With my grabby paws reaching for purple and beige lipsticks, I’d been neglecting my collection of reds. To give it justice, I decided to hold a red lipstick week and review every single one I wore. Spoiler alert, the reviews aren’t negative, in case anyone was expecting juicy rants. All of the featured items are uniformly solid in quality. Yeah, with red lipstick being the most popular makeup product besides mascara and black eyeliner, the beauty industry has figured the reds out by now.
The post covers a variety of brands, textures, packaging formats, and undertones. I wore the lipsticks and wrote the reviews on a daily basis, and the day breakdown is accurate. However, the selfie-taking endeavor was spread over several weeks, as evidenced by the wildly varying length of my bangs. Photos are hard–it is known.
It’s not just selfies that made me take my time. With this project, I had to confront the fact that I don’t know how to integrate red lipstick into a look, besides the obvious “black wing and red lip” and “no-makeup makeup with a bright accent.” This is pretty much the main reason why I’d been shunning reds, as I like my eye makeup colorful and visible from space. Working on this post gave me the opportunity to research, experiment, and think about which colors would go with red lipstick. I found an inspiration in “red on red” looks, such as those created by Chanel’s Lucia Pica (1, 2). But neutral and “no-makeup” styles were not forgotten, because why not.
These are the lipsticks I wore that week. Left to right: ColourPop Bichette, NYX Perfect Red, NARS Vesuvio, Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Silence, Shu Uemura M OR570, Paula’s Choice Currant, TheBalm Devoted.
Here are some swatches for comparison purposes. Looks like a procession of drunk Pac-Man ghosts:
Monday: NARS Vesuvio
The Pure Matte line by NARS is not as hyped right now as their lip crayons and Audacious lipsticks, but it’s a classic, dependable line. I would recommend the Pure Mattes to anyone who doesn’t necessarily collect makeup, but likes to treat themselves to a fancy lipstick every couple of years. Vesuvio is a supremely user-friendly product. It’s an old-school matte: not completely dry like the trendier liquid matte lipsticks, but with a soft sheen. It glides onto the lips effortlessly, and the packaging is so slight that the product easily fits into a wallet. There are 12 Pure Matte shades to choose from, and Vesuvio is the purest of the reds in the lineup.
Tuesday: TheBalm Devoted
Along with Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks, TheBalm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes Lip Colors have one of the better liquid matte formulas I’ve tried. Not Sahara dry, not crumbly or flaky. Unlike KVD, though, TheBalm doesn’t have trendy blues and blacks and purples in its lineup. The Meet Matt(e) Hughes series is still worth checking out–going by Devoted, the brand is onto something when it comes to vivid shades. This pure red lipstick is so bright it’s practically luminous.
Wednesday: Shu Uemura M OR570 (Gangnam Orange)
While this lipstick’s orange red color reads to me as iconic and pop arty, its texture is something I’d never encountered before. Products like the NARS Pure Mattes have some creaminess to them; the Shu Uemura’s got absolutely none. Its airy and glidey formula feels like a dimethicone primer, but for lips.
The line is called Rouge Unlimited Supreme Matte. M OR570 is not currently available on the official Shu site, but I know it popped up as one half of the “Gangnam Duo” that also included a bright pink. I imagine the combination would be incredible for color blocking.
Thursday: Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Silence
As someone with an inordinate love for tomatoes, I am grateful to my friend who hooked me up with this juicy tomato-colored lipstick. Raw Silence is part of RBR’s Hues of Enchantment collection, which is marketed as “pigment-dense” in contrast with the brand’s ostensibly sheer line, Succulence of Dew. The two Succulence lipsticks I own (bought by the same friend!) are in fact as pigmented as Raw Silence, and the only difference is that the latter looks creamier and less glossy.
I am hard to please when it comes to creamy lipsticks. I’ve got minor beefs with some popular formulas–the discontinued Urban Decay Revolution is heavy, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche is slippery. Raw Silence is actually one of my favorite products in this finish. On application, it feels almost like vinyl, and hugs the lips well. Like the NARS and TheBalm lipsticks above, Raw Silence is considered a true red, but I feel the color’s a bit earthier.
Friday: Paula’s Choice Currant
Currant came in a gift-with-purchase lip crayon set, which also featured a brighter red, a berry, and a shimmery topper. I have no special fuzzies towards the crayon/chubby stick format, as I don’t really care how easy it is to draw a crisp lipline. I hate defined liplines on myself, so a brush is always involved to fuzz out the edges. See the look above, where I did the outline with an eyeshadow blending brush… LIKE AN ANIMAL.
Some chubby sticks are waxy or greasy, but Currant feels velvety, like a high-quality traditional lipstick. Its finish reminds me of the red currant berries my mom used to grow in her garden: smooth, juicy, and reflective.
Saturday: ColourPop Bichette
Bichette is part of ColourPop’s original Lippie Stix collection. Man, feels like they premiered those so long ago, even though it’s only been a couple of years–ColourPop release so much stuff. So far, based on Bichette, I am pro-Lippie Stix. The formula is similar to the Paula’s Choice lip crayon: smooth and comfortable. Of all the reds I’m reviewing in this post, this one is the darkest.
Sunday: NYX Perfect Red
In this post, I reviewed three “red reds,” one orange red, and two deeper reds. Finally, here is a red that’s considered blue-toned, like MAC Ruby Woo. NYX’s Matte line is beloved by many: out of the several NYX lipstick series I’ve sampled, this one has been the closest to flawless. I’ve seen shades from the core Matte lineup, including Perfect Red, Alabama, Whipped Caviar, and Butter named as favorites by various bloggers I respect. These lipsticks are old-timey creamy mattes, similar to the NARS Pure Matte lipsticks reviewed above. The packaging is clunkier, of course, but NYX is an incomparably more budget-friendly toy. (And there’s more product in the tube, too–4.5g as opposed to NARS’ 2g.) Currently, NYX is offering 45 shades of their Matte lipstick, including out-there colors such as the stone grey Haze and the greyish dark purple Up the Bass.