When I was little, lipstick came from two places: the drugstore, or the department store. There were only a few brands to choose from, and most people got their CoverGirl and their Maybelline from Rite Aid while the more epicurean set got their Clinique and Lancome from Macy’s. I don’t think I even knew MAC or Sephora existed until I was a teenager. But the concept of handmade or independently branded lipstick never even crossed my mind until fairly recently.
In the world of independent makeup brands and even vegan beauty, I’ve heard Morgana Cryptoria’s Vegan Lipsticks hailed as a holy grail item for many. Reasonably priced, it comes in a veritable rainbow of colours including many “wearable” shades as well as the bolder, more vibrant brights and the darker, gothier hues.
I placed my order for sample pods of three shades (Wisteria, Sub Zero, and Otherworldly) as well as three full-sized shadows (Anubis, Isis, and AspBite). It shipped exactly a week after being placed (5 business days), and arrived three days later.
First, let me address the shadows. I’ll admit, I order almost as much by name as I do by colour, so the Cleopatra Collection was an immediate need. If I was ever going to take a middle name, it would be Cleopatra. Being the last Pharoh of Egypt is reason enough, but Cleopatra is a classic example of strength and power in femininity that she’s long been a fascination of mine. That said, I’d also spent the last two weekends at the Met oggling ancient Egyptian artifacts, so I sort of had Egypt on the brain.
When I first saw these in person, I was a little confused. I didn’t remember them looking like what I was holding, trying to think back to the colours on the monitor when I placed the order. Granted, I was viewing them by the dodgy light of my boyfriend’s living room, so I can’t say my first impressions were that reliable. Isis, in particular, seemed different: I had seen more of a turquoise greenish-blue, and this was definitely a green. A blue-green, but still green. Anubis also seemed notably browner. But when I came back to them in the morning, I could see that while they were different from what I had expected, they were simply more complex. The turquoise I had seen on my monitor was definitely present in Isis, just under different lighting. And Anubis is definitely very purple, but has a distinct brown shift to it. I was immediately excited again.
Used as standard shadow (that is, swept on with a brush and nothing else), these have incredible payoff. No wishy-washy hint of colour, what you see in the jar is what you get. Patting it on produces a slightly more vibrant effect, but it’s hardly necessary. There is a bit of fall-out, like any other loose shadow, even after tapping the brush but nothing that a swipe of translucent powder under the eyes can’t fix.
Foiling is where these get a little sticky. I noticed that when applying these shadows wet, they sort of clump on my brush and apply patchier–coming up brilliant and shiny on some parts, dull and murky in others. This has happened with a few other companies’ formulas, but they usually share one thing in common: kaolin. Sure enough, kaolin is an ingredient in these shadows. Doesn’t bother me, I just know these will be finicky when wet.
Colour descriptions as listed on site (which I honestly did not see until I just went to get the link):
Isis - vivid green with twinkles of blue-violet and a hint of gold sheen
AspBite - blue-violet with intense violet-shifting aqua shimmer
Anubis – black with a deep purple sheen and subtle holographic tones
Photos below swatched with a finger onto the arm, then foiled with a brush above. You can see how AspBite in particular clumped up when wet.
I think the colours show truest in daylight. Isis, to me, is a bright turquoisey-green with a sort of teal and gold sparkle, while AspBite is a lavender-violet with pinky shimmer and Anubis is an aubergine-purple with distinct multi-coloured shimmer. They really are beautiful colours, multi-dimensional and complex. You can tell a lot of care went into formulating them.
On my eye, I used AspBite over the lid, with Anubis in the crease and outer corner and Isis applied wet to the lower lash line. Applied with a combination of “swiping” and “patting,” all over Urban Decay Primer Potion. (In retrospect, a stickier primer like Kat von D’s or Nyx’s might have been better to pop that sparkle…)
The lipstick samples were poured into thin clamshell containers. Considering I had never ordered samples of a lip product before, I have to say, I was kind of impressed by this. I sort of pictured it looking like the depotted lipsticks you’d see in makeup artist’s palette on TV, sort of smeary and pasty-looking. It honestly never occurred to me that handmade lipstick could be poured into samples before being made into tubes.
My method of applying lipstick is rather primitive: I put the tubes directly to my lips, and any over-drawing or smearing it taken care of with a combination of tissues and my fingers. I’ve used a lip brush maybe twice in my life, and the experience has always squicked me. I feel like it can never come clean enough to re-use. Nor is it convenient, since I’m not going to let it roll around in my purse and collect crumbs and dust and germs before I need to reapply. …Now that you know my personal lipstick hang-ups…
I applied these testers with my fingers, so the first few times I wore them they were very sheer. Still very pigmented–you can always tell what colour these are, regardless of the opacity. Worn as a single layer swiped on with my finger, I really forgot I had these on most of the time. The compulsion to put on lipstick wouldn’t go away until I looked in the mirror and realized I was all ready wearing some.
Swatching these today, I gouged a bit out with the back of a brush and applied it to my lips in a way that I think was more similar to a tube. The only one with any sheerness to it at all was Wisteria, but I had fairly pigmented lips so it might just be me.
The colour descriptions, as per the site:
Wisteria - pale cool toned lilac, vanilla scent
Sub Zero - bright, neon blue
Otherworldly - Plum with a blue sheen. Grape scent.
Note on scent: I do smell very very faint trace of vanilla in Wisteria. It’s not a MAC vanilla, nor is it as strong. I don’t smell anything at all in the others, except the smell of the lipstick itself. I know some people are fussy about their lipstick scents, but this smells neither of ridiculous perfume, nor of beeswax or rancid grease. They’re also vegan, so that might account for the lack of those last two.
Lip swatches are in daylight, with the flash shot below.
- Sub Zero, daylight
- Sub Zero, flash
- Otherworldly, daylight
- Otherworldly, flash
These were all swatched over bare, freshly exfoliated lips. (The flash really brings out the cuts I have in the corner of my mouth, sorry. That’s what winter air does to me.) No primer, no balm, just lipstick.
Wear time was pretty good with Wisteria and Otherworldly, lasting for several hours or until I put food in my face and then still clinging to the outer portions of the lip. I’ll admit, I have not yet worn Sub Zero outside of my property, but I totally plan to this weekend and will report back!
All of that said, did I like the Morgana Cryptoria products? Absolutely. Will I buy again? Definitely…in fact, I’ve all ready got a cart loaded up. I’m very curious about her veils, as well as the new lip colours she just put out.
You can find Morgana Cryptoria here, and keep updated on twitter @Morganas_Crypt
Finally, the full face of the day:
I think I look really unenthused because my lips feel like sandpaper after rubbing off those lipsticks. Otherworldly is just sheerly swiped on here. As you can see, the colour is very buildable.
Love you to the Moon and Back,