Do you have #reddread? You know, the fear of wearing red lipstick in case it feathers, bleeds or looks so at odds with everything else on your face that you quickly come to resemble a well-worn blow up doll? If so, you'll have likely accumulated a collection of lipsticks whose pristine bullets you'd rather admire in the tube than ever dare apply. That's where I am; a store of reds from the perkiest blood orange to the deepest burgundy via blue-based vintage rouges that I've never had the balls to wear. A few years ago, after never wearing eyeliner because of my ineptitude at getting the lines either symmetrical or sharp, I challenged myself to wear it every day for two weeks, forcing myself to learn once and for all. And it worked. So I'm applying the same logic and I'm wearing nothing but red lipstick until I've worn each and every single one I own, and maybe a few more I pick up on the way, and have finally figured out the secret.
Why, though? I've interviewed celebrities, supermodels and MUAs who have all said that red lipstick, in some cases on its own, can be the best thing you'll ever do for yourself, but I'm yet to be convinced, so I'm determined to be let in on the secret - and then share it with you.
Click the images below to see my verdict, but also what the shade is and where to buy... EG xx
bourjois rouge edition soufflé de velvet in coquelic'oh
Feels: Light and soft - there's a cloud/marshmallow quality to the texture when you're applying it. Soufflé is the perfect description for how it feels, but that light texture actually delivers a sheer stain that bonds fast and can't actually feel.
Looks: This particular shade dried-down to a muted tomato red. It looks like a stain, but there's a bit more 'meat' to it than that and the soufflé appears to add just a touch of volume to the lips too.
Wears: Surprisingly well for something that feels as though it'll completely evaporate as soon as you lick your lips. Faired well after coffee and water, but didn't stand up against eating. That said, I only had to reapply three times during the day: after lunch, before going out after work and then once while I was out.
Pros: If your #reddread is at a 10 then this is the training wheels of textures as it requires minimal management. The application is entirely unfussy, you don't need a lip liner to stop it bleeding and the way it holds fast means there's no need to keep checking yourself in the mirror.
Cons: If you're already a devoted lipstick or liquid lipstick lover I'll doubt you'll see the point of this. Other than that it really is very honest about what you'll get from it so no real cons, in my opinion.
revlon super lustrous lipstick in cherries in the snow
Feels: Creamy and soft on application and to get better wear I'd actually recommend patting the lipstick onto lips, smudging with your finger to 'bed' the colour in and then apply straight from the bullet to build up a depth of colour and ensure the pigments hold fast.
Looks: Has a satin, not too creamy, finish that has a very bold colour pay-off. This is more of a pink/blue red so if you suit cool colours in your clothes [basic rule hair colourists use is how your skin looks against hot pink (cool) or bright orange (warm)] and have always found true reds wash you out then this could be the way to finally get red lipstick into your makeup bag.
Wears: Has a strong grip and didn't bleed or feather, but I think blotting twice helped keep it inside the lip lines.
Pros: It feels comfortable and delivers a lot of colour so if bleeding, feathering or worn-off red has put you off in the past this could change your mind.
Cons: If you don't like a strong colour or you suit warm shades then this isn't for you.
bobbi brown lip color in Lady ruba
Feels: Incredibly soft, in fact, much softer than I expected a highly pigmented lipstick to feel. Was cheered to find my lips actually felt better for having worn it - much more hydrated and nourished than with constant reapplication of balm.
Looks: Full colour, satin finish. A lot of pigment and a lot of moisture without any of the bleeding that'd I'd associate with this kind of formula.
Wears: Lasted well against food and drink and needed a hint of a touch up mid-afternoon rather than a full-on re-do.
Pros: Lips benefit from wearing it as it offers real moisture throughout the day.
Cons: Struggling to think of one in terms of wear or look, apart from the fact that this might be too orange red for those of us with cool tones, which includes me. I happen to think my skin looks like a slice of budget ham with this shade (hello, pigmentation, undereye circles and general piggy pinkiness) because of the warmth.
(Note: shade was limited edition so unavailable - link takes you to nearest equivalent in same texture)
chanel rouge allure luminous intense lip color in rouge tentation
Feels: Creamy, but semi-skimmed in weight because this literally slides on - to the point that it felt like I had to keep steering it away from my lip line. Stays soft all day and there isn't any tightening or dry-down.
Looks: Satin and soft, but I wouldn't dare wear this formula without a long-wearing lip liner to keep it in check because I didn't trust it not to bleed.
Wears: Transferred a lot of colour when I had my coffee (see pic) but didn't affect the colour of my lips nearly as much as I would have thought. In fact, it looked untouched, which was particulary impressive.
Pros: Lasts ages and the colour in the bullet is what you get on your lips. Great on cooler skin tones.
Cons: I reckon this one would bleed so needs a liner. Probably not so good on warmer skins.
revlon super lustrous lipstick in rich girl red
Feels: This is the second Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick I've tried in the challenge and it feels exactly like the first one did despite the pigment pay-off being completely different. It's soft and feels hydrating the whole time you wear it.
Looks: The finish is very sheer, so much so that when I applied it I actually checked the label to see if I had picked up a balm instead of a lipstick. However, the colour really builds, so if you layer you get the opaque orange-red you see in my picture. I bumped into the incredible makeup artist Amanda Bell this morning, who was loving #reddread, but who told me that because I'm wearing red lipstick with only a smattering of other makeup I can actually take some of the colour and blend it into my cheeks and eyelids until it's really sheer to bring the look together. It made a real difference and I'll be using it for the remainder of the experiment.
Wears: If you blot in a few layers - I did about five - then it helps the pigments bond into what looks like a sheer stain and get a really strong colour, but this doesn't fare well against food, drink or lip-chewing.
Pros: A great option if you want to try red, but want to start slow.
Cons: If you want a banging red then this won't be enough bang for your buck.
MAC RETRO MATTE LIPSTICK IN RELENTLESSLY RED
Feels: This matte formula actually requires a fair amount of pressure to apply. The colour pay-off is good, but you have to really push the lipstick into lips. If a normal lipstick is like using an HB pencil then this is more like an 2H - you need to really draw to get the depth of colour you see in my picture. It does have dry-down, which means you can feel it gripping to lips, and it feels powdery to the touch.
Looks: A muted matte with a really high colour pay-off. The description on the website is 'bright pinkish coral matte' despite 'red' in the name.
Wears: Didn't budge at all and had no worries about the lip line, although you could feel and see it struggling to cling onto the wetter part of lips after a few hours.
Pros: Really doesn't budge and the colour is vivid without looking painted on.
Cons: Feels tight by the end of the day, when I went to reapply I'd have preferred to actually just take it off. Used a scrub and extra moisturiser when I did eventually take it off.
bourjois rouge velvet the lipstick in joli carmin'ois 07
Feels: Incredibly soft and even after a few hours and a coffee, when I pressed my lips together I could feel the 'cushion' of the creamy colour, but there's also a hint of grip.
Looks: The colour pay-off is intense and it doesn't fade throughout the day. The colour on your lips is true to the colour on the packaging. This red is incredibly bright, so much so I was actually heckled in the street by a man who told me it was too much. I ignored him.
Wears: Incredibly well - against food, drink and heckling.
Pros: If you like strong colours this range is a good choice and if you hate touch-ups you can wear this with confidence. As long-wear formulas go this one doesn't feel too tight or become uncomfortable.
Cons: Struggling to think of any - if you prefer sheer colours this won't work for you.