I believe that all beauty fans have at least one item they buy over and over, in the search for product nirvana. Among mine is nude lipstick, specifically, about 200 near-identical peachy-pinky-beigey shades, acquired in the impossible belief that each will prove, finally, to be the nude to rule them all. So when the British brand Code8 invited me to try its Bespoke Lipstick service (£75 for 45 minutes), nothing could keep me away.
Lipstick maker Juan immediately understood my brief of “an almost-matte nude, darker and punchier than my natural lip colour, as appropriate with little other makeup and jeans as with a full face and frock”. He promptly heaped white, brown, yellow and purple creams on to a mixing slab and blended them, sampling and adjusting until we both felt satisfied with the very slightly peach-stained, mid-tone rose. The cream is then divided between a luxury lipstick bullet and a sample for the Code8 archives, to make reordering (£28) straightforward (the brand can also copy any favourite discontinued lipstick from the remaining dregs). I adore my shade, which I’ve now worn several times a week for a month.
For those to whom lipstick is more like a religion than a passion, YSL’s new Rouge Sur Mesure device (£250) is the ultimate gift. This slick, dressing table-top digital device can create 4,000 lipstick shades using only a free smartphone app and base colour cartridges (think tiny printer cartridges full of lipstick, £60 for a full colour family set – pinks, oranges, nudes and reds).
During my practice run, I photographed the ketchup on the table, then in about two minutes, very closely recreated its concentrated tomato shade in a real-life lipstick to apply there and then.
The machine dispenses five applications directly into a smart, portable YSL compact, which can be wiped out later and filled with, perhaps, doses of your wedding bouquet pink, train ticket orange, or the exact nude spotted on a magazine cover.
If you’re feeling low on inspiration, there’s a vast array of colour options on the app, which will memorise favourites for another time. The device is not the simplest to operate at first go, but it is terrific fun, and while no one is expecting it to sweep the nation (it’s available only at yslbeauty.com), it does feel like the expensive start of an ultimately more affordable move towards bespoke.