Coral Conundrum: Marc Jacobs So Sofia

It’s the vernal equinox! It’s also the coldest day in about three weeks, and it’s snowing as I type this, just as it snowed on last year’s vernal equinox. But I still think the first day of spring is a fine day to review a bright coral lipstick, so meet my newest beauty purchase: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in So Sofia.

Earlier this week, I went to the Upper West Side Sephora in search of a coral-pink lipstick, something cooler than Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin and darker than Urban Decay Streak. My go-to coral-pink lip color used to be Milani Flamingo Pose (now discontinued), but I eventually tired of the drying formula and cloying watermelon scent. I entered Sephora fairly certain that I’d buy Bite’s new Amuse Bouche lipstick in Pickled Ginger, but it turned out to be the Bad Kind of Coral, at least for me: too bright and too warm and just nope nope nope get it off my face. The Amuse Bouche line had a few other coral-pinks, but they were either too warm or too close to Streak. The formula seemed good, though: firmer and more opaque than the discontinued Luminous Cremes, with a light lemon scent.

After our Bite experiments, my Sephora companion had to go work on her dissertation, so I walked her to a coffee shop across the street. Then I returned to make a quick circuit of Sephora, and suddenly I saw it: the exact shade of coral I’d been looking for, beckoning to me from the Marc Jacobs display. I’d never tried a Marc Jacobs product, but I knew the brand was cruelty-free and its lipsticks had received good reviews. I tried on So Sofia, felt 85% positive about it, decided that I could always return it if it proved unflattering outside the store, and handed over $30. Can you believe they were out of the much-vaunted 100-point perk, a mini Amuse Bouche lipstick in Radish? I have never managed to get a lip product as a 100-point perk. In fact, I haven’t redeemed any Sephora points in ages because the good rewards are always gone. *sob*

The semi-matte Le Marc Lip Crèmes, of which there are 20, were released last summer. I thought they were meant to replace Marc Jacobs’ original lipstick line, the Lovemarc Lip Gels, but you can still find those on the Marc Jacobs website (though not Sephora). The Lip Crèmes retail for $30 each, and Marc Jacobs does a pretty good job of making them feel like lipsticks worth $30 (whatever that might mean). The branding is elegant, if kind of unremarkable: a sleek black box with silver and white lettering…

…and a heavy black tube with silver accents. Like the NARS Audacious lipsticks, the Lip Crèmes snap shut with a magnet. Speaking of magnets, the shiny black lid attracts fingerprints irresistibly, so bear that in mind if that sort of thing annoys you. It doesn’t really bother me.

The tube is neither square nor round, but a distinctive squared-off ellipse. The name and color of the lipstick are printed on a handy label on the bottom:

So Sofia is an intense pinky-red coral, along the lines of NARS Grace and MAC Relentlessly Red. It’s almost too cool-toned to be considered coral, but there’s an undeniable hint of midcentury orange to it. Like many lipsticks, it looks quite a bit lighter in the tube than it does on my lips.

So Sofia is named after Sofia Coppola, and the shade actually resembles Kirsten Dunst’s lip color in Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette. I wonder if that was the inspiration!

I still have Flamingo Pose hanging around the apartment, so I decided to do some comparison swatches. So Sofia (left) is darker and redder, but the two are definitely in the same family:

And here it is with a couple of my other hot pink and coral shades. L-R: Maybelline Vivid Rose, So Sofia, Flamingo Pose, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin.

The formula is scent-free, taste-free, and very opaque. It starts out satin, then quickly sets to all-but-matte. It does transfer onto cups, but not egregiously, and it lasts several hours without drying out my lips. It does not, however, do a great job of disguising the dry patches on my lips, and it also stains a bit (as I’d expect from such an intense color).
Here’s the deal: I can’t decide whether So Sofia suits me. I think it looks a tiny bit off against my skintone, but I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s actually unflattering or because I’m not used to wearing similar colors. Here it is with neutral eyes and Milani Coral Cove blush for added warmth:
See what I mean? It’s not a bad color on me, but I’m not sure it’s me, either. And for $30, shouldn’t I be sure?
But I’m also fairly certain that if I return it to Sephora, I’ll spend more mental energy searching for another, better coral-pink lipstick. I’m not going to be in the vicinity of a Sephora for another two or three weeks, so at least I have some time to deliberate. I posted about my conundrum on Instagram and got both “yes it looks great” responses and “you should return it if you’re not sure” responses, so…hmm. Thoughts?
(Update: I’ve decided to return it next month, but I’ll leave this post up, because the more lipstick reviews in the world the better. This is a great lipstick, just not a color that I personally need in my life.)
(Update #2: I just ordered Topshop’s Matte Lip Bullet in Wink. I couldn’t find reviews or swatches of it online, but I know I like the formula and it’s 1/3 the price of So Sofia. Oh, and my mom doesn’t like So Sofia on me because she thinks it makes me look “washed out,” which is her criticism of any lipstick I wear that isn’t a plum, purple, or red.)

26 thoughts on “Coral Conundrum: Marc Jacobs So Sofia

  1. I don't think it's unflattering (you look great!), but I'm not totally wowed by it. I wonder if I would like this particular color better with a little sheen, rather than matte.Do you ever come to love a lipstick you felt lukewarm about at first or is that unlikely to happen? I do think for $30 you should be pretty excited about it, but that's probably not a surprise coming from me.


  2. I actually do come to love some lipsticks! I felt lukewarm about Urban Decay Streak for a whole year before falling in love with it last spring, and now I've used about 2/3 of it. But that's not a common occurrence, and it's more likely to happen with a subdued everyday-ish shade like Streak than a bold one like So Sofia. If it had been $10 I'd probably keep it, but $30…that can go toward a lot of stuff I actually need. (Like a new yoga mat, because my current one is literally disintegrating, leaving little shreds of plastic all over me every time I use it.)And thanks for being honest! I *like* this color on me but don't love it.


  3. I don’t think it’s unflattering. You’ve reviewed other lipsticks that look far more striking on you but I think So Sofia meshes well with your face considering its brightness; great, right? Makes it more wearable.If you are still ambivalent about the color maybe think about how often you’ll wear it. It would be great if we love and constantly wear all of our lipsticks but personally, there are lipsticks I love so much yet wear little and there are lipsticks I am less enthusiastic about but wear very often. If you doubt how well the color looks on you AND you won’t wear it often, I’d say it’s better to return it.


  4. I do think that if you don't love something (especially at that price), you should return it, so you've probably made the right decision. For the record, I do really like the colour on you, if you decide to continue your hunt for the perfect bright coral!So Sofia looks a lot like a now-discontinued Rimmel Kate Moss colour I have (06), which I pull out all the time in the summer. I always get compliments on it. It's too bad it's discontinued or you could try out a similar colour for like 1/4 of the price. Or maybe it's a good thing that you can't get it!


  5. Great that you decided on returning it! For $30 you should be blown away. Plus, i think it looks just like another pink red on you, i personally don't see the orange. Even though it's pretty I'm sure you are swimming in pink reds 😀


  6. That's the thing about corals on me! If they're too orange they look unflattering, but if they're too pink they don't really look coral. I'm honestly not swimming in pink reds (Cherries in the Snow and Vivid Rose are the only ones I can think of), but that's because I don't LIKE pink reds as much as I like, say, purples.


  7. I feel like I am going through something similar with Cava.. if I can get my act together I really need to do a post about all the ways I have tried and (in my mind) failed to wear that color. I have never tried on a lipstick before buying it (this has, thank goodness, not been the arbiter of financial doom it could be) but I've also traditionally had a narrow range of shades I'm willing to throw down Sephora $$$ for. Personally, items I feel ambivalent towards (lipstick, clothes, whatever) just don't get a lot of wear, because every time I see them the lurking doubts resurface. I think you've made the right choice about returning it.


  8. I can't possibly judge how it looks, because the word \”coral\” is making me wistful about how I just had to come home from Florida and about how very far away the ocean is from here. I didn't actually see any coral in Florida, but suggestion is a powerful thing.


  9. And here I am semi-regretting never buying Cava! It did seem like a challenging color the one time I tried it on, so I'm curious how you've been wearing it. And yeah, there's a reason most of my mid/high-end lipsticks are cool-toned and most of my oranges and corals are drugstore: I know what flatters me and am always reluctant to pay more than $10 for iffy shades.


  10. I think the color is extremely flattering on you. However, color aside–I also just bought one of these in Je T'aime and I think the shape of the tip alone may be a deal breaker for me. Do you have any thoughts on that? A lip brush is way too high maintenance for me…


  11. My first thought was, 'that looks great on you'! Then I saw what I think is the problem. In the photos of you wearing this lipstick, I notice the dark circles under your eyes — and I don't usually notice them. Not sure what it is about this lipstick that's doing it, but I have a similar problem with corals: love them, but they have to have A LOT of pink or red in them if they're going to look good on my, and it's still hit and miss.I think it's better to keep only what you love. Yes, the endless search will continue. But then, at least when you (think) find what you're looking for, you won't have to think, 'but I already have So Sofia'. Just my thoughts.


  12. You make a really good point about my dark circles! I also noticed that I had to take many more photos than usual before I got a couple that were flattering enough to put on my blog. I've been trying to figure out what it is about Urban Decay Streak and Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin that make them more flattering, and I think one factor is that neither is entirely opaque. They're also lighter than So Sofia, but usually darker is better for me, so…who knows. Let the search continue!


  13. I don't have a problem with the shape of the Marc Jacobs bullet, but I do with the Urban Decay Revolution lipsticks, which are quite broad and flat. Urban Decay 69 is a gorgeous red, but I almost never wear it because I just can't apply it to my upper lip without a lip brush. Unfortunately, that's the only solution I can think of! I wish I had better advice. If you can return Je T'aime, it might be worth doing so and finding a similar color that's easier to apply.


  14. I think translucency helps with making difficult shades more wearable. I looked at So Sofia myself again yesterday when I was at Sephora, inspired by your post, hoping maybe it would be a wearable coral for me. Because it really does do something good for you, along with the bad. Alas, too orange. Finally gave up on coral for the day and bought a translucent bright pink for spring (Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in N31, Soft Fuschia), after trying one of the new Guerlain Kiss Kiss lipsticks and deciding it was too sparkly for my tastes (my local Sephora stands by calmly while I aggressively sanitize the testers myself — love those guys!).


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