Lipstick Love in the Merry Month of May

So, inspired by the response I got to my post about my hunt for the perfect red, I’ve decided to buckle down and test out the reds I currently have in my arsenal. I’m trying to spend less money right now because Boyfriend and I are moving in a couple months and I want to save money for the move and decorating our new abode. So rather than go out and investigate still more reds, I’ve decided to really sit down with the ones I have.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to spend the 31 days of May wearing one of my existing lipsticks. The only rule is that I have to wear a red┬álipstick every day, and I have to document it. That means a selfie (which will be kept private for me, sorry!) and a short jotting down of thoughts about the lippie in a journal. To start with, I’ll also probably say I can’t wear the same lipstick twice in one week, but that may change as I start to gravitate towards specific lipsticks.

At the end of the month, I should have a good idea of what lipsticks draw me the most and which I could probably afford to ditch (even better, with a move coming up!). And then, newly educated about my current stash, I may look for one or two new ones to fill any gaps. Anyone want to join me for a lipstick month?

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Simple Loose Leaf: First Boxes, and Early Impressions

I mentioned earlier that I had joined the Simple Loose Leaf subscription tea service. To be completely honest, I chose them because they were one of the least expensive options, and I liked that it was a small business run out of the US. I considered some other services, but they either seemed focused on flavored teas, or else had excessive shipping times from being based overseas.

Before I joined, I emailed the company to express some concerns I had, primarily about the types of teas they choose for the box. Andrew assured me they are a company of tea-lovers who love the flavor of tea and are not overly concerned with making tea taste like something else. So I dove in.

I’ve received two boxes, one for March and one for April. Right away, the snow at the end of February put a cramp in their style, and I received a lovely email from Andrew explaining that the boxes would be delayed as weather prevented them from receiving some of their supplies. Sadly, I had hoped that my first box in March would be a birthday box, but it was not to be. That said, once I did receive the box, it was a pleasant gift.

The highlights of the March box were a gunpowder green tea, which came with a sample of spearmint tea to make a Moroccan mint with the recipe and packets of Turbinado sugar included, as well as a lovely Darjeeling. I’ve gotten more into Darjeeling teas with the spring, so that was a nice sample. It also included some herbal and flavored blends I haven’t tried yet.

April’s box had a Fujian black tea and a Taimu Mountain green tea that were a lot of fun to try and right up my alley. It also had some flavors I wasn’t so excited about. There was a Thai Chai that I still haven’t tried, but I like other chais, so maybe it will be good. The really out-there one was Nutty Mocha Mate, which I tried and did not like. I thought it kind of tasted like really weak coffee, which isn’t my preference. It also included a Jasmine Rooibos, which I haven’t tried because I don’t generally like Rooibos, but I like jasmine, so I may try it in the future.

I have to say, my current favorite part of the store is the 50% discount you get with a subscription! I got an order of 4 1-oz. bags of tea recently that I picked myself. It was three oolongs (Four Seasons oolong, Jade oolong, and Magnolia oolong) and their Four Horsemen black tea blend.

Four Seasons oolong is a really lovely, interesting tea. I was out of oolong but in the mood for it. It’s a variety of Tie Guan Yin oolong, which I’ve had before elsewhere and liked, but I noticed a particularly lovely milk oolong quality to it. It’s more subtle than the milk oolong I got from a local tea store and much more refreshing.

Four Horsemen blend is my go-to morning cup of black tea right now when I need a pick-me-up. It’s a blend of Assam, Darjeeling, Yunnan, and Keemun teas and you can pick out the qualities of each. In particular, it has the full body of an Assam, but without smothering the delicate quality of the Darjeeling.

Magnolia oolong is my new favorite tea right now. It’s a scented tea, like a jasmine green tea or a rose black, but the sweet scent of magnolias just go with oolong tea, and bring to mind the slowly-emerging spring. I highly recommend it for spring. I drink it at work when I can’t get outside, but I imagine it would be even more lovely sipped in the garden in the sun under a giant hat among the flowers.

So far I’m impressed with the quality of the teas and the service with Simple Loose Leaf and look forward to more from them. I’ve purchased the subscription myself, so I get nothing in return for this review.

The Hunt for the Perfect Red

Until recently, I never wore makeup on a regular basis. Since I’ve started dabbling in vintage style, I’ve re-examined red lipstick and found that I really like it. I started wearing red lipstick sometimes back in December, and by now I feel like my face looks weird if I’m not wearing bright lipstick, usually red.

But red lipstick is daunting. It’s scary. “Red,” as it turns out, is not just one color. Like foundation, you have a find a good match your coloring and undertone. A lipstick that looks fantastic on one person may look odd on you. And then there’s the fact that bright lipstick is, well, really obvious, and if it ends up somewhere you don’t intend it, it will be similarly obvious.

I remember at a winter drinks party, I learned the kryptonite of one of my favorite lipsticks: a combination of oil and alcohol, in the form of hot buttered rum. Halfway through the party, a woman leaned over to me and said “I thought you would want to know, you have lipstick on your chin.” Despite having worn a pretty sturdy matte lipstick that had proven itself against food and drink before, it was no match for the solvent powers of alcohol and fat.

So finding the perfect red lipstick is trickier than just finding red lipstick. Here, I’m going to document a little of my hunt for the perfect red lipstick, along with a list of my current favorites. Fair warning: I haven’t found that perfect red lipstick.

When I first started out, I wore Revlon lipsticks. Their classic matte lipsticks are surprisingly devoid of the nastiest of cosmetics chemicals, and they make a color called “Fire and Ice” that turned out to be my gateway red. It’s just bright and red enough, but still doesn’t actually look garish. And the balance of warm and cool tones keeps it from pulling weird colors on me. I also got a tube of “Certainly Red” for more festive occasions.

But then I found out that Revlon was one of the companies found to have detectable lead levels in their lipsticks. It dawned on me while seeing the lipstick marks on my lunch sandwich that I eat an awful lot of lipstick when I wear it every day. There were also some issues with the company head that made me not want to patronize the company anymore. So out went Revlon.

From there, I discovered Lipstick Queen, which makes a fantastic line of “Sinner” lipsticks that are highly pigmented. Their “Red Sinner” is a saturated true red, while “Fire Red Sinner” worked a bit better with my coloring. Sadly, they also don’t do much testing of their pigments to watch for lead contamination, so I kept looking.

Enter Bite Beauty. I’m super enamoured of this brand. Seriously, their colors are BRIGHT. I got a Cashmere Lip Creme in “Rioja” (a nice true red), a Matte Lip Crayon in “Fraise” (slightly pinkish strawberry red), and a High Pigment Pencil in “Bramble” (a blackberry color for when I’m feeling Goth). I also bought a mini lipstick duo on a whim because it was on sale in “Tangerine” and “Lingonberry.”

Well, it’s not red, but “Lingonberry” has become my favorite non-red lipstick. It’s so pigmented, it stains my lips for ages. It ended up being the color I wore for one show of the play I was in in January because I wore it during the day and it wouldn’t come off for the show. Oops.

But on to the reds. Fraise is probably my favorite. I love the color of Rioja, but the formula leaves something to be desired. I also got their Luminous Creme Lipstick in “Apricot,” but it was a little too brick with its warmth. I like it occasionally, but I want something brighter. And I went with a High Pigment Pencil in “Pomegranate” for a nice true red in one coat with a blot. Bite’s lip colors are pigmented enough that I can generally apply one coat and blot and be good to go. They do make a Luminous Creme Lipstick in “Pomegranate,” so I want to see if it has the same staying power as Lingonberry.

But I really wanted a lipstick that I could put on in the morning and forget. Probably a pipe dream, especially considering I wanted one that I didn’t have to worry about the chemicals in it that I would be putting so close to my mouth. So I tried Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Beso.” First of all: Oh. My. God. It is the perfect red shade. And it’s pretty lasting.

But.

But it dried oddly on my lips. Even when I prep with a little lip balm, it dries and accentuates my lip wrinkles. And then, it starts to flake. I can salvage it with a little balm, but then it loses its transfer-proof-ness, and sometimes smears. At least Stila as a brand vets their ingredients to avoid heavy metal contamination.

So I’m still looking for that perfect red. My ideal red would be a matte bright, slightly-warm, but not brown red in a bullet that goes on in one application and lasts through several cups of tea and at the very least fades evenly through a meal without running. If the lipstick fairies are taking requests, that’s what I’d like under my pillow in the morning.

Updates and Musings

So it’s been over a month since I’ve posted here. The weather has warmed. We’ve all thawed out. And some things have changed.

The tweeds have gone away, even my beloved tweed overcoat. And the rain coats have come out. I’m moving to spring dresses. I’ve even ordered some new dresses from a dressmaker I’m excited to tell you about, once I have my most recent batch of dresses, and photos. And I have new tea adventures to tell you about. I’ve joined Simple Loose Leaf’s tea subscription service, and have been enjoying their teas.

I’m still doing theater. Right now, I’m in a play set in the 1940s, so I’m having a blast with costumes, hair, and makeup. I even put one of the other ladies’ hair in a victory roll during rehearsal one night and she was so tickled because she thought her hair was too fine for it. I was excited to have my own vintage background to draw from to make suggestions.

That said, I’m moving more towards vintage-inspired and vintage-appropriate pieces rather than actual vintage. For one, vintage pieces just aren’t realistic for my day job, and I need pieces for which I can care easily.

Which brings me to another change: I’ve started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up about the Kon-Mari method of tidying. While I’m not ready to do the whole house, I’ve put some of her suggestions into place, and for the first time in a while, I’ve got my clothing managed.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m still crocheting, drinking tea, and loving all things vintage and British. So I hope to get back to posting on a more regular schedule and sharing my vintage life as it warms up!