Magenta Madness: MAC Rebel and Wet n Wild Nice to Fuchsia

Most makeup collectors have their color kryptonite, particularly when it comes to lipstick: pinky nudes, corals, blue-based reds. For me that color is, and has pretty much always been, magenta. Or whatever you want to call it: bright plum, dark fuchsia, anything that walks the line between purple and deep pink. I just did a lazy Google search for “magenta,” and here’s the image that comes closest to my Platonic ideal:

Magenta isn’t a particularly trendy color these days. It evokes 1980s excess, and can read especially ’80s if paired with blue or green. For proof, here’s my own vintage ’80s dress, which I can’t wear in public because I’m a somewhat self-respecting adult, but also can’t get rid of because look at it:

Detail of the pattern:

There is something tacky and hedonistic about magenta, but my natal decade was not the only tacky, hedonistic one in history (though it sure came close). In fact, magenta is a nineteenth-century color, a product of the Industrial Revolution. Created in 1859 from an aniline (i.e. synthetic) dye called fuchsine, it was subsequently renamed to celebrate the Battle of Magenta, in which the French and Sardinian armies defeated the Austrians near the town of Magenta in northern Italy. We have a natural tendency to imagine the nineteenth century in sepia or black and white, but check out this stunning dress from c. 1869-70. I’ve been lucky enough to see it in person at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and yes, it really is this bright:


Back in April, I went to the Cooper Hewitt’s Jazz Age exhibition (well worth visiting if you’re in NYC before August 21) and spent a few minutes ogling this French sidewall pattern from the late 1920s:


Nor is magenta strictly a Western color. I’ve been following the world of geiko (Kyoto geisha) and maiko (apprentice geiko) for several years now, and I’ve seen a surprising number of magenta kimonos and obis. Here’s the maiko Masaki, one of my faves, in April 2013:

The original source on Flickr has been deleted, sorry.

I like magenta not only because of the color’s historical associations, but also because it’s one of the most flattering shades for my cool-toned skin, dark hair, and green eyes. I currently own two lipsticks that could be described as magenta: MAC Rebel, a gift from a friend last year, and Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia, which I bought last month.

The two shades look almost identical on my arm. Rebel on the left, Nice to Fuchsia on the right:

With a few other magenta- and plum-adjacent lipsticks:

L-R: MAC Eugenie, Rebel, Nice to Fuchsia, Revlon Balm Stain in Crush, Glossier Jam (one swipe each).

On the lips, however, it’s another story. Obvious formula differences aside, Nice to Fuchsia (right) is brighter and pinker, while Rebel is closer to plum than to a true magenta. Excuse the laughably bad application, thx.

Since I’ve worn each of these lipsticks several times at this point, I thought I’d give a review of each, starting with the classic MAC shade Rebel. I’d been considering buying it for years, so when my friend offered to buy me a lipstick of my choice in exchange for my mailing her some books and papers, I didn’t hesitate to request Rebel. Here it is in unspoiled condition, back in October:

I have an easier time using negatives than positives to describe the color of Rebel: it’s lighter than plum, more purple than berry, yet redder than a true purple. I’ve categorized it as “berry/plum” in the record I keep of my lipstick usage (Nice to Fuchsia is in the “pink” category), but I’m not entirely happy with that. Here I am wearing Rebel outside last fall, just before the election. Happier times for sure, though I have more effective sunglasses now.

Before Rebel, I’d tried one other lipstick in MAC’s Satin formula: Pink Nouveau, which had a semi-matte finish that I found quite comfortable. Unfortunately, Rebel is very different. As you can see from the two photos above, it has a fairly shiny finish. And like other magenta lipsticks I’ve tried (Revlon Crush, NARS Angela), it seems to separate into two layers on my lips. On top, there’s the darker, glossier layer that lasts a couple of hours and transfers easily onto cups. Below that, there’s a brighter fuchsia layer that sinks into my lips, dries them out a bit, and stains them for a disturbingly long time. In fact, Rebel might be the most staining lipstick I’ve ever worn. I can remove Rebel at the end of the day, wipe my lips with Vaseline (which I use to remove matte liquid lipsticks), exfoliate them with a washcloth, and go to sleep, and my mouth will still be bright pink when I wake up the next morning. There must be some specific magenta pigment that does this, because it doesn’t happen with any other color of lipstick. In any case, it’s annoying as hell and ensures that I wear Rebel less often than I’d like. Why doesn’t magenta love me back? 😦

Let’s move to a slightly happier subject. Nice to Fuchsia is my third Liquid Catsuit shade, after Missy and Fierce and Nudist Peach, both of which I reviewed here. In terms of opacity and comfort level, I’d put NtF above Nudist Peach but below Missy and Fierce, still the best liquid lipstick I’ve ever tried. After one layer, NtF is a bit streaky if you look closely. I doubt anyone you encounter out and about would notice, but you will probably notice, and it will annoy you. Here it is after I’ve evened it out a bit:

Not bad, though the touched-up spots don’t dry down as fully as the single layer. Otherwise, though, I have no complaints about the formula. It looks perfect until I eat a full meal (I always remove my lipstick before meals anyway), and it’s not drying AT ALL. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I have very dry, sensitive lips that react badly to formulas other people praise as moisturizing. I still can’t comprehend how Wet n Wild has managed to produce a fully matte, non-drying liquid lipstick formula for $4.99 (and I got this particular shade for $2.99, score!). I can’t guarantee that it will work so well for you, of course, but I continue to be deeply impressed.

In my experience, the best way to nudge a magenta lipstick out of ’80s territory is to pair it with warmer tones on the eyes. Below, I’m wearing Seventeen Statuesque eyeshadow and Urban Decay Whiskey eyeliner, along with ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter and a light application of NARS Mata Hari blush:

Side view (this is as close as I come to ~GLOWING FOR THE GODS~):

My one real problem with Nice to Fuchsia has nothing to do with the product and everything to do with me: after six years of wearing makeup, I still can’t apply a liquid lipstick properly. My upper lip is on the thin side, so it’s almost impossible to outline my Cupid’s bow precisely with any applicator. My lower lip is fuller, so it should be easier to cover with lipstick, but somehow it’s not. On my first attempt, I always draw the lower lip too small. Then I go over it and end up overlining my lips. Then, because the excess product has dried down and I can’t simply remove it with a finger, I go back in with a twisted-up tissue dipped in Vaseline. Of course that takes off too much color, so I draw the outline again, and suddenly one side of my lower lip is larger than the other, as if I’ve been punched. Then I start wondering why the hell I have a blog about makeup. I suppose because I enjoy it, and because you keep reading it. (Thank you.)

28 thoughts on “Magenta Madness: MAC Rebel and Wet n Wild Nice to Fuchsia

  1. That dress is fabulous! And I love love the look you put together with Nice To Fuchsia. The bronzy gold eyeshadow looks perfect with the lip color. When I wear liquid lip colors, I tend to mess up lip lines a little before the color sets (I use Q tips). This way I don't have to worry about perfect lines and the finished look is more youthful, but that's just me. Sorry to hear that you're not happy with the formula of Rebel. I wear magenta/fuchsia for that staining effect but I do agree some are more annoying than others.


  2. You always tempt me with the Wet N Wild liquid lipsticks, because I also have really dry lips. The only matte liquid I've found comfortable is Stila Fiery. I think your application looks great here! I also have the problem with the smaller upper lip, though the big issue is the my upper lip is horizontally narrower, and when I try to widen it to make it match the bottom, it can go really wrong. My favorite magenta is UD Afterdark. It somehow looks less stark on me than a lot of lipsticks in this family do. Also it has some blue pearl that you can't really see, but it adds nice dimension. I can't remember if it stains pink! Probably, since most of them seem to.


  3. Magenta is totally my lipstick colour weakness, too. As I've mentioned before, Rebel is my favourite lipstick colour ever. I'm sad that you find the formula so finnicky! 😦 It's not my favourite lipstick formula-wise, but I find it fine. MAC can kind of get you that way; I don't think their lipstick formulas are that great compared to a lot of what's out there these days, but they have so many good colours.When I was in Kentucky in April I found myself in a Walmart with a half-stocked display of Liquid Catsuits, and I hastily picked out Nice to Fuchsia. My dad was waiting on me (and does not have any patience for hemming and hawing over makeup), so it was my honest first reaction to the stress of having to pick out a lipstick colour under duress. And it turns out it's a very me colour, haha. It looks insanely good on you, too – it really brightens your complexion. I share your issues with liquid lipstick application, too. My lower lip line is very ill-defined and I find it hard to get a clean application.Love love love that sidewall pattern. I'd wear a dress with that print, classiness be damned.


  4. What do you do to remove your lipstick before meals? Do you just wipe it off with a tissue or something more complicated?I love that color for clothes but on my face it's not as great for me. My hair color and eye color is very similar to yours, but while I'm about equally pale, I'm more warm toned. I still wear it sometimes because sometimes you just gotta.


  5. I just got nudist peach and its awesome on me! I actually fell asleep with it on and my lips didn't die too much. Fairly comfortable and isn't as streaky as i expected.


  6. I have a lip shape similar to yours and I've never been able to apply lipstick without first lining my lips. I know [because I've binge read your whole archives over the last week, cough] you're not very keen on lipliners, but they're seriously so useful if used in conjunction with a decently matching lipstick and not as an all-over lip product (too drying, generally, at least for me).


  7. Oh, I forgot to mention that I actually did use lipliner for the photos above! I took a nude lipliner by NYX and traced the outline of my lips very lightly, just for a visual guide. I can't say that made it easy, exactly, but it was a little easier for sure.And I'm so flattered that you binge-read my blog! Sorry about the awful photo quality in the earlier posts, yikes.


  8. With liquid lipstick, I use a tissue and the Vaseline Lip Therapy balm that I always have in my bag. If it's a meal that's easier to eat daintily, I might not bother removing liquid lipstick since it's such a pain to reapply, but I'm really squeamish about the thought of my lipstick mixing with food.Now that I think about it, I don't own any magenta clothes, though I wish I did! It's not a particularly easy color to find these days.


  9. I love MAC's matte formula, which is remarkably consistent across shades, but the other formulas I've tried have fallen short in one way or another. I can imagine that with their enormous shade range, it would be a huge undertaking to update their formulas, but it's true that many of them feel a bit dated. Still, I like the color of Rebel enough that I'm willing to put up with the formula (for now, at least).I'd wear a dress with that pattern, too. It was even brighter in person!


  10. There are a lot of photos in which my liquid-lipstick application is much less great, believe me. I came very close to buying Afterdark when the Revolution lipsticks were on sale, but the shape of the bullet makes it so hard for me to apply bolder shades (I recently gave away my tube of 69 for that reason). I know that shade made it into the Vice range, though, and I may pick it up if I end up getting rid of Rebel.Michelle: very glad to hear that! I certainly don't find the streakiness of Nudist Peach to be a dealbreaker.


  11. Oh, that's a really interesting technique! You're right that the sharp lip lines can look a bit harsh. I think the Ultra Blotted Lips from ColourPop are supposed to give the same diffused look with a liquid formula.


  12. oh my gosh!!!! girl!!! you look SO GOOD IN MAGENTA LIPSTICK like i wasn't going to comment until i saw your photos and did a little gasp at how good you kudos on the face! that's all, haha


  13. Totally unrelated to Rebel (which is my fav Mac lipstick actually, the colour totally works for me) or Nice to Fuchsia, but this post inspired me to visit V&A just to see the Vignon dress in person. It is gorgeous! 😀


  14. I'm a huge fuchsia fan, and I don't worry too much about it seeming dated. Neither should you! The colour is stunning on you!I've had some issues with Rebel as well, although I do like the colour. Weirdly, however, I don't have the glossy effect on me at all. It just looks kind of matte and heavy. It feels fine, but the look is kind of aging.


  15. I feel like MAC's Satin formula is the most polarizing of all. Everyone seems to have a different experience with it, and it varies so much between shades. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure why MAC needs a formula between Matte and Amplified.


  16. I'm not surprised that you're drawn to this color. It's your color.Anyway, I think it's not entirely your fault. I find Wet'n Wild liquid lipstick particularly difficult to apply evenly, compare to all my other liquid lipsticks. It's hard to explain, but maybe has something to do with it being watery, and the fluid has a mind of its own. I'm thinking of getting disposable wants to use with it.


  17. Hmm, that's good to hear! It's true, I have a slightly easier time applying my Sephora liquid lipstick. I expected the WnW applicator to be more user-friendly because it has a curve that hugs the lip nicely, but it always gives me trouble. 😦


  18. I've always ignored Wet'n'Wild because of some sort of snobbish paranoia (i.e. \”why is it so cheap?\”), but you really look stunning in those last two pics, so I might have to go try it out myself!


  19. I know what you mean–I feel that way about e.l.f. and a couple of other brands. I'm not particularly interested in most of WnW's non-lip products (though they have a new highlighter shade that's calling my name…), but the Liquid Catsuits are genuinely good!


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