I feel like we kind of have an “honesty at all times” policy over here at The Frisky. I may not be particularly forthcoming about my sex life or getting tampons lost inside of me, so I guess it’s only fair that I divulge all of my beauty secrets, no facades to be allowed. Let’s start with the most pressing: I am coming off what I like to think of as a lipstick diet. It is a diet in two senses: metaphorically, insofar as I am restricting myself from purchasing them, much like one restricts certain foods or manners of eating on an actual diet, and literally, insofar as when I do wear lipstick I tend to actually eat it off my face.
Really, though, for the past six months or so I’ve just been too lazy and/or parched (my lips get so dry, yo!) to wear lip color. It’s kind of a commitment! So I am trying to gently, gently, segue myself back into the lipstick-wearing world. And what better time than autumn (I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s still autumn, it kind of feels like winter outside) to attempt to reacclimate? It’s perfect timing for the berry and wine (and berry wine) shades I love but am terrified of, and plus, it’s cold so I never want to leave my house, leaving me plenty of time to try as many lip colors as I please.
Blessedly, choosing a suitable dark shade is surprisingly easy. It’s not quite like a red or a nude, where things could go horribly wrong/unflattering should an undertone not fit your complexion and coloring. The only thing that’s really scary about dark lips is, well, wearing them, because deep berry shades look good on everyone. Picking a formula, however, is a personal choice. You can dip your toes in with a sheer formula, you can keep it classic with a hydrating cream, or you can go all the way with a really intense matte color. Don’t know the difference, or can’t decide? I put them all on my face in the name of trial and error.
I tried three different formulas from Laura Mercier’s collection — they aren’t cheap (they range from $24-26), but they’re excellent quality, and I am allergic to everything but most especially drugstore makeup. Should your budget not quite allow for $20+ cosmetics (hi, neither does mine), I have attempted to source the best drugstore dupes, so you can “get the look!!!!” without sacrificing lunch. Like me. Help.
Even the most timid lipstick wearer can get down with sheer, especially this one. A single swipe leaves behind that barely perceptible plummy tint, almost like you’ve been drinking red wine, but obviously a lot more purposeful and sober. What I love about this sheer formula in particular is that there’s no gloss to it, but it doesn’t have the impact of a matte — the finish is really soft and natural. Sheer doesn’t make a statement, so while it’ll give lips a pretty stain, you can wear as much (or as little) eye makeup with it as you like without risking going overboard. I would recommend this formula to my best friend, but also my grandma. It’s foolproof, and it’ll never stain your shirt collar. (For a drugstore option, try Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Crush.)
In my unpopular opinion, cream finishes are the most high-maintenance. Sheers aren’t fussy, and mattes don’t budge, but creams can be slippery. (That is a generalization because this cream in particular is not; it actually holds extremely well.) That said, they’re also the most moisturizing and tend to feel the best on lips. If you like some sheen to your lipstick, a cream is your best bet. It makes a great daytime look with beige shadow, and a great nighttime look with a little bit of brown or black shadow or liner. A bare or (bare-looking) face with just this lipstick, a thin black cat-eye, and a little bit of mascara is insta-vamp, and also the perfect balance between super-sexy and a little more refined. Given that this formula is really richly pigmented, you could use your fingertip to dab on lips for a stain, or even use as a blush on the apples of your cheeks for a flushed look. Versatility, son! (For a drugstore option, try Revlon Super Lustrous Creme Lipstick in Raisin Rage.)
Mattes are unforgiving, oftentimes drying, and difficult to remove, which means that not only will this lipstick come off on your boyfriend, but HE won’t be able to get it off, either. (Also who cares.) But can you guess which of the above three I’m sneaking home today? THIS GUY. I’m going to need an oil cleanser or sandpaper or both to get it off tonight (just kidding, I’ll be using LUSH Santa’s Lip Scrub, which I also used in between color applications so I’d be starting off with a clean palate), but it just looks soooooo good. This is sort of how I feel about all matte lipsticks: they can be a real bitch to wear, but they look amazing. This shade and formula is totally, like, Victorian era, “Game of Thrones,” drinking-blood-out-of-a-goblet chic. (These three things have nothing to do with one another.) Worn with just a tiny bit of black liquid liner tight to the lashes, it is gothic perfection. If that’s the look you’re going for this holiday season (to be fair, it’s the look I’m going for year-round), here’s your answer. (For a drugstore option, try NYX Matte Lipstick in Merlot.)
So what do you think? Have I convinced you to try your hand at stepping out of your beauty comfort zone this season? Which one of these shades and formulas do you like best? Do you think the bottom of my face looks weird? Please don’t tell me if you do.
[Stock photo of red lips via Shutterstock]