Merry Kiss-mas!

Guerlain Rouge G de Guerlain,$46
I have a love/hate relationship with luxury or "prestige" lipstick. I enjoy receiving one as a gift, or giving them. The sleek case, the weight of a solid tube in my hand, the appealing scent: purry, femmy pleasure.

But, when shopping for everyday use, I buy Revlon, Maybelline, Cover Girl—and if there's a BOGO sale, sister, stand back!

I asked a beauty editor of a North American fashion magazine if there is a distinct, evident benefit to prestige brands (Armani, Guerlain, Chanel) that justifies an increment of three to five times the price of drugstore brands. 

She said, "Packaging aside, no."  She requested anonymnity, because her magazine depends on ad revenue from those status companies.

Some brands may perform better on you than others, or you may prefer their weight. I like Clinique's Different Lipstick; Leslie will wear nothing but MAC's Pro Longwear line.

Getting the colour value

During party season, whether in $45 Guerlain or $7 Revlon, we want that lippie to last. Many times, it's not the product but the application that ensures good wear.

Five tips from makeup artist Troy Surrat:

1. Prep your lips
Lipstick adheres best when the skin on your lips isn't flaky; use a gentle exfoliator.

2. Choose a matte or nearly-matte finish over a glossy lipstick
These contain more pigment, especially in deeper shades.

3.  Apply with a brush
The pigment sinks into your lips better. Natural-bristle brushes are often too soft; I like Revlon's Covered Lip Brush, which is stiff enough and the right shape.

4. Apply two light layers
Blot between applications; this lifts a little moisture and leaves the pigment. Surratt recommends oil-blotting paper (this Japanese product would make a cool gift)—but I usually use a tissue.

5. Don't add gloss on top
The moist top layer will break down the pigment.

Some women praise lipstick fixative, especially Sealed With a Kiss, which I've never tried. Have you?

The unbudgeable option

If I absolutely do not want that colour to lift, I wear Cover Girl Outlast All-Day, queen of the paint-ons, usually in a Bobbi-Brownish neutral, "Naturalast #545". 

With Outlast, you do use gloss (included) on top, and reapply occasionally. You can also use the Outlast colour as a base, and apply your favourite coordinating lipstick on top, but it will not last as long.

My friend Sandi wore Outlast "Ever Red-dy" for her son's wedding; it stayed richly red from 3 pm. vows through midnight sliders, with no smearing. Your party hosts, who will not have to launder lipstick stains out of their table linen, will thank you, too. 

After an evening in Outlast, I condition my lips with a rich night cream, because it's drying.

Discount luxe

Make Up For Ever, $22
If you prefer the pricier brands, there are ways to get posh paint for less. 

eBay vendors offer brands like Nars, Poppy King or Make Up For Ever at much less than the department store counter or seductive Sephora; if you don't need a certain shade for tonight's party, put the product on your watch list. 

Helen took me to a recent L'Oréal warehouse sale, which featured many of their brands (Armani, Kiehl's, Lancôme, Shu Uemara), at less than half retail price. The sales are advertised in city-specific discount-shopper sites; some are by invitation only. There, we found selected shades of Lancôme lipstick for $4! 

The gift-with-purchase offer endures, for brands like Lancôme, Clinique and Shishedo, and store loyalty programs allow you to trade points for makeup. 

Tarte  lipstick,  $18
I don't do GWP anymore, since I accumulated a heap of skin products I don't use and weird eyeshadow colours. Better for me to buy only the product I want.

A satiny, gleaming new lipstick is a dependable spirit-lifter. A friend and I once bought a big lot on eBay, chose a few for ourselves, and donated the rest to a women's shelter, where we were told it was enthusiastically received.

Why has your favourite brand earned your affection?

Any tips for a full evening's vibrant wear? Mwwwah!



frugalscholar said…
More than 40 yrs ago, I watched a show on "educational television" on this very topic. I think at the time, the ingredients for a lipstick of whatever price cost merely pennies. The show made a big impression on me.

Thanks for the frugal post!
Anonymous said…
I don't care so much about having to reapply and enjoy Sali Hughes of the Guardian's philosophy of it being a pure pleasure to do so. But I do care about it not feathering. I seem to rely on Revlon Super Lustrous. I find many of the shades work well for me. I do wear a nude lipliner but don't always bother when I wear the Revlon. I don't like matte lipstick on me because my light blue/green eyes sparkle and I want my lips to pick up that sparkle.

Anonymous said…
I have thoroughly enjoyed your latest postings. They have been fun and educational at the same time.
Merry Christmas
Duchesse said…
frugal: What brand do you like? The profit margin on lipstick is immense,

Vildy: Do you know the product No Bleeding Lips? I have it and it works beautifully (though as I said, when I need permanence I use a paint-on). See this review:

Karen: Thank you; the encouragement keeps me writing.

Susan B said…
The only reason I don't buy drugstore lipsticks any more is that I can't try them first. I've purchased many in the past based on recommendations or just curiosity, and I've thrown out probably 80-90% of them because the color looks different in the tube than on my lips, or I don't like the texture, or both.
frugalscholar said…
To Pseu above--Walgreens and CVS (and maybe others) will take back ANY cosmetic item for ANY reason. So try away.
materfamilias said…
Somehow I've just never cared enough about lipstick lasting and just reapply. I love the way the Lancome lipsticks "click" magnetically when opening and closing, but otherwise I'm more concerned about colour, obviously, comfortable texture, and very importantly, smell. I wear Marcelle most often, occasionally supplementing with Lancome, and I do like Lancome's Juicy tubes of lipgloss.
AN said…
I love the creamy matte lip colour by Bobbi brown. Most of her colours work on my dark Asian skin. I just bought Burnt Red, which looks lovely on, or so I hope! I'm also a fan of her crimson! a lovely rich berry.
I have one Chanel lipstick and I do think the packaging is luxe. The colour and texture are great it's Rouge Allure.
I have several tubes of the Revlon lip butters and they are chick full of moisture, nice shades too but one does need to reapply these fairly often. At the price point it is not a problem.
LPC said…
I haven't found drugstore colors to have the subtlety that I like in the best up-market brands. Perhaps I haven't tried hard enough. On the other hand, I buy 1, maybe 2 lipsticks a year. So the savings would be very small:).
Anonymous said…
When I was a little girl, a friend of my parents who worked as a Revlon rep gave my mother one of those drugstore displays--an entire bank of every Revlon lipstick--the size of a small piano! I still remember the candy-store array of gorgeous colors and their names: Fire and Ice, Cherries in the Snow, Persian Melon...

Delicious as that variety was, I've learned that I do best in a range of fairly muted berry shades, lightened or deepened according to the season and occasion, and can't use most of the really long-lasting ones because my lips are too dry. But I don't like gloss, either. My solution is to use a waxy Burt's Bees chapstick over matte color. It moisturizes without melting the lipstick or adding too much shine.

My parents' friend confirmed Frugal Scholar's comment, by the way: in the 1950s, the cost of making one lipstick was 3 cents. That stuck in my brain, too!

Madame Là-bas said…
I don't mind reapplying but I really like Chanel Rouge
Allure line. I have about 4 lipsticks and they last well.
Anonymous said…
I love high-end lipstick, especially Chanel. I realize that a big part of the allure is the presentation, but I consider it an everyday luxury. Since I only have 3 tubes going at a time, I consider it a little indulgence that makes me smile a bit more. After all, isn't a smile a woman's best accessory?
Anonymous said…
oh thanks for the recommendation for No Bleeding Lips. May very well try that. I gave a quick try just now to Monistat anti chafing powder gel, which lots of folks like as a primer, and some Fire and Ice plus gloss over that. :D Regardless of results, I'm much happier with manipulating a pencil, I can tell right away.

Duchesse said…
une femme: Where I live, all the brands have a tester rack and Q-tips for applying it- and you can return within a week or two if you don't like it, for exchange or refund.

materfamilias: In many of my work situations (such as a meeting that lasts 3.5 hours with no break), I find the colour totally "talked off" (or left on a cup, within a half-hour. Same at someone's dinner table, and I dislike jumping up to reapply it. The paint-ons are godsends then.

AN: She has beautiful colours, very discreet, but with interest.

hostess: I find the lip butters vanish as fast as...real butter ;)

LPC: I suspect that is true; I wear LipFusion "Buff" and it's a dead ringer for Armani "lip" shade.

C.: The actual cost is still small change, it's the marketing that contributes to the price.

I condition my lips (Clinique's All Abut Lips or Arden Eight Hour cream) when know I will need the paint-on. I cold not stand it everyday, but for certain occasions, it delivers.

My mother somehow received a kit of maybe 36 teensy lipsticks (I think Helena Rubensten), little longer than the eraser end of a pencil. She used every last smidgen (with a brush). I still remember that dazzling array.

Mme: It's not that I mind reapplying, it's that so often, I can't, easily and discreetly, in a business setting.

I have observed many women in meetings or and also on city streets with only a ghostly remnant of their lipstick on. Come to think about it, a freshly made-up mouth is mainly something I see en route in the morning!

Anon@12:55: I agree about the smile but don't think a high end lipstick delivers a more attractive, brighter one. The pleasure is in the status object, and I too have enjoyed those sleek Chanel cases.

materfamilias said…
I get that. . . that kind of presentation has never been part of my career path/lifestyle, but I can see how important it would be, in that case, to find a lipstick that sticks without feeling horrid. . .
Susan B said…
Duchesse, the drugstores in my neighborhood aren't quite so fancy (no testers or samples or even human assistance), and often the cosmetics sections are quite picked over. I'd still rather purchase something I know I'm going to keep than have to make a second trip back to return.
Beth said…
After buying cheap lipsticks for years, I've recently upgraded. What I care about most is the quality of the color -- there really is a difference -- and the way the lipstick feels on my lips. My two favorite brands are Ecco Bella and Make Up Forever; both feel great, have beautiful colors, and last well -- and I guess they just they make me feel good when I use them.
Anonymous said…
Vildy, Duchess: another option for invisible lip liners is the Body Shop "lip line fixer"

I use it with my darker lipsticks and it works quite nicely.

Cornelia said…
I use Estée Lauder and Aveda, applied with a brush like Duchesse recommended. My favorite shades are just a couple of shades darker than my natural lip color. I never experienced the bleeding, yet. But the condition of my lips has improved since I have been using the 20 second treatment with my Clarisonic.
Susan said…
I enjoy wearing Bobbi Brown's "Brownie" which is about the same color as my natural lip color. I'm not an avid lipstick wearer and never worry about reapplying.
Anonymous said…
Oh, forgot to mention I prefer MAC for lipsticks for the texture and smell. I have two or three colors that I wear all the time and hope they don't get discontinued!

Duchesse said…
Susan: That's a great colour, I believe a top-seller in that line.

Lin: I once stockpiled a Lancôme colour I feared they would discontinue- and they did. But I got over my obsession and had about 11 tubes of it!

Cornelia: Thanks for the Clarisonic tip.

Beth: Upgrades are always fun; I will look for Ecco Bella based on your recommendation. You said it was very emollient; I like LipFusion (sold at PharmaPrix/Shopper's Drug) for that reason.
Wendelah said…
I've mostly just wore lip gloss. Drugstore brands, mostly. My current favorite isn't drugstore: Black Orchid by Laura Mercier. My favorite drugstore brand of lipstick is L'Oreal Paris, Color Riche. They have great colors for someone who wears cool and neutral shades. There's a new limited edition, Star Secrets, which has some great-looking shades. It's a very moisturizing formula. That's my main criteria. So far I haven't had problems with feathering. I like their lip glosses, too.
Duchesse said…
Wendelah: Sharing your love for L'Oreal Colour Riche!

Though I enjoy the lightness and moisture of glosses, I seem to "talk them off" in moments.

The longer-lasting glosses give me a gloppy, 'wet mouth' look I don't like.)

Eleanorjane said…
Ah lipstick, how we love you so!

I do find a noticeable difference in texture and quality of colour in higher-end lipsticks. For example a cheap lipstick I bought recently feels 'gritty' as the shimmery particles are big enough to feel.

My mum gave me the perfect 'slightly better than your natural colour' lipstick by Lancome a few years ago. I still fondly remember the smell, the smooth texture and moisturising but suprisingly long-wearing formula.

I've got some Revlon Lip Butter lipsticks on my Christmas list. I recently bought a cheap Clinique one off Ebay but it's really too light a colour for me. Shame...
Gretchen said…
I like lipstick-red, mostly, but also some more lip colored shades-but with very thin lips, I don't tend to wear them at work, for precisely the reasons you say...not lasting, no chance to reapply discreetly, the shadow left at the edges. I tend to go with Burt's Bees are Fresh Sugar in plum during work hours. Its boring, but it works. I love Revlon colors but hate the smell. Love aveda but hate the texture. Lipstick queen has the best colors, as does Julie Hewett, but since it takes me forever to go through tubes, I may never need another again! And, surprised no one said anything so I will. Your donation to a women's shelter of all those tubes has inspired me to bring a slew of nice things over to ours next week, but also putting it on my calendar for non-holiday times to brighten someone's day.
Duchesse said…
Gretchen: I •really• like Lipstick Queen but Julie Hewett is unknown to me so Ilooked online, yummmm!

re donated makeup, suggest you call first to check policy. We were surprised to find one social agency refused any unsealed cosmetics (though the tubes were clearly unused.) But a small, church-run shelter for women, took them in a flash.
Unknown said…
I use MAC right now, but have two L'Oreal HIP tubes that I'm trying to draw out as long as possible - at drugstore prices they are MAC quality. However, the Milani "dupe" for Clinique Black Honey isn't quite as good, and I've tried Revlons before that wore off too quickly. Caveat emptor.

The Rimmel Kate Moss line had a few beautiful cheap reds in elegant black and red packaging, but I recall that they also wore poorly (and all turned magenta at the end of the day).
Duchesse said…
Artful: L'Oréal is my usual "everyday"; Rimmel once made a superb good paint-on, now discontinued (at least where I shop.)

But I am finding more and more that I will either wear a light, moisture-rich neutral lippie for day and when required, go full-on with the Outlast, which I wore through a long restaurant meal last evening with results unobtainable from wax-based lipstick.

Geez Louise, does no one else like Outlast?
Gretchen said…
Reading what people purchase in the lip world is quite fun. I remember reading something ages ago that many women buy a lipstick for its cache just as much as its actual product, but I feel pretty bad throwing out a beautiful $50 case that cannot be recycled. My greatest challenge, besides the skinny lip issue, is finding just the right color (ergo, I've thrown out more reds than I care to admit buying), and texture is the next issue. Staying power comes in last, I'd say. I've heard good things about Outlast, to your comment, but haven't played in that field yet. If I could find a color I loved, I would definitely buy it, and then add my Burt's Bees on top so it wasn't too dry. Thanks to another comment that CVS will take anything back, I will save my receipts and go nuts next visit on any color I think might be possible. S
Unknown said…
I'll try Outlast! I have not only because I have VERY dry lips and anything drying like matte lipstick or the paint ons sucks all of the moisture out. Though I could use lanolin cream afterwards, at night, and probably recover fine. I also don't know what Outlast shade(s) to try, as the packages are sealed at the drug store (and how color true are the plastic dummy tubes)?
tweedlibrarian said…
My two everyday colors are Giorgio Armani's Shine Lipstick in Fig and Sephora Rouge in Private Jet. The colors are both medium pinkish browns. At $34, the Armani is a splurge but it has virtually no scent, goes on very smoothly, and lasts quite a while for a moisturizing lipstick. The Sephora feels pretty good but I just don't like the smell.

I'm really lazy about touching up unless I'm wearing red, which is rare.
Philippa said…
I love the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, a cross between a lipstick and a giant pencil. Great colour saturation, good staying power (although they don't outlast fried aubergines or fish and chips) and moisturising to boot. My favourite are Dolce Vita - like my own lip colour but a lot more polished - and Dragon Girl, the wonderful red of a real crimson rose.

Although if someone can tell me about a cheaper, similar product, I'd be grateful ...!
Anonymous said…
I've been favoring Bobbi Brown's creamy matte lipstick: saturated color that lasts quite well and isn't too drying. I've tried Cover Girl's Outlast stain (the "felt pen") which is nice as a base.

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