The Sample: NEW Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Sticks (Review, Swatches & Photos)

28 Apr

Along with crayon-type eyeshadows that are becoming all the rage lately, you’ve probably noticed a new trend coming out of the woodwork as well: chubby lip pencils. Of course we know this is not really a new thing: Tarte’s super popular LipSurgence pencils have been around for a while. It seems, though, that Clinique really put the product on the map a few years ago with the ever-popular release of their Chubby Sticks. They’ve recently added a Chubby Stick Intense as well as their Chubby Stick Shadow Tints, but the original version will always hold a special place in many a heart (and makeup bag). Since then, there has been a slew of other brands jumping on the chubby stick trend: Revlon, Soap & Glory, Laura Mercier, Dior, Sally Hansen, and, of course, Neutrogena.

Neutrogena’s version stood out to me because, in my mind, no drugstore brand does sheer, moisturizing lip color quite like them. Their glosses and tinted balms have always been a favorite of mine so it was the natural choice for me to go with their rendition of the Chubby Stick in a sea of so many others.

According to the brand: “MoistureSmooth Color Sticks instantly moisturize lips, while continuously conditioning them so they are softer and smoother in just 3 days with nothing on them. Made with fruit extracts along with mango and shea butter, the balm-like formula glides on easily, providing a sheer wash of moisturizing color that lasts for hours.”

The MoistureSmooth Color Sticks are available in 8 shades: 10 Juicy Peach, 20 Fresh Papaya, 30 Sweet Watermelon, 40 Bright Berry, 50 Warm Caramel, 60 Soft Raspberry, 70 Plum Perfect, and 80 Rich Raisin. I have all the shades except Warm Caramel and Rich Raisin. Juicy Peach is a pale, soft fleshy-peach. Fresh Papaya is a light-medium pinky-peach. Sweet Watermelon is a cool, pearly petal-pink. Bright Berry is a brightened fuchsia berry-pink. Soft Raspberry is a medium plummy reddish-pink. Plum Perfect is a medium-dark muted mauvy-plum.

Ingredients: hydrogenated  polyisobutene, phenyl trimethicone, polybutene, petrolatum, hydrogenated lanolin, pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, ozokerite, cetyl lactate, myristyl myristate, polyethylene, bisbehenyl/isostearyl/phytosteryl dimer dilinoleyl dimer dilinoleate, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, silica, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, _avor, stearoxymethicone/dimethicone copolymer, ethylhexyl palmitate, mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, silica, silylate, pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate, tribehenin, maltodextrin, sorbitan isostearate, lactic acid, punica granatum pericarp extract, palmitoyl oligopeptide. May contain: mica, synthetic wax, titanium dioxide, calcium sodium borosilicate, iron oxides, red 7 lake, yellow 5 lake, red 6, red 33 lake, isopropyl titanium triisostearate, blue 1 lake, tin oxide, yellow 6 lake, carmine


The twist-up plastic crayon-type packaging makes this product super easy to use and very convenient for toting around. To use, you simply grab a hold of the silver base at the bottom of the pencil and twist. The product swivels up and down very smoothly–piece of cake.The shades are all obviously pretty sheer, so even the darkest plum shade is rendered quite easily wearable. That’s the beauty of sheer lip color and why I prefer my lip products that way: no matter how dark or scary looking a shade is, when it’s sheer, just about anyone can pull it off! All 6 shades contain a fine micro-shimmer and have the same sweet, peachy scent. It doesn’t smell bad, per se, but it is really quite sweet and artificial-smelling and it does linger on the lips for quite a while. I definitely could have done without that.

These Color Sticks have a very creamy balm texture. They’re super smooth and glide on the lips easily, distributing opaque color with one pass. I did notice a big discrepancy in the quality between the different shades, however. 3 were a bit of a mess and 3 performed nicely–the 3 lightest shades (Juicy Peach, Fresh Papaya, and Sweet Watermelon) were under-performing while the 3 darkest (Bright Berry, Soft Raspberry, and Plum Perfect) were quite decent.

–click image to enlarge–

With the lighter 3, the color did not apply evenly at all and had a tendency to streak horribly and bunch up on itself. It looked a lot better once I’d kinda smoothed the product out with my fingers a bit. They also accentuated dryness horribly. My lips have been a bit drier than usual lately for some reason and the first time I applied it, I literally cringed. They find every little miniscule amount of dryness or uneven texture and just cling and cling. I even wiped the product off, exfoliated my lips thoroughly, then tried reapplying. No cigar–better yes, but still. Even I couldn’t see any flakes on my lips but apparently they were there because the Color Sticks rooted them them out and then hung on for dear life.

The 3 darker shades weren’t as soft or creamy as the lighter ones and therefore didn’t melt and clump as much product onto the lips. They were much more pigmented and had more of a waxy texture. The color applied smoothly and evenly. There was just a hint of dry texture showing through but not much at all, really. The difference between these shades and the lighter 3 was like night and day.

Swatches L to R: Juicy Peach, Fresh Papaya, Sweet Watermelon, Bright Berry, Soft Raspberry, Plum Perfect

–Direct sunlight (click image to enlarge)–

–Shade with flash (click image to enlarge)–

Thankfully, all 6 shades were nicely moisturizing. As I said, my lips have been quite dry lately and the Color Sticks left them feeling comfortable and moisturized for a little over 3 1/2 hours before wearing off–not bad for such an emollient formula. Maybe if I continued to use them every day I’d see some improvement in the condition of my lips but I just don’t want to walk around with…messy looking lips until then :/

I don’t know how the other 2 shades that I didn’t purchase will perform but I think it’s a safe bet, considering the quality of these 6 shades, that the darker the shade in this collection, the better it will perform. All in all, I’m a bit disappointed and really should have just gone with those damn Clinique Chubby Sticks like I’ve been wanting to for a long time. I’ve spent way more money trying to find suitable drugstore alternatives than just buying the originals. *sigh* Don’t you just hate that? :P I would recommend the darker shades; no way would I recommend the lighter ones.

»»Pricing: $6.49 MSRP*/0.11 oz. (3.1 g.)

*product retails for $8.99 at all the locations listed below except Neutrogena’s site

»»Availability: Ulta,, CVS and other drugstores that carry Neutrogena

»»Recommended for: those with perfectly flake-less lips :P

»»Overall Rating: C for 3 lightest shades/B+ for 3 darker shades


What about you? Has anyone else tried these Neutrogena Color Sticks yet? Did you experience similar results?

45 Responses to “The Sample: NEW Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Sticks (Review, Swatches & Photos)”

  1. Liz April 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    That’s too bad about the lighter shades. I was all, “RATS, no Neutrogena makeup in Canada!” until I got to that part. (We only get their skincare here for some reason.)

    I used up a Clinique Chubby Stick in like 3 months because it was so ridiculously moisturizing and easy to use. You’ll definitely like those, wifey!

    • becca April 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      Yeah it wasn’t as great as I was hoping it’d be, unfortunately. I wish the lighter shades were as good as the darker ones–I was SO excited to try Juicy Peach and Fresh Papaya :/

      Yeah no more chubby stick-like products for me–I’m going to finally go for the real thing! :P haha

      • BooBooNinja April 28, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

        Thanks to the both of you, I’ll head directly to Clinique to get my fix as soon as I’ve finished up a couple of tinted balms I have on the go. Cheers!

        • becca April 29, 2013 at 1:08 am #

          Yaay–nice! :D Which shades have caught your eye? I’m absolutely DYING to get Mighty Melon, Whole Lotta Honey, and Mighty Mimosa!!

          • Liz April 29, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

            Whole Lotta Honey is the one I finished. I considered that one my not-so-nude but nude lips, if you know what I mean. :)

          • becca April 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

            Oh I know exactly what you mean! My Fresh Sugar Honey Tinted Lip Treatment is the same type of shade for me. I can’t pull off ANYTHING that is a true-nude so I have to go for very neutral brown-based pinks instead. Sugar Honey is the best shade I’ve found for me but based on swatches I’ve seen online of Whole Lotta Honey, it looks like the 2 could be similar. Ahhh I can’t wait to get it now!

  2. Bellyhead April 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    I see Lactic Acid is a bit down on the ingredient list. That is one powerful moisturizing and exfoliating agent and is the #2 ingredient (after water) in my HG wintertime moisturizer AmLactin. With those Neutrogena sticks, after consistent wear, maybe you’d get some nicely moisturized lips? :)

    • becca April 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      That was my thinking too but I just don’t really love how they look on me so i don’t know that I could stand wearing them until my lips were smoother and more moisturized :P Maybe I’ll start testing some of these lip treatments and come back to it once my lips are in tip-top shape

  3. Lily April 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    These look awfully familiar. I think I’ll stick to the Chubby Sticks… the Intense version please :-P

    • becca April 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Haha yeah, I think I’m done trying to find a drugstore dupe. I’m going for the real thing!! :P

  4. Procrastinator April 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    I do that ALL the time! I’ve wanted Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight for so long, I’ve actually bought other, more accessible, but equally pricey highlighters to try and fill the void! As happy as I am with the other highlighters, I feel like I just won’t be able to let go until I own Candlelight!

    Anyway, got sidetracked for a moment — I actually really like the two lightest shades! I do think lighter/creamier shades are just harder to formulate though, because even cult classic light colours make my lips instantly flake up — I tried on MAC Myth, and it just made all the creases in my lips show =S

    • becca April 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      LOL I know I do this all the time, too! It’s a serious problem–haha! Candlelight is so gorgeous. That one is on my list to pick up for sure–it’s so subtle and glowy! And the texture is beautiful too. You will LOVE it! :D

  5. Teri April 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    Too bad about the lighter shades because I do like the colour selection. The darker shades look good too tho. It sounds like a nice cheaper alternative if you stick to the darker shades. Maybe you should try a chubby stick tho because they are really great! ^^

    • becca April 28, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Haha yeah I am definitely going to pick the Chubby Sticks up next. I don’t know why I keep trying to dupe them. I just want a nice, easy, subtle, balmy wash of color–no shimmer, glitter, streaks, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad review for Clinique’s version (except that they aren’t pigmented enough, which isn’t a problem for me :P haha)

  6. Kristen @ Glambunctious April 28, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    These have caught my eye in the drugstore but something flashier usually ends up in my bag! I love the Watermelon one; perfect shade for spring/summer! Thanks for the swatches and review!

    • becca April 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

      Aw of course–I’m glad you enjoyed the swatches! :)

      The darker ones are definitely nice so I would totally recommend those. As for the lighter ones…well, don’t say I didn’t warn you if you do decide to try them out! :P haha

  7. Sukie April 29, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    A lovely review as always, Becca! Shame on how the lighter three shades performed as I really liked how they looked in the tube! Now… To find an online shop where I can try these out! :p

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 3:41 am #

      Thank you, dear Sukie!! Yeah I was sooo excited about the lighter shades and very disappointed when they didn’t perform quite as well as I’d hoped. The darker shades are pretty nice though–if only all 6 were as nice as those 3 darker ones :/

  8. Sunny April 29, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Oh haaai Juicy Peach and Fresh Papaya! I don’t know why, but when I see a jumbo pencil type of lippie I want to go for more everyday colors. Such a bummer they perform so poorly though :( I’ll stick to my Clinique Curviest Caramel in that case.

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      Yeah I know, me too Sunny! I really wanted to love these so that was definitely too bad. I am definitely going to check out the CLinique ones next–I really want Mega Melon and Whole Lotta Honey. Very neutral, everyday shades for sure :)

  9. Beauty Box April 29, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    Woah they are a dead ringer for Clinique Chubby Sticks… I’ve only got one chubby stick and it’s in a dark mauve shade which I really like. I never experience dryness with this chubby stick but it seems like Neutrogena didn’t really get the formula right.

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Ooh mauve?? I must find out which shade this is–I LOVE mauvy shades!! :D I know I honestly thought these would be a sure dupe of the Clinique ones. After all, Neutrogena does tinted balms so well! But the lighter shades were so…bleh. :P *sigh* too bad. Now off I go to try the originals :P

  10. Catherine (@bcrueltyfree) April 29, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Your images are just so darn good, Becca! I do love these style pencils for lips and as jumbo shadow pencils. Too bad the lighter shades aren’t so great, though. Anything that accentuates dryness and is streaky… I stay far, far away from. Regular lipsticks can do that to me, so I think those light shades would be a nightmare on my lips!

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      Aw thank you as always, Catherine. You’re so sweet :)

      And yes ME TOO–lip products that accentuate dryness on me are a huge no-no, as I tend to have quite dry lips year-round. :/ I have one more chubby lip pencil to try (Dior’s) then I’m off to get the Clinique ones FINALLY :P haha

  11. Gummy April 29, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Darn. Bummer about the streakiness. That’s enough to make me stay away. Really too bad though, because your swatches are so pretty!!! I still have yet to hop on the Chubby stick band wagon. I did try the Lipsurgence…tried a ton of colors but none ever looked right…disappointed bc I loved how they felt on! Ok, need to pin chubby sticks!! LOL :-) Oh, I did try a few of the Revlon stick things too, but I didn’t like them because I didn’t find them that moisturizing. Your pictures are amazing!!!

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      I know on the arm they were gorgeous but on the lips…bummer indeed :/ What didn’t you like about the look of the Lipsurgence ones? Too opaque? Heavy? I’ve never tried them, only swatched and they sure felt great…maybe the Clinique ones really are the best bet out of all of these, haha! Yeah I hated the Revlon ones they were not only not moisturizing but I felt they were a little bit drying too :/

  12. Tina @ My Highest Self April 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    I haven’t tried these and can’t say I’ve ever really been a fan of Neutrogena makeup. I like the Revlon version of these and will be sticking with those based on your review!

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Really? I haven’t tried a lot of Neutrogena’s makeup–only the Full n Soft mascara (used to love!) and lots of their lip products. I feel they do lip products really well and no matter the product–gloss, lipstick, balm, etc.–they are always super moisturizing. That’s why this one was such a disappointment to me. If only they had stuck with the waxier formula of the 3 darker shades :/ The Revlon ones I wanted to like really badly but I found them to be drying on my already super-dry lips :/ I also didn’t really like that it was a stain. I mean, I guess it’s nice to have sometimes but overall I like a light, sheer tinted balm type of color. Stains scare me sometimes :P haha

  13. fairytalesandcoffee April 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    ooooh so pretty. But my lips are so annoyingy pigmented in the deeper mauve shade that only berry stains works which is so boring and redundant. I was looking at these about a week ago! So glad I got to see swatches.

    • becca April 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      Aw well it’s better than having dull corpse lips :/ I am always so jealous of girls that perfectly pigmented lips! I know you probably get bored of wearing the same shade all the time but Bright Berry IS quite pretty and really brightens the face and it was thankfully one of the better performing shades.

  14. Tracy@Beauty Reflections April 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Too bad about the light shades! I kind of find that with Neutrogena lips products when I do buy them, that the pigmentation lacks. What I do like is that they usually have SPF20 in them, but these don’t! Which is weird to me!

    • becca April 30, 2013 at 1:02 am #

      Haha exactly, that’s why I’ve always liked Neutrogena in the past–I looove my sheer lip products!! :P These are actually pretty pigmented, especially the darker shades. I just wish all the shades were the same quality. I would’ve been pretty pleased then :/

  15. Angie April 30, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    These crayon stick balms/glosses/lip tints are just popping up everywhere aren’t they?! Haha! I tried the Sally Hansen ones and liked the two I purchased – the pigmentation is pretty good and the feeling on the lips is very balm-like, however I did not try the darker shades so I cannot say if they would be good quality all around. It looks like you got quite a variety to try out this line, so it is too bad that they weren’t consistent in quality. Thank you for reviewing this!

    • becca May 1, 2013 at 12:27 am #

      Great, now you have me curious about the Sally Hansen ones, Angie! LOL! I keep telling myself NO MORE SUBSTITUTES–JUST GET THE CLINIQUE ONES LIKE YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!! But then I hear something good about another brands’ and I am tempted all over again. Hahaha! Such fickle beauty addicts we are! :P Did you review the Sally Hansen ones Angie? I will go search your blog now…

  16. Meryl @ Memoiselle May 1, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Hey Becca,
    I’m not sure that this would be available soon in Singapore. I hope so!
    I love Neutrogena skin care products; they do the jobs very well and priced affordably. Glad to hear that this has creamy texture and I love the twist packaging so I don’t need to hassle with sharpening the thing. :)

    • becca May 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      I bet you would like the darker shades, Meryl! However, I don’t think the lighter shades are worth the money unless you have perfect lips that are never dry or flaky at all :P even then, they will probably still streak up on you a bit :/

  17. Toya May 1, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    I have done that exact thing, trying to find cheaper dupes for items and then ending up buying the original in the end anyway. I decided a while ago never to buy anything but what caught my eye in the first place, as I always seem to be disappointed! And it helps me spend less overall. That being said, I’m still sorry these didn’t work out Becca :( They look great in swatches! Now – go get yourself a Chubby Stick or two my dear! (I recommend the Intense versions – I LOVE ‘em!).

    • becca May 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      Haha I know–such a bummer! I thought for sure if anyone could make a good dupe of the Chubby Sticks, it’d be Neutrogena but alas, it was not meant to be. :P Definitely will be getting the Chubby Sticks! I don’t know about the Intense ones, I’d have to swatch them first. You know how I get scared of pigmented lip products! :P haha

  18. Taylor May 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    The lighter shades look beautiful in the photos, to bad about the pigment though but even more the scent.. I don’t know why companies add scents to lip products, right under your nose.. Yuck!

    • becca May 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

      I know–at least if you’re going to do it, make it light! This one is really quite strong and sickly sweet :/ Some scents I really don’t mind and actually kind of enjoy (like Burberry, Chanel, and Armani’s lip products) but I know that someone else could just as easily feel the same way about them like I do about these Neutrogena ones so I’d definitely prefer it if beauty brands just skipped it entirely.

  19. Jenni @ lifeandlensofbeauty May 4, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    These look not too bad, honestly! They are quite intensely pigmented to my surprise, although i’d still prefer the mre “original” chubby sticks by Clinique, hehe…

    • becca May 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      They definitely look better in swatches than on the lips, unfortunately :/ Well, the lighter shades at least. The darker shades are nice. I am still going to go for some of the original Chubby Sticks though–I’m tired of being disappointed by drugstore “dupes” :P

  20. Sorry to hear about the lighter shades because those are the ones I really wanted. Chubby lip pencils are definitely popping up everywhere. I’m currently trying out the Stila ones and they are pretty good.

    • becca May 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      Oooh are they? I was really curious about those ones. Have you tried the original Chubby Sticks from Clinique, Angela? And if so, which do you like more: Stila or Clinique??

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