Review & Swatches: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella and Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien

For this year's Sephora Birthday Gift, VIBs and Beauty Insiders are receiving mini sizes of NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella and Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien. Cruella is described as a matte "scarlet red" and it's a darker neutral red that'll fit anyone. Rikugien is described as a "rose pink" and has a shimmery, almost frosty, finish to it. On my skintone, it's a MLBB shade but the finish might not be for everyone. The full sizes of each retail for $26, but the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils contain 0.086 ounces and the Satin Lip Pencils contain 0.07 ounces.

I was so excited when Sephora announced that these lip pencils were going to be the birthday gift this year. I really wanted to try them out, but the sharpening aspect of it made me not want to get it. It's a simple thing, but $26 for something that might get wasted during sharpening makes me sad. 

Just for reference, this is what my lips look like without any product. They were drier the day I took these pictures than normal.

Cruella is a super beautiful matte red and even though my lips were dry during these lip swatches, it still glided onto my lips so easily. In terms of other matte reds that I have, it is very similar to MAC Viva Glam I / NYX Snow White but is slightly lighter. 

Because Cruella is a pencil, application was very easy with being opaque with one swipe. I would've liked it to be sharper because you can see some mistakes around my lip line, but that's also understandable with non nude / opaque colors. I tend to use a red lip liner anyway regardless of any red lipstick formula.

With the comparison to MAC Viva Glam I, you could probably tell that I fell in love with the color right away. It's my kind of red that's not too bright or dark. This type of shade was my first step into reds and I also think it's a great first step for other skin tones as well. 

If you follow my Instagram, or look at the Instagram widget at the top of the page, there's a red lip print on my Starbucks cup due to Cruella. It is not transfer proof, but it did not smudge around my face or go outside of my lip line. It felt dry going onto my lips, but it did not get any drier was the time went by.

Rikugien, on the other hand, is not the type of shade I would've voluntarily chosen at all. I only started to get into pinks and frosts / shimmery shades are not my kind of thing. I'm not going to give this bad points just because of my personal preference though and I'm actually really happy with this color.

In the lip swatch, you can see the frosty aspect to it but it's definitely not overwhelming. People would also never be this close enough to see the shimmer. I felt like it added a bit of dimension to my lips without being shiny because it has a satin finish. The color is not too far away from my lips, but my natural color is a bit paler. 

The color is closer to opaque, but I would classify it as sheer. I like that this shade is sheer though because it just means that I can apply it haphazardly and it'll still be okay. Rikugien glides onto the lips a lot easier because of the satin texture, but it also doesn't last as long. 

Because of how close the shade is to my natural lip color, it was hard to see when it started to fade and where. I would check and I could see the satin finish on my lips even after 3-4 hours though. Even so, after those 3-4 hours, the texture started to feel drier compared to when it was first applied. 

Final thoughts: All in all, I'm so glad that NARS / Sephora decided on these two colors as the birthday gift. They're both wearable colors and they do feel nice on the lips. Would I pay full price for them? Probably not because there are similar formulas that are more convenient to use (i.e. without the sharpening). I would greatly consider buying the value sets with the mini sizes and even full sizes in only unique shades.

Which of the two shades are your favorite?


  1. The sharpening aspect does bum me out a little too - I hate wasting product! Both colours look lovely on you :)

  2. Me too! I know I'm not going to use it all up anytime soon, but I'd still rather save product when I can.

    Thank you! (:

  3. Absolutely stunning products and photos Hao! Did you get a new camera or is it the larger picture size I am noticing?

  4. Thank you! :D It's actually the same camera, but this layout makes the photos stretch out to fit the width of the post. Before, there were only set sizes that I could choose from. The bigger size actually throws me off because now my face looks massive.

  5. Nice, but not blow me away nice. I'll still take it though when my birthday comes up!

    Love the new blog template!

  6. Yeah! It's nice to get for free, but I'm not sure if it's buy worthy at this point. I do want to get Dragon Girl because that's the shade Taylor Swift wears.... :D

    & Thank you! It's from PinkPot Designs on Etsy.

  7. Oh damn, I love both shades! I think that's the kind of red that's wearable anytime of the day! Not too deep or too neon bright! I actually prefer the second color more, glad that the shimmer is fine! And I'm liking your new layout, more spacious and I love the photos on the top banner!

  8. They both are so great, aren't they?! hahaha Those top photos are actually from my Instagram (:

  9. Ooo can't wait to pick these up soon! Cruella looks pretty on you!

  10. YASSS. I knew NARS was going to be the birthday gift this year, but I didn't know which shades AND I AM BEYOND EXCITE FOR THIS. Been wanting to try Cruella for a while now, and Rikugien was one of my favourites when I was looking up which shades to try from the satin pencil line (leaning more towards Lodhi though). I little sad that my birthday is all the way in September though ;-;

  11. YAY!! So this worked out for you :D Your birthday is so far away, but it'll be worth it to get the gift hehe I really really wanted to try out NARS lip products since I already love their cheek products.

    If you haven't seen my giveaway and like lipsticks, you should check it out!

  12. Me too! I might still wear it though because the base color is so pretty. and thank you! Reds are my favorite <3 I really want to try out Dragon Girl because Taylor Swift wears that color a lot, but it's reaaally expensive. I'm okay with spending more if it's a sturdier (and fancier) packaging, but not just for a pencil type product.

    It's okay and thank you again! hahaha I haven't really been telling people when my birthday is for the past couple of years and so everyone gets surprised.