Red Lipstick Challenge: Week 3

This week, I focused on wearing just one lipstick every day to see how I liked it. I dropped off taking selfies every day because it was the same color, and I didn’t have many new notes. I decided I liked the balanced red color of Lipstick Queen’s Red Sinner, so I stuck with that one to see if the scent really bothered me that much.

Now, I’ve also been plagued with some seasonal allergies the past week, so maybe I was just congested, but I didn’t notice the scent bothering me as much. That said, I did find myself feeling a bit icky every time I ate and knew I was eating some of the lipstick. It was just kind of a weird feeling knowing I was eating pigments and ingredients that are not meant to be eaten, no matter how small the quantities. That said, Red Sinner is a lovely color. It fades a little pink, but it’s warm enough that it never looks magenta on.

But then this weekend, while heading out on a short trip to the shore, Boyfriend stopped off at a mall with a 100% Pure store. I’d read about them and even ordered one of their sheer lip glazes online before, but I’d never tried their lipsticks. I figured lipstick is a bit like foundation: I really need to see the shade on my skin before I buy. The deal with 100% Pure is that in addition to using all-natural ingredients in their products, they also use only fruit-derived pigments. In fact, the sheer lip glaze I have just has a light fruity smell from the pigments! I knew they had a red lipstick that gets some good reviews online, so I talked Boyfriend into stopping on our way out.

Oh my gosh, it’s a small store, but so full of lovely beauty products. I tried the lipstick, which the sales girl (an adorable 20-something with purple hair) sanitized in front of me so I could actually try on instead of just swatching, but I also tried some face makeup. I wanted to try their foundation because it’s supposed to be a matte, full-coverage finish, but they didn’t have my shade in stock. I did try their tinted moisturizer, which was interesting. I might look into getting some after I run out of my Bare Minerals, as it seems like a slightly less dewy finish.

But, the lipstick. The shade Poppy is their red, and it is a very true, bright red. I goes on opaque with one coat, and when I blot, most of the pigment stays behind. It wears well because it stains a little. I did see that it feathers a bit, but that’s probably because of how creamy the actual lipstick formula is. It’s based on shea butter, pomegranate oil, and vegan waxes, so it feels more like a balm than a lipstick. And it’s absolutely weightless on. The most I feel is a little moisturized slip when I press my lips together. It’s really lovely. I actually find that if I add a light second coat after blotting, it keeps the color truer, and the lipstick base kind of melts into my lips so I don’t feel it sitting on top.

The color is maybe just a hair cooler than Red Sinner, but it’s really, really similar. So I’ve cheated just a bit and been wearing Poppy for the long weekend, but only because I really love it! And I can feel confident eating while wearing it because the pigments are just fruits. It also comes in an adorable red/pink metal vintage-inspired tube. It looks like it’s much smaller than a normal lipstick, but the weight is the same as most lipsticks, and when you swivel the bullet all the way up, you can see it’s just as much lipstick as normal, just in a more compact container. It makes it great in a purse because it’s no bigger than a lip balm.

So this week, to round out the challenge, I’ll probably continue wearing Poppy. I still like Red Sinner for occasions where I’m not necessarily eating messy food, but I’m seeing Poppy as my go-to every day red. That said, I’m kind of looking forward to rocking a nice soft rose pink lip come June.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Week Two

Well, I’m halfway through my red lipstick challenge and I’m starting to eye new lipsticks. But I’m holding fast and wearing my existing collection. This week, I stuck mostly to my favorites from Bite Beauty, but I also revisited some old favorites.

I’ve determined that warm reds clash too much with my new purple glasses, so I’ve been trying to find a nice, bright, true neutral red. I quickly decided that my Bite Matte Crayon in Fraise was too pink, so I spent most of the week wearing the High-Pigment Pencil in Pomegranate. Of course, I love the experience of applying lipstick from a bullet, so it bummed me out that my contenders were pencils. Pomegranate is a nice red, but it leans ever so slightly cool, and because of that will pull pink in natural lighting on me.

Frustrated, I turned to my old collection of Revlon lipsticks. I found that my standard “dark” red was actually significantly brighter than the reds I’d been wearing. I tried wearing it for a day, but for some reason it now makes my lips itch, which was disconcerting. So over the weekend, I spent most of my off-stage time wearing my Lipstick Queen Red Sinner. It’s a lovely neutral red that only pulls pink in very cool lighting, which is probably why I thought it was too cool for me when I was wearing it to work (fluorescent lighting, you know?).

So I’m sticking to my Red Sinner for right now, with maybe a bit of Pomegranate thrown in for variety. I did some more research about lead in lipstick and actually managed to quell those fears a bit. So for now, I’m trying to get over the smell of the Lipstick Queen bullet and eyeing other formulas of theirs with non-vanilla scents.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Week one (plus a bit)

So I’ve finished up one week, and a little bit more, of my Red Lipstick Challenge. I started with my least favorite products so I could weed them out. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. I’ve outgrown the bright, orange-toned, Fire & Ice reds that started me on my red lipstick journey. I still enjoy wearing them, but I prefer a truer red now.

2. I’ve got a lot of lines on my upper lip, and some of my lipsticks feather into them when I don’t use lip liner. My Julep invisible lipliner has gotten a lot of use this week.

3. I’m just not a fan of liquid lipsticks. I’ve found one that I can deal with because of its longevity (Stila’s Beso), but I’ll probably save it for parties and date nights where I don’t want to touch up my lipstick so often. I also learned that Beso is Boyfriend’s favorite red of mine.

4. No one at work has commented that I’m wearing red lipstick every day. I think this is more a testament to how often I’ve started wearing it, rather than a testament to their perceptiveness, as they’ve never been shy about commenting on things like that before.

5. I love, love, love the experience of putting on lipstick from a bullet-style tube. I’m already predicting the outcome of this month based on this.

6. I am not a fan of the vanilla-y scent of Lipstick Queen lipstick. I’ve been loving the feel and the color, but I keep getting a whiff of vanilla and it’s my least favorite scent. Also, they fade surprisingly quickly.

Next week, I’ll be getting into my favorites and starting to wear things again. I’ve actually already retired most of the lipsticks I wore over the last nine days, so I’m down to only about four or five favorites.

Lipstick Love in the Merry Month of May

So, inspired by the response I got to my post about my hunt for the perfect red, I’ve decided to buckle down and test out the reds I currently have in my arsenal. I’m trying to spend less money right now because Boyfriend and I are moving in a couple months and I want to save money for the move and decorating our new abode. So rather than go out and investigate still more reds, I’ve decided to really sit down with the ones I have.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to spend the 31 days of May wearing one of my existing lipsticks. The only rule is that I have to wear a red lipstick every day, and I have to document it. That means a selfie (which will be kept private for me, sorry!) and a short jotting down of thoughts about the lippie in a journal. To start with, I’ll also probably say I can’t wear the same lipstick twice in one week, but that may change as I start to gravitate towards specific lipsticks.

At the end of the month, I should have a good idea of what lipsticks draw me the most and which I could probably afford to ditch (even better, with a move coming up!). And then, newly educated about my current stash, I may look for one or two new ones to fill any gaps. Anyone want to join me for a lipstick month?

The Hunt for the Perfect Red

Until recently, I never wore makeup on a regular basis. Since I’ve started dabbling in vintage style, I’ve re-examined red lipstick and found that I really like it. I started wearing red lipstick sometimes back in December, and by now I feel like my face looks weird if I’m not wearing bright lipstick, usually red.

But red lipstick is daunting. It’s scary. “Red,” as it turns out, is not just one color. Like foundation, you have a find a good match your coloring and undertone. A lipstick that looks fantastic on one person may look odd on you. And then there’s the fact that bright lipstick is, well, really obvious, and if it ends up somewhere you don’t intend it, it will be similarly obvious.

I remember at a winter drinks party, I learned the kryptonite of one of my favorite lipsticks: a combination of oil and alcohol, in the form of hot buttered rum. Halfway through the party, a woman leaned over to me and said “I thought you would want to know, you have lipstick on your chin.” Despite having worn a pretty sturdy matte lipstick that had proven itself against food and drink before, it was no match for the solvent powers of alcohol and fat.

So finding the perfect red lipstick is trickier than just finding red lipstick. Here, I’m going to document a little of my hunt for the perfect red lipstick, along with a list of my current favorites. Fair warning: I haven’t found that perfect red lipstick.

When I first started out, I wore Revlon lipsticks. Their classic matte lipsticks are surprisingly devoid of the nastiest of cosmetics chemicals, and they make a color called “Fire and Ice” that turned out to be my gateway red. It’s just bright and red enough, but still doesn’t actually look garish. And the balance of warm and cool tones keeps it from pulling weird colors on me. I also got a tube of “Certainly Red” for more festive occasions.

But then I found out that Revlon was one of the companies found to have detectable lead levels in their lipsticks. It dawned on me while seeing the lipstick marks on my lunch sandwich that I eat an awful lot of lipstick when I wear it every day. There were also some issues with the company head that made me not want to patronize the company anymore. So out went Revlon.

From there, I discovered Lipstick Queen, which makes a fantastic line of “Sinner” lipsticks that are highly pigmented. Their “Red Sinner” is a saturated true red, while “Fire Red Sinner” worked a bit better with my coloring. Sadly, they also don’t do much testing of their pigments to watch for lead contamination, so I kept looking.

Enter Bite Beauty. I’m super enamoured of this brand. Seriously, their colors are BRIGHT. I got a Cashmere Lip Creme in “Rioja” (a nice true red), a Matte Lip Crayon in “Fraise” (slightly pinkish strawberry red), and a High Pigment Pencil in “Bramble” (a blackberry color for when I’m feeling Goth). I also bought a mini lipstick duo on a whim because it was on sale in “Tangerine” and “Lingonberry.”

Well, it’s not red, but “Lingonberry” has become my favorite non-red lipstick. It’s so pigmented, it stains my lips for ages. It ended up being the color I wore for one show of the play I was in in January because I wore it during the day and it wouldn’t come off for the show. Oops.

But on to the reds. Fraise is probably my favorite. I love the color of Rioja, but the formula leaves something to be desired. I also got their Luminous Creme Lipstick in “Apricot,” but it was a little too brick with its warmth. I like it occasionally, but I want something brighter. And I went with a High Pigment Pencil in “Pomegranate” for a nice true red in one coat with a blot. Bite’s lip colors are pigmented enough that I can generally apply one coat and blot and be good to go. They do make a Luminous Creme Lipstick in “Pomegranate,” so I want to see if it has the same staying power as Lingonberry.

But I really wanted a lipstick that I could put on in the morning and forget. Probably a pipe dream, especially considering I wanted one that I didn’t have to worry about the chemicals in it that I would be putting so close to my mouth. So I tried Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in “Beso.” First of all: Oh. My. God. It is the perfect red shade. And it’s pretty lasting.


But it dried oddly on my lips. Even when I prep with a little lip balm, it dries and accentuates my lip wrinkles. And then, it starts to flake. I can salvage it with a little balm, but then it loses its transfer-proof-ness, and sometimes smears. At least Stila as a brand vets their ingredients to avoid heavy metal contamination.

So I’m still looking for that perfect red. My ideal red would be a matte bright, slightly-warm, but not brown red in a bullet that goes on in one application and lasts through several cups of tea and at the very least fades evenly through a meal without running. If the lipstick fairies are taking requests, that’s what I’d like under my pillow in the morning.

Musings and Updates

So I’ve been remiss about blogging the last few weeks. I was in tech for my show, and then auditioning. If my audition last night went well, things are about to calm down, I hope.

It’s been a hectic few weeks. I did not end up continuing my morning exercises, but with my show over and fewer physical demands on my person, I’ve made a plan to make the month of February my month to start the morning exercise habit. I’ve made a list of all the exercises I plan to do, sorted by warm-up, circuit, Pilates, or stretching, and set alarms three mornings per week to do a short workout consisting of a warm-up, either a circuit or a Pilates workout, and then stretching. And I’m going to go for a long walk or a light jog on the weekends. Hopefully, in addition to improving where I’ve softened over the last months, it will also improve my mood these dark, cold days of winter.

We’ve had a bit of snow lately, but not enough to close anything for any appreciable length of time. I haven’t had a chance to just go walking in the cold like I enjoy, so I will have to make time for that as well. Time outside always seems to improve my mood.

I’ve continued to refine and update my beauty routines. I tried making homemade cold cream. The recipe was a success, but I believe the cream might be a bit too much for my skin. It helped at first, but I’ve been feeling like my skin is congested. I’ve gotten samples of a cleansing oil and a cleansing balm, though, so those seem like something I could replicate with just a bit of fuss. The cleansing balm had an horrific odor, but I liked how it cleansed, so I might try making one of my own with exactly the oils, butters, and fragrance (or lack thereof) that I like. In the meantime, I’m alternating samples with my trusty Andalou cream.

I continue to enjoy the homemade facial balm I made a few weeks ago. It’s made from rendered lard, mix with grapeseed oil to make it softer, and some essential oils that are good for skin. I use it most nights, when I don’t have a fancy cream sample to play with, and still use my rosehip seed oil every other night.

Red lipstick has become a bit of a signature. I’m working on a post specifically on my thoughts about becoming a woman who wears red lipstick. Since my last makeup post, I’ve discovered unsavory things about the leadership of the company that made my go-to red lipstick, as well as discovering worries about lead in lipstick. Because I wear lipstick pretty much every day now, I’ve made some adjustments to my beauty routine. I’ve also add an eyeliner.

I’ve started buying more beauty products and doing my nails more often. I’ve joined Julep’s Maven program, but I don’t know how long I’ll keep it before starting what may prove to be the arduous process of cancelling. Maybe they’re improved over the years on that front. I can only hope.

I have some posts swirling around in my head, but I’ve been so busy and tired all the time. I ran into a friend of mine from another show who put it well: “You don’t let any grass grow under you, do you?” I enjoy chatting with him, not least because he has a very dapper sense of style. I may do a post on the dapper gentleman.

All in all, I can feel an upswing in my mood and energy, which is a good thing. Look forward to more coming in the next few weeks!

The Power of Red

The other day, I rolled into work and flashed a smile and at the security guard.

“What a bright smile!” he exclaimed as he waved me through. A nice moment.

And yet, it was a surprisingly profound moment for me. You see, as a child, I almost never smiled. I had nice enough teeth. Not so bad I needed braces, but not the perfectly-straight smile that my friends who had suffered through braces had. And I just felt awkward smiling. My childhood photos are shot after shot of my tight-lipped, awkwardly stretched, close-mouthed almost-smile. Combined with heavy eyebrows and straight, almost-black hair, I cut a severe figure as a child. And it didn’t get much better as I got older.

As I started getting back into theater and needing photos for auditions, I found one friend with a nice camera who was adept at catching my rare smiles, and even eliciting them with his dry, self-conscious humor. He said I had a lovely unconscious smile, and strove to catch those, as well as the occasional laughing, mouth-open smile. For a long time, my favorite shot was one of me looking down, hands clasped, smiling privately.

But it was effort to get those shots.

As soon as I started wearing red lipstick more often, I realized that I wanted to smile more. I felt like a movie star. I felt more outgoing. Poppy King once said that women who worry they don’t have the confidence to wear red lipstick are getting it backward because red lipstick will give you confidence, and she’s not wrong. Red lipstick is like armor for my face. I feel instantly brighter and more alive. It perks up my face and my spirits.

So even though I don’t wear it every day, I’m increasing every week. Whenever I feel tired or frustrated or run-down or some other form of not-best, I reach for my red. And when I do, I instantly feel lifted. I highly recommend it.

For years, I focused on black eyeliner as my makeup look of choice, thinking that I couldn’t wear red lipstick because the few times I tried it, the shade I chose looked off. Then, I went and tested different shades at a store that had lots of different shades. And I learned that my skin tone tends to make lipsticks look cooler on my face than in the tube. So I started gravitating towards orange-based reds rather than true or blue-based reds, at least for every day use. The little bit of orange warms up the look and tones down the red-ness of it just enough that it doesn’t feel like Halloween.

I highly recommend that every woman try to find that perfect red for her. Go to the drugstore or the beauty supply store or Sephora (if you’re so lucky) and try some on.

My Vintage-Inspired Beauty Routine, Part 3: Makeup

Having washed my face and body, I dress and prepare myself to go about my day. This generally involves some sort of makeup. My makeup routine is minimal, and tends to be inspired both by the 1940/50s and the Victorian Era. I try to use natural products when possible, and since I wear makeup primarily to work, I can’t do anything too outlandish.


I’ve already gone over my skin care routine. I firmly believe that good skin care is the foundation for beautiful makeup. I always prep after my morning rinse with a couple drops of homemade oil blend patted into my skin and allowed to absorb. I don’t use foundation over my whole face, just a bit as a  concealer. I use Bella Mari Moisturizing Foundation as a concealer, although it can be a bit greasy, so I blot under my eyes when I’m done. I’m considering buying their cream concealer for more coverage. The Foundation also makes a nice light base for times when I need a bit more overall coverage, such as when I’m going to an audition. I love that you can order up to four free samples from Bella Mari to do color-matching, and only pay about $4 shipping.

Then, I wake my face up with a little cream blush. I apply it to mimic a natural flush, like so. I love NYX Cream Rouge, and I have it in two colors: Natural, for everyday, and Glow for when I want a little bolder of a flush. The Natural gives me that perfect English-rose complexion, while the Glow looks a lot like the flush you get from being outside on a cold day.

For eyes, I stick to a swipe of mascara on my upper lashes every day. My current mascara is Pacifica Aquarian Gaze mascara, although I’m not entirely settled on it. For a special occasion, I may add eyeliner (black liquid liner in a cat-eye, Zuzu in Raven), and perhaps eyeshadow. I use a matte eyeshadow palette, theBalm Meet Matte Nude palette. It has some lovely browns, greys, and a nice navy, which suits my style more than brighter colors. I’ll either brush a lighter color over my whole lid, or else do a smokey eye or cut crease with a bolder shadow.

Lipstick is generally the biggest source of variation in my day-to-day routine. I choose either a bold lip or a subtle lip. For a bold, opaque lip, I love my Revlon lipstick. My everyday red lip is “Fire and Ice”, an orangey-warm-cool red color released in the early 50s that I find very wearable. If I’m feeling punchy, I might use “Love That Pink,” a bright flamingo pink, or “Wine with Everything,” a darker, wine-toned red. “Sassy Mauve” is my natural-not-natural lipcolor. Oddly enough, I have a little birthmark at one corner of my mouth and this color matches that mark’s color. At party time, particularly for Christmas, I swap out “Fire and Ice” for “Certainly Red,” a very true red. I apply three coats of Revlon lipstick, with a blot between the second and third coats, straight from the tube, with a little modified X-shape to define my Cupid’s bow. If I’m going out for the evening, I might dust a little finishing powder through a tissue on that last coat to keep things in place a little longer. With all the tea-drinking I do at work, I generally reapply once after lunch, as I try to remove my lipstick before eating an actual meal to avoid eating lipstick.

For a subtle lip, I have a tube of Mineral Fusion Lipsheer in Exotic. It’s a warm pinky-nude that completes the “English rose fresh from the garden” look started with understated makeup and a rosy cheek. Or I use Pacifica’s Coconut Kisses in Lava, a sheer red balm, for a more Gibson-girl-inspired look. I generally stick to subtle lips for weekend days when I might have previously gone without makeup. But even with a more “done” lip, this basic routine takes maybe five minutes, with a little extra if I’m doing my eyes a little more. It’s helped me to commit to wearing makeup most days. The overall look is very fresh and timeless, which lends a vintage look depending on my hair and clothing.