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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review + Swatches: NYC City Duet 2 in 1 Lip Colors

A little while ago, I received five of the ten new NYC City Duet 2 in 1 Lip Colors that I first showed you here. Now that I've been using these lipsticks almost exclusively for the past several weeks, I'd love to share my thoughts with you.

NYC City Duet 2 in 1 Lip Colors
(retail: $2.99 each)

Allow me to get this out of the way right off the bat: when I first posted about this new collection, some of you who had already tried these lip colors indicated that you did not care for their strong fragrance and flavor.

I think that maybe since I grew up in the 80s, when virtually all drugstore lipsticks had a very strong scent and flavor, I'm naturally less sensitive to this type of thing. Yes, the fragrance and flavor are strong (at first), but I don't personally find them unpleasant. In fact, I find them nostalgic in a weird sort of way. But I do want to note that these lipsticks have a strong, generic "lipstick" scent and flavor to them, so I can see how that could be a deal-breaker for some of you.

I've been applying these lipsticks as my last step in my makeup routine in the morning, and by the time I grab my coffee, my purse, my keys and head out to the car, the flavor and fragrance are barely noticeable to me. And by the time I get to work, the flavor and fragrance are gone. So....take that for what it's worth---I'm not trying to sway you either way; I'm just sharing my opinion and of course your mileage may vary.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, on to some swatches! 

Since these are split lipsticks (a different shade on each side of the stick) I'll show you swatches of each shade on its own, and then both shades blended together:

The Waldorf Roses features one shimmer and one creme. The shimmer is more of a blueish-rose than what you see below (sorry, my camera turned it more orange), but the light carnation-pink shade is very accurate. I love carnation pink cremes, so I instantly fell in love with this one. What I really love is that I can easily control the pink shade and add just a touch of the darker shade to it to make it less pale:

The Madison Bronzes features two shimmers. One is more of a mocha brown, while the other is more of a frosty nude. I don't care for either shade when worn alone (on me), but I was really surprised to find that, when worn together, they create a nice nude on my lips that doesn't veer toward "concealer lips". Again, I love that I can control how dark or light I want it to be:

The Rock A Fellas contains two cremes: one is a bright coral, while the other is a light peachy-salmon. If you like coral cremes, you might enjoy this one. I personally can't wear the lighter shade on its own, but I've been loving it blended with the darker shade. 

I had heard from a few people that, due to their creme finish, these shades tended to be a bit chalky when on the lips. While I can certainly see how that could happen, I was surprised to find that they weren't chalky on my lips at all.

The Cherry Blossoms features a bright, blue-based magenta creme on one side and a shimmery light blueish-pink on the other. PLEASE NOTE: my photos make these shades look warmer than what you see in real life--they are definitely both blue-toned shades in person. For my skintone, I wasn't wild about each shade individually but, when worn together, they create a bright--but more wearable--berry shade.

The Penthouse Plums is probably the lipstick that I've been gravitating toward the most out of all the shades I received for review. I love the warm, wined-colored creme and I also love the medium-toned plummy mauve (the plummy mauve looks like a creme in my swatches, but it's actually more of a soft shimmer). Together, I think the colors blend beautifully into a nice daytime shade that would work on a variety of different skintones.

Fragrance and flavor: see my comments above.

Finish, texture and staying power: The finishes in this collection vary from stick to stick. As mentioned above, some shades come with two shimmers, some come with one shimmer and one creme, and some, like The Rock A Fellas, come with two cremes. As for the texture, I find all of the lipsticks in this post very creamy and moisturizing, and quite comparable to NYC's Ulta Moist lipsticks. The staying power varies a bit for me; some shades (like the reds) last longer, while the nudes are a bit more fleeting. On average, I can get about 3-4 hours of wear from these lipsticks, but I do want to mention that many of the shades in this collection leave a stain on my lips after they've worn away. I love lipsticks that leave behind a stain, but of course that's personal preference.

Ease of use: Since I tend to apply all of my lipsticks from the side of the stick, I find this "gimmick" very easy to work with. I just hold the stick in a vertical position during application, and I have no problems at all with the other side of the stick accidentally touching my lips. But if you tend to apply your lipstick by touching the very tip of the stick to your lips, there will definitely be a learning curve with these if you're only trying to use one shade at a time.  Another thing I want to note: eventually when the sides of the stick wear down, you'll be forced to use both shades at once. I don't see this as a drawback because, honestly, I love the look of the colors when worn together. Yes, it's great to have to the option of custom-blending to your liking, but I think that when I wear these lipsticks down to where I can't use one side separately from the other, I won't be terribly disappointed. And for $2.99, I think you'll get your money's worth of each shade before you get to that point, but again that's just my opinion.

FINAL VERDICT: I've said it a million times on this blog but let me say it once more: I'm a sucker for gimmicks. I love anything different or interesting, but I really love it when a gimmick actually works. And I think that the NYC City Duets do work, if applied properly. Each side gives you a completely different color than the other side, and I love that you can customize your look by adding more (or less) of each shade for a darker or lighter look. I think that even though, eventually, you won't be able to use each color in these lipsticks without having some of the other color appear on your lips, you'll still get plenty of fun out of these before the colors blend together. The only thing I would warn some readers about is the strong "generic lipstick" fragrance and flavor to these. If you have an aversion to that sort of thing, you might want to hold on to your receipt in case they don't work for you. Personally, I find the fragrance and flavor to fade completely about 20 minutes after application.  For $2.99 each, I think these are a neat addition to the drugstore makeup aisle, and I would recommend them if you're looking for something new and fun to try.

You can purchase NYC City Duet 2-in-1 Lip Colors at retailers across the nation. For a store locator, see the upper right corner of the NYC website.

Have you tried any City Duets? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

A sample of this product was given to Nouveau Cheap for editorial purposes, either directly from the manufacturer or from the agency that works on behalf of the manufacturer. All reviews on are the honest opinion of its author and editorial samples do not, in any way, affect the outcome of product reviews.


  1. I agree with you that these should be about fun, using them separately while it's possible, then either loving the perma' blend situation, or just tossing it. In the same way, I have enjoyed certain "swirled inside the tube" lip glosses over the years. Sure the swirl doesn't last for the life of the product, but sometimes I just decide to give into the fact that something fun is temporary, and I can embrace that.

  2. I haven't tried them, and I normally do not wear "regular" lipstick, but stick to long wear formulas... but I wanted to say I think the use of a lip brush would probably make it easy to apply just one color, even after it wears down. I can also see some fun ombre lips or shading options with these.

  3. You always make me want to try things that I otherwise would never pay attention to, and this is one of them! I love the first pair.

  4. Not really too happy with any of them, and I personally hate the packaging. I'm a pink or nude kind of girl, and none of these do it for me.

  5. I definitely was a complainer about the smell when I first got one - very noticeable! But after having the lipstick for a while, I think the smell has almost gone away. I adore the color - Empire Lilacs, the texture is great, it lasts a while (I've noticed the slight stain as well) and you can't beat the price (and NYC goes on sale fairly often). I find that I'm reaching for this lipstick more than ones that cost 10x. I definitely will be buying some more - I also am impressed by the color selection - I can see myself wearing most of the colors.

  6. Fantastic review! I've used NYC lip products in the past and would definitely give these a try. Are the caps/containers as flimsy as the NYC Ultra Last Lipwears? Those have opened up on me in my purse in the past and made a complete mess :(

  7. I've been looking for these swatches like forever..Thanks so much for reviewing and swatching them. I'm getting them as soon as I can get my hands on them. The shades I want are out of stock :(

  8. These look great! Except I think that the smell you described has actually turned me away from picking one of these up. I just HATE the smell "lipsticks" so I'm glad you described the smell:) I'm not sure, i may get one of these because even if I don't like the smell, the colors look pretty!

  9. I have a couple of these and enjoy them. I'd like to share a tip for those of you who don't like the smell. Try leaving the tube open for a day or two and some of it will evaporate (?) I'm not sure it's the right word but hopefully the smell won't be as strong. I did that with a Rimmel Lasting Finish lipstick and it helped.

    1. Thanks so much for the tip! If I pick one of these up, I will totally try that!

  10. Great information G.!!! Thank you! Perhaps I will buy one when I need a lippie pick me up after a frustrating day! I know that I would not have if I hadn't read your review! :)

  11. These are much prettier than I expected :) I actually am not a fan of "gimmick" type products, but these are mostly just lovely shades overall.

  12. Thank you for sharing. They look very pretty. And I admit I like gimmicks too.

  13. Wow, I was so uninterested in these until I saw your swatches! Waldorf Roses and Rock a Fellas look gorgeous. Loving the idea that I can darken the shades to my own preference. Trying some of these crazy brights from MAC recently has been not so successful.... :/ I haven't love much from NYC lately, but they're cheap enough I might give these a go....

  14. great swatches specially the coral ones are awesome

  15. I think I was just waiting for a review on these as I have been eyeing them for some time. I like the cherry blossoms shade.

    I wonder if letting the lipstick 'air' a bit will help with releasing some of the aroma?? I wonder why they didn't add some perfume in there to help cover up the icky stink?

    Thanks for the review! Glad to know these things.

  16. I looove the smell of lipstick! :) But two sahdes lipsticks are really not for me

  17. I have The Metropolitan Mauves. The colors are gorgeous but the taste is so gross. I hate this lipstick. I grew up in the 80's too but my lipsticks tasted good, not like this. Mine also looks wet when I open it. It is not humid in my house so I don't know what is causing it. I don't recommend these.


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