The Red Blues: One Woman's Rouge Reconnaissance in Pursuit of the Perfect Pout

"Maybelline, why can't you be true?" I should have listened to you, Chuck Berry. I should have listened when you poured your heart out about that fickle femme fatale.

Listen, we've all been there: you find your own personal Holy Grail beauty product, be it mascara or hair gel, and you vow to never stray. But then one day, the unthinkable happens.... your beauty soul mate calls it quits! (cue threatening music) Rather than spend the rest of your days trolling eBay for half-used tubes of that perfect lip gloss, you decide to try and find a replacement. which, sadly, isn't as easy as it should be. Your simple search turns into An Epic Quest.

This is the account of my Crimson Chase, my Rouge Odyssey, my Long Kiss Goodnight.

First, a bit of background: I'm vintage obsessed. I admit it. So I'm looking for a flat, matte-ish, creamy dreamy red lipstick that stays on forever. I'm also pretty cheap (I know. I KNOW!!), so get those visions of $50 tubes of Guerlain out of your heads. I'll TEST it, sure, but I don't think it can truly become my go-to because of the crazy price. So recently, when I went to stock up on my Maybelline SuperStay Wine #745 and it was GONE, well, right then I started my quest. I picked up some drugstore cheapies, scrounged through my makeup bag, and hightailed it back to the office where I promptly had Janetor photograph me in 8 of the cheapest lipsticks on the planet. The results of Drugstore Round #1 are in the large image above - so vote for your favorite. I'll be coming back pretty soon with a Drugstore Round #2, Round "What's my Avon Lady's Phone Number?", a Sephora Round and a Fancy Pants Round (Guerlain, I'm looking at you - send samples!), and a Round "Who?!", as well as a look into Permanent Makeup, the History of Makeup, How to Put on and Maintain Red Lips, and How To Choose The Red Less Traveled.

Then I'll reveal the winners and hopefully live happily ever after. Wish me luck.

More   Beauty  |  Makeup $WTF, Maybelline?!   16 comments   |   SHARE



Posted on 01.12.11 at 1:47 PM

I like the Maybelline Red Revival (#5) and the Rimmel (#6). Both are (from the photos) close in color to the original, though #5 is shinier and #6 is more matte.


Posted on 01.12.11 at 2:28 PM

Have you tried Besame? Especially since you're going for a vintage feel. Also, maybe Lipstick Queen Sinner in Red? Not cheap cheap, but not $50. In these pictures, lighting makes it difficult to choose in terms of matching the original. But can I say, you really pull off a strong red lip! #3 and #5 look great to me.


Posted on 01.12.11 at 2:34 PM

Have you tried lip stains? I love my Revlon Just Bitten stain in gothic.

I too do the whole rockabilly thing. I usually put on my lip stain and then go over it with a lip pencil then just use lip balm. It stay until I wash it off, not lip stick marks. If I want a deeper color I use a cheapy red lipstick over it.. If I want it shiny, I put a gloss over it. LOVE LOVE lip stains!!!


Posted on 01.12.11 at 4:01 PM

Speaking as the gal that took all those photos (and clearly, I'm no professional) - even though they were taken over about 15 minutes and in the same lighting, not all of the pictures came out very well lit. I personally felt that #'s 5, 3, and 6 were closest to the original... Seeing as how I see ORTRTA wear that lipstick every weekday!

Tiffany R

Posted on 01.12.11 at 4:32 PM

Seconding Besame, though half their charm is their branding, I think.

I wish I could wear red lips half so well!


Posted on 01.12.11 at 11:27 PM

Hard to tell, given the lighting in these pics, but probably #1 or #2, with #5 coming in third.

I'm going to pitch one I don't see here -- Tarte Lipsurgence Matte Lipstain in Fiery. It is AMAZING. It is the matte vintage red I've been looking for my whole life. It's more expensive ran this bunch at $24, but I'd pay double the price (though I'd swallow pretty hard while doing so!), because it's perfect. My personal "crimson quest" is over.

The color is a perfect vintage red, which pulls a bit blue/brick-red (off of "true" red) if anything). The chubby pencil allows for quick yet very precise application and has a pleasant light mint scent. But what's really outstanding is the finish -- it's an incredible soft matte that I've never seen matched in any lip product. It feels weightless and moisturizing (!!!) on the lip, and doesn't play up any dryness like traditional matte lip products or lip stains. And although the color is in no way sheer or shy (it's a full-color, bold red), the matte finish softens it and makes it easy to wear and entirely appropriate for day -- though it would be a gorgeous evening lip too! I can't even bring myself to top it with a gloss (though of course it's great-looking worn that way too) because it's such a perfect matte.

(Application tip: I definitely recommend wearing with a separate lipliner -- I use UD's clear l/l -- to prevent feathering and maintain a perfect edge. I also wear UD's lip primer underneath to extend the wear length, as I do with almost all of my lipsticks and glosses.)

If you have a Sephora or another store carrying Tarte near you, I really, really recommend trying it out. The other shades are also pretty great. I particularly love Exposed, a gorgeous nude.

My 2nd favorite is UD Revolution -- a traditional lipstick, but still a great lip product and a beautiful vintage red that I highly recommend. If you happen to be in Sephora checking out the Tarte Fiery, give this one a look-see too :).

One Ring To Rule Them All

Posted on 01.13.11 at 7:27 AM

Thanks for all the comments, kids - You're making me blush! One day, I'll write the story of how I came to wear red lipstick - it was actually a pretty painful process.

To address a few: Besame. I've tried Besame before, and for me, I feel it wears off pretty quickly and often feels greasy (which I hate), but I'm definitely contacting them to ask for samples and may even buy a tube. One thing I love about them (if I'm not mistaken), is that you can buy replacements to go into your original tube. Also, for Tarte and UD, we actually have a Sephora down the street, so I'm pressing Janetor and Marian into service one day during our lunch break document and provide commentary on our Sephora Round. Look for that content in your lunchbox soon.

Clare - I am actually stocking up on it now from a different retailer (recommended by Marian), but I thought that I should find a different red in case they show up all grody and also because I can legitimately ask for free samples, and because I get paid to do stuff like this anyway. Sucks to be me. (not really.)

As for Sumati's lipstain advice: I've never tried them because I've always thought it would be too sheer. But I'm definitely gonna give your process a whirl. Look for that, too. And thanks for the idea!


Posted on 01.13.11 at 9:10 AM

if you are obsessed with your original lip color you can try tree custom color specialists... they have an archive of old lip colors that they remake and send you tubes of, you can also send in a small piece of your old color and they'll match it identically.

second, lipstains are great! i'm in love with my josie maran "magic marker lip stain" stays on all day, and is very bold color. i got it from sephora. and i'm not sure i'll go back to other lip colors, easy to apply, long! :D

good luck!


Posted on 01.13.11 at 10:38 AM

Good I'm glad you're stocking up. NOTHING worse than when someone discontinues a favorite. It's like...the adult version of someone stealing your bike.


Posted on 01.13.11 at 11:46 AM

I am a die hard Ruby Woo with Cherry lip liner by MAC fan. It's the only color I've worn for 5 years or so. It's matte, and a blue red, and I love it. If I weren't already married, I'd marry it. I love it that much. :D

One Ring to Rule Them All

Posted on 01.13.11 at 12:16 PM

I have an inkling that I know this Amber. ;)

It looks great on you (like unjustly phenomenal, but I love ya too much to hate you), but I feel like that old commercial: "Here come Erin's lips!" when I put it on.

See you next weekend, lady.


Posted on 01.13.11 at 1:34 PM

Good call, Amber. Yeah, MAC has a few good reds at a decent price, not drugstore, but not bad. Ruby Woo, Russian Red, etc. (And the back to mac program, save your (6?) empty tubes to trade in for a free one.)

One Ring to Rule Them All

Posted on 01.13.11 at 1:53 PM

@ Liz, yeah, I've tried MAC's Viva Glam, Russian Red, and Ruby Woo over the past few years, but they're not EXACTLY what I'm looking for....but I'm willing to try again!

Also, the best part of the Back to MAC program is that I don't even think it has to be all lipstick tubes, I think it can be all your empty MAC items. (Someone know for sure? Anyone?)


Posted on 01.14.11 at 10:23 AM

Yep, it can be anything -- which is convenient if you depot a bunch of eyeshadows, for example. I've never been into MAC, but I was always under the impression that most people's empties were e/s pots for the most part -- do most people use up that many lipsticks and glosses?? :). (Says the woman with such an embarrassingly large stash that she can only remember hitting pan on fifteen or twenty products total, EVER.)


Posted on 01.14.11 at 4:20 PM

I think you might like Cruella by Nars - or Rapture Lip Fixation by Jane Irdale - which I'm obsessed about at the moment.
I review a lot of red lipsticks : )

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