The Lime Crime Velvetines are one of those beauty products that are spoken of in two tones; hushed, reverent whispers (generally by those of us who can do nothing but yearn, wish, wonder–and occasionally check our bank balance, then weep) and vibrant, voracious shouts that proclaim it to be the Holy Grail of all lip products, shouts that urge thee to set down your life before the Velvetines for thy Velvetines have come to save thee.
Basically, they’re supposed to be good. Really, really good. Sell-your-soul-good. But we women have heard this before, haven’t we? About a dozen different mascaras, three kinds of eye liners, about fifty different foundations that claim they will vanish your pores and give you the complexion of a softly kissed and freshly birthed newborn. Personally, few beauty items ever live up to the hype for me, and that is why I have resisted purchasing a Velvetine until now, despite being a red lipstick loving pinup girl. I just couldn’t believe this magical product could really be as Dumbledoretastic as it claimed, and at $20 a tube, or £13.50 here in the UK, plus £3.50 shipping, as it’s pretty damn hard to track them down even online, paying £17 to be disappointed just seemed too steep an inevitable price for me. I’m a thrifty girl. I like to buy lots of pretty things if I can, rather than one pretty thing, where possible. It’s the grew-up-poor kid in me.
I already own two or three Velvetine dupes. None of them sat quite right in some way or another, compared to the satisfied Velvetine claims I repeatedly heard. And I began to wonder; are these slight pitfalls the mark of a matte liquid lipstick product, or is it the cost of refusing to pay the full cost? Did the true Velvetines last longer, feel softer, look better than their dupe counterparts? Once I began this blog I decided to put my money where my mouth is–literally. I found ‘Wicked’ online, as it’s a dark, almost gothic red that I had yet to track down as a dupe, and I ordered.
And was I disappointed? Yes. Kind of. But I think that’s because I was so hopeful that this product would be different, that this hype wouldn’t be overhyped, that I really did hope that this would be the only lipstick that doesn’t budge even an iota during eating, the only lipstick that doesn’t ever soften or feather slightly in the corners of my mouth irregardless of hours of wear. Let’s face it ladies. That’s just not possible. Any lipstick that doesn’t come off even a tiny bit when you’re chomping down on a burger isn’t going to be comfortable to wear in the first place, and comfort of wear is one of the things the Velvetines have going for them, amongst many. Because while I was disappointed somewhat, there is no denying this is a great product. Is it worth the £17, is it vastly different to it’s dupes? That’s what I’m going to lay out for you right now.
Starting with the consistency, I was surprised when I opened my tube to find that the Velvetines were thinner than their closest dupe I’ve yet to find, the Make Up Academy Luxe Lip Lacquers. This thinner consistency made it easier to work the product, though I’m not a fan of the doe’s foot applicator wand for a lip product as pigmented as this–and trust me, this is as pigmented as it gets. Totally opaque, the Velvetines improve with a second coating only in smoothing out any slight patchiness issues in colour, which I believe might owe partially to the dark tone of ‘Wicked’ and partially to the application with a doe’s foot wand, which I personally find tricky to maneuver with exact precision around my cupid’s bow. I suspect applying the product with a brush might produce more easily precise lines around your lip line if you too have this problem, but the other option for this is, of course, to use a lip liner first so that the precision work is already done by the time you break out your Velvetine. Given that the Velvetines claim a big selling point is having a lip-liner-free need in application, you can make of this what you will, but it could just be that I have tricky shaped lips and that this product takes a bit of practice.
Application covered (ba dum hiss!), let’s address the wear. It is definitely substantial. I think this is what disappointed me most because I’d had Lime Crime fans tell me they could wear their beloved Velvetine all day, eating included, and need no or only minimal touch ups. Such a claim is the reason I try every long-lasting lipstick product that makes it to the drug store shelves, forever searching for a pinup red that will remain permanent on my pucker even after I’ve finished a fat ol’ bowl of pasta. The Velvetines won’t do this, but depending on what you eat they will either remain almost entirely intact with only a small touch up required on the inner lip (see picture examples below for a general ‘Post snack’ result for small snacks or drinking) or they will half disappear, requiring a firm wipe of a tissue to remove that wet-sticky-lipstick feeling one gets post-meal so that you can reapply almost entirely fresh (see: post Subway sandwich, Cinnabon for the damage done there.)
Picture shows ‘Wicked’ freshly applied, post small snack, post Subway sandwich, post Cinnabon snack (The final two pictures also represent the kind of wear I found after meals like a curry, pasta, and such.)
I believe the women claiming a Velvetine lasts near-untouched through a meal are women who have simply mastered the art of eating without lipstick smudging anyway, the kind of chic, clever women who nibble their salad off the end of their forks with their lips peeled back. I try to be this woman. I really do. I know it’s a skill I need to learn in order to preserve my perfect pout, but I fear I never shall become this woman, and if you, too, fear the same, then let me tell you honestly that the Velvetines are not made of Potter Wizardry and they will certainly wear off while you eat. The good news is they will do this likely less than other lipsticks, and a touch up afterwards will leave your mouth looking lovely again. The added bonus to this not-quite-perfect wear is that you can remove these with a makeup remover wipe or your usual makeup remover at the end of the day, without having to resort to a stronger product to clean your lips.
Which brings me finally to my last concern, which is comfort. Liquid lipsticks can feel very dry when on, leaving me, a lipbalm-obsessed girl, feeling very conscious of my lips on my face and uncomfortable of what they are doing there, which is a strange sensation to have. Generally I’m happy to wear liquid lipsticks for short bursts of time, but the idea of spending all day in them is not something I could handle. The Velvetines, however, do not suffer this problem. Yes, they can feel a little dry at certain times, but overall they feel comfortable and light. I can imagine wearing it all day, touching up between meals but otherwise feeling quite secure that my red lip isn’t going to become a red chin or a corner-of-the-mouth smear of shame.
Overall, taking into account how impossible some of the hype is, I’d say this product is a 4.5 out of 5. Had it lasted better through eating it would have made a perfect 5, as my perfect 5 is reserved solely for the as-yet-invented truly infalliable lip product of the future. For now I think this is as close we’re going to get to that perfect pout product and I’m glad I satiated my curiosity with what counts, to me, as a makeup bag splurge.
So is it worth buying for all you ladies on a budget? Considering the 4.5 I just gave it, this part might surprise you: No. If you really are strapped for cash, if the idea of a perfect red lip is a dream for you but not a necessity, if $20 for a lipstick simply offends your principles, then no, you really don’t need this product. A Maybelline 14 Hour Superstay Lipstick (I especially love the reds of Continuous Cranberry or Ravishing Rouge) will do you just fine for day-long wear that is equally as comfortable and holds up similarly through eating. But if you specifically want a Velvetine Dupe, in that long-wear liquid lipstick style, I’ve got two options for you that will sit much more happily in your budgeted beauty bag.
First up is the previously mentioned Make Up Academy Luxe Lip Lacquers. Make Up Academy is a bargain UK brand which is famous for offering a range of highly pigmented lipsticks and eye shadow singles for £1 each, along with a similarly cheaply priced (but not cheaply formulated) full makeup range including foundations, mascaras, nail varnishes, blushers, bronzers, eye liners, et cetera. They’re one of my favourite brands because I use them daily and have rarely found a product to fail in it’s claims as to what it can do for you. MUA has caused buzz in the beauty blogosphere before for their highly affordable dupes of the first two Urban Decay Naked palettes, which retail for £37 (or $54) compared to the MUA dupes of £4 a palette. The MUA Luxe range is a small range of ‘luxury’ products, primary among which is their Lip Lacquers, an almost exact Velvetine dupe.
These Lacquers cost £3 each, and comprise a range of 9 shades, from the bright and vibrant to the neutral and subtle, offering options within their shade range which are suitable for more natural daily wear which the Velvetines do not offer. At £3 a pop, you can literally buy yourself 4 Lacquers for the cost of 1 velvetine, almost 6 if you include the cost of the Velvetine shipping. Plus there’s the fact that the Velvetine’s contain 2.6ml of product per tube to the Luxe Lacquers’ 6ml fill weight, so you’re also getting more product from the Lacquers.) They are just as pigmented as the Velvetines, so you aren’t scrimping on quality in that regard, and with their frosted glass packaging and black lidded doe’s foot wand applicator, the packaging is almost identical to the Velvetines too, if not slightly more pleasing to the eye because their design is sleeker, cleaner and chicer.
So far, the Luxe Lacquers are prettier in your handbag, kinder to your bank balance, more varied in shade range, and near identical on your lips. So what’s the difference? Firstly, there’s the consistency. Because they’re a bit thicker than the Velvetines I find them a little harder to apply, but only slightly. As with the Velvetines, if you make a mistake you have to work fast to correct it, because these are built not to budge. A cotton bud dabbed with makeup remover and swiped inwards towards your lip (never along your lipline, as that will smudge the mistake outwards) can remove the offending smudge though, and you can just reapply that area to correct. As with the Velvetines, some might find a lip liner pre-application or application with a brush to be beneficial. Unlike the Velvetines this formulation is so stubborn that you’ll need an oil based remover or some straight up baby oil to totally clean your lips of your lacquer at the end of the day. One final note on the consistency is that its slight comparable thickness means you need to hold your lips apart for longer immediately after application to allow the product to dry, but this amount of time is by no means not an outrageous and not substantially longer than the Velvetines.
The second difference in the Luxe Lacquers is the way they feel on, which is dryer. Not a huge problem for you, maybe. I, however, am the kind of girl who carries at least one lip balm with her everywhere, and hates the feeling of dry lips, whether naked or beneath product. If you can stand the feel of a slightly dry puckered mouth that you get with many stronger liquid lipsticks then this won’t be an issue in terms of your comfort. However, I believe it’s this dryness in the formula that prevents the Lacquers from having quite the same long lasting wear as the Velvetines. As with the Velvetines, the Lacquers will wear off during eating, but they do so by flaking off from the inside of your lips outwards, leaving tiny specks clinging to your eating utensils or your fingers to the touch. To touch up I felt I had to rub my mouth as clean as I could of these tiny flakes before I felt comfortable reapplying to the patchy areas. You might be put off by the sound of that but the only true way to tell whether you find the wear, as well as the post-eating touch ups, bearable is to try the product out, and at only £3 compared to the Velvetines’ £13 that’s a much more reasonable ask when the testing process includes potential wariness or disappointment.
Make Up Academy ‘Reckless’ Luxe Lip Lacquer after eating a meal
Overall, I give the Lacquers a 3.8 out of 5. I would give them a 4 except that personally I prefer the feel of a long lasting lipstick like Maybelline’s 14 hour lipstick over the composition of this product, meaning that this Velvetine Dupe wouldn’t necessarily be my second choice for wear behind my actual Velvetine. Still, I own all 9 Lacquer shades and every time I wear my perfectly pinup shaded ‘Reckless’ red I’m struck by how lovely it looks, so clearly this product has some punch. For a girl on a budget this back up is definitely worth the try.
Available in Superdrug in-store and online in the UK, and online internationally, the Make Up Academy Luxe Lip Lacquers might also gain a bonus point for ease in tracking them down. (I’ve learned over the last couple days that MUA has expanded into America in select CVS stores, so it’s possible you might be able to find them there, but I haven’t yet heard whether they are definitely a part of the available range state-side.)
My second dupe suggestion is less of a pure Velvetine dupe in that the opacity is buildable. You might think that should count this product out as a Velvetine dupe then as the strong pigmentation is a huge selling point of the Velvetines, but if you think about it lipsticks give you that same solid opaqueness as the Velvetines, don’t they? So what’s that extra Velvetine factor that lipsticks are missing? The velvet feel. And that’s why I bring to you my second of the dupe suggestions, the Bourjois Paris Rouge Edition Velvet Matte lip creams. The most comfortable of all three items mentioned to wear, these became a Holy Grail product for me the first time I tried one. Available in 8 colours, of which I own 6, for £8.99 each, you can buy this soft-feel product in bold pink, hot orange or rich retro red, as well as gentler nude shades and neutral pinks for natural daytime wear.
The interesting thing about this product is the formula: the closest way I can describe them is almost like a gel. That’s certainly what they look like when you pull the doe foot applicator out of the tube and see the slightly transparent product lining the tube’s opening. It’s this unusual gel-like formula that leaves this product feeling so incredibly soft and light on the lip. Depending on the shade you’re applying, with one swipe you can get a more subtle wash of colour on your lips should you wish, and with two or three coats an opaque colour that looks like a soft matte lipstick but lasts like a stain and feels like a cloud. It might sound like hard work to have to apply two or three coats of this product to get a full lip, but considering how comfortable these lippies are and how easy they are to apply it is completely worth it, especially since not only do you not have to wait between layers for these to dry, but also because you don’t have to wait, period, for drying like you do with the Velvetines and the Lacquers. Just pucker, apply, and go. Your lips won’t stick together and pull apart patches of product like other liquid lipsticks will if you press before they’re dried.
I happily eat and drink wearing this product and only have to touch up in the centre of my lip if I want to keep my pout perfect, though this formula has something of a stain about it so any wearing often isn’t even that noticeable. Removable at the end of the day with a face wipe or your usual makeup remover, these don’t have the no-budge stubborness of the MUA Luxe Lacquers, but that’s what makes them so comfortable.
Bourjois Paris Rouge Edition Velvet ‘Grand Cru’ freshly applied and post eating. Note that the product is matte and only looks slightly wet because of the lighting in which I snapped these pics.
These Velvet Mattes are super chic in their simple black packaging, and are widely available in the UK online and in-store through any shop that stocks Bourjois Paris, Superdrug and Boots included, where they are often included in a variety of offers, like 3 for 2, buy one get one half priced, et cetera.
Overall as a product I rate these Bourjois Velvets a 4.5 out of 5, the same as the Lime Crime Velvetines. Yes, they fail to fulfill the full opacity of the Velvetines liquid lipstick look, but they beat the Velvetines in comfort, and considering they’re a cheaper and super comfortable option for anyone who isn’t convinced the Velvetines are worth the money, that brings the products out even in my eyes.
So there we have it, what I hope has been a comprehensive guide to the Velvetines as well as my favourite alternatives. Feel free to drop any other dupe suggestions below for me to try and to share with your fellow readers.
17th March 2015
I published this post in September 2014, shortly after first trying Velvetines for the first time. I was pleased with the product initially more so because I found it more comfortable and less flaky that the cheaper dupes I had previously been using. However, within only a few more wears of my Velvetine the 4.5 I had rated this product dropped quickly to something more akin to a 3 out of 5 stars. I wanted to believe the Velvetines were amazing, I even bought a friend a Red Velvet to try and bought myself one at the same time, but I noticed that over time I wasn’t reaching for either of my Velvetines very often, let alone often enough to justify the £17.50 shipped I’d had to pay for each tube, a price double or even quadruple what I usually spend on a lipstick.
The Lime Crime Velvetines, despite claims from many a woman that they wear all day and don’t need touching up, definitely wore off when I ate, but also softened and smudged in the corners of my mouth throughout wear, even when I wasn’t eating or drinking, providing me with just as great a need to constantly recheck my lipstick as when wearing a traditional smudgeable lipstick. I made excuses for a while that maybe it was the shape of my lips or something about me personally that meant I wasn’t getting the same wear as other women, but eventually I had to honestly admit I had simply willed myself to believe and be swayed by the hype, even when the product had not lived up to its cost and its claims.
When going out for a day over the course of which I hoped to get decent lipstick wear for several hours or more, instead of applying a much-lauded Velvetines 9 times out of 10 I was applying one of the below products, receiving greater comfort in wear, longer staying powers, and easier and fewer reapplications.
- Collection Queen of Hearts Long Lasting lipstick £2.99 (reviewed here) with a blotting and power layered application,
- Makeup Revolution WOW sticks £2.99 (reviewed here)
- The above mentioned Bourjois Paris Rouge Edition Velvet Matte creams.
- Maybelline 14hr Super Stay lipsticks (reviewed here)
The more long lasting liquid lipsticks I tried and tested the more I began to realise I tended to find their drying consistency difficult to bear over the course of more than a couple hours. Because of this discomfort, whenever I did wear any of my liquid lipsticks, whether Lime Crime or a dupe, I began to apply a top layer of a velvet cream product to not only give me a more comfortable wear but to provide a softer top layer that would suffer the wear of eating and drinking, rather than the liquid lipstick beneath. This meant that I only had to reapply the velvet cream product post-eating and not the liquid lipstick too. My favourite three products I use as a soft velvet top coat are:
- Bourjois Paris Rouge Edition Velvet Mattes as mentioned in the review above (This product gives the best lasting wear of these three, and is a favourite to layer over the Makeup Revolution WOW sticks for an amazingly comfortable long lasting lip.)
- Makeup Academy Luxe Whipped Velvet Lips £3
- Makeup Revolution Ultra Velour Lip Cream £3 (Shade ‘It’s What We do Best’ is my favourite to layer over a bright red lipstick to deepen the shade to a rich, dark red.)
Additionally, since writing the above review and becoming dissatisfied with my Velvetines I’ve tried out a couple more liquid lipsticks that have since come on the market. I haven’t written full reviews of the products yet and don’t have swatches, but these are:
- Makeup Revolution Velvet Matte Lip Lacquer £3 – Currently available in 11 shades, this product comes in colours not produced by Lime Crime and in both dramatic and easily wearable shades. It lasts well (please look up other reviews for a full opinion on this, because I have yet to test mine out fully to give a comprehensive conclusion) and feels quite light and comfortable on without feeling too dry.
- LA Splash Lip Couture $11.98 – Available in 17 colours, with many shades not offered by Lime Crime’s minimal selection, once again both dramatic and more wearable, these liquid lipsticks are cheaper and of much better quality, though not technically matte. During a recent trial while babysitting I ate a lunch of baked beans, chips (fat fries) and chicken nuggets, and the lipstick didn’t budget or smudge at all. I was super impressed with the wear, especially as I had made no efforts to preserve it’s wear while eating. To remove it you either have to use an oil based remover or apply a lip balm to soak in for a minute before wiping off with a tissue/remover wipe/cotton wool pad. Just from trying this ‘Poison Apple’ shade the Lip Coutures have already become a favourite and I plan to buy multiple colours. LA Splash have also released their Smitten Lip Tint Mousse, a product which dries down to be matte, which is described as a ‘waterproof, smudgeproof result that won’t fade’ while also being lightweight. I haven’t yet tried these, but given the quality of their Lip Coutures I plan to buy some of these soon and am excited to try them. Many reviews for these can be found online if you’d like to research before purchasing. Non-US customers will note that ordering from the LA Splash website involves expensive international delivery, but I got my Lip Couture from Dollmeupdarling.com, which offers very reasonable international shipping, so this is an option for purchase that I’ve personally used and was satisfied with.
My dissatisfaction with the Velvetines as a product aside, it’s also come to my attention over the past month or so what an unprofessionally run company Lime Crime is. Their suspicious and ethically questionable actions extend back many years–including, but not limited to, the repackaging and price-gauging of eyeshadows, selling products labelled as vegan which are not, and some racially insensitive attitudes and marketing campaigns–but in recent months the biggest scandal has been the subject of a huge security hack on their website which left customers out hundreds or thousands of dollars when their account details were stolen, money leached from their accounts and credit cards opened in their names, resulting in disastrous credit scores and huge debts.
The issue stems from the fact that Lime Crime knowingly allowed their security certificate to lapse for a long time before this security attack took please, meaning they knowingly did not protect their customers’ details securely, leaving them at risk. Furthermore, the company did not report this breach in security until several days after they knew the attack to have taken place, leaving their customers vulnerable to further attacks on their accounts whilst the customers went unnotified. A large portion of the initial alert made to customers occurred on Instagram, rather than in emails or letters sent directly to the effected customers, further allowing a time lapse in which people were unaware their accounts were unstable and unprotected when they otherwise could have closed them or changed details. When customers and sympathizers alike complained to Lime Crime on Instagram or Facebook with their dissatisfaction at this appalling handling of the situation, Lime Crime began deleting the ‘offending’ comments and blocking the people commenting in anything other than a manner supportive of LC, occasionally even attacking these complaining people and calling them names such as ‘assholes.’
The alarming matter of the security breach and its bad handling aside, this reaction from Lime Crime shows they do not support their customers, value their opinion or their livelihoods. I cannot support a company that not only has but also defends their dubious business practices, so I would urge you to consider buying one of the other products I’ve suggested in my above review rather than a Velvetine, if not because the actions of Lime Crime unsettle you then at the very least because their Velvetines are overhyped and not worth their cost.
If you would like to read more about the abundant other suspicious and dubious things Lime Crime has done over the years, please visit http://ohdeardoedeere.tumblr.com/ or the Instagram account LimeCrimeLiar.