7 Days of Red Lipstick

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.

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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:

red lipstick pacman

Monday: NARS Vesuvio

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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

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and

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Sheer Lipstick Heaven: Lipstick Queen, Rouge Bunny Rouge, CANMAKE

Since this is my first proper blog post, time to confess which makeup rules I follow. The big one is “either a statement eye OR a statement lip, but not both.” In general, this rule makes sense with my face. I have prominent lips and eyes, and with both emphasized, the whole becomes too overwhelming. When I create bold eye looks, which is fairly often, I balance them out with sheer or nude lip products.

This post is about three of my favorites in the sheer lipstick category. I find that glossy lipsticks on the red to berry spectrum make my lips look especially juicy.

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They might not look like much in swatches, but it’s not like we buy products just to swatch them, do we?

Lipstick Queen Medieval

I’ve had this tube since forever ago, hence it looks quite beat up. The lettering is bound to be worn down to mysterious runes.

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Why the name Medieval? Lipstick Queen spins a macabre tale about actual medieval women defying church rules against lipstick and rubbing lemons on their lips to bring out a bloody tint. Um… sounds painful, no thanks. There are products on the market that mimic that kind of blushy effect, but fortunately, Medieval is much richer and oilier than those.

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In the pic above, I’m wearing Medieval with a cranberry-ish eye look (TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Trimony palette) and the Milani Luminoso blush.

Of all the lipsticks I’m covering today, Medieval is the reddest. Depending on the lighting, it might show up as an airier version of tomato red, or as a nondescript my-lips-but-redder color. In my review of Medieval published on Instagram on 2015, I mentioned that the red pigment doesn’t apply evenly (i.e., it balls up). However, I haven’t had that problem in a while, probably because my lips are now in a better condition and there are no dry patches that would cause uneven application.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Relish of Heaven

The whole Rouge Bunny Rouge concept reminds me of the Japanese “Mori” fashion, girls dressing like dreamy woodland creatures. I want to listen to Alison Goldfrapp’s first album, Felt Mountain, when I put that stuff on my face. (Yea, I became a music fan in the late 1990s.) Everything about the UK-based brand is whimsical and delicate, down to the product names. The sheer lipstick range is called Succulence of Dew, and other shades have names such as Jasmine-Weighted Air and Perfume of his Gaze. That’s all right, Rouge Bunny Rouge, I forgive you for these naming conventions, because the products are pretty damn solid.

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Relish of Heaven looks warmer in the tube than it does on the lips, at first I even took it for an orange red. In reality, it has more of a reddish berry tone. It feels less oily than Medieval, and creates a vinyl or jelly finish. It’s also quite pigmented and wears down to a noticeable stain. When jelly-like lipsticks or glosses are on the pigmented side, there is an expectation that they might slip and slide, but Relish of Heaven is satisfyingly grabby.

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The look above also features warm eyeshadows from the Too Faced Semi-Sweet palette and a green eye pencil (Urban Decay Mars).

One thing I dislike about RBR lipsticks is that their tubes’ caps fly off like nobody’s business, and furthermore they don’t sit tight enough. I’ve had a few Wet’n’Wild lipsticks get moldy or smooshed due to craptastic caps, and I am worried for the fate of my RBRs, especially since they are not easily obtainable in the U.S.

CANMAKE 05 Dark Raspberry

If Rouge Bunny Rouge brings to mind the Mori style, Japanese drugstore brand CANMAKE is full-on princessy, as this lipstick’s packaging demonstrates.

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Well, it’s not technically a lipstick, but a Jelly Gloss Stick, a lipstick/gloss hybrid. Of the three swatches above, Dark Raspberry is the most reflective. I’ve become enamored with wet, balmy finishes on my recent trip to Japan, where this kind of lip look is mainstream and heavily promoted by beauty magazines.

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The Japanese lip look also goes great with the all-American Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette.

The Jelly Gloss Stick is so dainty and emollient, it literally starts to melt in the tube on contact with my lips. I’ve never had such a thing happen with any other lip product! (It hardens back after application.) Moreover, per Citrine’s Blog, the brand recommends twisting up just a little bit at a time, or else the lipstick might get destroyed. Should I also wrap it in a blankie and bring it a cup of hot chocolate, while I’m at it?

Oh well, I guess I’ll be gentle with this bad boy–in addition to being easy on the eyes, Dark Raspberry brings back sweet memories of Japan.

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SWEET, SWEET memories. This is what my hubby and I ate in Tokyo.