Too much of a good thing is still totally a good thing. | Clinique Almost Lipstick review, photos, swatches (Spring 2012 full lineup)

The product: Clinique Almost Lipstick (all shades)

The story of Black Honey: Clinique tells this tale much better than I ever would, so:

Black Honey made its debut in the US in 1971 and this deep, blackened rasin hue became an instant success. In 1989, when Black Honey was later launched as an Almost Lipstick, no one realized how quickly it would become an iconic lip colour. A precise blend of red, blue, orange and yellow pigments in a sheer base allows Black Honey to look beautiful and different on virtually every skin tone, making it a cult favourite.”

L-R: Tender Honey, Chic Honey, Luscious Honey, Lovely Honey, Shy Honey, Spicy Honey, Flirty Honey

L-R: Tender Honey, Chic Honey, Luscious Honey, Lovely Honey, Shy Honey, Spicy Honey, Flirty Honey

The formula: Like the classic Black Honey, Clinique’s range of Almost Lipsticks are best interpreted as gloss sticks, or sheer lipsticks, rather than… well, rather than lipsticks. They feel balmy going on, completely smooth and almost entirely scent-free (they do smell a bit waxy when applied, but the smell fades in a matter of minutes), and deliver wearable colour with a natural-looking finish.

The Almost Lipsticks are essentially glamorous tinted lipbalms, so they have a bit of a shine to their finish – think “fresh and hydrated,” rather than “sticky and vinyl.” All in all, while I’d like a bit more moisture out of the formula, I’m quite happy with them: they’re practically impossible to botch up (even without a mirror), and I’ve been wearing them non-stop since swatching them.

L-R: Tender Honey, Chic Honey, Luscious Honey, Lovely Honey, Shy Honey, Spicy Honey, Flirty Honey

Top to bottom: Flirty Honey, Spicy Honey, Shy Honey, Lovely Honey, Luscious Honey, Chic Honey, Tender Honey

The shades: In addition to the classic Black Honey, Clinique has added seven new shades to the Almost Lipstick line. They’re all varying degrees of “sheer,” but (ironically enough), I find all seven of the new shades more wearable than the “universal” Black Honey! For photos of each shade individually, don’t miss this post. (Fixed; two of the photos were switched earlier. Apologies!)

Black Honey (01) is a warm brown-red, one of the darkest and most pigmented Almost Lipstick shades. Tender Honey (35) is a medium nude with subtle microshimmer and just a hint of yellow-pink undertones. Chic Honey (36) is a (super-chic) berry shade; think “Black Honey for cool skintones.” Luscious Honey (37) is a sheer, juicy bright red .

Clinique Almost Lipsticks swatched heavily.

Lovely Honey (38) is a violet-berry with faint brown undertones and gold microshimmer – super pretty in the tube. Shy Honey (39) is an extremely sheer baby pink. Spicy Honey (40) is a wine red, not quite as dark as Chic Honey but somehow more sheer than Flirty Honey (which is lighter in the tube). Flirty Honey (41) is a bright fuchsia-pink.

I managed to somehow swatch Tender Honey fifth, rather than second, so I thought it best to label the swatches above directly onto the image – hope the order isn’t too confusing! There’s another small swatch set under the cut, with the correct order, if you need it.

The verdict?

As a lover of Black Honey in formula and theory (but not in shade), I’m really pleased that Clinique has built on their Almost Lipstick range. As promised, these gloss sticks ($18.00 CAD, available Feb 2012 onwards) deliver transparent, lightweight colour, and while my super-dry lips would like to see a bit more hydration from them, I’m quite impressed with the colour range & the feel of the formula.

If you were hoping for something a little more more pigmented than Clinique’s Chubby Sticks (I was, initially), then these aren’t going to cut it – but if you’re looking for sheer, scent-free, paraben-free colour, I think you’re going to like these!

Swatched heavily L-R: 01 Black Honey, 36 Chic Honey, 37 Luscious Honey, 38 Lovely Honey, 35 Tender Honey (sorry, I’m a dolt who managed to get the nicely numbered shades in the wrong order somehow), 39 Shy Honey, 40 Spicy Honey, 41 Flirty Honey

Top row – Black Honey, Tender Honey, Chic Honey, Luscious Honey

Bottom row – Lovely Honey, Shy Honey, Spicy Honey, Flirty Honey

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  • How can you not like Arwyn's lipstick? Hahaha :)
    I like Black Honey-I've always had one since it was launched as an Almost Lipstick. It becomes a great berry shade on my pigmented lips. The rest of them I just wouldn't bother with truthfully.

    My recent post Beauty Blog Link Love 02/25/2012

    • LOL! Sorry, lovely :P It just doesn't look all that great on me! More brown than berry :(

  • dani@callitbeauty

    Luscious and Flirty… They are my favourite :).
    My recent post Dear Marcelle BB Cream, You Should Let Me Love You…

    • They're two of my favourites, too! Them & Chic Honey ;)

      • BooBooNinja

        Those two are my favourites too. I'm tempted to check them out and see if they will change my mind about lip products.

        • I vote "no," actually! I do quite like these, and they are good, but they're not actually Clinique's best showing.

          Which (to be completely honest) is kind of ironic – they're the least pigmented and (almost) the least hydrating of all of Clinique's solid lip products, but they're still good enough that I'll reach for them at least two or three times a week!

  • Beautiful pictures :) I love the slim packaging and carefree color of the almost lipsticks, especially shy honey and lovely honey!
    My recent post New York City drugstore haul

    • Thanks, Dovey : ) Coming from you, that's extremely flattering ;)

      I love the packaging of these, too – always a sucker for a slim tube!

  • Jamilla

    Gorgeous! How would you say these compare with the Chubby Sticks?

    • I like the Chubby Sticks more than these ;)

      The Almost Lipsticks are more sheer, and (at least on my lips), the Chubby Sticks provide more moisture & a longer wear time. I prefer the Almost Lipstick packaging, though – it's hard to wear down automatic pencils in a not-flat manner!

  • Christine

    I am soooo partial to that packaging. There’s something about that particular shape that makes me want to buy! Chic honey looks super pretty (:

    & your pictures were so artsy! Me gusta!

    How would you say the moisturizing properties would compare to the chubby sticks? & Are they less pigmented than the chubby sticks?

  • I love when lipstick brands come out with slimline packaging – like the MAC slimshines

    • Me too ;o) Except for the fact that you (typically) get less product, of course!

  • mostlysunnybunny

    Hmm I think most of these wouldn't make a big difference on my pigmented lips, so I might want to pass. Psst I love your photos!
    My recent post FOTD with NARS Paramaribo & Guerlain Coque d’Or (120) Rouge Automatique

    • Aww, thank you! & yeah, these are pretty sheer – best used for tinted lipbalm purposes, I think, rather than lipsticky ones ;)

  • projectswatch

    Black Honey is actually perfect on me – it really enhances my natural lip color. It's hard to imagine an improvement on it for my coloring! Still, I really like the almost lipstick formula so I will probably check these out the next time I'm at a Sephora.
    My recent post Nail Art for Short Nails: Idea #3

    • Ahh, I'm jealous! Black Honey is okay against my colouring, but it's a little too brown.

      Let me know if you pick any of these up! I'd be curious to know what you end up with ;)

  • The way you photographed these is pure brilliance, it really varies the appearance of a series of otherwise uniform objects. And that doesn't even begin to address how I feel about the lippies themselves! I have Black Honey and I definitely sense a few more in my future.

    ♥ Jessica
    My recent post French For Beauty Lovers 101

    • Jessica! *dies*

      You say the nicest things. Seriously, you do! I basically think that all your photographs ever have been set up brilliantly, so – coming from you? That really does kill me.

      Thank you, my dear. ♥ Glad you liked the photographs, and I hope to see the Almost Lipsticks on Getting Cheeky soon! Flirty would be absolutely tdf on you ;)

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  • Cecily

    hi, are the tubes plastic or aliminun? I was just wondering. :)

    • Hi Cecily,

      The tubes are 100% metal, with a brushed finish on the base. They stand up quite well to purse wear & tear! :)