The Red Lipstick Diaries: My New Everyday Red Lip

Years ago, I challenged myself to wear all my red lipsticks and tried to cultivate a “signature red” for everyday wear. In the intervening years, much has changed. Not only has my personal style moved from the mid-20th-century to a more late-19th/early-20th-century aesthetic, but I fell out of the habit of wearing lipstick altogether when I was pregnant last year (as well as really any makeup at all). But lately, I’ve felt the pull of the bold lip once more.


And, in my exploration of early-20th-century beauty, I’ve discovered that it’s not entirely surprising. Apparently, the women’s suffrage movement used red lipstick as a symbol of women’s power in the 1910’s. So perhaps red lipstick isn’t entirely out of line with my aesthetic.

One thing that has always been out of line with my aesthetic were liquid lipsticks. I just preferred the experience of applying and reapplying lipstick from the tube, as well as the look of the tube on my vanity. But as I haven’t bought lipstick in a long while, most of my old lipsticks are either gone, or gone bad, so I had to replenish my collection. At first, I looked at some favorite bullet formulas, but when I started looking to reduce my plastic waste, I started exploring other options. And managed to stumble upon the liquid lipsticks from Beauty Bakerie.

Of course, I do not, in fact, live under a rock (and even confirmed hobbit Rachel Maksy has reviewed them), so I had heard of Beauty Bakerie, mostly through their unbelievable social media ads that show how tough their lipsticks wear. But I was intrigued by the idea of a lipstick that I wouldn’t have to faff around with, and that wouldn’t leave marks on my tea cups. So I spent my $20 plus shipping and waited.

And I’m definitely impressed. I got the shade Mon Cheri, which is a gorgeous bright true red on me. It has become my everyday red lip. I’ve been slightly tempted to try some of the other shades, but really, Mon Cheri is such a perfect red on me (if you want to see it in action, check out this video), I don’t really need to branch out. And I’m glad I can get them at Ulta because my only complaint is that the single tube of lipstick came with an amount of packaging that would make Amazon blush. So I will be strictly be buying this locally from now on.

But the formula is gorgeous (and it doesn’t have any scent, despite the sweets-themed branding). Yes, you have to prep your lips. I always apply a thick lip balm over night (Aquaphor or Base for Lips from The Library Apothecary) and then in the morning, after I’ve had tea and brushed my teeth, I apply another layer of lip balm. I let that set while I put on sunscreen, and then wipe it off with a damp washcloth for a little exfoliation, and blot dry with a towel. Thus, are my lips prepped.

It is a little fiddly to apply, but only because it stays so well. I usually apply to the center of my lips and then work it outward, using the tip of the applicator to line my lips. If I catch any mistakes in the first few seconds, I can wipe them with a careful finger, but otherwise, your mistakes will stay until you remove the lipstick. I will say, I did not experience having to go back for more dips of product while applying. I use the amount of lipstick that coats the front and back of the applicator, and it’s the perfect amount to cover my lips in a thin, even layer, that doesn’t get flaky or gummy.

Yes, it dries down, and no, you can’t put on lip balm over it if you want to preserve the transfer-proof finish, but it’s not unbearable. I think having a decent lip care routine outside of your lipstick-wearing hours helps. And it wears all day without the need for one touchup. I wear this all day at work, through several meals and many, many cups of tea, and I’ve never had scary lips (or lipstick on my chin). And the glass tube is so pretty, I can forgive it for not being a vintage-y gold bullet. Plus, the tube is glass, which is more recyclable than plastics.

So there you have it: what might be the last lipstick review I ever post (doubtful). But for now, this is the only lipstick I feel the need to wear most days.

NB: I purchased this lipstick with my own money and was not provided any incentive to review.

Five Things for which I’m Thankful During a Rough Month

So I’ve made some vague, cryptic allusions to having a “tough time” lately. I’m not really ready to talk about it more concretely than that, but suffice to say, I’ve had a bit more than the normal amount of both physical and emotional hardships for the last month or so. As things (I hope!) start to ease up, I’ve been thinking about the things that I’ve really leaned on to help brighten my days, and thought it would be an appropriate post for today.

Multi-functional beauty products: I’ve been having a hard time either working up the motivation to do a skin care routine or finding the physical stamina to take long showers, so I’ve been leaning heavily on my Stratia Liquid Gold and HIF cleansing conditioners the past few weeks. When I don’t feel like doing a full routine, I can ask my husband to bring up the bottle of Liquid Gold (it’s distinctive color makes it easy for him to pick out on my vanity). Then, I just need to make it to the bathroom long enough to brush my teeth and doing at least one cleanse, and I can slather on a few pumps of Liquid Gold right before my head hits the pillow. And now that my hair is a bit shorter, a single wash with the HIF cleansing conditioner is enough to keep my hair happy for a bit. I choose Intensive Detox or Hydration Support based on how long it’s been since my last shower. I really wish they would get their 1-L bottles back in stock.

Trader Joe’s: We don’t shop at TJ’s often because the closest one is still not terribly convenient. But we’ve found ourselves in the neighborhood lately and have stocked up, particularly on their frozen food. It’s nice that for $40 or so, we can have almost a week’s worth of food that is easy to prepare and doesn’t contain the ingredients that tend to give me migraines, which are in a lot of prepared foods. And I’m not spending all our money on Seamless. My particular favorites are the frozen croissants, orange chicken, and tamales.

My 25-oz. Camelbak water bottle: I drink a lot of water throughout the day, and when I’m at home, that means getting up every hour or so to refill my glass. Since I’ve been spending more time resting on the sofa, I just fill up the bottle and save a few trips. I can also bring it with me when I’m going to be out for an unknown amount of time.

Leggings and thick socks: I’m not really a fan of socks usually, but it’s been cold. My standard uniform lately has been an oversize sweatshirt or tunic worn over leggings with a thick pair of socks. Sometimes I swap the top out for a tunic t-shirt and a long cardigan.

Pat McGrath LuxeTrance lipstick in “Beautiful Creature”: I bought this as a bit of a retail therapy back when this whole thing started at the end of October. I haven’t been wearing a lot of makeup lately, but when I feel really crappy, but I have to go out and I want to feel a bit more put-together, a swipe of really nice lipstick can go a long way. And this is really nice lipstick. The color is a deep rose pink that looks neutral enough not to look “dolled up,” but is dark enough to add a bit of contrast to my face. It’s a great autumn color. And the formula is amazing. It’s creamy going on, but sets to an almost-matte finish that does transfer, but also leaves enough color on your lips to not need a touch-up after drinking or light eating. Seriously, I wore this to the doctor’s office and it helped.

Lips in Bloom: Pink and Coral Lip Colors for Spring

As I mentioned before, springtime has me eschewing my usual red lipsticks for lighter, sheerer shades to match the lightening of the days and warming of the weather. While sheer pinks and corals are a bit less fraught with the need to find just the perfect shade, there is still a joy in finding something that fits you well. Here are a few of the shades I’ve been enjoying lately. Unfortunately, adhering to my recent lack of time to invest in blogging, I haven’t had a chance to photograph swatches of these products, but look for swatches on Instagram this weekend!

Pinks are a shade that I’ve been wearing since I started wearing lipstick. Most of my pinks are of the “My Lips But Better” variety. I tend to get sheer shades that let my own color peek through. One of my earliest go-to shades was Gabriel’s Sheer Rose. It’s a very warm pink, and almost borders on coral. But lately, my absolute favorite pink is Urban Decay’s Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Ladyflower. It’s a lovely rose pink, gives a subtle blush to lips without being either too unnoticeable nor too bold, and the lilac-colored metal tube just fits the whole aesthetic of a spring lipstick. Plus, the formula has a somewhat sticky emollience that stays on my lips and doesn’t leave me reaching for lip balm after a few minutes.

Coral is a color I’m trying to like. I like the shade in and of itself. The set of the play I was in last year was painted a rather garish salmon-coral-pink shade that I mocked along with the rest of the cast, but secretly loved. But I’ve had trouble finding a shade I like on my own lips. My first foray into the shade was Nyx Cosmetics’ Life’s a Beach, which is fabulous and bright, and people say looks lovely on me, but I feel like it makes the rest of my face look washed out. It’s veering into Malibu-Barbie territory, which is not bad, but not me. I feel not-tan enough to carry the shade off, and that is a situation which is unlikely to change. In order to ease myself into the idea of coral on my lips, I’ve also found Wet ‘n Wild’s Balm Stain in Coral of the Story. It’s nice and sheer, but provides a lovely pop of coral and really helps get me used to seeing orange on my face.

While I don’t reach for full-on red lipstick as often, I do still like my cherry lips during spring. And what a perfect time to try out a Korean lip stain! I’ve recently tried Etude House’s Fresh Cherry Tint in RD301, a somewhat warm-pink, softened shade. It looks red at first, but stains the lips a popsicle-red-pink shade that looks healthy and lush. It will cling to the center of my lips and wear off unevenly if I’m not careful, but it has a lovely feel and color for casual weekend days in spring. I especially like it for Sunday morning coffee dates because it does not transfer much, if at all.

(Please not that all products were purchased by me and none of the links are affiliate links)

Five Things I’ve Been Enjoying Recently

I still have a backlog of photo-editing and post-writing to deal with since I’ve been busy and stressed, so here’s another quick, unplanned post. Spring has definitely sprung in the city! Trees are fluffy and pink and white and yellow and purple. There are hyacinths and daffodils out on my walk from the train station to my office. And it’s even getting a bit warmer. So I thought I’d share some of the things that I’ve been particularly enjoying the last couple of weeks as we move into spring.

  1. Magnolia Oolong tea from Simple Loose Leaf: I’ve talked about this before, but this really is a lovely tea. It’s the same Jade Oolong I reviewed a while ago, but with a very light magnolia floral scent and flavor added. I love it as a daily cup when the weather is warm, but not hot, and the sights and scents of spring are everywhere. It’s very seasonally-appropriate and helps remind me that the rich, warming black teas of winter are no longer needed.
  2. Hada Labo UV Perfect Gel: Sunscreen, guys! Since it is now fully light for both my morning and evening walks to and from work, it’s the perfect time to mention my new favorite sunscreen. It’s Japanese and unfragranced and sinks in beautifully. It does leave a bit of shine initially, but I give it 20-30 minutes before applying makeup and it settles right down. It’s a lovely gel texture and I think the hydrating ingredients offset the alcohol that gives it its lovely texture and ability to absorb weightlessly into skin.
  3. Pink and coral lip products: I love a red lip. But lately, I’ve been reach for spring-y lip colors, which means pinks and corals. Coral has been tricky for me, as I’m not generally a fan of orange, but I’ve found some products to help ease me into the look. I’ve also been loving sheerer lip colors for the spring, as it’s a much fresher look. Plus, my lip color matches the azalea bush that’s already started sprouting buds: Coral Bells.
  4. Pink clothing: I own a lot of black and dark-colored clothing. It’s rather a go-to color for me. But the warm weather has me feeling light and youthful, and to me, this means pink and pastels. I wore a pink chiffon dress from Mod Cloth the other day to work and got so many compliments, I wore it again a couple weeks later!
  5. Veggie noodles: One of our most unexpected holiday gifts was a Veggetti from Boyfriend’s parents. I’d looked at spiralizers before, but never decided to actually buy one. So when we got this, it seemed like a neat way to try spiralized veggies without shelling out for an expensive machine. But who wants to eat a lot of raw veggies in the dead of winter? Plus, a lot of the good veggies for spiralizing aren’t available until spring. Well, the zucchini and cucumbers are here and I’ve started spiralizing. We had a spiralized cucumber salad with sushi on Saturday and spiralized zucchini and carrots as a base for grilled chicken yesterday after a heavy Easter lunch called for a light dinner. It’s a lovely way to eat raw veggies, especially now that the warmer weather has me craving fresher food.

What is everyone else loving for spring?

On Applying Lipstick in Public

Apparently it is poor manners to touch up one’s makeup in public. And yet, as a woman who favors a bold lip, I find myself reapplying lipstick at least once a day, after eating my lunch. So am I banished to the restroom for such touch-ups? Must I close my office door if I wish to rebrighten my pout? I say no.

And apparently Sali Hughes agrees with me, though apparently not many others. She specifically addresses applying full makeup on the subway train, which is not a skill I’ve mastered. I once saw a woman applying mascara at on a moving train in the seat in front of me and I had to marvel at the steadiness of her hand and the delicacy with which she picked out each lash and enhanced them. Personally, I was proud of myself for managing to develop the skill of putting on lipstick. I find that if I shape my Cupid’s bow at a stop, I can apply the rest of the lip as the train leaves the station.

But what about those who say that applying even lipstick in public is a social faux-pas, akin to picking one’s teeth? To them, I would point out that the first wave of women applying makeup in public came in the 1920s, when women started publicly embracing makeup in general, and when makeup became less taboo for women outside of the less socially-acceptable professions. It is no coincidence that women started becoming more brazen in their public displays of femininity around the same time that campaigns for equal rights for women started paying off.

For there is the idea that women are delicate, and that therefore anything that differentiates them from men is part of what makes them unfit for the public eye. A woman applying makeup in public is making a statement that says “Look at me; I am a woman who feels the need to use cosmetics to enhance my appearance in a way that men don’t.” Saying that she shouldn’t make this statement is similar to those who think that woman should only wear natural-looking makeup, particularly in the workplace. You don’t want to give away that you need makeup. But how is that different than saying you don’t want to give away the ways in which you are different from men (although that’s not to say men never wear makeup!)?

To those who say that applying makeup in public is disgusting, I would ask what is disgusting about it? Unlike clipping one’s nails or picking one’s teeth, there is no removal of body waste that needs to be disposed of. One might perhaps have a small tissue that one uses to blot lipstick, but this is easily folded and pocketed in a way that clippings and pickings would not be. No, applying makeup is no different than putting on a bit of hand cream or uncolored lip balm, something that people do without worrying about running off to a private area. I would argue that those who are disgusted by public application of makeup can ultimately trace the disgust back to the idea that women should not make public that they use makeup.

Personally, I reapply my lipstick wherever I happen to be when I notice it needs reapplying. If that is at the table at a cafe, so be it. If it is in my office, I don’t worry about someone walking by and seeing me. No, I wouldn’t reapply lipstick in an interview, but then, I wouldn’t wear a lipstick that would need reapplication from the rigors of sipping water and talking. I wear a bright lip; everyone knows that those don’t just happen naturally. So it should come as no surprise when they see me pull out a lipstick bullet and swipe on a coat. And I will often check my lipstick in a small compact mirror because I consider it far less gauche to check one’s makeup than to have a smear of lipstick on one’s chin. Even the most matte formulas can be defeated, and it’s not an enjoyable experience to be told you have lipstick where it ought not to be.

And so, I say put on your lipstick in public. It is unobtrusive and unlikely to cause damage to your eyes the way a hasty eye makeup application might. There is a minimum of danger, and you will find yourself keeping alive the spirit of women who made makeup a mainstream thing for a woman to care about in public. I say that’s good company.

A Cooler Lipstick for Autumn and Winter

As we move into the cooler days of autumn and winter (albeit slowly, as we’ve had some unseasonably warm weather here lately), I find myself reaching for cooler tones of lipstick. Part of it has to do with losing that tiny bit of incidental sunshine I might get despite my adherence to sun protection. Part of it is the cooling of the colors of the landscape around us. As the leaves fall, their reds and oranges no longer cast a warm tone on the surrounding world, and the cool greys of snowy skies instead chill the color palette as well as the air temperature.


On days such as these, I find I want a nice cherry red without the orange tones that make my warmer-weather lipsticks so cheery. Continuing my love of the brand Bite Beauty, I pull Pomegranate from my bag.

Even the name recalls winter, with the myth of Persephone eating four of the kernels of the pomegranate, corresponding to the four months of winter when she must stay in the underworld. And, indeed, pomegranates are a winter fruit, showing up in the markets just in time to make an appearance in holiday fruit displays and decorations.

Yes, Pomegranate is an appropriate shade for cooler weather. I love its creamy consistency and its chameleon nature. With a bit of blotting, it becomes a very rosy pink, and with a couple of coats, it’s a full-impact bright red. It does not stay on as well as some of my lipsticks, but the texture is such that I adore reapplying. Now if only Bite Beauty would consider releasing an attractive, vintage-style bullet.

Rainy Day Red

As is well-documented, I enjoy a good red lipstick. Recently I found what might have been my Holy Grail of red lipsticks except for one thing: it’s a limited-edition shade, and therefore could be gone before I know it. It is sad, but I’m doing my best to both attempt to talk the manufacturer into adding the shade to their permanent line, as well as resigning myself to the fact that it is an ephemeral love in my life.

This lipstick shade is Bite Beauty’s Luminous Creme Lipstick in Mimosa. It’s listed rather innocuously as “warm red” on Sephora’s website. Now I’ve been disappointed in Bite’s warm red before, when Apricot turned out to be a little more brick than I usually enjoy in a lipstick. Mimosa, however, is more than just a warm red. It is a warm, vivid, bright red. It applies creamily and stays on well. I wore it to a crab feast and it lasted through three critters. I’ve taken to just applying one coat and blotting, and it still maintains its vigor.

I like to think of it as my rainy day red because it is so bright and cheerful. We’ve had several grey, gloomy days lately, and I think a nice swipe of bright lipstick livens up the day. Every time I catch a glance in the mirror, my lips make me happy. And I just feel more confident on days when the weather might bring me down.

Even when I don’t need to reapply, I sometimes just twist the bullet up to gaze at its lovely shade. A little odd, perhaps, but then, you haven’t seen this color in person. It is certainly not a shade for the shy, unless the shy are looking for a good way to assert themselves. But it is definitely a shade for a rainy day.

And, as always, Bite Beauty lipsticks are food-grade, gluten-free, and leave my mind at ease about the lipstick prints on my lunch.

Image source:

The Ritual of Putting On Lipstick

I’ve talked at length about my personal requirements for a perfect red lipstick. It has to be the perfect shade for my pale-but-warm complexion and look true red even on my lips that tend to pull everything into the pink. It has to be the right consistency; it can’t settle into the lines that have become more defined as I stride more definitively into my thirties. It can’t melt off my face. It has to last through a cup of tea, if not a light lunch. It can’t have too strong a scent or taste. It can’t leave me worried about eating a little bit of it.

But I’ve discovered that, by far, the biggest deal breaker is the format of the lipstick. I mean, the color is pretty important, but I’ve found lippies that are the perfect color, but lack the experience that comes from putting on lipstick from a tube. Even my new Besame lipsticks are starting to feel lacking because I dislike the shape of the bullet. It’s not the experience I’ve come to enjoy.

Because there is a ritual for me when I put on my lipstick. I do it in a specific way. I trace out the Cupid’s Bow and perfect the points of my lips before swiping on the rest, filling in my lips and perhaps wiping away the odd overdraw with a clean finger. It’s a fluid motion, or at least a series of fluid motions. I’ve gotten to the point where I wouldn’t mind being filmed applying my lipstick because I feel deft when I do it. It feels womanly to be so comfortable applying bright lipstick. I no longer worry about where it might end up when I apply it.

So this is my ode to the lipstick bullet, with its rounded shape and single, angled tip. Yes, this tip will blunt and change over the lifetime of a tube, but it changes with the idiosyncrasies of the user and reflects the ritual rather than detracting from it. Here’s to the ritual of lipstick.

Channeling Agent Carter’s Strength

It’s been a busy week for me. I’ve been moving into a new role at work, and it comes with a lot of new skills to learn, a lot of things to take care of, and a lot of people with whom I must interact. I’ve talked about the confidence boost that red lipstick gives me in the past, but I thought I’d mention a new lipstick I bought, along with a new television show I’m watching.

I finally started watching Marvel’s Agent Carter last week, and I love it. From the opening sequence of each show, they make it clear that this show is about a strong woman who’s been relegated to the background by a chauvinist society, much the same way I talked about the women of The Bletchley Circle found after the war. I mean, this was a woman who fought with Captain America, and now she’s mostly getting coffee in the SSR office.

I could talk about the plot, but it’s such a comic-book-perfect blend of intrigue and action that I leave it to the reader to check out this show. Also, I was unfortunate enough to wait until only the final five episodes of the 8-episode first season were available for free. So I came into the plot in the middle, but still found it gripping.

No, instead, I think I’ll talk about Peggy Carter’s faces. She makes the most amazing disapproving faces whenever she’s ignored or talked over. The show is faithful enough to the ethos of the era that she can’t just shout out and say “Hey guys, I know what I’m talking about and you’re being a bunch of jerks!” She has to keep her mouth shut and find a way to subtly maneuver situations to her advantage. It’s eye-opening, but also familiar in a way. When she finally saves the day and that is taken from her by a pompous colleague, she is able to maintain poise, even while another colleague becomes indignant on her behalf. And she does it all with her signature dark-red lip.

Hayley Atwell, the actress who plays Carter, announced last December that Agent Carter’s lip color is none other than Besame Cosmetics’ Red Velvet. While on my search for the perfect red, I happened to email a rep at Besame asking about their lipstick, and Red Velvet was one of the shades they recommended, along with Red Hot Red, a bright, warm red inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Well, when I saw Besame lipsticks were now available at Sephora, I jumped. I’ve been dissatisfied with the feathering of my go-to Poppy red, and Red Velvet is different enough from anything I currently have.

I have to say, I love the formula, the packaging, and the experience. I also love the color. It’s a very serious red, and makes me feel like a serious person, which has been fantastic this week, when I have to hold my own in meetings. Sometimes I have to keep my mouth shut when a superior is talking, even if I disagree with what he or she is saying. But just because I’m quiet, doesn’t mean I’m submissive, just like Peggy.

And I’ve gone ahead and ordered Red Hot Red, too!

Red Lipstick Challenge: Final Wrap-Up

This month has been interesting. I was tempted today to wear a light lip color (or no lipstick at all!) to see if anyone made a comment in the absence of red lipstick when they made no comment on its continued presence. But in the end, I chose to start June by keeping my new favorite as my daily wear.
My new, go-to, every day red lipstick is 100% Pure’s Pomegranate Anti-Aging Lipstick in Poppy. It’s a lovely true red, dark enough to be striking, but softens when I’ve been wearing it for about a half an hour to a lovely, wearable red. I swear it changes shade slightly depending on what I’m wearing that day, looking cooler on days when I’m wearing blues and purples, and growing warmer when I wear warmer colors. One thing I do know is that it never looks magenta, even in cool fluorescent lighting at the office.

Oh, and it’s creamy. It’s a delightfully smooth, lightweight, but moisturizing lipstick. And because it’s tinted with fruit extracts and contains only natural ingredients, I feel no strangeness when I inevitably eat it along with my lunch. It stains enough that my lips remain vibrant through my many cups of tea, and even some snacks. That said, it is a pleasure to reapply from its adorable pink metal tube.

All-in-all, I would call this month’s experiment a success. I certainly figured out what I really want in a lipstick, and was able to purchase just one more for which I find myself reaching again and again. And I’ve totally overcome my fear that my red lips are too conspicuous.

Has anyone else thought of doing a red lipstick challenge, either to acclimate themselves to the look or to find a favorite?