There's really no beauty look that's quite as iconic as the bold red lip. Talk about a product that does so much with so little — for decades, a rouged mouth has held a transformative power for legions of women. (Here at Refinery29, we’ve explored how the hue helped actresses embody Hollywood sex symbols and has become a trademark look for Latinx women from Selena to AOC.) Even if the rest of the face is bare, a simple crimson stain has that street-style power to make one feel instantly put-together or going out-ready in just a few swipes and blots.
While Refinery29 is always covering the best red lipsticks on the blazin' market, the quest for the perfect rose-petal red is actually never-ending because there are so many variables to consider: Do you go with liquid or crayon? Matte finish or glossy? An orangey-red or a blue-red? While it boils down to preferences for some, other folks (like us on the Shopping team) are down to clown with all brands till we find that one crimson shade that stuns us. We may have found a new fave in the form of Violette_FR's Petal Bouche Matte liquid lipstick, which already boasts a 4.6-star rating and 90 reviews — quite an impressive feat for a product that’s less than a year old.
In case you missed its launch in spring 2021, Violette_FR is the beauty brand from IG-fave makeup artist and YouTube vlogger Violette Serrat, who has spent years concocting the most flattering red lipstick for seemingly all skin tones. “I’ve been dreaming of creating this lip color since I was ... eight years old,” Serrat confessed in a launch video last year. (The brand also boasts a whole collection of other vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, including eye shadows, highlighters, and dry shampoo.) As the former Global Beauty Director at Estée Lauder, Violette is no newb to the French-girl aesthetic (it also helps that she is French herself) and what she's captured in Petal Bouche Matte is a soft, velvety blue-red that's so often sought out by the effortlessly chic set (or those who aspire to be). Ahead, we put this lipstick to the test to see if it made us feel something (powerful? sexy? elegant?) — even during these homebound, PPE-clad winter days.
"As far as lipstick/lipgloss goes, I usually wear more clear or nude-toned glossy shades on a day-to-day basis. However, I have been wanting to incorporate more color in my routine, so I was really excited to try this one out. It took very little to get a good even coat on. The Violette_FR red coloring is on point. It definitely adds a bit of passion and intensity (in a good way) to a look. My Aries soul feels super sexy with it on! I have trouble finding reds I love with my skin tone, so I was pleased for this slightly deeper, cooler red that complemented my coloring well.
"The consistency of the lipstick was very smooth and velvety out of the bottle. As I applied it, the gloss settled into a matte look. I do like how the red looks when it’s settled down, but I didn’t love the dry feeling of lips that comes with wearing a matte gloss. To remove the lipstick, you cannot use water alone. I think the soap and water combo would have worked, but I used an oil-based makeup remover that easily removed it. I do see myself wearing again. Maybe to a nice dinner out or when I go on my solo movie dates! I’d definitely put on a little chapstick before I apply it next time to give my lips a little moisture." – Chichi Offor, Affiliate Associate Writer
"I’ve never been a big lipstick gal before, but every now and then I live for a bright red power lip. As a beauty person, I’m a longtime fan of Violette’s work as one of the talented makeup artists of our generation and have already tried several of her products. (If you haven’t checked out her YouTube channel, click out of this article, hit that Subscribe button, and come back here.) Her Petal Bouche lipstick is supposed to bestow the color and soft matte texture of a rose petal, and she has somehow nailed it perfectly. The color is a brilliant, true red — not too warm but not too blue – and is buildable enough to create a deeper color if desired. (I used about two coats here.)
"Matte liquid lipsticks can tend to be on the dry side, but this one was pretty comfortable to wear and lasted for a while without having to touch up. I always prep with a tiny bit of lip balm before lipstick application of any kind; enough to hydrate my lips but not too much that the liquid formula can’t adhere to my lips. Once dry, it really didn’t move much — there was virtually no transfer to a wine glass, and it passed the smooch test with near-flying colors.
"The best part of the lipstick for me has to be the texture. It is the most velvety finish I’ve ever seen from a matte lipstick, and the color is truly stunning. As a Bachelor superfan, my inner monologue be like, 'Will you accept this rose…lipstick?'" – Karina Hoshikawa, Beauty & Wellness Market Writer
"The elusive French-girl style isn't something I've ever sought out, but I do like the makeup, which often tends towards a very clean face with perfected skin and a bold lip. And that just so happens to be how I do my makeup most times I bother to actually put it on these days. While no one will ever mistake me for French (I'm far too Southern and clumsy to ever smolder with mystery) I definitely knew I wanted to try the supposedly perfect French lip color.
"First off: The application. I am a sucker for packaging and could watch YouTube videos of people talking about makeup components for hours so I really appreciated that the doe foot applicator had small indentations on both sides to hold the product as you apply. It also narrowed the tip a bit, making it easy to first line my lips with the wand then fill it in. But this is super pigmented, so I definitely recommend scraping off excess product as you apply! Once on, the color was a dramatic, moody blue-red that didn't feel overly vampy. In bright light, however, I noticed it could read closer to fire engine red, which surprised me. I would have thought of this as more of an evening/nighttime color, but seeing it in brighter light makes me think it could totally work for daytime as well. It also faded nicely: instead of coming off in patches or leaving an unflattering ring around my outer lips, it wore evenly and left a very mild red stain behind. I imagine if I were to reapply throughout the day, that stain would also deepen.
"The lipstick actually survived breakfast pretty unscathed though was mostly gone after a sandwich lunch. Still, to me that says it would last well through dinner with a touch-up or two, a perfectly reasonable compromise for a liquid lipstick that isn't overly drying or uncomfortable. I also dabbed some lip balm on a few times and it mixed nicely with the lipstick already on my lips, though that obviously changed the velvet matte effect.
"Aside from the stunning color, I also loved the finish: I feel like the day of the super matte lip is behind us, and I usually opt for a bullet lipstick or a tinted balm. But this finish, meant to imitate roses, has a very subtle depth that more satin lip colors and balms lack while still being comfortable." – Marshall Bright, Freelance Affiliate Editor
"First off, I’m literally obsessed with this color! Second, it lasted way longer than I expected considering I was eating some pretty oily foods and drinking coffee. It’s definitely one of those liquid lipsticks that needs a lip liner, because after four hours, it was bleeding out the edges. If I had put on a liner, I think it’d last the full eight hours. While it was crumbling by the end, it wasn’t unbearably dry while it was on and it didn’t transfer while I was eating or drinking. All in all, I’d say it’s in my top red lipsticks for sure!" – Mercedes Viera, Associate Deals Writer
"Oh god, I love red lipsticks and this one has to be my current fave by far. It's just that true blue-reds are hard to come by. Even if one lipstick looks crimson-red on a friend, it would generally look orange-red on me — which, sometimes there's a time and place for that, but usually I'm gunning for a sickeningly vampy red at all times.
"In terms of getting this on my lips, I'm not gonna lie, I struggled a bit. I think I get nervous any time I'm playing around with such a saturated or highly pigmented beauty product because I'm nervous about getting it on my clothes or looking clownish. So for me, the trick of blending the lines with my finger and doing a blottish application was the way I approached this. I'd say a little goes a long way, too — even two coats made me feel like I was overdoing it. But that's a good thing because I imagine I'll have this one tube for a long time, which justifies the $25 price tag for me.
"And staying power? I'd say this lipstick definitely has it. Granted, I didn't eat or drink anything THAT messy, but it survive through a Chipotle burrito bowl and soda, so there's that. I put this lipstick on in the early afternoon and then went out to see a movie and then a Broadway musical and then came home after midnight and besides some inevitable bleeding around the lip, the color stayed put without a single touch-up (I forgot the lipstick at home). I just hope I have more occasions for wearing this lipstick out in public (sans mask, obvs) because the color is truly beautiful IRL and I simply wanna be seen in it." – Jinnie Lee, Freelance Fashion Market Writer
We often run into products that not only have to be seen to be believed but also put to the test. Tried & True is where we suss out these trending goods & services by taking them for an IRL spin to discover if they're up to snuff.
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