I devote this entire post to one lip colour. I’m even including a photo of myself for the first time since this column started because I’m wearing the colour in it. That’s how special it is. The lip colour, not the photo. Ladies, I present to you – NARS Terre De Feu.
I am convinced my aversion to darker shades of lipstick comes from my childhood when I observed the rules of lipstick as set out by various aunts and older cousins. This was how it went – a special occasion (wedding, birthday, festive holiday, whatever) was marked by a compulsory application of “dark lipstick”. Brown, maroon, wine, or burgundy were most preferred. I realize only now that red was almost never an option. If you were getting ready for a special occasion, the only colour that was acceptable was a dark one. You were considered not dressed-up enough if you wore anything less. I thought this was specific to my family, but I think it’s an Indian thing – at a wedding I attended a few years ago, the beautiful bride was nearly done with her make-up, it was elegant and minimal and she looked absolutely radiant. Her mother walked into the room and I expected her to exclaim in delight – instead she nodded thoughtfully and said “Lipstick is too light no? Put some nice dark colour.”
All this to say that when I began to choose my own lip colour I always picked somewhere between nude and light brown-pink. Possibly one of the few times in history that a quiet colour is used as a statement of rebellion, who knows. I bought MAC’s Ruby Woo a few years ago to celebrate a significant birthday but I always feel like I’m making some sort of major statement when I wear it, even if I’m not. It’s a really great colour but I have to steel myself to step out wearing it. So you can imagine how surprised I was to find myself standing in line at a Sephora while on holiday in Paris with a black cherry lip colour from NARS in the basket.
It was a completely random buy. I’d been looking for the shade Volga and it proved impossible to find. I’d looked in so many stores and was so disappointed that I was just determined to buy something. When all the swatches on my hand began blurring into each other I just pointed at one – Terre de Feu. The sales girl was relieved, I’m sure. Later that night, the family and I sat our cold, weary selves into a small pub near the Pantheon. We were tired and hungry and it was the night the Beaujolais Nouveau would make its first appearance for the year. So we chose a random pub (based purely on the oversized inflatable grape bunches hanging outside) and sat down. After this exchange (Me: “Sorry I speak very little French”. Waiter (gleefully): “I speak very little English”) we managed to place our order and sat down to wait. I idly took out the tube of lipstick and put it on hoping to make up for my slightly unruly all-day-out-in-the-freezing-cold hair. From the first application it was magic.
It brightened my skin as I was applying it. I was convinced it was the dim mood lighting of the pub. Next surprise – it didn’t come off on the glass I drank from throughout dinner. When we returned to our hotel at night, I refreshed the colour. Hotel bathroom lighting didn’t reduce its wonder. It just…fit. I’ve never experienced this before. I’ve heard women talk about lip colour in a highly excited way but I thought it was just exaggeration. I guess I never met a perfect match before. So I used every excuse for the rest of the vacation (and for a while after returning home) to wear the colour. Now I’ve tested it in the lights of two different countries and it is a wonder.
It is perfect for Indian skin (looks great on my sister too who has different colouring from me), and is a product worth paying good money for. I’m adding it to my list of products I really hope won’t go out of stock. Please don’t NARS, please don’t.
Texture: Matte. Feels super creamy. The lipstick glides on smoothly and does not leave your lips dry.
Pigment: Just right. You need to apply only one layer for the colour to pop. It works great as a lip stain as well. Apply and then dab with a tissue for a lighter, more subtle look.
Refresh Rate: The lipstick did not come off when I drank a glass of water and then a glass of wine. It fades a little in the center after you’ve eaten a meal but overall you don’t have to refresh for several hours.
Photos/Graphic Design: Elvis D’Silva
Product shot: NARS