A Cooler Lipstick for Autumn and Winter

As we move into the cooler days of autumn and winter (albeit slowly, as we’ve had some unseasonably warm weather here lately), I find myself reaching for cooler tones of lipstick. Part of it has to do with losing that tiny bit of incidental sunshine I might get despite my adherence to sun protection. Part of it is the cooling of the colors of the landscape around us. As the leaves fall, their reds and oranges no longer cast a warm tone on the surrounding world, and the cool greys of snowy skies instead chill the color palette as well as the air temperature.

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On days such as these, I find I want a nice cherry red without the orange tones that make my warmer-weather lipsticks so cheery. Continuing my love of the brand Bite Beauty, I pull Pomegranate from my bag.

Even the name recalls winter, with the myth of Persephone eating four of the kernels of the pomegranate, corresponding to the four months of winter when she must stay in the underworld. And, indeed, pomegranates are a winter fruit, showing up in the markets just in time to make an appearance in holiday fruit displays and decorations.

Yes, Pomegranate is an appropriate shade for cooler weather. I love its creamy consistency and its chameleon nature. With a bit of blotting, it becomes a very rosy pink, and with a couple of coats, it’s a full-impact bright red. It does not stay on as well as some of my lipsticks, but the texture is such that I adore reapplying. Now if only Bite Beauty would consider releasing an attractive, vintage-style bullet.

Rainy Day Red

As is well-documented, I enjoy a good red lipstick. Recently I found what might have been my Holy Grail of red lipsticks except for one thing: it’s a limited-edition shade, and therefore could be gone before I know it. It is sad, but I’m doing my best to both attempt to talk the manufacturer into adding the shade to their permanent line, as well as resigning myself to the fact that it is an ephemeral love in my life.

This lipstick shade is Bite Beauty’s Luminous Creme Lipstick in Mimosa. It’s listed rather innocuously as “warm red” on Sephora’s website. Now I’ve been disappointed in Bite’s warm red before, when Apricot turned out to be a little more brick than I usually enjoy in a lipstick. Mimosa, however, is more than just a warm red. It is a warm, vivid, bright red. It applies creamily and stays on well. I wore it to a crab feast and it lasted through three critters. I’ve taken to just applying one coat and blotting, and it still maintains its vigor.

I like to think of it as my rainy day red because it is so bright and cheerful. We’ve had several grey, gloomy days lately, and I think a nice swipe of bright lipstick livens up the day. Every time I catch a glance in the mirror, my lips make me happy. And I just feel more confident on days when the weather might bring me down.

Even when I don’t need to reapply, I sometimes just twist the bullet up to gaze at its lovely shade. A little odd, perhaps, but then, you haven’t seen this color in person. It is certainly not a shade for the shy, unless the shy are looking for a good way to assert themselves. But it is definitely a shade for a rainy day.

And, as always, Bite Beauty lipsticks are food-grade, gluten-free, and leave my mind at ease about the lipstick prints on my lunch.

Image source: sephora.com

Channeling Agent Carter’s Strength

It’s been a busy week for me. I’ve been moving into a new role at work, and it comes with a lot of new skills to learn, a lot of things to take care of, and a lot of people with whom I must interact. I’ve talked about the confidence boost that red lipstick gives me in the past, but I thought I’d mention a new lipstick I bought, along with a new television show I’m watching.

I finally started watching Marvel’s Agent Carter last week, and I love it. From the opening sequence of each show, they make it clear that this show is about a strong woman who’s been relegated to the background by a chauvinist society, much the same way I talked about the women of The Bletchley Circle found after the war. I mean, this was a woman who fought with Captain America, and now she’s mostly getting coffee in the SSR office.

I could talk about the plot, but it’s such a comic-book-perfect blend of intrigue and action that I leave it to the reader to check out this show. Also, I was unfortunate enough to wait until only the final five episodes of the 8-episode first season were available for free. So I came into the plot in the middle, but still found it gripping.

No, instead, I think I’ll talk about Peggy Carter’s faces. She makes the most amazing disapproving faces whenever she’s ignored or talked over. The show is faithful enough to the ethos of the era that she can’t just shout out and say “Hey guys, I know what I’m talking about and you’re being a bunch of jerks!” She has to keep her mouth shut and find a way to subtly maneuver situations to her advantage. It’s eye-opening, but also familiar in a way. When she finally saves the day and that is taken from her by a pompous colleague, she is able to maintain poise, even while another colleague becomes indignant on her behalf. And she does it all with her signature dark-red lip.

Hayley Atwell, the actress who plays Carter, announced last December that Agent Carter’s lip color is none other than Besame Cosmetics’ Red Velvet. While on my search for the perfect red, I happened to email a rep at Besame asking about their lipstick, and Red Velvet was one of the shades they recommended, along with Red Hot Red, a bright, warm red inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Well, when I saw Besame lipsticks were now available at Sephora, I jumped. I’ve been dissatisfied with the feathering of my go-to Poppy red, and Red Velvet is different enough from anything I currently have.

I have to say, I love the formula, the packaging, and the experience. I also love the color. It’s a very serious red, and makes me feel like a serious person, which has been fantastic this week, when I have to hold my own in meetings. Sometimes I have to keep my mouth shut when a superior is talking, even if I disagree with what he or she is saying. But just because I’m quiet, doesn’t mean I’m submissive, just like Peggy.

And I’ve gone ahead and ordered Red Hot Red, too!

Red Lipstick Challenge: Final Wrap-Up

This month has been interesting. I was tempted today to wear a light lip color (or no lipstick at all!) to see if anyone made a comment in the absence of red lipstick when they made no comment on its continued presence. But in the end, I chose to start June by keeping my new favorite as my daily wear.
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My new, go-to, every day red lipstick is 100% Pure’s Pomegranate Anti-Aging Lipstick in Poppy. It’s a lovely true red, dark enough to be striking, but softens when I’ve been wearing it for about a half an hour to a lovely, wearable red. I swear it changes shade slightly depending on what I’m wearing that day, looking cooler on days when I’m wearing blues and purples, and growing warmer when I wear warmer colors. One thing I do know is that it never looks magenta, even in cool fluorescent lighting at the office.

Oh, and it’s creamy. It’s a delightfully smooth, lightweight, but moisturizing lipstick. And because it’s tinted with fruit extracts and contains only natural ingredients, I feel no strangeness when I inevitably eat it along with my lunch. It stains enough that my lips remain vibrant through my many cups of tea, and even some snacks. That said, it is a pleasure to reapply from its adorable pink metal tube.

All-in-all, I would call this month’s experiment a success. I certainly figured out what I really want in a lipstick, and was able to purchase just one more for which I find myself reaching again and again. And I’ve totally overcome my fear that my red lips are too conspicuous.

Has anyone else thought of doing a red lipstick challenge, either to acclimate themselves to the look or to find a favorite?

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.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Week Two

Well, I’m halfway through my red lipstick challenge and I’m starting to eye new lipsticks. But I’m holding fast and wearing my existing collection. This week, I stuck mostly to my favorites from Bite Beauty, but I also revisited some old favorites.

I’ve determined that warm reds clash too much with my new purple glasses, so I’ve been trying to find a nice, bright, true neutral red. I quickly decided that my Bite Matte Crayon in Fraise was too pink, so I spent most of the week wearing the High-Pigment Pencil in Pomegranate. Of course, I love the experience of applying lipstick from a bullet, so it bummed me out that my contenders were pencils. Pomegranate is a nice red, but it leans ever so slightly cool, and because of that will pull pink in natural lighting on me.

Frustrated, I turned to my old collection of Revlon lipsticks. I found that my standard “dark” red was actually significantly brighter than the reds I’d been wearing. I tried wearing it for a day, but for some reason it now makes my lips itch, which was disconcerting. So over the weekend, I spent most of my off-stage time wearing my Lipstick Queen Red Sinner. It’s a lovely neutral red that only pulls pink in very cool lighting, which is probably why I thought it was too cool for me when I was wearing it to work (fluorescent lighting, you know?).

So I’m sticking to my Red Sinner for right now, with maybe a bit of Pomegranate thrown in for variety. I did some more research about lead in lipstick and actually managed to quell those fears a bit. So for now, I’m trying to get over the smell of the Lipstick Queen bullet and eyeing other formulas of theirs with non-vanilla scents.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Week one (plus a bit)

So I’ve finished up one week, and a little bit more, of my Red Lipstick Challenge. I started with my least favorite products so I could weed them out. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. I’ve outgrown the bright, orange-toned, Fire & Ice reds that started me on my red lipstick journey. I still enjoy wearing them, but I prefer a truer red now.

2. I’ve got a lot of lines on my upper lip, and some of my lipsticks feather into them when I don’t use lip liner. My Julep invisible lipliner has gotten a lot of use this week.

3. I’m just not a fan of liquid lipsticks. I’ve found one that I can deal with because of its longevity (Stila’s Beso), but I’ll probably save it for parties and date nights where I don’t want to touch up my lipstick so often. I also learned that Beso is Boyfriend’s favorite red of mine.

4. No one at work has commented that I’m wearing red lipstick every day. I think this is more a testament to how often I’ve started wearing it, rather than a testament to their perceptiveness, as they’ve never been shy about commenting on things like that before.

5. I love, love, love the experience of putting on lipstick from a bullet-style tube. I’m already predicting the outcome of this month based on this.

6. I am not a fan of the vanilla-y scent of Lipstick Queen lipstick. I’ve been loving the feel and the color, but I keep getting a whiff of vanilla and it’s my least favorite scent. Also, they fade surprisingly quickly.

Next week, I’ll be getting into my favorites and starting to wear things again. I’ve actually already retired most of the lipsticks I wore over the last nine days, so I’m down to only about four or five favorites.

A Clean Slate for a Red Lip

So today is the first day of my personal Lipstick Challenge. My goal is to wear a red lip every day, so that I can get a good idea of where my collection stands before I buy new lippies. In order to really make the red shine, I like to keep the rest of my makeup incredibly simple. A nice clean slate for the lip to shine.

I’ve talked about my beauty routine in the past, so I won’t go into detail here. I rinse in the shower with warm and then cold water and then pat in a couple drops of facial oil. This soaks in while I eat breakfast and have my tea. Then, when I’m ready, I brush my teeth, do my hair, and finish my makeup.

I’ve actually stopped wearing eye makeup since I started wearing my glasses all the time, partially because it makes my eyes itch a little, and partially because I don’t really need the emphasis when I wear bold frames. So my makeup routine, before my bold lip, focuses on creating even-toned, but naturally-beautiful looking skin.

I prep with a swipe of rose toner to remove excess oil, then apply BareMinerals Complexion Rescue gel cream. It’s an oil-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free tinted moisturizer that leaves my skin glowing and slightly evened out. The lovely thing is that they make all three undertones in all their shades, so I can finally embrace my proper pale skin (I’m light but warm, so generally have to go with “medium” shades to keep from looking chalky or too pink). I apply my gel cream, undereye concealer, and concealer on any spots, and let that sink in. Then, I blend out the concealer and apply a bit of cream blush on the apples of my cheeks. I follow this with a dusting of rose-scented rice powder made from an historical recipe from 1908. I promise I’ll go into detail in the future about these last two, as they are recent discoveries.

This leaves me with soft, clean skin that’s ready for a bold lip! And it’s not just for red lips, either. Because I knew I was bidding au revoir to my non-reds yesterday, I decided to rock a deep berry lip. Against pale skin with just a hint of blush, it was very Gothic looking without looking Goth.

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 lipstick 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?

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.