Is my desire for red lipstick insane?
February 27, 2015 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm in my late 40s and almost never wear makeup. Yet for the last month I've been obsessing over trying a bright red lipstick. (This happened when I saw another mom at my kid's school, dressed in totally casual clothes, casual hair, yet absolutely ROCKING a bright red mouth.) How to accomplish this without looking like a fool and/or spending a fortune?

What I look like: very dark, almost black hair; brown eyes, pale skin, black glasses with a medium-heavy frame. I have rather thick lips, and I think they're my best feature, though I'm usually perfectly content to swipe on some Carmex and call it a day. I know next to nothing about makeup or color, except that I look really nice in pink clothes, and occasionally I'll swipe on a Clinique Pink Chocolate lipstick that looks nice.

What makeup I have on hand: basically nothing. I live in the Big City so I have access to every shop imaginable, but since I sort of don't know how this is going to play out, I'd love to start with drugstore brands if those are feasible.

What do I not know about red lipstick? Is it going to make me look old? Make my teeth look yellow? Unexpectedly ruin my life in some fashion?

posted by BlahLaLa to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (57 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Do you look better in bright white or ivory?

If bright white, look for a "berry" red.

If ivory, look for a brick red, or coral.

Swipe it on, press your lips on a tissue (to take off the excess), and you're good!

Revlon Matte is my favorite drugstore brand, but I also like Aveda products if you want to pay a little more but not go full-Nordstrom. It won't do anything bad to you but if you're self-conscious about a bare face with red lips, try some tinted moisturizer or bb cream and a little mascara. Do a very simple eye/face and let your lips be the focus. If you have nice lips, you're pretty much set.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

One more note of explanation: berry toned reds are blue or "cool" reds. Brick toned reds are yellow or "warm" reds. I'm guessing from your love of pink that you're more cool/blue toned, but it depends on the shade of pink.

The only other words of caution I have... it can be messy. Oh, and when you do your first application, make sure you get enough lipstick on. I used to be very sparing and it would end up wearing off my inner lip and it wasn't cute. Put on enough over the whole lip, then press your lips to take off excess, and then all should be well. You can do the put a finger between your lips-in-a-pucker and slide it out to clear off any that would get on your teeth, too (I don't do this because as stated, I have the opposite problem).
posted by stoneandstar at 3:06 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have definitely not mastered the casual red lipstick, but I did successfully wear it recently. You said you'd like to start with drugstore brands, but a but there's a lot of advantages to going with a department store brand.

For my foray into red lipstick, I went to the MAC counter at a department store and had them teach me how to apply it. They helped pick a red that looked good on me, as well as a matching lip liner (very important!) and taught me how to apply all of it. It was a huge help, and I'm pretty sure I would have ended up looking like a clown without it. Yes, I spent more on the lipstick than I would have at Rite Aid, but I also got a lot more out of it than just the makeup.
posted by duien at 3:09 PM on February 27, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: very dark, almost black hair; brown eyes, pale skin, black glasses with a medium-heavy frame.

You, my fellow pale brunette, were made for red lipstick! One cheap and easy way to try the look is Burt's Bees lip crayon in Redwood Forest, which is super easy to apply and gives you a little control. It's at Target for like $8. On the higher end, you might like Nars Scarlet Empress and Nars Fire Down Below.
posted by mochapickle at 3:09 PM on February 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

1. If you're going for real-deal old-fashioned lipstick in the tube you MUST use lipliner. It will keep the red from bleeding everywhere and getting on your teeth, etc.
2. Alternatively, get lip stain. There are a ton of varieties at drugstores- they usually come in longer, thinner tubes than lipstick and sometimes look like markers, sometimes they are liquid. I think with bold colors like red, lipstains are a less scary and slightly more subtle way to pull it off and they are also easier to apply.
3. Dr. Pepper lipsmackers looks good on everyone and tastes yummy and is like 0.75 or something. It has a nice true red color.
posted by quincunx at 3:09 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

O god I'm envious, you sound like you have the perfect coloring and features to pull off a casual red lip!

I have been trying for the past five years to find the right red lipstick--I've finally got some that are good contenders but it's been a long process (and I've spent a lot more in the process than if I'd just gone to Sephora in the first place). Don't be like me. Just go to Sephora and tell them what you've told us--they should be able to help you choose the right shade for your skin tone and coloring, help you differentiate between brands, and also give you some tips about application. If you have a location that has outside windows (as opposed to inside a mall) that can be helpful to get an idea of what a shade will look like with both inside and outside light.

And, if you do go the drugstore route, keep in mind that the big chains will take returns on used-once-or-twice makeup. I try not to take advantage of this but if I buy a Cover Girl Lip Stain for $10 and it's awful, it's nice to know I can take it back.

Also-also, you might be interested in this Go Fug Yourself reader chat about the best red lipsticks. Commenters are including their faves (and why); I found some really good options for my coloring in this list.
posted by stellaluna at 3:14 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, if you decide that you want to go with a matte look. It has a ton of staying power, and if you're nervous you can always rub on a very small amount that will stain a more sheer color.

It's a blue-toned, brick-ish red and looks great on me, a Latinx with dark skin and hair. Mad cheap too. I know it's out of stock online right now but it's a core product that will likely be in stock very soon and can be found at any physical location.

I don't use it with lipliner but I always wish I did - it can feather/bleed a bit
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:15 PM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

You will look fantastic.

For drugstore lipstick, I like Maybelline and Rimmel, but honestly pretty much every brand has stepped up their game a lot in the past few years and even Wet N Wild can be a good choice. NYC Retro Red, which is what, $1? is recommended over on MUA as a decent alternative to MAC Russian Red.
posted by rewil at 3:17 PM on February 27, 2015

I have a similar look and I find MAC has the best blue-red.
posted by saucysault at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2015

Oh my goodness, just do it! Like others have said it's a tiny investment and I find it's one of the things that will consistently perk me up and make me feel better. I love Rimmel for drugstore brands -- get a "warm" orange-red and a "cool" blue-red and see which one you like better.
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think going to the department store and trying them out there is totally worth it. And I think it's worth it to pay a fortune for a lipstick. A fortune is $25 for a lipstick that won't run and won't dry out your lips and will feel great (does not apply to MAC mattes) and will last a long long time unless you wear it every single day.

Bobbie Brown has a great, bright red lipstick that I bought about 3 years ago and am still using.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:24 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sounds like it will be great on you. My recommendation is to head to the nearest Clinique counter, explain your wishes, and let one of the pros who works there find the right shade and lipstick for you. I really love Clinique lipsticks myself -- they go on smoothly, stay in place, look great, and make my lips happy.
posted by bearwife at 3:24 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I used a concealer stick for lipliner. It works great and you don't have to be as exact about putting it on.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:25 PM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

My favorite red lipstick ever is Lipstick Queen's "Sinner" in Scarlet Red (which is on of them there blue reds).

It runs around $20 a tube, which is pricier than any other lipstick I've ever used, and I was nervous splashing out on it, but I now consider it worth every penny and more. One application lasts forever, which means one tube does, too. It's a perfect matte finish, and looks great onstage and off.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:26 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm jealous! I share your coloring, but with a somewhat thin upper lip, I look weird in bold lipsticks. Wanted to give another shout for Bobbi Brown lipsticks. They don't dry out your lips.
posted by cecic at 3:31 PM on February 27, 2015

The biggest problem with red lipstick is how bad it looks when it's half chewed off.

I have a strong preference for the 24-hour type of lipstick that is applied in two steps and comes with a balm. This kind of lip color is made by Cover Girl (outlast 24 hours), Maybelline (superstay 24 hours), and Max Factor (lipfinity).

All of these products work for me, and all of them seem to be universally hated by anyone who mentions them online. Partly this is because everyone's body chemistry is different and product effectiveness is idiosyncratic. Partly this is because people apply this stuff the wrong way having not bothered to read the instructions, and then are outraged that it doesn't work exactly like every other lipstick they've ever used. Partly this is because the instructions are never quite detailed enough and tell you to let it dry for 2 minutes, or 1 minute, when the real magic number is 10 minutes.

There is a definite technique to applying these lipsticks. First, you need to glop on Vaseline in the morning first thing after brushing your teeth. When you start getting dressed, glop on more Vaseline. When you start doing your makeup, glop on more Vaseline. You need to have lips that are perfectly smooth and perfectly moisturized with nary a gnir in sight. Your lipstick should be the last makeup you put on.

Now it's time to do your lipstick. Take a tissue and very firmly blot away all traces of Vaseline and any other oil that might be in the vicinity. Blot firmly, but don't rub, scrub, or do anything that might rough up your lips at this stage.

Important: YOUR LIPS MUST NOT TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE, OR EACH OTHER, AT ANY TIME DURING THIS PROCESS. Take the applicator, scrape off any excess, and with a layer of colour just thin enough to be sufficient, fill in your top lip, starting at the center and working outwards. The colour shouldn't overlap your lipline and it also shouldn't be inside it. The colour also should stop just short of meeting the colour on the other lip at the inner corner.

When both lips are done, peel off one ply of tissue and blot the layer of colour you just applied. Paint on another thin layer.

Now, WITHOUT LETTING YOUR LIPS TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE, OR EACH OTHER, let the lip colour dry for 10 minutes. You heard me right, 10 minutes. Set a timer, go around with fish lips for 10 minutes, and try not to answer the phone or talk to anyone who might ask any awkward questions like "why are you holding your mouth in that bizarre posture?" or "OMG, can you hold your hands out for me? Can you smile? I'm calling 911."

When the timer goes off, take the balm that comes with the product and slick it on. Take both the balm and the lipstick with you and slick on the balm every now and then during the day. The balm is what keeps the product flexible and stops it cracking and peeling. Don't use any other balm, use the one that comes with the product, because the two items are designed to work together.

Will this literally last you 24 hours even if you spend those 24 hours doing a charity fundraiser in a kissing booth? No. Come on. But it should last you pretty much a full day of normal activity, as long as you're not going to take a high-definition photograph in which you scrutinize the colour for its flaws; you should have "good enough" coverage at the end of the day.

A warning is that there is no cosmetic in existence that can withstand oil, and these lipsticks are no exception. If you eat an oily food that makes a lot of contact with your lips - say an oily salad, or a soup - then the colour will come off quite a bit and you'll have to carefully reapply, and it also probably won't have quite the same staying power after the second application. Still, one develops the strange art of eating around it, which probably shouldn't be thought about for too long.

Like I said, a lot of the people who complain about this stuff are the ones who take it right out of the box for the first time, shmear it on their lips, and then SMACK THEIR LIPS TOGETHER to distribute the product. This is an archaic technique which was necessary about 100 years ago, when lipsticks were a gloppy mess, but hasn't been a useful technique at all since lipstick formulas improved. Or they're makeup fanatics who don't understand that it hasn't always been de rigueur to apply makeup with ultra-HD precision (I have literally seen younger people asking puzzled questions about why, say, makeup application at fashion shows isn't more precise) and who take an HD photo at the end of the day and are enraged that the finish isn't absolutely perfect when seen in that photo, whereas to the normal eye at a normal distance it would be just fine. This is the same kind of person who really enjoys retouching their lipstick during the day, whereas I just want to set it and forget it, so, again, YMMV.

To get the right shade of red, swipe the testers over the pads of your fingers - this is where the skin is closest in texture to the skin on your lips.

A word on tooth-brushing during the day. I started to lose enamel from brushing the hell out of my teeth so I carry around teeny little interdental brushes and a little container of toothpaste, plus some Listerine breath strips, and I just clean in between my teeth with that during the day. It does disturb the surface of the lipstick, but not much. Floss should be OK, but I find I touch my lips a lot more often when flossing than when using an interdental brush.

Now as I said, this stuff is idiosyncratic and YMMV. But, I had actually given up on wearing lipstick for years because it just wouldn't ever last long enough for me to get out the door - it would just be all over the rim of my coffee cup. And this was after a lengthy application process that definitely succeeded in getting the lipstick to stay on as long as it was ever going to - that just wasn't very long. And if I had to apply any lip balm - as I often do because I have very dry lips - that was the end of that.

It never occurred to me to believe the claims of these 24-hour lipsticks because I've been reading ads like that since I was old enough to read, and it had never been true. Something convinces me to try one of these things and I couldn't believe it. I mean you can put a man on the moon, but THIS is a breakthrough.

OTOH, I seem to be the only person on Earth who doesn't violently hate this kind of lip product. And since it's the only lipstick I find remotely usable, it's logical that very soon, everyone else's complaints will reach critical mass and these products will be pulled from the shelves never to be seen again. So if you find it works for you... buy it while you still can.
posted by tel3path at 3:33 PM on February 27, 2015 [28 favorites]

In my experience some of the drugstore lipsticks are great, but for picking out a good colour your safest bet is to go to the MAC, NARS, etc. counter and get them to help you out. You will also want a matching lipliner and a lip brush (get that one from the drugstore). The lip brush makes it easier to apply it correctly.

Also the fashionable look nowadays tends to be bare face + red lips, so not having a lot of other makeup won't be a problem.
posted by noxperpetua at 3:34 PM on February 27, 2015

1- Red lipstick can be unforgiving if your lips aren't in great condition. My best tip for keeping them flake-free is a scuff with the toothbrush after brushing before bed then a good layer of lip balm.
2- If using lip liner use it all over your lips, don't just draw the outline. This gives a base for the lipstick to cling to and as it fades you still have colour underneath.
3- Orange-toned reds will make your teeth look more yellow, blue-toned reds will make them look whiter. If your teeth are really white this wont matter so much.
4- Red lipstick alone can make you look a bit drained, so I'd consider wearing mascara as well to balance out your look without being too made up.
5- Using a lip brush to apply it makes it easier and gives you more control and precision than applying straight from the tube. Make sure it has firm bristles.
6- Enjoy it! Makeup is fun and it's totally washable. If you try it and you hate it you wipe it, no harm done :)
posted by billiebee at 3:34 PM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Do it! I favor blue reds, I think they make teeth look nicer and less dingy. I do an entire mouth of matching lip liner (rather than just lining the lip edges) and then go over everything with a matte red. Love it.
posted by quince at 3:35 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing the comments saying that you should totally go for it. Wearing a bright red lip is a lot of fun.

But I think you should buy the actual lipstick at a place like Sephora, which has a bunch of different makeup brands, instead of a single-brand makeup counter. It can be tricky to find just the right shape of red for one's coloring, and you want to have the highest number of options at your fingertips.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:36 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

For picking a good shade, go with wet'n'wild or one of the other dollar brands. They might bleed or smear or rub off easily, but at least you didn't spend a fortune, and it's just for finding the right shade. Also you might get lucky and find a good one (or alternately, spend a fortune and get a crappy pigments and the way they react with their binders can be a real crap's just part of the territory. Start cheap.)

Lipliner: Pick one about 2 shades darker than the lipstick. Put it on first, and let the lipstick blend the edges for you. It will take a while to get the hang of it (ie not crooked), but it's not rocket science. Start by outlining the lips and then (for a really pro look) fill in from the corners of your mouth toward the middle (making a little triangle here < and > here. (Because you're using a darker color,) this will give your lips a shaded, very 3-dimensional look with very little effort.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:38 PM on February 27, 2015

Billiebee's instructions are exactly how I do my red lipstick. Once upon a time I did not need lipliner, but once I passed the big 4-0 lipstick started to bleed on me. Lipliner is a godsend for keeping lipstick in place.

I also agree with what sexyrobot said about starting cheap. Just recognize when you get Wet 'n Wild that you are getting something that will come off easily and right now you're just getting the color right. Once you've found a shade you like, then step it up to drugstore brand/Sephora.

A warning: certain lipsticks have a scent that absolutely turns my stomach (I stopped wearing L'oreal for this reason). I know it sounds odd to say "give it a sniff"...but do, just in case.
posted by rednikki at 3:42 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think others have given plenty of good advice on the actual lipstick/mouth part of makeup, but as a reminder--a bright pout always looks better against a flawless backdrop, so since you say you don't really have much makeup, it may be worth looking into some good foundation and primer. If you don't want thick, heavy coverage, go with just a quality primer (love Hourglass Mineral Veil but it's pricey) and a BB cream or tinted foundation.
posted by leftshark at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2015

1. Watch this video!
2. Buy something cheap and practice at home. You might make a mess at first, you'll get good quickly. (For the record I wear red for day all the time, and I don't use liner either - some mouths bleed out more than others, see how it is for you). An excellent red that is recommended all the time is rimmel - kate moss 01. It's super cheap, I love it.
3. One day soon, at home, you'll catch sight of yourself in the mirror and be delighted at how amazing you look - now you're ready to take it outside!
posted by moxiedoll at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2015

Go for it! 2nding Revlon for drugstore brands.

I like to do a softer look, vs. anything very precise. So I'll tend to wear a longer-wear lipstick (like Revlon's Colorburst Matte Balm), with a lip conditioner over that (just any kind of lip balm). It winds up looking like a stain.

For colour - just play around to see what looks right. On me (pretty pale, with yellow undertones), lipsticks with overly muddy, earthy or dark tones tend to make my complexion look a bit sallow, so I prefer true reds, and softer reds with a bright feel (specifically, with melon or slightly coral tones).

Agree with billiebee; re her 4), along with mascara, a bit of blush can help balance things out.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:03 PM on February 27, 2015

+1 to everyone saying go to a place with lots of lipstick brand choices, tell the staff what you are looking for, and try on lots of different ones. I personally think the best place to do this is Sephora or its ilk, because they have (in my experience) helpful, pleasant staff who are not pushy at all. They will tirelessly gather the shades they think you'll like/will look good on you, sanitize each demo lipstick, and let you try them on. The back of the hand is...ok, but not as good as actually seeing how it looks on your lips, and I'd *never* do that without the whole "someone sanitizes it for you in between" thing.

I also find Sephora staff very honest--they don't work on commission and they'll tell you if it does or does not look good on you. I think I tried on 6 or 7 lipsticks last time before I found one I like. It happened to be the least expensive lipstick the salesperson had brought me. I wear it all the time and it was a good investment.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:12 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have eighteen million red lipsticks. One of my favorite casual red lip colors is Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in 150 "Enticing". It's definitely red, but it has a little transparency to it so it doesn't look quite so Dita Von Teese. But some of my other favorites include OCC Lip Tar in NSFW, Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso, Makeup Forever in Moulin Rouge, and the Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in Pomegranate.

Let me add my recommendation to go to Sephora. If you go in and say "I'm looking to figure out how to rock a casual bright red lip" they will know exactly what you mean and will help find the perfect shade for you. Do consider that your "casual red lip" might actually secretly be berry, or hot pink, or burgundy, rather than a true red -- I got a free sample of a Kat Von D liquid lipstick in "bachelorette" which I find surprisingly wearable given how hot pink it is.
posted by KathrynT at 4:19 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

My favorite (and Taylor Swift's go to) is NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. (She uses Dragon Lady and I use Cruella). It is pricey at $25 but I love it and it makes me feel good. Layer it on your lips with concealor for amazing results. It's got a texture that doesn't freely smudge and is better than any other red lipstick I've tried.
posted by discopolo at 5:04 PM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think a trip to Sephora is always a good idea in these cases. You can tell someone what you want, and they are really, really good about finding something that meets your specifications. Sometimes, they can even give samples, although this is somewhat more difficult with lippies.

I would recommend against buying a matching lip pencil, and instead purchase something like the Make Up Forever
clear pencil. This way, it goes with every conceivable color you might buy in the future! And, you never have to worry about that ridiculous 90s "My lipstick has worn off so here are my brightly lined lips and no filling" look. Lipstick Queen also makes a great one, but is much harder to find in stores. They also make some great, very gentle intro reds, but would not recommend buying without trying on first.

I have similar coloring to what you describe. I look the best in berry-toned reds, but I can rock a few of the more warmed-toned reds as well. Here are my favorite, favorite reds:
Stila Stay All Day Lipstick in Beso and Fiery - has a doefoot applicator, dries matte and stays on forever, as advertised
Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Amsterdam - a darker, berry-er red
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream - many great colors, goes on with doefoot applicator, available at Ulta and lately, my local Nordstrom Rack

As far as drugstore brands go, I find that Revlon makes some really great lipstick. Their matte pencil lip balms have been pretty good (in spite of a sort of weird taste). And I just bought one of their Ultra HD lipsticks, which was nice and light, but most of the colors are in the pinkier range. Consider the Dahlia for a warmer color, and the Gladiolus for something a little warmer.
posted by honeybee413 at 5:20 PM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

When I wore make-up every day I wore the type of longwear lipstick tel3path describes, though I used one they don't mention, Revlon Outlast in Non-Stop Cherry. I wasn't quite as finicky, though I did apply it in a single layer and let it dry before touching my lips together. tel3path, you're not the only one!

It lasts forever, unless you eat buttered ravioli or whatever. The one weird trick about taking it off is that because is stands up so poorly to oil, you can use any oil to remove it; canola, shea butter, coconut oil, lip balm.

Revlon Outlast doesn't have a perfect bright classic red. I wish they did.
posted by Juliet Banana at 5:23 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with discopolo about the Cruella NARS lip pencil! I received a mini version as part of my Sephora rewards card birthday freebie a little while ago. I don't normally wear bright red lipstick, but I put it on over a base of lip balm 5 hours ago and it is still there, looking good (if I do say so myself). Good texture, good staying power, good shade.

I got mine for free, so I didn't realize how pricey they are. But I've also got a much more inexpensive matte Revlon lip pencil balm like the ones honeybee413 mentioned, and I like it a lot--the texture and staying power are similar to the NARS.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:27 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, you guys are so awesome and inspirational! I had exactly 15 minutes to spare before I had to pick my kid up from school, so I blew $30 at Target on your recommendations from Revlon, Rimmell, Burts Bees and Maybelline. I put the Revlon Matte Balm on an hour ago. It turns out to be too much of a berry (I think in my hustle I might have looked at a bunch then accidentally put back the one I meant to keep) but it's hugely different from the subtle color I would normally pick, and I already feel brighter just having it on. Plus, the crayon-style format seems really, really easy to put on for a makeup newb like me.

Next week when the kid's in school I'm going to go to Sephora and see what they'll do for me when I use KathrynT's suggested line of "I want a casual bright red lip."

Will report back!
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:39 PM on February 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

A couple tips: if you're worried about knowing whether the red is cool- or warm-toned and don't want to try the sample color, swipe the sample color on your wrist or the back of your hand and then rub it off with a tissue. It'll become clear, trust me.

To help it stay: seconding everyone who says to wear a lipliner BUT use the lipliner to color in your whole lip, and then apply the lipstick. Keep it in your pocket so you don't have to worry about whether you need more.

Also don't eat sandwiches with red lipstick on. Ask me how I know.
posted by mchorn at 6:37 PM on February 27, 2015

Make sure you exfoliate your lips every now and then, especially with winter chapped lips. It will help the lipstick go on nice and smooth. You can buy expensive lip exfoliant, which is fun and indulgent, or make your own!
I have always been so so happy with recommendations from Sephora. They really know their stuff. Such fun!
posted by missmary6 at 6:43 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Third shout out for Bobbi Brown red lipsticks. They last forever.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 8:19 PM on February 27, 2015

You have some great brand and color recommendations already so here is a video tutorial from Lisa Eldridge in which she demonstrates how you can use one lipstick in five different ways: as a stain, as a creme blusher, in a classic two-layer application, as an intense matte, and topped off with gloss.

She is using a deep wine shade in the video but these techniques can be used with red. The stain version is great for newbies.
posted by Soda-Da at 8:30 PM on February 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nope, not crazy! I'm right there with you! I found a Lisa Eldridge post where she recommends drugstore brands and got a couple of those. I wore very neutral makeup (BB cream and mascara) to a wedding this afternoon with Maybelline Super Stay 14 Hour Lipstick in Ravishing Rouge (supposedly a neutral red). I got a compliment! On my *lipstick*!

Cup of Jo has a zillion posts on wearing red lipstick. It's a thing!
posted by jrobin276 at 10:31 PM on February 27, 2015

Tel3path, I also came to rec that style of lipstick! I love it forever and find that it often lasts me significantly more than 24 hours--it's often like 36, assuming that I'm not eating anything greasy and lip-touchy.

I also wanted to say that I find that they tend to go on slightly darker than the tubes might suggest, so if you can't find a place with testers, consider buying a shade or two lighter than you might otherwise expect. But, seriously, so great, and removes and need for things like lipliner.
posted by MeghanC at 10:32 PM on February 27, 2015

The stain + gloss type that Tel3pathy and MeghanC mention are amazing for rich, long-lasting color that doesn't smear, bleed, feather or rub off. No more leaving a lipstick smudges behind on glasses, clothes or significant others! Note that you may need an oil-based makeup remover to clean it off, soap and water won't be enough.

If you happen to go to Europe, or know someone in Europe, be on the lookout for Manhattan Lip2Last brand lipstain. It's fairly inexpensive, less than 10 euro, and supermarkets and drugstores like Rossmann, Müller, DM and Rewe all carry them. And it is hands down the best, richest, longest-lasting lip color I have ever come across. Makes the American brands look like cherry chapstick. Last time I was there I bought 10 of them and wish I got more. Seriously - Best. Lipstick. Ever.
posted by platinum at 11:55 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I bought four different 24 hour lipsticks/balm (Lips2Last etc.) and love the hell out of them all. And this despite doing everything wrong, according to Tel3Path - I don't bother with vaseline, smack my lips together, apply the balm a minute later and eat greasy stuff during the day. It's still good at the end of the day. Which is just to say, if Tel3path's post on how to do it properly (and I will definitely try the suggestions, thanks!) seemed too complicated for you, don't worry! It's a super product even if you're doing it wrong.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:15 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've used and liked the L'Oreal version of the products tel3path wrote about. They do stay on and they don't smear, so I think it's a great choice for red. Here's a blog post about someone using the red and loving it.

I recall waking up the next day with my lipstick fully intact--it was bizarre and awesome. My only concern was the kind of chemicals required to create this kind of stay-on lipstick.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 5:10 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Day 2. Today I tried the Burt's Bees in Redwood Forest. Love the crayon-style -- it's so easy to apply. And the color is absolutely LOVELY but not at all red on me. Still, if this is turning into the first time in my life where I do stuff like putting on lipstick to go to the post office, I'm happy. Continuing onward!
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:30 PM on February 28, 2015 [9 favorites]

Thanks for asking this! I've been meaning to look into it myself - I asked for help at an aveda store today, and was introduced to their lip-define pencil, which is a lip primer (I did not even know that existed). Made a huge difference in eliminating feathering and keeping the red in place. So I highly recommend a lip primer for this!
posted by cestmoi15 at 2:09 PM on February 28, 2015

I am loving this thread! So much good red lip advice. My long-lasting-red obsession is Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. Mentioned above a few times (I wear it in Tesoro). I also like Revlon's long-lasting stuff but let me tell you, the Stila is just RIDICULOUS in how well it stays. It has, like, still-scrubbing-at-it-with-makeup-remover-the-morning-after staying power.
posted by ootandaboot at 2:41 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, just gonna chime in to nth Stila's Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. I don't find expensive make up worth it too often, but I can make an exception for that stuff because nothing else works so well for me in terms of staying put and on all day (I'm way too lazy to touch up), being easy to apply and wear, not chapping my lips, and being striking and bold color-wise (my lips seem to just absorb or suck up the strong pigment of most bold lipsticks for some weird reason, where it'll be gone 30 minutes later without me doing anything like drinking or eating). I tried the NARS pencil people rave about, and it dried my lips out too much (almost everything does). I think what I love about the Stila one (aside from its insane staying power without drying effect) is it is vivid and lipstain-strong color-wise but not harshly matte, it stays a little soft/glisteny, which I like (it's also the very thing that some people don't want in a lipstick, granted...the NARS is pretty matte, which I didn't care for but is exactly what some love about it). Just wish I could find a shade of it that worked better for my darkish yellow/orange-toned east asian skin, but that's another matter. I also really want to try the MAC Pro Longwear stuff, though I suspect it might be like the NARS where it's too matte for me.
posted by ifjuly at 12:36 PM on March 1, 2015

Listen to tel3graph's awesome post. Those drugstore lipsticks (I use the Maybelline) are awesome.

Then, when you're at Sephora, ALSO go look at this stay all day lipstick by Hourglass. Get the ICON colour - it's their bestseller, for good reason. It is amazing - I'm a professional dancer and this stuff will stay on through dinner, through performing, and then hours of partying and imbibing after.

Seriously, I think I've tried every brand of lipstick out there from low to high end. Get the Hourglass.

If you like crayons, try these ones by Nars. The drugstore equivalent is the Revlon one - both are good!

Enjoy your journey - lipstick is so much fun!
posted by shazzam! at 9:07 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Day 3. A grey Monday, and I tried Rimmel's Red Alert. It's okay. I love the color as long as my mouth is closed, but it definitely makes my teeth look yellower. And putting on an old-school regular-style lipstick is hard, man. I fussed with it quite a bit but felt my mouth ended up all wonkadoo. Two hours later, I've grown to like it more, but I'm seeing some feathering, and frankly I'm not the type of girl to be able to deal with lipliner and lipstick. I know there are millions of you who handle this with ease, but I'm just making an honest assessment of how my lifestyle is. Meaning, if I can't just throw a single lipstick in my purse and make it happen, it's not going to happen. Also, I've gotten a few tiny schmears of color on my teeth, but that's probably because of my haphazard attempt at application. Final bonus downside: this is probably the first day of my child's life that I put lipstick on at 8:30am, and when I dropped him at school he was super-bummed that I wasn't covering his face in kisses. (He is almost 12, but he has a point. Lipstick must go on after drop-off.) However, I do think I'd keep this lipstick for use at night.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:02 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Definitely give lip-liner a try, it will actually make your life a lot easier. For one, it's like a pencil, so easier to get a precise shape, then you can smack on the lipstick any old way, fast and easy. Secondly, it will keep all that feathering and edge bleeding at bay. Thirdly, it stays on a lot longer, you can just leave it at home and use the lipstick for touch ups...try it.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:04 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: > frankly I'm not the type of girl to be able to deal with lipliner and lipstick. I know there are millions of you who handle this with ease, but I'm just making an honest assessment of how my lifestyle is. Meaning, if I can't just throw a single lipstick in my purse and make it happen, it's not going to happen.

preach it, sister. more power to those who make it work, but don't feel discouraged if you just know you're not like that--i am exactly the same way (it's got to be just about as single step easy as swiping on lip balm or fuhgeddaboudit, i just know i won't bother in the long run) and there are now brands (as mentioned upthread) that are one-and-done simple. it's a beautiful world we live in. /tongue-in-cheek devo
posted by ifjuly at 6:59 PM on March 2, 2015

If you are getting lipstick on your teeth, do this: put your index finger all the way into your mouth, close your lips over it, and slowly draw your finger out through the center of your lips.

And, you will be able to kiss your son if you use the 24-hour lipstick, which also does not feather.
posted by tel3path at 7:12 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Day 4: Maybelline's Red Revolution is pretty damn gorgeous. Not hard to get on, even though it's a traditional lipstick. Possibly I'm getting better at doing it. :)

I dunno, guys. I'm feeling pretty good about my drugstore purchases so far, so I might stay away from Sephora. On that original Target run I missed a few of your drugstore recommendations that were out of stock, so I might just make those my next step.

Overall, however, I have to say I'm super happy about this project. My life has a little extra pizzazz with these lipsticks!
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:57 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Day 4a: Popped back to the drugstore and bought a few new ones. This afternoon, tried Revlon Colorbust Balm Stain in Romantic. It's super, and is that crayon style that works so well for me. For now I think I'm def. going to stick with the drugstore, and the ones that aren't the traditional lipstick style. I really love all the feedback and suggestions you guys have given me. It's really changed my life. Dunno, at this point, if it'll stick, but I'm sure enjoying it!
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:40 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm going to mark this resolved, even though I intend to refer back to it constantly. I have somehow made that Burts Bees color my go-to for every day, and I'm still trying out new reds that I've picked up at the drugstore. I'll get to Sephora eventually but for now I'm just super happy. Thank you all for the very wonderful help!
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:17 PM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Out of all the threads I've read over the years, you are the only asker who has come back with the most thorough follow ups on how the advice worked out. So awesome! I'm two months too late, but I also love Revlon's Balm Stain in romantic or adore. The crayon is easy for me and I often don't use a mirror. And since it's a waxy finish, it doesn't bleed all over the place. Bonus, it stains well enough that fading irregularly isn't an issue.
posted by watch out for turtles at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just popping back in to agree about the Revlon crayons and suggest that you also give Milani a whirl. I recently picked up both lipliners and a couple of lipsticks and they're great! Great pigment and a comfortable formulation. I find Milani at CVS and I've been really happy with all of the stuff I've bought so far.
posted by quince at 4:38 PM on May 1, 2015

Response by poster: Popping back in to say that I tried MAC's Ruby Woo...but I don't really understand how to use it. It's so, so, soooo matte I don't understand how to put it on. Like, even if my lips are nice and smooth, it is so chalky and solid it doesn't spread. And then if I press harder I end up with caked-on bits. Not a success, even though the color is nice.

The winners so far are definitely the Burt's Bees and the Revlon Balm Stains.

The stupid thing is that the other day, when I bought the Ruby Woo -- I had a choice to go to Sephora or the MAC Store -- they're right by each other, so that Sephora doesn't carry MAC -- and I decided to go to MAC. I will definitely go back to Sephora now and ask for a matte blue-red that's easy to apply.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:00 AM on June 5, 2015

With really matte lipsticks, lip brushes are your friend. Small firm bristles so it keeps the lip line straight, don't overload it, and you can build the colour up gradually. It really makes a big difference so if you like the colour and you've already bought the lipstick I'd consider the extra few dollars for a decent brush. They'll last a long time if you take care of them (wipe off lipstick, wash with a little soap and water, squeeze bristles on a towel to get rid of excess water and leave to dry).
posted by billiebee at 1:46 PM on June 5, 2015

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