Red Lipstick Challenge: Week 3

This week, I focused on wearing just one lipstick every day to see how I liked it. I dropped off taking selfies every day because it was the same color, and I didn’t have many new notes. I decided I liked the balanced red color of Lipstick Queen’s Red Sinner, so I stuck with that one to see if the scent really bothered me that much.

Now, I’ve also been plagued with some seasonal allergies the past week, so maybe I was just congested, but I didn’t notice the scent bothering me as much. That said, I did find myself feeling a bit icky every time I ate and knew I was eating some of the lipstick. It was just kind of a weird feeling knowing I was eating pigments and ingredients that are not meant to be eaten, no matter how small the quantities. That said, Red Sinner is a lovely color. It fades a little pink, but it’s warm enough that it never looks magenta on.

But then this weekend, while heading out on a short trip to the shore, Boyfriend stopped off at a mall with a 100% Pure store. I’d read about them and even ordered one of their sheer lip glazes online before, but I’d never tried their lipsticks. I figured lipstick is a bit like foundation: I really need to see the shade on my skin before I buy. The deal with 100% Pure is that in addition to using all-natural ingredients in their products, they also use only fruit-derived pigments. In fact, the sheer lip glaze I have just has a light fruity smell from the pigments! I knew they had a red lipstick that gets some good reviews online, so I talked Boyfriend into stopping on our way out.

Oh my gosh, it’s a small store, but so full of lovely beauty products. I tried the lipstick, which the sales girl (an adorable 20-something with purple hair) sanitized in front of me so I could actually try on instead of just swatching, but I also tried some face makeup. I wanted to try their foundation because it’s supposed to be a matte, full-coverage finish, but they didn’t have my shade in stock. I did try their tinted moisturizer, which was interesting. I might look into getting some after I run out of my Bare Minerals, as it seems like a slightly less dewy finish.

But, the lipstick. The shade Poppy is their red, and it is a very true, bright red. I goes on opaque with one coat, and when I blot, most of the pigment stays behind. It wears well because it stains a little. I did see that it feathers a bit, but that’s probably because of how creamy the actual lipstick formula is. It’s based on shea butter, pomegranate oil, and vegan waxes, so it feels more like a balm than a lipstick. And it’s absolutely weightless on. The most I feel is a little moisturized slip when I press my lips together. It’s really lovely. I actually find that if I add a light second coat after blotting, it keeps the color truer, and the lipstick base kind of melts into my lips so I don’t feel it sitting on top.

The color is maybe just a hair cooler than Red Sinner, but it’s really, really similar. So I’ve cheated just a bit and been wearing Poppy for the long weekend, but only because I really love it! And I can feel confident eating while wearing it because the pigments are just fruits. It also comes in an adorable red/pink metal vintage-inspired tube. It looks like it’s much smaller than a normal lipstick, but the weight is the same as most lipsticks, and when you swivel the bullet all the way up, you can see it’s just as much lipstick as normal, just in a more compact container. It makes it great in a purse because it’s no bigger than a lip balm.

So this week, to round out the challenge, I’ll probably continue wearing Poppy. I still like Red Sinner for occasions where I’m not necessarily eating messy food, but I’m seeing Poppy as my go-to every day red. That said, I’m kind of looking forward to rocking a nice soft rose pink lip come June.

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.