The current collection. All 17 reds.

My lipstick love affair

The other day, I commented that I’m almost out of two of my favorite lipsticks. Tim’s response: “Two out of how many?”

Well… a lot. In self-defense, I told him that I’ve had one for at least eight years and the other for at least five.  Having 12 different reds to choose from means all of them last longer, right? RIGHT.

I tried to remember when I actually got each of the lipsticks in question, then started trying to pinpoint the timeframe when I became a red lipstick devotee. I know some women wake up one morning and decide that red lipstick is the way to go and never look back. I don’t recall having that revelation; I think I had a gradual conversion.  I decided to check old photos to refresh my memory.

High school = no lipstick. Loads of eyeliner, but no lipstick for everyday wear. Maybe some gloss, in a nude or peachy color. Special events got nude or pinkish lipstick. You do not get to see photos of this, because hey, I’m not wearing red lipstick, so they’re not relevant.

red lipstick

May 1993. My red lipstick debut.

The first photo I can find where I’m sporting full on red lips: freshman year of college, spring formal. I called this the Jessica Rabbit dress. I felt delicious and worldly. There is no possible way I could have worn any other shade of lipstick with that dress. My date, Terry, wasn’t originally my date, we were going separately, but my boyfriend bailed and Terry found someone to buy my boyfriend’s ticket and we wound up there together and darn it, I think we looked good. He may have actually helped me pick out the lipstick. That’s another story. For the rest of college, photos show that red lipstick was special occasion fare only.

Clinique Rose Red or something like that. From 2000. One of the lipsticks that sparked the conversation with Tim.

When I got married for the first time in 2000, I wore a Clinique lipstick in some kind of reddish shade. It offered light, sheer coverage, not at all like the potent pigments I wear today. But I started wearing it for evenings out – not just BIG evenings out, but evenings out in general. Rock shows. Dinner with friends. You get the picture.

This timeframe is also when my love of vintage started cranking up. I started collecting vintage cookbooks and kitchenware. I discovered burlesque and fell in love with Bettie Page, Tempest Storm, Lili St. Cyr and Blaze Starr. My friends Amanda and Emily would come over and we’d have pin-up photo shoots in my living room. While I didn’t wear red lipstick to work, I was definitely starting to wear it more frequently. Red had crept into my wardrobe too.

Then my marriage failed.

My first husband was–and is–a wonderful guy. He just wasn’t the right guy. I felt hopeless, unwanted, and unattractive. And knew I had to get over it. One of the keys to changing how I feel? Changing how I look. Red lipstick to the rescue. It helped create the illusion of confidence and sexiness. Which I definitely wasn’t feeling.

Marrying Tim

When Tim and I got married.

Until I met Tim. I walked into his place of employment wearing an awesome old-school rockabilly-flavored shirt, tight jeans, red high heels and–you got it. Red lipstick. I got his attention, we started dating, and I figured the lipstick was part of the new sexy confident me: the woman this guy found attractive. While Tim has long since assured me that he loves me with or without lipstick, I think meeting him was the pivotal point in my lipstick transition. 

My lipstick-riddled dresser. These are just the reds.

And now my dresser is covered in lipsticks, which the cats dutifully bat onto the floor nightly. Some analysis here: they’re not all the same. Do I need 17 different red  lipsticks? Probably not, but I don’t think I could get by with less than five.

The breakdown, from left to right. We’ll start with the drugstore stuff: Maybelline, Rimmel, and my favorite drugstore brand, Revlon. Why I prefer Revlon: Affordable, good colors, good lasting coverage. And all their lipsticks feel good on: no drying.

The current collection. All 17 reds.

The current collection. All 17 reds.

Revlon Matte 007, In the Red. My most-worn shade.
Revlon Superlustrous Lipstick Creme, 740, Certainly Red. This is a statement lipstick. I do not wear this to work. Thick, full coverage, creamy texture.
Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Lipcolor, 050, Top Tomato. Sparkly/glossy, good coverage, I will wake up with this still on the next morning. No joke.
Revlon Colorburst Lipstick, 085, Ruby. Lightweight and sheer. A little pinky for me.
Next up: Rimmel. 072, Ballistic. Kind of plummy, almost gone because I wear this to work all the time.
Rimmel Lasting Finish, 170, Alarm. Lovely bricky red.
Rimmel Lasting Finish, 166, Temptation. Like Alarm, only a little bluer with sparkles in it.  
Rimmel Moisture Renew, 850, Rouge. Bright, a little pinkier/bluer than I’m entirely comfortable with, but with the right liner underneath it works. And it feels good on.
Maybelline Moisture Extreme, E190, Royal Red. Bright. Doesn’t stay on very well without proper prep and powdering.
Maybelline Colorsensational, 645, Red Revival. A favorite. Goes on thick, but feels smooth and moisturizing.
Maybelline Colorsensational 625, Are you Red-dy. Weak. Lighter and sheerer than the Red Revival, this doesn’t stay on. Pretty much like the Royal Red, but the Royal Red feels better on.
Clinique mystery lipstick I wore when I married Chuck in 2000. Yes, this is department store, but it’s so old you can’t possibly buy it any more.
Clinique Long Last Matte Lipstick , Red Hot. Wore this when Tim and I got married. I think I left it in my car on a hot summer day and now it’s all waxy, but still wears well. Medium coverage, but it does last.
Flirt High Wattage Lipstick, 18, Misbehave. Cheapy from Kohls. medium coverage- another daily wear choice, safe for work.

The rock stars:
MAC Matte Viva Glam. Bricky. Smells like chocolate. Love it.
MAC Ruby Woo. Sales gal called it double-matte. Bright, kind of waxy. Feels totally different than the Viva Glam – way more drying. While I love the color, my lips need to be all kind of moisturized for this to work right.
Le Metier De Beauty, Colour Core Lipstick, China Beach. FAVORITE. LIPSTICK. EVER. Also, ridiculously expensive. Like $36 for a tube of lipstick. I save this for special occasions or days my lips need some serious TLC. Love it to death, though…I would actually splurge on this again. In another 10 years when I’ve completely used up this tube.

So, do you wear red? Which shades and why? 

Think about that while I go clean off my arm.


One comment

  1. Lol!!I love reds too!I found your blog because I’m trying to find a red lipstick I wore when I was 18,Coty lipstick,called Tomato.I love love Mac’s Mac Red and Lady Danger,Guerlain #21,Too Faced Drop Dead Red!

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