Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lipstick Chronology #28: MAC Candy Yum-Yum, Maybelline Fuchsia Flash, and a Word about Dupes

Names: Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Lipstick in Fuchsia Flash, MAC Matte Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum

Dates Purchased: March 2013, August 2013

Grades: A, A

Notes: You may wonder why, given my devotion to seasonal makeup colors, I'm reviewing two of the most stubbornly summery lipsticks in my stash. Let's just say that I'm even more obsessive about chronology than I am about seasonality, and these two hot pinks are next on my Lipstick Chronology list. Anyway, people in the Southern Hemisphere must get tired of the plum-bronze-oxblood palette that nearly every beauty blog embraces from September to December. So if you're one of those people who walk upside down on the bottom of the globe, or if you just refuse to abandon eye-searing fuchsias after the autumnal equinox, this post is for you.


MAC's Quite Cute collection, from spring 2011, holds a special place in my heart. You may remember it for its kawaii-themed names and white-based confectionery pastels. It was the first makeup collection in which I took a real interest, mostly because of its standout lipstick: Candy Yum-Yum, a fluorescent matte pink. We'd all seen fluorescent matte pinks before, but somehow this pink eclipsed every one of its forebears.


A wide-eyed novice in the world of makeup geekery, I didn't understand that I couldn't just order a limited-edition lipstick from the MAC website a whole entire week after the collection launched. So I missed out on Candy Yum-Yum the first time around. MAC resurrected it briefly in August 2012, but once again, I hesitated too long and missed my chance. I'd never had a chance to swatch the lipstick in person, and I felt wary about ordering such a loud color sight unseen. I also dislike buying limited-edition products, for fear that I'll fall in love with them and think melancholy thoughts about the transience of earthly things every time I use them. So it wasn't until the spring of 2013, when MAC made Candy Yum-Yum permanent, that I began to have serious thoughts about buying it.

But that was also the season when Maybelline released its Vivids line of brightly colored lipsticks. Of the eight Vivids, Fuchsia Flash may have caused the greatest online buzz, as many bloggers swore up and down that it was a perfect color match for Candy Yum-Yum. The Vivids were shiny instead of matte, but since I wasn't as passionate about mattes as I am today, I figured that the finish couldn't make that much difference. So at the end of a chilly March, in a CVS in Northampton, MA, I scored Fuchsia Flash for something like $5. (I had a coupon.) I have a great fondness for that particular CVS, since I went there so often in college for things like cranberry body wash and jars of peanut butter. My own school was a 35-minute bus ride away, in the middle of nowhere, and tiny, tranquil Northampton felt like a bustling metropolis by comparison. There was more than one coffee shop! There were thrift stores! But I digress.


I wore Fuchsia Flash a few times that spring and summer, but never felt enthusiastic about it. It looked sort of cheap, and I began thinking of it as my "'80s-hooker lipstick." Fuchsia always has an element of screw-you tackiness, which is one of the reasons why it's my favorite color, but there's a difference between liking a color in the abstract and actually wearing it. If it goes on your face, it has to function in the context of your face, and Fuchsia Flash didn't seem to do that. So, when I went home to San Francisco that summer, I finally tried on Candy Yum-Yum at a MAC store. I was surprised at how much I preferred it to Fuchsia Flash. The matte finish made a huge difference: the unnatural color now looked almost organic against my complexion. Reader, I bought it. And I was so enraptured with the new tube that I photographed it from multiple angles. Looking back, I don't know why it took me so long to start a beauty blog.


With that heartwarming tale out of the way, let's get down to business. How similar, really, are Fuchsia Flash and Candy Yum-Yum?

Here are the tubes side by side: Fuchsia Flash on the left, Candy Yum-Yum on the right.


This biggest difference is that Fuchsia Flash is shiny and Candy Yum-Yum is a perfectly flat matte. But I see a difference in color, too. Candy Yum-Yum is darker and slightly cooler than Fuchsia Flash, with less white in its base. This comes out in swatches, too. Both photos were taken inside, in natural light, but the second was taken closer to the window. Fuchsia Flash on the left, Candy Yum-Yum on the right.



I've also compared Candy Yum-Yum and Fuchsia Flash to my other fuchsia and fuchsia-ish lipsticks. Left to right: Milani Pink Rave, Revlon Colorburst Fuchsia, Candy Yum-Yum, Fuchsia Flash, Maybelline Vivid Rose, Revlon Cherries in the Snow.


Tilted toward the light in order to show textural differences. See how much more matte CYY is than FF?


But arm swatches never tell the whole story, so here's how the rival fuchsias look on my lips. Top, Fuchsia Flash; bottom, Candy Yum-Yum.



As I've mentioned before, the Maybelline Vivids are my favorite drugstore lipstick formula: hydrating and relatively long-lasting, with a jelly-like yet opaque finish. I worried that Candy Yum-Yum might dry out my lips, but the MAC matte formula is comfortable, and it doesn't look completely atrocious on lips as dry as mine were when I took these photos. (The shine of Fuchsia Flash, by contrast, seems to highlight the dry bits.) Both lipsticks leave a stain when they fade, but Candy Yum-Yum stains more deeply.

And a couple of full-face photos: Fuchsia Flash on the left, Candy Yum-Yum on the right. I don't think either lipstick is transcendently flattering on me, but I do prefer Candy Yum-Yum. It makes my lips look like rose petals instead of freshly licked lollipops.


Finally, as promised, a word about dupes. Well, many words.

When I first got into makeup, I noticed that whenever I typed the name of a product into Google, "[product] dupe" would pop up as a suggested search. It took me a while to figure out what this meant, but once I did, I found that there was something addictive about dupe-hunting. There are many reasons why we look for makeup dupes: because certain brands aren't available to us, or we prefer to patronize cruelty-free brands, or we just don't want to pay $50 for a Tom Ford lipstick. But the pursuit of dupes can become a pastime in itself, not a means to an end. I bought a supposed dupe of Candy Yum-Yum and felt smug for a few days, but my desire for the real thing hadn't been quelled, and I ended up splurging on the MAC anyway. Instead of just spending $16 in the first place, I dropped an extra $5 on a lipstick that I stopped wearing after I bought Candy Yum-Yum. And that, I think, is the problem with dupes. If you want the real thing and it's accessible to you, buying a dupe just won't feel satisfying.

Yes, you say, but MAC is a mid-range brand. What about that $50 Tom Ford lipstick? Isn't it worth looking for a dupe for that? Sure--but only if you're absolutely certain you're not the kind of person who can spend $50 on a lipstick. We all have our psychological cutoff points that may not tally with our actual purchasing power. My mother, for instance, has never spent more than $10 on a lipstick. The thought of doing so is laughable to her. But she also doesn't spend time Googling makeup dupes. If you do, you're probably a beauty junkie, in which case it may already be too late for you. You'll buy that Wet n Wild dupe of Tom Ford Cherry Lush, feel dissatisfied, move on to a Maybelline dupe, still feel dissatisfied...Do you see where this is going? You'll either amass five lackluster dupes and decide that one of them is good enough (even though it really isn't), or you'll buy the Tom Ford anyway and feel silly for all those drugstore indulgences.

Here's the thing: Designer makeup isn't made for women who have a whole wardrobe of designer clothes. It's made primarily for women who can't buy designer clothes but want a piece of the brand anyway. I'm a broke grad student who can't afford a Chanel suit, but if I eat peanut-butter sandwiches for lunch for a few days, I can afford a Chanel lipstick. If I want that lipstick, there's no reason why I shouldn't save up for it instead of seeking solace in a series of cheaper imitations. My Candy Yum-Yum experience has taught me a cardinal rule of makeup addiction: never buy a beauty product unless you want it for itself and not as a substitute for another product. (Unless your dream product is truly inaccessible, geographically or financially or otherwise.) My favorite drugstore cosmetics are the ones I bought because I thought they were special, not because I thought they were similar to more expensive products.

This is getting a bit preachy, so I'll stop. What are your thoughts on dupes?

25 comments:

  1. Funny story... I have this feeling (and it could be just me), but I feel like people here in The Land of Ridiculous Makeup Prices are less likely to hunt for dupes than people in The Land of Reasonable Makeup Prices. Part of this, of course, is the comparative dearth of brands - there's no point looking for the Wet 'n' Wild dupe of a Tom Ford lipstick when neither of these brands are actually available to you. :-P It could, however also just be that we're so used to paying through the nose for cosmetics that we can't even imagine a cheaper alternative existing! Unless someone reads blogs or has a friend/relative in /has been to the States, they usually don't realise how short the end of the stick is that we get.here ;-)

    Personally, I will almost always go directly for the item itself. For example: Say I really want Tom Ford Pussycat, Charlotte Tilbury Bitch Perfect and Estee Lauder Reckless (true story - those colours, man!). I am also in the fortunate position of having a contact in the US (TF and CT don't exist here, and EL may or may not bring over the new shades in that line). When I have saved up enough $$, I will bug her to order them for me and send them to me, and then I will revel in the fantabulosity of my new lipsticks.The saving will take a long time, but I fortunately for me, all three of the ones I listed are permanent.

    I think it depends partially on what your priority is. I can totally understand the kick of finding a colour dupe and saving some money. But growing up (cosmetically speaking) in an environment where even a trip to the Revlon alcove involves some careful thought - hello, $30 moisture stains - I've never really equated 'value' with 'price'. I know that sounds a bit naff, but my personal 'value' in cosmetics is usually how awesome I feel while wearing it, both emotionally and physically. Don't get me wrong, if there's a sale or discount going I'll take advantage of it for an item I want, and there are amounts I just can't see myself spending for a lipstick - hello, tiny $88 By Terry lipgloss! - but if it's something I want, I'll just save up for it. And do an extraordinary amount of internet research on it, because theses are made to be avoided!

    P.S. I think both lipsticks look nice on you, (especially with your dark hair), but I can see what you mean about Candy Yum Yum and rose petals vs.lollipops. :-D

    P.P.S. I am slowly getting around to the shameful backlog of comments I need to make on your posts (especially since I read all of them when they come out), but my thesis writing break is over already T_T

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    1. What you say about buying habits in Middle-Earth makes a lot of sense! Over here, part of the appeal of buying a Revlon or Maybelline lipstick is the idea that you're getting a deal (even if you're not buying it as a dupe for a more expensive lipstick). If Revlon lipsticks cost almost as much as high-end ones, that thrill would be gone, and you wouldn't be tempted to buy cheap makeup *because* it was cheap. I love having access to so many brands for such low prices, but the sheer variety can be overwhelming. And I was raised by someone who always equates value with price, so it's been hard to let go of that mentality now that I have my own money.

      Isn't Pussycat beautiful? I usually don't get excited about mauvey pinks, but that one really looks special. And good luck on the thesis! I should be working on my own, but instead I'm sitting in the university library answering blog comments. Sigh.

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  2. The fact that you began thinking of Fuschsia Flash as your "80's hooker lipstick" is hilarious to me. Just saying, I had to stifle my laughter from the other grad students. :D

    It's interesting how much of a role texture plays. Matte seems to provide something austere that can balance a bold colour.

    I agree with the Rogue; dupes in this part of the world are too expensive to be attractive alternatives. A $20 dupe lipstick doesn't feel like a dupe anymore.

    Also, I agree with you that designer makeup is aspirational. Pulling a glamorous lipstick out of your bag and applying it is a experience of luxury in minature.

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    1. *fuchsia, dammit! too tired..

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    2. Nothing wrong with '80s hookers! I have a fabulous '80s vintage dress that would go perfectly with Fuchsia Flash. It's turquoise, red, and fuchsia, with puffed sleeves and a fishtail hem. I should wear it more often than I do (i.e. never).

      I've grown to love the austerity of matte lipsticks--that's a great way to describe it. You get all the pigment without any hint of gloss or flash. Candy Yum-Yum definitely stretches the limits of that austerity, but it's as un-frivolous as a neon fuchsia gets.

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  3. Yes. I'm with you on this one. I always tell this story to someone who's looking for a dupe of something... A friend didn't want to spend on MAC Russian Red lipstick and chose to buy that red revlon matte balm. She ended up getting the 'real' thing the following month, because revlon didn't not as long.

    Your past lipstick posts were all darks, glad to see you in this bright pink and it looks great on you.

    P.S. Found a vegan dupe for MAC Flat Out Fabulous, Melt Cosmetics Shady Lady. They look exactly the same, so I'm probably more likely to repurchase the latter.

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    1. Flat Out Fabulous is a beautiful color! I've been attracted to it for some time, but I think if I ever buy a MAC retro matte lipstick, it will have to be Relentlessly Red. And yeah, I think we've all made your friend's mistake. Hopefully she won't make it more than once.

      I feel less comfortable in bright lipsticks than in darks, especially in the fall and winter, so thanks for the encouragement!

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  4. I agree with the statement that you should purchase a product because you like it for itself and not because it looks like another product. It's not that I don't think dupes aren't viable or fun to search for, but I do think there is a yearn they don't always satisfy. There have been times when I've bought a cheaper product and realized it was a close enough dupe to a more expensive item that the yearning for that more expensive item was fulfilled, but that tends to be the exception rather then the rule.

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    1. I'm trying to think of *any* time I've bought a dupe and ended up liking it for itself. Sometimes seeing a product online will put me in the mood to buy something in its general color family, and a cheap version will satisfy my desire for the color. Last year I was intrigued by orange-red lipsticks like MAC Lady Danger and NARS Heat Wave, but since I wasn't convinced they'd look good on me, I bought a Wet n Wild version that I still wear happily. But I wasn't trying to dupe a specific lipstick; if I had been, I'd probably have gone back for the real thing.

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  5. It's actually very jarring to see how the Candy Yum Yum (for the crazy eye searing color that it is) does look so harmonious on your skin versus the crazy tashy 80's hooker (LMAO) in the house look of the Maybelline.

    Regarding dupes, I agree. Even if a color was a dead on dupe, oftentimes the formula of whatever dupe is not the same. For me, it's often the color + texture + formula of a product that makes its claim on me. If I do actively track down a dupe, I notice that I usually end up getting the other one anyway.

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    1. It seems obvious to me now that the finish of a lipstick changes the appearance of a color, but it took me a while to realize that! When I first became interested in makeup, I was in BUY ALL THE WEIRD COLORS mode, but now I take just as much pleasure in refinements of formula and texture. I'm past trying to work with difficult formulas...well, most of the time.

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  6. I agree about dupes. Finish and texture matters, and oh, I don't know, it's just not as satisfying for me to have something that was meant to mimic something else, you know? Unless the original was discontinued or whatever. But I know some other people get a thrill out of finding something similar, so I suppose it does take all kinds.

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    1. Plus, we're a pattern-seeking species! There's an inherent pleasure in finding things that look like other things. But *buying* things that look like other things...that's where it gets iffy. I feel especially weird about buying drugstore makeup that's obviously designed to dupe specific products, like Revlon's handful of Deborah Lippmann dupes.

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  7. I don't own these but I do like the Maybelline Vivids range, Vivid Rose is one gorgeous colour! But I do get your point about dupes. I guess if you compare the two, Candy Yum Yum looks way better because of the finish. In my eyes, the creamy dupes for matte lipsticks will always lose out. Of course, personal choices and price points are very subjective and a different aspect. :)

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    1. Vivid Rose is one of my favorite lipsticks of all time! I bought it a few months after Fuchsia Flash and liked it so much more. I now have five Vivids and have yet to encounter one that doesn't impress me--even Fuchsia Flash has a great formula, if you happen to like the color.

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  8. I have Candy Yum Yum! I don't wear it often enough, though. :) If you didn't point out the differences between the two, I would think they're the same lipstick! I actually don't go out of my way trying to find dupes of anything... it's too time-consuming and exhausting. I'd rather save up and buy something I really want. :)

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    1. I don't wear Candy Yum-Yum often enough, either! I feel like I have to live up to it while I'm wearing it, if that makes sense. It's such a bright, cheerful, take-charge color, and if I'm not feeling bright and cheerful and take-charge, I'm reluctant to wear it. It's true, the color differences between CYY and FF aren't immediately obvious, though I think they're more apparent in the context of my whole face than otherwise.

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  9. I love wearing bright fuchsia and hot pink in winter. There is something really attractive about these bright colors in matte finish, too! I'm eyeing on a few NARS matte pencils in the very color range, actually.

    And, I agree with Larie. I've done my share of dupe-hunting when I was also a broke grad student. I've found some dupes that actually work better for me, but it is never a good idea chasing dupes unless you're absolutely sure. We can easily end up spending more money going down that road, too.

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    1. I was obsessed with fuchsias when I first started wearing lipstick regularly, but I've drifted away from that color family in the last year or two. Writing this post made me want to rekindle my relationship with fuchsia lip colors, especially mattes! The NARS pencil in 413 BLKR has caught my eye in the past--is that the one you want?

      Another problem with drugstore dupes is that you can't try them on first, which means there's always the potential for disappointment. Or the potential for happy surprise! You just never know.

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  10. I got into the dupe hunt while under a financial strain and it was never very satisfying for all the reasons you pointed out. I also rarely found any real dupes because my standards are exacting. Case in point, your two lipsticks here are completely different to me due to the finish, and I like both on you a lot! Where would any of us be without a random hooker lipstick moment here and there? ;)

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    1. Hooker moments are great so long as they're conscious! One of my first lipsticks was Revlon Colorburst Carnation, a Barbie pink with a slight frost. It took me months to figure out that it didn't suit me at all, and that I'd been wearing hooker lipstick to my graduate classes.

      Dupes have helped me save money in one important way: if I *already* own a product similar to an expensive one that has caught my eye, I'm usually not tempted to buy that one as well. But if I don't yet own either the real thing or the dupe, buying the dupe won't do any good.

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  11. I was going to write a post about dupes, and my thoughts on dupe-hunting, but now I have no need. You've summed up my thoughts BEAUTIFULLY. I like posting information about possible dupes from time to time, because I know not everybody has the same makeup budget, or because the formula I like may not work as well for my readers as the dupe formula. But with a few rare exceptions, I don't spend my time searching for dupes. There's no point. I'd spend more money searching than I would on the original product.

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    1. Aww, that's very kind! I'd still love to hear your thoughts about dupes, though.

      I think the real difference between beauty budgets shows up in skincare, not color makeup. I've been wanting to try Tatcha for a long time, but I can't justify the expense when I could buy *so* many other products on my wishlist with that amount of money.

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    2. I've been thinking a lot about dupes too! You've written about it so clearly. I think the main thing for me is that I am an enthusiast consumer, NOT a makeup artist, and it's not just about the shade or performance of the product. It's about the overall experience of buying and using and keeping that particular product. Someone like Lisa Eldridge could probably make a 2B pencil work, but me, I want appealing packaging or my favourite brands or ease of use. What you said about buying a product for itself, not a dupe for something else, was perfect.

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