk, as the reddish copper color looked like it would flatter my eyes but jar with my complexion. When I saw it in person, I was equally ambivalent. Golden Bronze is neither golden nor particularly bronze; I’d describe it as a reddish copper.

But on my lashlines, Golden Bronze softens into a pinkish copper that sets off my eyes nicely. The old saw is true: green eyes like red makeup.

Golden Bronze’s color is truly unique in my collection, but I did my best to dig up some eyeshadow comparisons. Left to right: theBalm Silly, Golden Bronze, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze, theBalm Seductive.

I’ve reviewed the NYX Slide-On formula here and here, so for the sake of your patience, I’ll be brief. These eyeliners are very soft, which means that they do in fact slide on (they’re a godsend for clumsy-handed people like yours truly), but they’re not quite opaque on first swipe. I find that I have to draw my line, wait about a minute for the color to set, then go over the line. Golden Bronze wears fairly well, though I do notice some fading by the end of the day. If you have especially oily eyelids, you should probably avoid this formula.

Incidentally, Golden Bronze turns out to be a nice complement for & Other Stories’ Droguet Purple, a lipstick I struggled to render wearable here and here. I actually felt comfortable wearing this combination in public!

NYX Jumbo Pencil in Iced Mocha was yet another attempt to find a replacement for my favorite shade in theBalm’s Nude ‘Tude Palette. NYX’s Jumbo Pencils are cream eyeshadows in pencil form. They require sharpening, which is annoying, though not exactly scandalous at this price point ($4.49). I wouldn’t describe the pencils as “jumbo,” per se, but they’re wider than traditional eyeliners. Here’s Iced Mocha (right) next to Golden Bronze, to give you some idea of the size.

Iced Mocha is a frosty cream eyeshadow that inhabits the mystical realm between bronze and taupe.

This is the closest I’ve ever come to a dupe for Selfish, my beloved warm taupe from Nude ‘tude. Left to right: Maybelline Bad to the Bronze, Iced Mocha, theBalm Selfish, Milani Bella Taupe. The unevenness of Selfish is due only to the difficulty of swatching from a nearly empty eyeshadow pan. (The unevenness of Bella Taupe is due to the formula. Sorry, Milani.)

Iced Mocha’s texture is thin and almost slippery; I get the best result by scribbling on my fingertip and smearing the color all over my lids. Unfortunately, the formula is so soft and emollient that it’s prone to fading within a few hours. I suspect an eyeshadow primer would help with the fading, but who wants to wear a primer under a cream eyeshadow? Luckily, Iced Mocha’s color is so unassertive on my skintone that the fading is almost indiscernible: a fade-prone shimmery taupe is less problematic than, say, a fade-prone teal. And since my everyday eye look is mascara and a monochrome wash of taupe, I think I’ll get a decent amount of use out of Iced Mocha.

Revlon Coy is my first Lacquer Balm. I’ve always been wary of shimmer and glitter in lipsticks, and I didn’t understand why a product that promised a lacquer finish needed to sparkle, too. For me, the word “lacquer” connotes a smooth, not sparkly, shine. In the end, though, the allure of those shiny tubes was impossible to resist. I tried to choose a color that was underrepresented in my stash, and settled on Coy, which I expected to be a deep reddish brown.

In fact, Coy is a medium rosy brown with a good helping of plum and a smattering of gold sparkles. It’s cooler-toned and lighter than I was expecting from its appearance in the tube.

Comparisons, left to right: Maybelline Crazy for Coffee, Coy, Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle, NARS Cinematic Lipstick in Last Tango (LE). These are all brown-leaning MLBBs, but I detect a hint of purple in Coy that seems absent from the others.

Like the Revlon Matte Balms, Coy has a strong minty scent and taste. But unlike the three Matte Balms I’ve tried, Coy also produces a cooling, tingling sensation on the lips. I was worried that my sensitive lips might react badly, but the tingling faded after about ten minutes. I did find that my lips felt dry after an hour or so, but they’re going through an exceptionally dry period right now, and very few lipstick formulas can do anything to help them. The Lacquer Balms are meant to be sheer, but Coy deposits a good amount of color, looking redder when worn than it does swatched on my arm. Top, one layer; bottom, two layers.

Yikes, the Lacquer Balm finish really emphasizes dryness. I think I’ll put this one aside until my lips are in better shape (had we but world enough and time…). Here’s how Coy looks in context, though; I’m surprised that it doesn’t stand out more against my complexion.

Granted, this was taken in front of a window on a cloudy day, which makes the color look more washed-out than it might otherwise. Still, I think Coy reads more rose than brown when worn. This time I have Iced Mocha and Golden Bronze on my eyes–I blended them into each other a bit. And look, my hair is long enough now that I can pull it back with combs!

I was most excited about NYX Castle, the centerpiece of my Effie Trinket Halloween makeup (which will do double duty for the opening night of Mockingjay). Castle is a gray-toned lavender lipstick with silver pearl: very futuristic, very Capitol. It’s also my very first pearlescent lipstick. Yes, I’m so devoted to the Hunger Games franchise that I’m willing to relax my lifelong anti-frost stance. I keep telling myself that it doesn’t count as frost if it’s an unconventional color like purple, but that way lies 1996. Though is that so bad? Castle reminds me of the photos I’ve seen of the weirder MAC lipsticks from the late ’90s and early 2000s. Kate once mentioned an iridescent lavender called Grid, I think.

Like the other NYX Round Lipsticks I’ve tried, Castle has a mild soapy-floral smell. You really do get the sensation of washing your mouth out with soap. I don’t find the scent unpleasant, and it dissipates quickly, but nota bene. Castle is a bit sheer on first swipe, but opaque in two swipes. It’s hard to capture the finish in photos, but here are two attempts.

Here it is swatched on the left, with MAC Up the Amp (middle) and Revlon Berry Haute (right). Castle is certainly the grayest and palest purple lip color I have. For some reason, the cloudy light made all the purples look a bit redder than they are IRL.

Here are two views of Castle on my lips. I can see why frosted lipsticks were so popular for so long: at certain angles, the extra sheen makes me look like I’ve had lip injections.

And here’s a full face. Castle looks surprisingly understated! Though my idea of “understated” has changed since I started my blog, and I’m not sure this is real-world understated so much as beauty-blogger understated. Let me know.

Finally, Revlon Embellished is a deep plum gloss with fuchsia sparkles. It looks very flashy in the tube, but the sparkles more or less disappear on the lips, leaving a smooth jellied finish. Here are a couple of closeups:

Embellished was released with Revlon’s Evening Opulence collection last fall. Assuming that the collection was limited edition, I bought Adorned, a nearly opaque fuchsia gloss with matching glitter, back in February. (I posted about it here. I should wear it more often–it really is extraordinary.) Since then, though, I’ve seen both Embellished and Adorned on shelves across the country. I’m not sure whether the colors are permanent or whether Revlon is just trying to get rid of back stock, but Adorned is still available on Revlon’s website, for what that’s worth. I’m fairly certain that Revlon used the same fuchsia glitter in Embellished and Adorned, not that I’m complaining. The day I complain about fuchsia glitter is the day that (insert something laughably unlikely here).

Revlon’s Colorburst glosses have garnered mixed reviews among beauty bloggers. Personally, I love them. The ones I’ve tried have been semi-sheer to opaque, non-sticky, and blessedly moisturizing. I can almost hear my lips sigh with relief when I slick on a layer of Revlon gloss instead of subjecting them to yet another matte formula. Embellished is more sheer than it looks in the tube, but that makes it a good choice for layering. Here’s Embellished alone, then layered over Red Velvet:

And we’re done! A gratifying haul, I think. I’m most pleased with Castle (of course) and Red Velvet (which I already knew I liked), but I’ll be surprised if I don’t wear the others often this fall and winter. And now that I have far more lip colors than I can use up before they expire, I’m thinking of going on a lipstick and lipgloss ban until the beginning of next year. My sparkle-loving id keeps reminding me of lipsticks that would fill a color or texture gap in my collection (don’t you need a metallic blue? what about a duochrome pink and gold? what about the bronze from NYX’s new Wicked collection?), but that’s why one has a superego, right? Yes, even me.

14 thoughts on “Ulta Sale Haul: NYX and Revlon Swatches, Reviews, and FOTDs

  1. I thought Revlon Coy would pull more brown, too. Coy is actually my favorite on you although other things also look fabulous! And I couldn't agree more with you about how drying the Lacquer Balm feels on the lips despite of the shinier finish. I only have one – Vivacious, which I think identical to the Moisture Stain Barcelona Nights color wise, but it feels quite drying on its own. The original Balm Stain feels so smooth and comfortable on, I always wondered if it was just me since everybody seemed to love the Lacquer Balm saying \”it is so moisturizing\”. ;-/Anyway, it seems like a very satisfying autumnal haul. I miss a good haul. And it is true that the gratification is even bigger if you meet the shipping minimum by a very small margin. ;D


  2. That Castle lipstick is totally rogueworth. And rogue approved. Also…it's on this rogue's list. In other words, I want that lipstick! Also Coy. Just while we're being honest. I really want to see what colour it appears on my zombie lips (and vampire face. I'm going through an indead phase, it seems…).I find the lacquer blams to be decently hydrating on their own terms, but I'd agree that if your lips are in a bit of a state to start with, they don't really *help* as it were. Same for the matte balms, actually – if my lips are in top condition, the matte balms are glorious. If things get flaky at all…I am proud by proxy that you used the package as an incentive to finish an article. I would try the same, but I don't have any packaged coming to me *single tear rolls down cheek*. I have decided that I'm not allowed to buy another lipstick until I finish one of my other ones, but happily a few are on their last legs, so hopefully I'll be able to indulge soon. In the meantime, I shall live vicariously through you. $25.77 here will get you maybe 90% of one Revlon Moisture Stain. Or one and a third-ish lacquer balms, so your loot here is glorious, and unprecedented by Middle Earth standards. My eyes, they are a-feasting… 😉


  3. I actually find the original balm stains to be drying, too! I bought Smitten earlier this year but had to return it because it was so uncomfortable on my lips. The thing about having dry, sensitive lips, though, is that you accept that almost nothing will be moisturizing, which means less disappointment when a \”hydrating\” product doesn't live up to its claims. At this point I just expect that with very few exceptions, I'll have to wear balm under every lipstick.I generally prefer to buy one new thing at a time, because I find proper hauls to be a little overwhelming: so much stuff to try on and document! But with a sale like Ulta's, a haul of several things is pretty much irresistible.


  4. Can you get NYX in NZ? Castle is so very rogueworthy. That said, it also looks a bit like your photos of MUFE #15. My sense (never having tried MUFE #15 in person) is that Castle is lighter, cooler, and frostier, but they're definitely part of the same family.Oddly, the matte balms are easier for me to wear than the lacquer balms! Sultry is also good at disguising any flakiness I might be experiencing (though the same is not true of Mischievous, alas). I actually find quite a few matte formulas to be comfortable on my lips, I think because they're thicker than usual and thus better able to cushion my delicate, Southern-belle-like lip skin.I think I'll also take up a one in/one out resolution for my lipsticks. In my defense, I just got rid of a few lipsticks that had been hanging around for years, so I felt entitled to a bit of a splurge. No more, though!


  5. TREATS! I approve of all the lip colours. Nice variety and all very seasonal and appropriately festive.I have to say though that those NYX shadow sticks are horrible. Some bloggers end up making them look amazing somehow, but the one shade I have is always a melty horrible mess on my lids.


  6. I don't think they're *that* bad, though I'm certainly not tempted to buy any more. The other Jumbo Pencil I have is Knight, a dark green with gold glitter, and it's much less melty than Iced Mocha. I'm just kind of stunned at how completely Iced Mocha blends in with my skin tone. I mean, I'm pretty sure my skin isn't a shimmery warm taupe, and yet you can barely tell I'm wearing anything on my eyes. That said, I do appreciate that sort of eyeshadow color for subtle definition, so I can't complain too much.


  7. Wow, great haul! I really wish we had Ulta in Canada, though my wallet is heavier because we don't. So many exclusives it seems! Anyway, I really like everything you've picked up, lots of great fall colours for usre.


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