A Little Love for Lipstick

While my days of wearing bright, electric-coloured eyeshadows are waning, my days of wearing dramatic lip colours are just beginning. A good lip colour, in general, can be a striking look all on its own, saving you time and energy from extensive cosmetic application. And while I see the value in nude or neutral lip colours, there’s nothing I love more than a bright, bold lip.

One of the biggest advantages to making your lips the focal point of your look has to do with time. When wearing bright lip colours, the rest of your make-up should be as neutral as possible so as not to detract from the lip or overpower it. A simple wash of a frosty shadow or a touch of eyeliner topped off with a coat of mascara is all the eyes need. The work on the rest of the face should stay subtle too: harsh contouring or bold blushes can, once again, disrupt the impact made by a bold lip colour. In the case of dark lipsticks, it’s even more important to soften the rest of your make-up. It’s very easy to make dark lipstick look harsh or costumey with too much product on other parts of the face.

Dark lipsticks can work year round, but I find they raise fewer eyebrows in fall and winters, seasons where the styles generally veer towards darker colours and cooler tones. The struggle, for me, is finding good formulas. I want a product where the colour applies the way it looks. I’ve owned too many black lipsticks that look brown or purple when applied and deep reds that appear brown. Also, I want a formula that stands the test of time without leaving my lips looking ragged or flaking too much.

I mentioned in my Best Of 2017 list that Sugarpill’s Black Edition Lipsticks were standouts in all categories. Their black lipstick in Zero is the truest black I’ve ever applied with or without a base. I’d also like to single out MAC’s Phenomenal Woman, a rich plum colour (and a near perfect dupe of their Viva Glam Ariana from a couple years ago).

If wearing scarlet or black lipstick seems intimidating or is sadly inappropriate for your workplace/lifestyle, the tips I’m about to include here work for increasing the longevity of any cream lipstick you might be wearing. If you’re looking to up your lipstick game, I recommend starting with a red or a pink. Neither colour, even at their boldest, will ruffle too many feathers; red, especially, comes with a timeless quality that’s unmatched by any other shade, and I guarantee you there is a red lipstick out there for you.

To get the best wear out of your lipstick, whatever shade it might be:

  • Condition your lips regularly. I have a lip balm in every purse and pocket for application throughout the day, and I keep one at my bedside to wear when I sleep every night. Find a lip balm with good butters and oils in the ingredients list (shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil). A good lip balm does not have to be a large investment or come from a professional cosmetics company, nor do you have to be a lipstick wearer to benefit from having one.
  • Use a lip scrub before applying any lip products. This will ensure that your lipstick has a smooth base and will help it wear better over the course of the day. Lush has a number of flavours of lips scrubs; Naked Kitty’s line of lip scrubs smell like cocktails. You can also MacGyver one from some coarse sugar mixed with a little honey or olive oil.
  • Use a lip liner. I know, I know: lip liners really do seem like a thing of the past, and given what happened in the 90s, I want to agree, but truly, lip liners serve a valuable function. They really do increase the longevity of your lipstick. They keep the colour from feathering or breaking down around the edges of your lips. With nude or neutral colours, this may not be evident, but when bright colours feather, the clean lines around the lips diffuse – hence, feathering. If you’re really nervous about lip liner, I highly recommend finding a peach or beige shade. This will give you a neutral base on which to apply your lipstick and guarantee that the liner will be hidden.
  • Use a coffee filter when blotting. Tissues and paper towels threaten to take a lot of colour when blotting, but coffee filters help to dry the product without sacrificing colour payoff. (Additional beauty hack: you can also use coffee filters for blotting away excess oil on the face!)
  • Let the lipstick set after applying. No one is more guilty than I of freshly applying a coat of lipstick and then immediately getting a drink or eating a meal. Letting the product set will help lengthen the wear of your lipstick and help it resist transfer when eating or drinking.

When it comes to application, cream lipstick can be applied with or without a brush; I’ve noticed little difference in terms of wear with either. A brush can help with creating clean, crisp lines and more precise application of product, but it also adds time and energy to your application. Realistically, a good lipstick should be able to be applied straight from the tube.

Pragmatic beauty need not be boring: making one feature a focal point with bright colours or bold shades can be as much an exercise in practicality as a dramatic statement. Less time in front of a mirror means more time for the things that need doing, and that’s beauty everyone can get behind.


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