I can’t remember how I first found out about MAC’s famed Candy Yum-Yum lipstick. What I do remember, however, is standing at my local makeup counter and staring at a tube of it like it was a loaded gun. It was so bright, so unabashed, so pink that I could almost feel my retinas start to tingle.
Being Casper-level pale, I asked the salesgirl if it would only look good against tanned skin. “Um, oh my God, it looks, like, so weird on tan girls,” she replied like a brunette version of Cher from Clueless. I’m still not sure if that statement is true, as I’ve never seen it on a tan person (or on any other person, for that matter), but regardless, her burst of Valley Girl-tinged enthusiasm was enough to convince me. I bought it without trying it on, and for the last few months have worn it every day without fail. (Sidenote: if you have darker skin, don’t stop here, this shade can look great on you too. Keep on reading and I’ll elaborate later.)
Last week, though, I suddenly got an urge for something a little lighter. A little more like Betty Draper, with her subdued Ice Queen look, than Megan Draper, with her bold, bright colors and huge prints. And just like that, my search for the perfect Barbie lipstick began. After sorting through a slew of options, I finally settled on MAC’s Pink Nouveau shade. Again, I bought it without trying it on (I’m detecting a pattern of first-world risk-taking here). It is drastically different than the neon-pumped Candy Yum-Yum, yet it is also becoming one of my top favorite lipsticks. I find myself struggling to choose between the two when I put on my face in the morning. So, of course, the next logical step was to pit them against each other in a bona fide, Western-style standoff.
Let’s start with pure aesthetics. Here, I’ve swatched the back of my hand with two to three coats of each:
I brightened up the photo a bit to compensate for the rather dim natural light I took it in, but otherwise no editing, and absolutely no color alteration. As you can see, Candy Yum-Yum (on the left) reads as an incredibly bright neon pink, while Pink Nouveau is a true rose pink. But, as with all things, there is more than meets the eye, especially (and ironically) when it comes to beauty products. Let’s break things down with a good old-fashioned scale of one through 10.
Candy Yum-Yum: 10. Pink Nouveau: 6.
Candy Yum-Yum’s amazing lasting power comes purely from its matte finish. I have owned several other MAC lipsticks in matte finishes, and they have all lasted for a ridiculously long time. Pink Nouveau, however, has a satin finish, which is very beautiful but also fairly short-lived, unless you never eat or drink. After devouring a big meal with Candy Yum-Yum on, I just have to touch up in a few places. After doing the same with Pink Nouveau, however, the color is smeared all over my cutlery and, in all likelihood, the inside of my stomach, so a full reapplication is needed.
Candy Yum-Yum: 6. Pink Nouveau: 10.
While Candy Yum-Yum’s matte finish offers many budge-free hours, it is also extremely drying. Before application I always put on a layer of Nivea’s ultra-moisturizing Lip Butter, and even then I usually have a flake or two of lip skin peeling off by the end of the day. Pink Nouveau, on the other hand, requires no prior steps, is incredibly silky, and is so smooth that it can stay on for ages and still be wiped off to reveal perfectly plump, healthy lips (provided that I don’t accidentally wipe it off on the mouthpiece of my water bottle first).
Candy Yum-Yum: 7. Pink Nouveau: 10.
As mentioned above, Candy Yum-Yum can cause peeling and flaking even on the most supple of lips, which leads to a not-so-sexy-looking texture. Applying some sort of lip balm underneath really does help, but if you forget to, in a few hours you’ll end up with scaly-looking lizard lips. The texture of Pink Nouveau is creamy and forgiving, and if it ever gets uneven, you can just rub your lips together gently and just like that it’s flawless again.
Candy Yum-Yum: 10. Pink Nouveau: 8.
Candy Yum-Yum is like the heroin of lipsticks. It provides instant gratification, and a lot of it. Its ability to light up your whole face is truly addictive, and the blue undertones make it very flattering on cool skin tones like mine, light and dark alike. Pink Nouveau is also wonderfully pigmented and kissed with blue undertones, but just by the very nature of its color isn’t as exciting or adrenaline-rush-inducing. It does light up your whole face, but in a calmer, more measured way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a dainty, subdued color, and it definitely says, “hey, look at my pink plastic Barbie lips,” it just doesn’t scream the message at the top of its lungs like Candy Yum-Yum.
When everything is unpacked, examined, and rated, it becomes clear that the winner of this standoff depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a long-lasting lipstick with a shriekingly loud color or do you want a smooth, creamy lipstick with a more hushed but equally eye-catching hue? Let me know in the comments which one you’d prefer.