As a preteen and young teenager, I had a brief flirtation with witchcraft. There was something in the air at the time: The Craft had come out several years before, the Harry Potter series was gaining worldwide popularity, and bookstores were full of titles like Spells for Teenage Witches. Growing up in San Francisco made a difference, too. The city was not yet determined to become a sleek, sanitized tech paradise: it was still weird and louche and a little gritty, and you could still buy swaths of moon-printed fabric from hippie ladies at garage sales. I constructed an altar in my bedroom, burned bundles of sage, tried unsuccessfully to make my own rosewater, and meditated while gazing into a candle flame. It was a heady time to be thirteen.
Witchcraft made me feel closer to nature and to something more sublime than my middle-school existence. Unfortunately, it also made me feel a little silly. I don’t think I’m suited to even the most disorganized of organized religions. But I still feel nostalgic for those days, and I still gravitate toward objects with a witchy aesthetic. It’s hard for me to resist anything dark and iridescent, especially in makeup or nail polish; it’s a wonder that I still haven’t tried Rituel de Fille. What I have tried is NYX’s Simply Vamp Lip Cream in Enamored, a dark purplish brown with burgundy glitter. I almost bought Enamored multiple times in the past year, but I couldn’t bring myself to commit until I saw it on sale for about $3.50 at San Francisco’s new Ulta last week. Talk about magical occurrences.
NYX’s Lip Creams, released last year, are chubby twist-up crayons that come in four color categories: Simply Nude, Simply Red, Simply Pink, and Simply Vamp. There are six lipsticks per category, for an overwhelming total of 24. NYX has never devoted much creative energy to packaging, and each Lip Cream is presented exactly as you’d expect, with a clear plastic cap and a tube color-coded to match the other shades in its category. Nothing special, but it gets the job done.
The Vamps have received the most blog exposure of the four color families, and for good reason: they’re by far the most unusual. I mean, at least a dozen brands have created nude lip crayons in the last few years, but how many have created a crayon that can be described as “light rust with red pearl”? Budget beauty brands with truly unique products and wide distribution are rare, and I appreciate NYX for catering to broke eccentrics like me.
In shade, Enamored looks like a slightly frosted brown…
…but in direct sunlight, the sparkle comes to the fore:
I’ve swatched Enamored next to a brown lipstick I’ve been wearing constantly in San Francisco: Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy. They’re nothing alike: Enamored (right) is darker, cooler, and more opaque. Coy is an office-friendly color; Enamored is office-friendly only if you happen to work at the Ministry of Magic, perhaps in the Regulation of Magical Cosmetics division.
Swatched on my arm, Enamored appears to be a straightforward cool-toned dark brown, but it turns almost purple on my lips:
Unfortunately, Enamored’s formula is less impressive than its color. It’s one of the driest lipsticks I’ve ever worn. It goes on smoothly and evenly (though it needs two coats for full opacity), but once it’s on, it sets about sucking every particle of moisture from my lips. Even a thick balm is no match for the occult powers of this formula. If your lips are heavily lined, as mine are, the burgundy glitter will only make your mouth look more parched. Many dry formulas are also long-lasting, but Enamored is not. It fades with eating or drinking, leaving a stain that might be attractive if it were red or pink instead of dark brown. The glitter also comes off on everything: it’s a good deal more noticeable on this coffee cup than it is on my lips.
I won’t condemn Enamored outright, because it performs decently for a budget lipstick and I can’t think of a comparable color. If you want a plummy, glittery dark brown, your search will likely begin and end here. But if you don’t see yourself wearing such a color often, you’d do well to save your money; I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for this one.
I’ve noticed that dark brown lip colors wash me out more than dark reds or plums do. Enamored makes me look very, very pale; it’s the sort of color that begs for a complement of bronzer, which I don’t own. I took these photos on a cloudy day, and the light filtering through the fog made everything grayer than usual, which could account for my corpsey complexion here. But let’s face it: I’d probably look more alive without the lipstick. My eye makeup is Maybelline Bad to the Bronze blended with theBalm Sophisticated, a cool-toned shimmery brown.
I’ll have to experiment with eye and cheek makeup to see if anything can inject some vitality back into my face when I’m wearing Enamored. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just save it for my next Slytherin reunion.
Seriously, though, I need to stop buying lip colors I can’t wear in non-magical society. But my teenage self is well pleased with Enamored, and even my 27-year-old self is feeling a sudden urge to read some tarot cards.
By the way, many thanks to everyone who responded to my request for post-apocalyptic novel recommendations! After a couple of bookstore visits, I decided on Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. I managed to misplace it the very afternoon I bought it, but I trust it will reappear soon.