Sunday, 29 October 2017

The almost reality of my £1 'lipstick wardrobe', and how a late onset light bulb layering moment led to less lurid looks

I often get asked what my favourite perfume is. Rarely does anyone pose a similar question about lipsticks, though that may just be because I am not known as a beauty blogger.  I have certainly written about my lipstick collection on here - the periodic culls, my separate quests for the perfect pink or red lipstick, my surprise at finding a cheapo dupe in Boots for a particular Burberry and so on, but lipstick is not my 'core business' as it would be for Get Lippie, say.

But like the average woman I seem to have accumulated a lot more lipsticks than I can regularly use. Happily they have more forgiving expiry dates than some categories of toiletries I might mention, not that that tends to stop me, hehe. And despite my periodic purges, the tally gradually creeps up again.

My browny/pinky/nude collection!

Left to right: Dior Pisanelle Pink**, Poundland Choca Mocha (No 4), Burberry Nude Rose, Bourjois Bruns o petits soins**, and Rimmel Not an Illusion. (And yes, my arm was a bit chilly!)

**NB To the best of my knowledge, both the Dior and the Bourjois are discontinued. Which also explains why I can't be bothered to give the Bourjois its circumflex over the 'o'.

As well as having too many lipsticks, I am guilty of having too many in the exact same shade, or at best in infinitesimal variations thereof. Like a homing pigeon or an iron filing to a magnet, every time I scan a make up fixture my eye is drawn to the identical narrow range in which most of my lipsticks lie - in my case, a sort of browny/pinky/nude. That said, I do have another small and burgeoning group of quite similar definite pinks, and a more heterogeneous assortment of reds, most of which I could never bring myself to wear, with the exception of a single lip gloss, now finished and discontinued, which is what prompted the second part of this post.

Revlon Firecracker lip gloss - many happy memories!

My £1 almost lipstick wardrobe 

But back to the first part: the almost reality of my £1 lipstick wardrobe and the notion of a favourite lipstick. My mother had a favourite lipstick...oh yes. Yardley's Pink String, which she wore for as long as I can remember. There is absolutely zero information in Google on that now, which is interesting. Mother used to stockpile that particular shade, and had several unopened tubes at the time of her death (see photo, though the colour is a bit darker and even more vibrant than it appears here).

Yardley Pink String

I made sure (indirectly(!) via the undertakers) that she wore Pink String to her funeral, for she would never go out without applying that finishing touch. In my own case, I think 'favourite lipstick' is perhaps a misnomer, but I certainly have a 'go-to lipstick' that I wear more than any other. I am not even sure if the lipstick in question suits me the best out of all the ones that I own in that category, which includes a high end Burberry that cost over twenty times as much. And I also can't speak to the colour pay off (not least because I have never known exactly what that is, though you see it mentioned in beauty blogs), or the staying power, or the feel of it on your lips. Even though I wear this one most days when I wear lipstick at all, I don't really notice such things. (Which may well be why I am not a beauty blogger!)

Poundland Choca Mocha (No 4) and my enormous fingers

All I can say in this lipstick's favour is that it is the one that more often than not seems to be lying on the dining room table, or at the bottom of my shopping bag, or at the top of my cosmetic bag - in short, it has eminent grabbability as its key attribute. And it tends to go with most things, or I am sure I would notice in the mirror that something was amiss. It's that old adage of 'the musician who played the last gig gets the next gig'. It is top of mind, and always at hand.

And it so happens that in my case, 'the last lipstick that got the gig' cost a mere pound from Poundland - who in a smart marketing move are the only high street retailer to still accept the old £1 coins! - which they are doing till the end of the month. UK readers, hie thee along to Poundland and bag - if not a lipstick - an ingot of Toblerone or a box of Maltesers at the very least. But if you have a yen at all for browny/pinky/nudes, it is No 4, the amusingly named Choca Mocha. A cheapo workhorse, no question. (For anyone interested, Part 1 of my overall review of Poundland's make up range may be found here.)

My late onset light bulb layering moment

And what of the light bulb layering moment alluded to above? Well, since my favourite lip gloss, Revlon Firecracker, got the chop, or self-combusted, or whatever happened to it, I was a bit at sea on the red lipstick front, being chronically wary of the whole category on account of my thin lips. Katie Puckrik and I went on a shopping mission five years ago that culminated in the purchase of a Laura Mercier lip balm in Crimson Tint, but left to my own devices at home, without Katie's chutzpah and moral support, it felt too bold on its own, and had languished in a drawer ever since. Until the end of September that is, when I was down in London for a design awards ceremony, as the 'plus one' of my friend M - the designer I worked for at the trade fair in Brussels - and on a whim, decided to try a slick of Crimson Tint over Choca Mocha, which gave the perfect muted red I craved. (The Laura Mercier is a deeper red than it appears in the photo!)

Laura Mercier Crimson Tint & Poundland Choca Mocha (No 4)

So Crimson Tint has finally come into its own, and please don't tell me it should have been thrown out by now, as it was too expensive to chuck and buy again!

Crimson Tint over Choca Mocha

On a roll, I experimented with another red I am too timorous to wear on its own - Spicy Cinnamon in the Clarins Joli Rouge range - topping it with a layer of Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Creme Brulee, another Katie steer.

Revlon Colorburst Creme Brulee & Clarins Joli Rouge Spicy Cinnammon

And as with the previous combo, this had a slightly glossy effect, as well as perfectly toning down the rich red of the Clarins to a more orange-y number that works better with my yellow-leaning complexion. So suddenly, out of the ashes as it were, I have found two options for a non-lurid red. I have scotched the scarlet woman! Not that I wore any of my failed red experiments out of the house, but I have scared the bejesus out of myself in all the mirrors indoors.

Clarins Joli Rouge Spicy Cinnamon - too strong a look on its own

And the more wearable combo...

Revlon Colorburst Creme Brulee layered on top of the Clarins

And the daft thing is that while I have always known about adding a bit of lip gloss to a lipstick - usually in a transparent or fairly sheer colour - I have never ever thought to layer lipsticks (or two lipstick-like entities shall I say, because they are called such a variety of things these days) with a more pronounced colour. We do it with perfumes - actually I don't personally layer scents as a rule, but it is a fairly established 'thing' - and of course artists mix paint colours in their palette, but I just hadn't twigged to the fact that I could do it with lipstick and solve my lurid lip conundrum.

So there you have it. I accept that the £1 wardrobe idea is stretching the point, because I do like a proper pink lipstick as well, even if I could maybe survive without one. But a red option is a must for evenings out and generally making more of a statement. And while I don't feel the Laura Mercier owes me anything after all this time, I think it cost about £14, taking my total wardrobe cost to...ooh er!...scary multiples of the original quid I dropped in Poundland.

Red lips at the awards ceremony!

So may I ask - do you have a favourite lipstick, or one that you keep coming back to because it is an easy wear?

Could you actually live with just one lipstick? And if so, would it be a neutral like mine or something bolder - perhaps red even?!


Anonymous said...

I've bought so many lipsticks only to end up wearing them just the once .... I have a hankering to buy Lipstick Queen's Frog Prince (I think it's called) which is green but reacts with the chemistry of your skin to turn to the exactly right shade that suits you (pink or red) on your lips. That might stop me making all those mistakes, although I feel too mean to splash out on it yet! Maybelline did a version (in the 70s I think it was) and I remember liking that.

In the past, the favourites I always replaced until they got discontinued were invariably by Revlon; I gave up on that brand when they stopped making their lip stain which was perfect for me with just a slick of gloss over the top to stop my skin drying.

At the moment Nivea's tinted lip balm, in stick form, seems to be providing just the right hint of colour with nourishing care that I need, and it's cheap (but not as cheap as £1!) - there are lots of variants in taste, shade and care.


Tara said...

Lovely lippie post! It's great that you found a way to layer the reds so you can wear them comfortably. A good option for gigs I'd say?

I love your mum's cheery Pink String and would love to see you in a vivid pink. Flat Out Fabulous is my favourite lipstick in that kind of bright pink realm. Whirl is my favourite nude and Russian Red is my favourite classic Red. For a pinky red there's All Fired Up and for an orange red it's Lady Danger. Today I'm wearing my current autumnal fave, Viva Glam 1 - a toned down berry red. As you can see, I'm a total MAC lippie devotee.

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Why is it that we misjudge the colour / likely wearability of lipsticks so often? In the past I have been 'oversold' to by sales assistants, so I think that has been a factor.

As for Frog Prince, Undina owns this one and has dedicated a blog post to it! She likes it a lot, and wears it very well.

I do bewail discontinuations...they always seem to be of my favourite things. I need a lip balm in winter - suffering from dry lips quite a lot - and have a Burt's Bees one atm, but it isn't really a good colour. Will look out for the Nivea equivalent thanks!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

A very good option for gigs, yes, or with mainly black outfits anywhere. I certainly got some wear out of that discontinued Firecracker gloss. It doesn't owe me anything I suppose you could say, yet I am sorry it got the chop, as I would have rebought.

Mother looked great in that pink - which was darker, as I say, compared to the photo. She had steel grey hair and blue eyes.

I do like myself in Burberry Blush lipstick, which is as bright as I have ever gone, albeit I have never owned this one, just a sample. I will check out the ones you mention. I do own Whirl(!), but it is too much on its own, and I also tone it down using the Creme Brulee lip butter above, which works nicely. I know it is meant to be a matte look, but it reads very dark on my already quite dark pink lips, and I encounter the 'thin lip' problem again. You really suit quite strong colours as you have a fantastic mouth to showcase them on!

Unknown said...

Fantastic post! I have been obsessed with lipstick since I watched my mother wielding her signature Cherries in the Snow. For me there is no better cheap thrill than a new lip colour. So now I have an embarrassingly large lipstick collection mostly almost-but-not-quite-indistinguishably-different shades of red. In the last year though I have also craved fuschia pinks and deep berry shades as well. I found many good colours from NYX and Maybelline but Revlon & L'Oreal remain my favourites. I will try Poundland though!! On the pink/brown issue I thoroughly recommend L'Oreal Bois de Rose and the lip pencil of the same name - gorgeous 'nude' shade for people who don't care for the Kardashian beige look and want true MLBB. Thanks for sharing the joy!

Vanessa said...

Hi Bejoux Noir,

Glad you liked the post! Cherries in the Snow does have quite a following, I gather, also amongst our generation. Re cheap thrills, don't economists talk of the 'lipstick effect', where lipstick sales go up during a recession, because it is a low outlay way to cheer oneself up and buy into glamour? I would love to wear the shades you favour, but have to stay with muted takes on everything. There are some quite vivid lipsticks in Poundland so see what you find! Bois de Rose sounds lovely, even just from the name. I certainly don't want to go for Kardashian beige so it might be just the ticket. Not that I need another lipstick, obviously. ;)

crikey said...

I am very fickle with lipsticks, and admit to having far, far too many of them. I have clusters, with minimal variations in each cluster: the search for the perfect slightly-darker-but-still-really-red red; the search for the perfect _really_ dark red; the not-quite-dark-enough-berry colours; the mauveish-greyish-not-very-pinky-pinks; the what-was-I-thinking-browny-orangey things; and the glorious dark-dark-yes-that-dark-purply-burgundy-dark lippies.

I admire your restraint.

Undina said...

I loved this post (and it reminds me that I haven’t done a lipstick (Queen - hehe) post in a while.

I rarely layer lipstick - same as perfumes :). Most likely, because I like predictability and stable results - and I’m not sure I can achieve it doing my own combinations, be that perfume or lipstick. Though just a couple of days ago I used a golden sheer lipstick on top of the matter wine colored one. Not to mute it down but because I wanted that golden sparkle for the outfit I was wearing to a birthday party. And tomorrow I plan to wear a combo of perfumes (see my last post). But normally I don’t dare :)

I do not have just one favorite color - I have “clusters,” as crickey called them above. Until recently my most used color was Laura Mercier Sparkling Pink (I need to check if they still make it) but in the last several years somehow Hallo Salor pushed out many other lipsticks for the daily wear. Partially, it is due to the fact that I started wearing more navy and blue clothes - and I don’t like nude/beige lipsticks with that. So, if I absolutely had to go with just one lipstick, probably it would be that one (and that name still makes me smile).

Undina said...

I like Frog Prince but if you’re looking for a red tint (vs. pink), you should try their Medival color.

Vanessa said...

Hi crikey,

'Minimal variations in each cluster' is exactly my problem too. What is that all about? Why the holy grail quests in each cluster? It seems a common MO amongst lipstick wearers.

I can see how the browny-orangey things would not suit you if you rock the other shades. And I bet you do! Am most intrigued by the last family you mention - any names I could google to see the sort of shade you mean? Not that I could ever wear those colours, but I really admire those who can.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I would love to read another lipstick post of yours, even if Lipstick Queen is not a common brand over here. I am pleasantly surprised by the stable results I am achieving by layering, and as I mentioned, I am not really a fan of the concept when it comes to perfume. I did notice the first time I put some Crimson Tint over the trusty Poundland lippie that I could afford a second application to get a definite red.

Another 'cluster' fan, I see! Hallo Sailor is a brilliant name, and having googled a video about it, I can see why you would be a fan. What a fun colour in the tube too. I probably would wear nude lipsticks with navy, but I am not very original or daring overall with my choices.

crikey said...

Hi Jillie, I have a mini of Frog Prince kicking about that I got as a freebie from somewhere. Are you in the UK? I'd be happy to pop it into the post for you if you'd like it.

crikey said...

I think the quest behaviour is possibly what keeps the cosmetics companies in business!

Some of the very dark ones I've been wearing over the past year are Urban Decay's Blackmail (which comes out as a very pretty colour if dabbed on top of a lot of balm, and super dark if you are more generous with the coating), the matte version of Kevyn Aucoin's bloodroses (which smells rather like ribena), and recently, the Nars "powermatte" liquid, Rock With You (which looks entirely different on me than any swatch would suggest) I started more cautiously, with Mac's Diva, and just drifted darker and darker.

I "shouldn't" wear these. Thin lips, deep lines, super pale, rubbish teeth. But, I really enjoy them.

Vanessa said...

I am impressed at how many readers are fans of / interested in Frog Prince. I have a little ceramic Frog King from Weikersheim Castle in Germany - maybe I will feature him in a post some time. Though his ability to change colour on contact is woefully lacking.

Vanessa said...

Ooh, thank you - I am off to have a gander! Pale teeth sound most desirable to me, rather than my yellowing tombstones. Though on Hallowe'en night at least they could be construed as being just the look one is going for.

crikey said...

oof. no, i missed a word... super pale _skin_. I do not have sparkling pearly whites in my cake hole, sadly.

Vanessa said...

They look amazing! I would love to be able to wear those deep berry colours. I have surprised myself at how wearable Burberry Blueberry Lip Mist is though, even on me - it looks quite dark in the bullet but goes on super sheer. I sound like a real Burberry fangirl, don't I? I actually only own two: Nude Rose and Feather Pink.

Vanessa said...

Haha, thanks for the clarification about your teeth. I was going to ask what toothpaste you use - dentist might be a little far. Pale skin sounds the perfect backdrop for those berry shades. ;)

Undina said...

You what?.. Googled?! :) I have almost (no lip photos but with swatches) a proper post about that lipstick! (which you, most likely, read before :)).

AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

Hey Vanessa,
My Mum had one lipstick. It was a shimmery coral/brown and suited her golf tanned skin perfectly.
In her footsteps I follow and have one dark plum lip liner and one plum lipstick (that almost never gets used). Because I foundation the whole lot the lip itself usually gets eyeshadow as a fill instead. There are two eyeshadow colours I use depending on mood but they are a couple of tones darker than my teeth to create faux whiteness.
I love your lipstick population rise & fall stories but am content with my small selection.
Portia xx

Vanessa said...

Oh sorry, I didn't realise you had also done a blog post on Hallo Sailor - I remember the Frog Prince one, but not the other - and as I only googled images, I didn't even fetch your blog post up that way.

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

I love the thought of your using eyeshadow as a lipstick by default. I have used lipstick as a blusher, so why not? And there are these multi-purpose chubby sticks or whatever they are called. I think you would look rather marvellous in the plum one, mind. ;)

Tara said...

Thanks, V. I never thought so but am going for it these days. I like Whirl because it is such a strong nude. I think you'd prefer Twig - it also has some lustre.

odiferess said...

Hi Vanessa,
I think we have similar shade tastes. The perfect 'not pink, not brown, not red' hybrid is a wonderful thing and my favourite of these wonders is 'Dubonnet' from Clinique. It's just so flattering.
You'd better hold on with love to that Revlon Lip Butter. They've been discontinued. Unless of course you live in Huddersfield where you can buy 'new' ancient lipsticks from our tatty beauty emporium - The Look. An old one pound coin will defo buy you something there. I stocked up on the Macaroon shade of the Lip Butter recently but it feels a bit softer than it used to - I fear for bacteria or counterfeiting.
Thank you for not referring to 'a pop of colour'.

Anonymous said...

Belated comment. But then I got to read all the replies.
If I had to live with just one colour it would be red!! A true red, leaning neither blue or orange. My favourite is a gift-with-purchase Christian Dior called Sparkling Red (sparkling for its brightness rather than any shimmer, thank goodness). Very old, but if it doesn't smell rancid it stays.
For me the trick for easy wear with any bold colour is to apply, blot about three times. Makes it a softer stain-look.
And makes my much older sister less horrified at me wearing red without correspondingly strong eye makeup.

I do have a few other shades around. One bluish one that works for me is Lancome Vintage Lace, discontinued of course. I can slip over into the fushcia shade sometimes with the same blotting technique.
I miss the old Prescriptives line where they determined your underlying skintone, and labeled all their lipsticks accordingly. I was a Red, but could slide over into some warm and cool variations. It's sister line Clinique does some similar grouping.

I empathize with the small lips issue. My top lip is fine, but because of an overbite half of my bottom lip is more of an inside texture and doesn't hold lipstick. I envy Val's lips.

Thank you Odiferess for the mention of Clinique Dubonnet. Completely forgot about it.Must check it out again.

I have worn glosses alone. They migrate into the lines above my lips, so no go. Hadn't thought about layering two colours.

I do believe colour payoff means how much coverage and true to colour is just one swipe.

You do seem to get a lot of response to make-up and skin care posts. Feel free to keep that up.


Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo!,

Never too late to comment, and as you say, there is a lot of useful info in the comments, with people lobbing in tips on shades in different families.

I am envious of your being able to go all out for a red lipstick in the classic sense. I found a picture of the Dior one you mention on Pinterest. Looks very elegant, and I am with you on the keeping lipsticks till overt degradation sets in.

I do do the blotting trick, but sometimes even the stain is too much on my thinnish lips. Always worth trying that though before giving up on a particular shade.

Haven't had any luck pulling up a picture of your favourite Lancome, and again envy you sidling into fuchsia territory. I didn't know Prescriptives were so helpfully prescriptive, hehe, or that Clinique does something similar. I had one of their lipsticks once - another Katie Puckrik steer, and very much in my pinky/browny/nude cluster.

Ooh, I don't half envy Val's lips too!!

To be fair, I think everything migrates into the lines above my lips these days. That issue seems to have got a lot worse this year, aggravated by my eczema, I sense.

Glad you enjoy these kinds of posts. I still plan to do one about my allergy testing in the summer, which was quite a palaver. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi odiferess,

Sorry for the delayed reply - am not sure how I missed this comment! I have caught up with pictures of Clinique Dubonnet now and it looks very versatile. Maybe still a tad dark for me, but I can see how it would suit you.

The Revlon Lip Butters have been discontinued too!! What is the world coming to? I do like the sound of The Look. Definitely a gap in the market for such places. My friend took me to somewhere like that once in Blackpool (I think). The Macaroon one you like looks pretty, and I hope there is nothing up with it.

I laughed at your reference to 'pop of colour'. I hate that phrase so much too, haha!

Anonymous said...

Exzema on and around your lips sounds to me like a reaction to some component of a lipstick. Could be some ingredient in the base of the lipstick or something in a specific colour. I avoid wheat protein in shampoo/conditionerlike the plague -- irritating and itchy. I recently avoided trying a new moisturizing lipstick with wheat germ oil. Too many fish in the sea.

Vanessa said...

Ah, I know that sounds eminently plausible, but I omitted to mention that when I do get eczema round my lips I usually simultaneously get it on my forehead and under one or both eyebrows. And my aim with lipsticks isn't that bad, hehe. ;)

That said, I am allergic to a common ingredient in skincare and make up products which I will get to in my allergy post at some point. Not so common in lipstick, I don't think.

Meike said...

Sadly Pink string was my favourite lippie too!! Tried for years to find it, to no avail!

Vanessa said...

Hi Meike,

I think I *may* have one of Mother's (unused) spares still somewhere, though it could take me a while to locate. Drop me a line with your contact details in case I strike lucky!