The Panel: Purple reign
Though this season's look of red lips and nude eyes is less frightening than a trend that dictates they should both be full on, the scarlet pout remains too scary for many of us.
Berry-hued lips, then, which are equally on trend, make for a less intimidating alternative. Ranging from deep raspberry through plum, to near-goth blackcurrant shades, there is something for everyone, but do take care when choosing from the darker end of the spectrum. Go too blue for your skintone and you risk looking a bit rigor mortis, but, nonetheless, be brave by making what's a more edgy statement than the classic red lip. As with the red-lips trend, the eyes should not be overly made-up when lips are this strong, and it's crucial that the complexion is flawless. So, no heavy black eyeliner or you're into Goth territory, and while blush should be kept light and should not distract, you also don't want to look half-dead. For a softer look, apply with your finger to the middle of your lips and blend out. These are the lipsticks we liked best when we let the purple reign.
Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in Plum, €11, available nationwide
In terms of texture and comfort, this range of lipsticks is hard to beat.
They feel light, despite their dense pigment and polished finish, and this is a plum that doesn't contain too much blue, so it is glamorous for night, but not too deep for day. "This is really deep and properly purple," said a panellist, "but I was surprised it didn't make me washed out. Without wearing much other make-up, it creates a proper look."
Best Berry Drama
Giorgio Armani Rouge D'Armani Lipstick in 604, €25, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork
A fabulously smooth, deep and even lip colour, with a nice shimmer to it, which doesn't stray into a metallic, Eighties-style look. Definitely dramatic, you're going to make a statement wearing this one. It contains enough red and pink to suit both dark and fair complexions. "This is a really strong colour and finish," a panellist said, "but it doesn't have to look as perfect as a red lipstick, so I felt it was a bit younger looking."
Best Berry Deep
Chanel Rouge Coco in Ballet Russe, €25.50, Chanel counters nationwide
A very deep purple with lots of blue tones, this lipstick was definitely one for darker complexions, and looked just a little deathly on blondes. Nicely staining, it lasts and lasts and it makes teeth look really white. "I loved this the way I've always wanted to love red lipstick but don't," said one panellist. "It makes a huge impact without being too girlie."
Best Berry Adaptable
Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Colour in Moroccan Rouge, €45, Brown Thomas Dublin
More a raspberry or cranberry shade than a plum, this lipstick looks a bit scary in the tube, but on, it seems to suit everyone. It's intense, but it's also very wearable, largely thanks to the complexion-lifting quality of its deep red-pink-plum colour. "I've been pushing this on friends," said a panellist, "because I'm so surprised by how such a strong colour can be so flattering instead of just overwhelming and over made-up."
Best Berry Sheer
Mac lipstick in Black Current, €17.50, Brown Thomas and BT2
The most sheer of the selection, but that is not to say that it is less deeply berry. The texture is sheer and almost glossy but without any tackiness, while the pigment remains properly purple. So you get impact, but not a big lipstick feel or finish. "This made me think of Ribena for some reason," one panellist said, "The purple is curranty, but sort of diluted, and I loved it as a complete change from my usual pinks and nudes."