I used to love wearing red lipstick. I wore it all the time in my 20’s. Then, I don’t know, I just thought I was too old for it. All the lipsticks I tried looked too bright and garish. In my mid-thirties and busy with pregnancies, births and dealing with two children, I was not in my best physical shape. It wasn’t the lipstick, it was the pallor of my little grey exhausted face that made all make-up look rubbish.
Recently I found a photograph of my younger self posing with my best friend. I have an open-mouthed pillar-box-red lipsticked smile. I look fabulous. Fat. But fabulous. It made me think why am I only wearing neutral browns and pale plums? Because I’m over 40!? Screw that! That’s not a good enough reason.
So over the past few years I have been much bolder in my lipstick colour choices. Trying the patience of many beauty-counter salespeople, I experimented with every red lipstick I could get my hands on. Following in the footsteps of my previous posts on beauty, which you can find here and here, I have collected together the red lipsticks that I actually bother to wear and buy more than once.
Before I begin, I have to address one issue. Feathering. Yes, the dreaded feathering. I don’t know any woman over 45 who doesn’t find her lipstick dribbling up her vertical wrinkles. Damn you, Nick O’ Teen! That is one of the reasons I stopped wearing bright lipstick (and smoking). You don’t want to end up looking like Rob Smith.
Sadly, I can’t just whack my lippy on and run out of the door anymore. I have to add at least five minutes to stop the feathering. This is what you need – I have a couple of invisible lip liners but this one works well and is cheap.
This stuff is brilliant. It leaves a rim of clear ointment along your lipline which acts as a barrier and stops the lipstick colour travelling and rudely showing up your wrinkles. Lipstick Queen’s Invisible Lip Liner is also very good.
After much experimentation, I have narrowed the list down to five products; some of them are bright and bold for my confident ‘fuck yeah!’ days, others are more subtle.
So let’s start with these two. It is a shame that the one with the best, long-lasting coverage has produced the worst print here. (On the left)
Mac’s ‘Viva Glam’ is gorgeous. It’s thick with a velvety richness which goes on like a dream. This colour is quite dark, I have to be feeling pretty bold to wear it, but once I’ve got it on, it really sticks around for ages. It also smells amazing, the nicest of the lot. A kind of truffly chocolate.
I love Lipstick Queen and two of their lipsticks have made it into my top five. This one is probably my favourite colour. A proper, bright, clear red. It doesn’t stay on as well as the Macs, but it’s such a lovely shade you don’t mind reapplying. It’s called ‘Scarlet Sinner’ and I wore it all Christmas; my husband said I looked beautiful twice: Twice!
This Sisley lipstick ‘L29’ is the most expensive all of the five. (Around £36, which is a lot for a lipstick). You get what you pay for though, it lasts for ages and the pigmentation of the colour is excellent.
In the print here you can see it’s got a good, solid coverage. It does tend to get on everything – particularly teeth – so you have to remember to do the pulling your finger out through your lips technique. If you know what I mean. It’s the perfect lipstick for an all-out high-end party with a proper film star gown and a full face of foundation and powder.
Let’s just pause here a moment to mourn my lovely Sisley lipstick – I have to buy another one as my daughter found it and this is what happened…
Another Lipstick Queen this is called ‘Medieval’. It’s a gorgeous subtle almost berry red and the best thing about it is it has a sheer quality so the colour of your lips shines through. This means that anyone can wear it – it’s a great red whatever your colouring. In fact I call it my ‘Gateway’ red lipstick as it eases you in gently if you’re not used to wearing red lipstick. The best lipstick with which to begin your siren-lipped journey.
Finally, Mac’s ‘Dare You’. This is my most recent find. I love it. There’s a bit of a story behind how I came across it. One day I am going to write about how amazing Fleabag is and what a massive crush I have on Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The programme (still available on BBC iPlayer) is laugh out loud funny whilst still being raw and tragic and heart-breaking. Phoebe W-B is a pre-Raphaelite beauty and has a wonderfully expressive face. The writing is pacy, tight and effective but I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off her lips. Throughout the series her lips are always fully made-up with a striking colour which I had to have.
I didn’t rest until I had tracked it down. I clearly wasn’t the only woman who had googled this. I discovered the make and colour within about five minutes. Thanks to Katie Heaney for contacting Fleabag’s Make-Up artist on behalf of all stylish women.
I have had a number of women contact me to say they’ve given up on make-up and never bother with it. Of course that’s absolutely their choice and I fully support that. But please don’t stop wearing it because you think you’re too old. Maybe it’s just me, but finding a colour that really works cheers me up no end. The right colour lipstick has the power to brighten your face (as well as a good set of big earrings) and makes your skin look more clear. Keep going out there and have a good rummage around. New and improved colours and formulas are coming out all of the time. And you don’t have to spend a fortune either.