Ask Us Anything: Red Lipstick De-Virgination
I want to move into the world of red lipstick, or lip stain, but where to start? What’s a lovely brand and shade that isn’t too garish and is a good starter for a lipstick virgin?
Kat: Oh, lipstick! Who doesn’t love the promise of glamour and excitement that red lipstick seems to beckon forth with? But I agree, if you’re a bit of a lipstick virgin, red is something to “work up to.” (Curious aside: isn’t interesting that no one seems to wear lipstick anymore? I feel like we’ve been in the gloss era for ages now.) Lipstick musings aside, I agree with my esteemed colleague below — a red lipstick takes a bit of experimentation and time to find. It’s almost like a new hobby! I’d actually start with a gloss or a stain first, because sometimes the density of pigment in a red lipstick takes a bit to get used to. (I always feel like my face is silently screaming, “Lips! Lips coming through!” when I’m wearing red lipstick.)
As far as particular shades, my recommendations would probably only work on a medium-skinned black-haired type with olive undertones in their complexion, because that is what I am. I began with an old tried-but-true, Cherries in the Snow by Revlon, which is a very 50s bright red. It didn’t work on me because I’m just not the right skin tone, but I know it works beautifully on others. On my burnished skin, the winning shade of red is Nars’ Lip Stain Gloss in “Indian Summer.” It is hella scarlet, for sure, but I love it because it does not go pinkish on my lips, which is what most red lipsticks tend to do. Most lip stains I find have a slightly weird texture — Nars’ Lip Stain is a bit less so in that respect, and the color really does stay put through many situations, ranging from meals to mouthing off to those dilemmas omnipresent in careers of international espionage. (God, it just sucks to make out with Daniel Craig on a semi-regular basis.) Nars rocks the party as a makeup line, anyway — the colors are very dense and true, plus the packaging is so chic and sophisticated and looks beautiful on a dresser or in a medicine cabinet. Like Liz, I am also fond of Fresh’s lip products in general, and I remember being awfully attached to their lipstick in a shade called “Rouge du Monde.” I can’t seem to find it now — what up, Fresh? Why you gotta treat us so bad? But I can also recommend their lip shine in “Sari,” which is a true gloss and really soft and not sticky in the least. (I’m also wanting to try the lip shine in “Dark Star” — it looks like a nice deeper brick red.) Anyway, I wish you the best on your future career as a beauty adventuress, sailing forth on the streets of America, silently calling “Lips! Lips!” to your comrades in red lipstick. (Kat)
Liz: You need to travel back in time a few years and get yourself a tube of Lady Tatami lip stain from Fresh. This is my all-time favorite lip color, but sadly it’s so far gone that Googling it yields only 5 results (three of which are me whining about how it’s not available anymore).
But yeah, I’m a red lipstick girl all the way – anything with even the slightest hint of pink makes me look half-dead, for some crazy reason. Right now I’m wearing Dazzling by Smashbox and I’m not so wild about it: It’s a little too shiny and sort of thin, whereas Lady Tatami was rich and creamy and an all-around dream-come-true. (And I’ll get over this someday, I swear – just not anytime soon.)
Anyway, getting to the actual advice portion of this advice column: I can tell you that I arrived at my dream color after many years of lipstick experimentation, mostly with the cheapest of the cheap makeup lines. Like, when I was 16 and 17 and maybe a little older, all I ever wore was Wet ‘N Wild’s fabulously named 508B, which cost me 99 cents per tube. The color was actually pretty awesome, though the texture was kinda cruddy and bad unless I layered some gloss on top. So, maybe a good strategy would be to play around with some really cheapo lipstick, find a color that you love, then try to replicate said color in a higher-quality makeup line? I’d give the thumbs-up to Fresh (even though I sort of hate them for discontinuing Lady Tatami), but right now I’ve got my eye on Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Shine Sheer Lipstick in either Italian Cherry or Frosted Fig. I’ll keep you posted on how that all works out.
(Anyway, dear red-lipsticked inclined readers, what are YOUR recommendations in this department? And don’t forget to keeping Asking Us Anything!)