Let’s Talk About Lipstick

Linda Rodin in her signature bright lipstick, with her dog Winks.

Hey, everyone! I’m back from a loooong holiday weekend, including the first wedding of the “next” generation in our family – my nephew (the young man who got married) was a baby at my wedding, which kind of blows my mind. I have an embarrassment of perfume riches to write about right here next to the bed, including from a recent trip to New York –woohoo!!! But I knew I’d be getting back late, so here’s a post on lipstick which I wrote ahead of time; next time will be perfume, I promise.

I love makeup, but I’ve reached an age where I think less is more. I can’t be sitting at my desk retouching every five minutes like an actress on Mad Men, so whatever I slap on my face at 7am has to either disappear or remain more or less where I put it for most of the day. No raccoon eyes, no clown mouth.

I think makeup works beautifully when it’s focused on playing up one facial feature. My inspiration is Linda Rodin, former model and muse, lipstick queen and face-oil avatar – basically she wears a bright lipstick and everything else is minimal. It’s a look I aspire to.

But I’m human and at the office I drink coffee and eat leftover pastries and I love my Ethiopian platter, so there’s a certain amount of maintenance. I’ve reached the conclusion that with a “statement” shade of lipstick – one that’s bright, dark, strong, or fierce — a matte lip is my friend. I look ridiculous with matte nude lips, but bright shades are a dream to apply and they don’t wind up all over my face, and it took me way too long to come around to this realization.

On me, a bold lip is a precision look that requires the right tools and a steady hand. I have an array of decent lip pencils and I keep them sharp so I get a clean, fine border. I often color my lips in with the pencil so that, as the lipstick wears off, I’m not left with a clown line around my mouth. The pencil doesn’t have to match 100%, it just needs to be close; in fact, some of my favorite results are from mixing two slightly different shades of liner and lipstick.

I’m sure there are dozens of great matte lipsticks; the trick for me is finding one that’s not too drying. Right now I’m loving the Urban Decay Comfort Matte. It comes in great shades, is decently priced for a department-store line, and doesn’t smell or taste funny. I’m a little less enchanted with their Super Mattes, which I find drying and harder to use.

Pat McGrath lipstick in Wrecked.

Recently I was playing in the NARS chubby lip pencils – I love the colors, but I’ve not yet found one I swooned over. Anyhow, I finally got around to trying their PowerMatte Lip Pigment which I’ve resisted because other liquid mattes I’ve tried ended up feeling gross, like I’ve got a layer of dried glue on my mouth. Well, I gave these a whirl because the SA at my favorite Sephora was rocking one, and HOLY COW.  Assuming I don’t eat anything oily they last a full eight hours, and they taste and feel fantastic, which is to say, like nothing. I had to learn to wipe off the doe-foot applicator because it pulls up too much product, and to wait for a couple of minutes until it dries, and liquid pigments take some practice because Lord help you if you make a mistake. But the look is flawless. I wound up with NARS Powermatte in Warm Leatherette (a very deep, berry pink), and Under My Thumb, which is a true, deep red on me (try these in person if possible or google images, the online color guides are not even close and your skin tone changes everything.) That’s about as dark as I can get without straying into goth territory.

Fall favorites in Urban Decay comfort matte: Bittersweet, an insane orchid that I had to talk myself into a little; Menace (fuchsia!), and 714 for my bright red.

Finally, a hat-tip to Josie from Osswald for introducing me to the Pat McGrath line at Sephora in NYC – I think they’re only in NYC? Those lipsticks are fantastic, starting with the lipstick case itself. I treated myself to one called Wrecked, which is a deep plum (pictured).  I’m wearing it right now!

Do you focus on one feature with your makeup? How do you feel about bright/statement lipstick? Any favorites you want to tell me about?




  • morejasmineplease says:

    I know that this post is a month old, and that I’m a nearly-never commenter here… but I was so excited when I first read this back in Nov and the Pat McGrath lipstick was mentioned — because I knew that Santa was bringing me one, and yay I have it now! This formula is ah-may-zing; it’s the most long-wear lipstick I’ve found and does not dry out the lips, PLUS it makes them look smoother and just all-round beeyouteefull. I got the color Madame Greige which is a lavender-grey that works awesome for me (I’m rather pale and totally cool-toned) though I wish it had a tad more pink in it. This color looks very different from person to person and it does make some people look quite zombieish unfortunately, but when it works, it’s brilliant. She has a decent range of more traditional reds too – it’s not like the Kat von D line where the majority are super edgy and, to me, often unwearable. Anyway, March, if you happen to see this I would love to hear anything more about your experience with the Pat McGrath! I very much enjoyed reading all the comments in this thread.

  • rina says:

    FYI, y’all, Sephora has the Stila liquid lippies for $11 as their weekly sale and they are GOOD! I have Beso (true red creme) and picking up Notte (deep burgundy). Check them out!

  • Robin says:

    P.S. For the rest of my face, I use taupe-y eyebrow pencil sparingly just to make a nice shape, wear matte neutral eye shadow, mascara, concealer very sparingly as needed, no foundation, and a soft natural cool pink blush.

    When it comes to perfume, now . . . THAT’S when I go bold, dramatic and totally wild when the mood strikes!!!!! 😉

  • Robin says:

    In theory, I love the idea of a bold lip just as you describe, especially as a style/attitude statement for we women of a certain age. (I am 60 and I think I have great skin for my age, if I do say so myself. I’m fair and have used sunblock religiously for most of my life. My hair has very little grey in it but I do colour it its original natural light brown. My eyes are green.)

    However. . .

    My DH, who is the nicest human being and would sooner chew off his hand than be critical and has never said much about my looks except to say “You look pretty” every few days, finally said to me in a quiet voice one morning a few months ago, “Robin, I’m not sure I love the look of that kind-of bright coloured lipstick.”

    I took a good look in the mirror and had to agree.

    Now I wear a Your Lips But Better blend of several long-wear liquid lip colours — the net result is a kind of soft pinky-brown — and add a touch of the topcoat to take away the matte.

    I love the new me and thank that brave man for telling me his thoughts. I really think I look much better this way. BUT three cheers for any woman who can pull off the more dramatic look in her fifties and older. I’m all for feeling good about ourselves, whatever that means for any and all of us!

  • malsnano86 says:

    For years now I’ve been doing a minimal makeup look: tiny bit of tinted moisturizer or a delicate application of liquid-to-powder foundation (for evening out my skintone) and some mascara. Maybe a dab of concealer, if necessary. Gave up eye makeup and blush; am lucky in my eyebrows so never really needed anything there.

    But lipstick, yeah, all the time. I love a sheer warm-but-not-orange red. I love a warm bright pink, or a pinky-plum. Sometimes a YLBB beigey rose, but can never do nudes witchout looking creepy.

    After years of eschewing nail polish because a) my hands are not attractive and b) my nails are thin, bendy, and oddly shaped, I have reached a point of not caring about those issues and doing my nails ennnnyway. Dark blue shimmer, yes please. Or hot pink.

    • Musette says:

      LOL! Nude lips are weird – and I know there are those who can rock them, I just don’t know who ‘those’ iz.

      My nails peel, so I do YNBB – works for me!


    • March says:

      Usually by mid-spring I’m over all of my heavy, opaque lips and then I want fresh pinks etc. My issue which I’ve whined about on here before is my natural lip color is kind of a gray-purple, which does not lend itself to tints and sheers; it’s annoying.

      OMG I LOVE nail polish. I have a LOT of polish.

  • Kismet429 says:

    I find that as I progress into cronehood (stealing that—just sayin’), a bright lip with a minimal face looks modern. Just bought one of the Sephora brand liquid lip stains in Ruby, which turns out to be a deep berry/pink. Like it a lot, but hear you about application. Stains instantly and requires a steady hand, which I lack. Have taken to applying with the doe-foot and then using a brush. It’s easy to mess up, but I love the look when/if I get it right.

    • March says:

      Somebody told me those Sephora ones are pretty good, so I’m going to try one. ALSO one thing I really like about Sephora is you can return your used makeup. More people should know that; my girls were surprised.

  • Tatiana says:

    My lipstick collection rivals my perfume collection. Luckily lipstick tubes are smaller so Dear Husband isn’t quite as annoyed by the lipstick collection as he is by the perfume collection. Except he doesn’t seem to mind the perfume when he hugs me and says “You smell good”.
    I’d like to know what App Rina uses to put a list on her phone, because I am definitely guilty of buying lipstick doubles. Haven’t found a liquid lipstick I like the feel of yet. Something about swiping something wet across my lips makes me cringe and then it dries and sucks the last living bit of moisture from my lips. And can I just say, I hate when there is fragrance or flavor in my lipstick. I want my perfume to be fragrant, not my lipstick which is right under my super sensitive nose. Some brands are so scented they make me gag.

    • March says:

      Yeah, that scented thing, who thought that was a good idea? I have one D&G lipstick, Dahlia, which I just had to have when it came out, but it’s very rose-y which, ugh. I think the Tom Fords are like that too, and Lancome, and a few others. On the other hand I don’t like it when lipsticks smell or taste …. off?

      • crikey says:

        I’ve got a Kevyn Aucoin matte bloodroses lippy that smells… like a combination of fruit cordial and roses. ALL. DAMN. DAY. Love the colour, but, blimey, that’s such insistent scent I rarely wear it. (And I was having a wee tidy up, prompted by this thread, and found an ancient* Chanel lipstick that I kept, despite it being nothing but a greasy nub, because I’m still trying to find a match for that almost perfect darker blue-red… and it still has the old-school Chanel lipstick smell, with a hint of plasticene.

        *by ancient, um, 23 years ago or so, maybe 25?

    • rina says:

      Hey Tatiana! Not an app but an S-note on my Samsung. You could also do Google Docs…

  • Kandice says:

    March, have you tried the Lancôme Matte Shaker lipsticks? (Not the Juicy Shaker which is a gloss, but the lipstick.). They wear all day, and you shake them to mix in an oil base which is a lip treatment to soften lips. Most all-day wear lipsticks dry my lips out too much, but I plan to try these. I tend to focus more on my eyes and go more neutral on my lips. I envy those people who aren’t afraid to wear bright colors! Thanks for the great suggestions 🙂

    • March says:

      Oooh, I’m going to try those! I have a Macy’s down the street from work, and a gift card burning a hole in my pocket….. I like Lancome very much, but sometimes their makeup is too scented….

  • SuzanneS says:

    Im more of a chanel glossimer girl and liner..sometimes lipstick can look too severe.

  • ElizabethC says:

    I’ve looked for years for a matte red that wouldn’t go too purple on me. I’ve tried expensive lipsticks and I’ve tried drug store lipsticks. Believe it or not, I found my perfect red in the Katy Perry Crimson Cat lipstick. Stays on super well, is inexpensive and has an amusing name 😉

    • March says:

      I know, why is it so hard to find a particular red?! We conducted a search for a deeper red for my kid (not my same coloring). My favorites look to pink on her, and everything else was too brown.

  • Musette says:

    omg. I’mo get runned out of Lipstick Town, I just KNOWS it! Okay – here’s the thing: for me, it’s YLBB with liner becauuuse I am a whole bunchothings:
    A funny, mid-level color (mid-tone olive Black/Latin/Asian)
    Massively curly hair
    Cheap AF
    Old AF

    I focus on my eyebrows more than my lips because without eyebrows my entire face turns into a scone. A quick swipe of mascara (pretty much any will do, as long as it doesn’t make my eyes itch) and cheap eyeliner, applied judiciously and quickly – I say ‘cheap’ on the eyeliner because the expensive stuff often makes my eyes itch annnnddd..for a quick swipe it really doesn’t matter, imo. I’m currently wearing a L’Oréal that works just fine.

    But I do have to do a lip of some sort, otherwise Scone. My face has absolutely NO definition, barring the omnipresent twist of rage 😉

    Matte lips give me hives (again, the feel) and I am sick and tired of buying the same YLBB options at N-M, only to come back home and put on my $6 Rimmel ‘Casbah’ which, along with their $3 ‘Coffee Bean’ liner, has been my mainstay for 10 years.

    Commence with the tarring and feathering!


    • crikey says:

      Aye to the eyebrows!
      Becuase also: scone. (I am completely stealing that term, thank you)
      Pale, under-cooked scone with glasses. Weird looking old(ish) bird.

      I can’t wear *just* lippy. It looks so cool on those who can, though, particularly that whole red lips and bare face thing. I can however, go a year without wearing lippy, and then go back to wearing it most days. And at the moment it’s all dark or red or bright, and nunnayanudes, thanks. The closest i get to that is a sort of pale greyish mauve, which, hey, is pretty close to my natural lip colour. Wear it as a lipstick, though, and it looks all a bit “editorial”. I look extra weird if I wear “natural” make up. It’s just…wrong on me. Hey ho. I get to do fun colouring in instead.

    • March says:

      Hey, I’m not running you out of town — you’ve found what works for you, and you’re good. You’re not interested in fifty-leven lipsticks and whatnot. I’ve used the same NYX brow brush/wax thingy forever, I buy the same thing when it needs replacing. I’m sure there are some amaaaazing eyebrow kits and techniques out there, and …. eh, I’ll stick to lips, thanks!

      • Musette says:

        …but if you find some particularly fabulous feathers….? You could run me out of town, throwing those fabulous feathers at me…..really!

        Hey, you know I am the world’s worst when it comes to trying new things on mah face because omg. Lazy. And itchy.

        However – a few years back Missys Denise, Julie & I were in Ulta and this cute gal intro’d me to Anastasia’s Brow Pomade. Chocolate. O.M.G. Lemmetellya – zombies coming up 7th Street? I’m grabbing The Girl, one of El O’s swords…the car keys..and that pomade (and brush).

        I pity the zombie that tries to take my pomade.


    • Darling Lily says:

      Yes, I was just going to say the only thing worse than scone is scone-dough. With the occasional side of adult acne.

      I thought my brows had all fallen out, but they have just gone white. I think I may have to resort to having them dyed, as I can’t be bothered to fill them in on the regular.

      I am also very thin-lipped and never used to wear lipstick because of that, but Cronehood has greatly depleted my harvest of f*cks-to-give, and so I wear bright lips with huge glee.

      When I am trying to act my age, I go with Chanel’s Bonheur. I need good clear hues, no tints or shades, and may God especially forbid me those nudes. So chalky and flat on me. Ditto anything matte.

      I will be hunting down Medival Queen!

      UD needs to name a lippie “Permamnent Twist of Rage” I’d buy it for the name!

  • MMKinPA says:

    I have never successfully stuck with lipstick. I do a minimal eye (makeup forever aqua eyes) and mascara, a little tinted moisturizer, maybe a tad bit of pink blush if I look too pale. I think I will try the NARS Powermatte though- something that actually stays all day might get me to use it!

  • rosarita313 says:

    I’m in my late 50s and just started getting into makeup again in the last year or so. Lipstick is my jam and UD Vice is my favorite line, cream and comfort mattes. It took me a while to wear statement lipstick but now I’m into it, so much easier than statement eyes, especially since I’ve given up 47 years of contact lenses and am wearing glasses full time.

  • Kathleen S. says:

    Thank you for the lip recommendations! I adore bright pinks and will research the lines mentioned.

  • cinnamon says:

    I work from home, in front of two laptops, so makeup isn’t an everyday thing (just It Cosmetics CC cream and sheer red lip conditioner). What I have noticed as I’ve aged is my natural hair colour is now too dark for my complexion and thus balayage or highlights are necessary. With that issue addressed I can do deeper lip shades and, as you say, not look like a goth. I am very curious about the NARS lippies. Sadly, they aren’t available to test where I live, so I might just have to take a chance on one from the swatches.

    • March says:

      I hear you on the haircolor — too dark can be draining, and tonal variations are a nice way to break that up. It’s wild, to me, looking at google images of tons of people wearing a specific lipstick — you can sorta tell that it’s all the same shade of lippie but it looks SO DIFFERENT — a darker plum that would be heading solidly into goth territory on me might look like a sweet deep magenta on someone with a less pale complection than mine.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    When I remember to wear lipstick, I wear Kat von D’s Hellbent. A little drying but a little lip balm helps. My eyeshadow is Urban Decay Naked2 and my mascara is Too Faced Better Than Sex. I keep makeup pretty basic.

    • March says:

      OK but not TOO basic — Hellbent is such a fantastic red. I love those Naked palettes and/but all that gorgeousness would be wasted on me, plus my daughter would steal it!

  • MaureenC says:

    As I’ve got older my lipstick has become the mainstay of my make up. I can’t wear eyemake too often as it irritates my eyes so I have to save occasions for acting jobs or parties. But lipstick I wear every day. And I ignore all of the so called advice to mature women to tone the colour down. If you have very pale or very dark colouring you can rock bright colours at any age and everyone in between should experiment and try something new!

    • March says:

      Yeah with lipstick I actually feel like it’s the *opposite* of the tone-it-down advice…. Linda Rodin, when talking about her look, says she started gravitating to bright colors as she got older, without which she thinks she appears “translucent” lol. I can relate. Lipstick is just plain fun.

  • Tara C says:

    Great timing, I have a makeover scheduled for tomorrow at Sephora, I will ask about these Nars and Urban Decay lippies. I have a purple lipstick fetish and plum/berry colours work best on me. I wear mostly creamy lipsticks and just reapply because I have super dry lips. Right now I’m rocking Urban Decay Venom or Marc Jacobs Magenta most frequently. I do mostly pink/taupe/plum eyeshadow and purple lipstick. I also like a dewy luminous look so I use Hourglass ambient lighting powders. Maybe it’s too much but I love it, even if I am over 50!

    • crikey says:

      If you like the purples, and can go to the *dark* purples, I recommend Rock With You from the Nars pigments. All day wear, and not the “three hours and four touch ups” kind of pretend all day. Yesterday: three cups of coffee, two meals, and a packet of crisps, and no touch ups needed at all. It’s freaky magic, and the first liquid lippy I’ve been able to wear comfortably. And Urban Decay’s Blackmail–worn sheer/dabbed it’s a lovely plummy colour, worn full on it’s really dark purpley goodness.

    • March says:

      Seconding Crikey’s Rock With You (I think Wild Night would be too dark?) Also Warm Leatherette, since you like Venom, which is a fantastic shade. I too am the queen of the plumberry, lol. It sounds like we have similar coloring. Those Hourglass ambient powders are amazing. Do try the UD Comfort Mattes (they have a million shades) even if you pass on the NARS, which I am guessing might be too dry for you.

      • Tara C says:

        I bought the Bittersweet to try out the comfort matte formula. And now I need Blackmail! I also ordered the Pat McGrath Wrecked since we don’t have that line here in San Diego. I generally dislike liquid lip anything, so I didn’t try the Nars. Another fave is Dior Black Tie, and there’s also MAC Cyber. Dark purples and bright orchids don’t scare me. 🙂

        • March says:

          A girl after my own heart! Skin/lip tone is such a factor…. if you google Bittersweet it looks….. reasonable, right? On me I put it on half as a lark, and then went WHOA. I asked the SAs if they thought it was too much (and of course they said no) but it is BRIGHT on me, and it’s just kinda pinky on some folks.

          • Tara C says:

            I love the Bittersweet colour, but disagree about their « comfort matte » description – it was far too dry for me to apply to my poor parched lips. So I put a bit of lip balm on first and voilà!

  • Rina (not Canada!) says:

    OMG, Woman! Lipstick is my JAM. UD is my line. I actually have to keep a list on my phone so I don’t double buy a color. Loving the liquid lippies for longevity. Amulet is the best MLBB and just picked up Trap Queen and Delusional during the Black Friday sales. My perfume collection is dwarfed only by my lipstick collection..

    • March says:

      HAHAHA I love your phone list! I don’t have anywhere near that many but I do have to pay attention or I basically buy the same deep plum over and over…. not sure why it took me forever to discover UD.

  • Peggy says:

    Thanks, March, for the inspiring lipstick list of things to try. I have not been able to find a liquid matte I could stand, so I am happy to read about the Nars Powermatte. Can’t wait to try the
    Pat McGrath ones too! My current favorite is the Lipstick Queen Medieval, because I like the name!

    • March says:

      Oooh, I LOVE Medieval and have worn it for years — I actually picked it up at a Sniffa eons ago. Of course it’s kind of the opposite effect of the “statement” lip but it’s always in my arsenal!