I bought two of these at the same time in order to try both the matte and the cream formula; I've got Dare (matte) and Mulberry (cream). I got them a little over a year ago, before Sleek prices went up. At the time, I believe they were around 6 euros; now they're 7.50. Considering the fact that the Sleek display at my local Mueller only has like 8 shades of this range, I'd have to order them online and pay the postage. At the end of the day, this is now, in practice, a 10 euro lipstick. That puts it on the same level as other drugstore brands like Maybelline, L'Oreal, Bourjois, Kiko etc. Is Sleek's formula better than them? Not really. If anything it's worse. I'd take Maybelline, Bourjois, or Kiko lipstick over these any day. I'd have to shell out a couple of euros more for Bourjois, true, but I'd rather pay a bit more and have a decent lipstick than a bit less and have a kinda-okay one. But I digress.
Firstly, there's a considerable difference between the cream and the matte formula. The matte is okay; the cream is crap. To be honest, Mulberry is a very dark colour and those are difficult to get completely opaque, but this is just incredibly wet and glossy and trying to apply an even opaque coat is a nightmare. Now, generally speaking I expect I'll have to put more effort in applying drugstore lipsticks, so I'll use lipliner and a lipbrush, apply two coats and blot each one - but even that doesn't work with this lipstick. The one and only way this is wearable for me is if I massage it into my moisturised lips like a stain. Once it's on, it doesn't wear that well. You will have to touch up after your first cup of coffee. I know this brand was originally conceived as a brand for women of colour, and I am very white with pale lips, so there's that. Still, there are a number of lipsticks at the same price point that are perfectly opaque. I am now using Rimmel's 04; it's a good colour dupe for Mulberry, except it actually applies well.
Dare, the matte one, is better. I actually wear this one a lot, because the colour is so great; a dark red with enough brown in it to make it very wearable for daytime, yet it packs enough of a punch. The formula is considerably better than with Mulberry; I can whack it on with no fuss, although lipbalm under it is imperative; it's quite dry and will not apply smoothly if your lips are completely dry. Once it's on, it doesn't bleed, which is impressive for such a dark colour, but it also doesn't stay that well; the feel of it is quite powdery and it wears off quickly where my lips touch together. If I have a cup of coffee, my bottom lip will survive relatively intact, but the edges of the cup will leave two distinct lines of bare skin on my top lip. It's also prone to doing the mad dog rim after a few hours of wear, and gunking up on my mouth if I eat something dry and non greasy, like a croissant or an energy bar. I am now looking for a colour dupe of this, since I've grown quite attached to the shade, but I'd prefer a different formula.
Basically, the good sides of these lipsticks are:
- a lot of pigment
- not drying
- no scent
- well-made, beautiful packaging
- nice colour selection of the entire range
- no bleeding or feathering of darker shades
The bad sides are as described. These lipsticks aren't great, they aren't good; they're okay. Both the cream and the matte finish aren't especially pleasant-feeling on the mouth. They also started smelling off only after a year of me having them, which is a pretty standard longevity for drugstore lipsticks, I find. If you can't find the colours you want from other drugstore brands, are unable to spend more money, and are able to buy this brand in a physical store to reduce the total cost, then you might love them. Frankly, my experience with these lipsticks is quite similar to what I've experienced with Sleek's iDivine eyeshadow palettes. I think the brand is lovely and you can get a large array of colours and finishes for a very affordable cost. The makeup looks beautiful upon application and for a short period afterwards - although there are some problems with application with some of the products - but just doesn't wear all that well if you're living a human life with all that it entails.
And there's nothing wrong with that! It just depends upon what you're looking for in your makeup. Personally, I'm a busy person who likes to be able to put on makeup well with minimal fuss and have it look great all day with minimal touchups. I've come to the conclusion that that, in most cases, requires me to go for the higher end of the drugstore makeup and/or luxury brands. (Please note I wrote 'in most cases', not 'in all cases'; I still buy super cheap drugstore brow gel and Essence lipliners and drugstore mascara.) I'm also at that point in my life where I want quality, and since I'm only a student, I'll take quality over quantity. Let me repeat that there's nothing wrong with wanting or requiring quantity, you just have to be aware that with this brand at least, you do get quantity, but only 'okay' quality. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that even when those lipsticks look nice and I'm enjoying some aspects of them, I have no wish to buy a fresh tube. I'd rather try something else or go back to other brands that I like more.