Pucker up

I am going to switch gears this month. There is one thing that goes hand in hand with fashion that I have never written about – makeup. We live in it, just like our clothes. It’s something that a lot of us don’t leave the house without putting on, at least in some capacity. I think it deserves some attention, so here goes nothing...

I want to start by clarifying that I, in no way, consider myself a makeup expert. I just mastered liquid eyeliner this year, and don’t ever ask me to contour or highlight anything. But, I’ve tried a lot of brands and formulas, so I have a decent grasp of what works and what doesn’t.

I will also say that I am not one to spend a lot of money on makeup, so I promise to not recommend $60 lipstick. If you like to experiment without breaking the bank, I suggest trying a monthly subscription to Sephora, Birchbox or Ipsy. Personally, I use Ipsy and love it. You fill out a survey to customize your products to your skin tone and preference, and then get five products, some full-size and some sample-size, and a makeup bag for $10 a month. OK, shameless promotion over. But seriously, try it.

One of my makeup obsessions is lipstick. I buy it whether I need it or not. I recently bought two lip glosses that came packaged in tiny wine bottles, because why wouldn’t you buy that? It can get confusing, though. I find myself standing at racks upon racks of tiny tubes and getting a little overwhelmed. I used to just buy a tube of lipstick. Now, there is creme, matte, liquid matte, gloss, and stains, just to name a few. If, like me, you go a little cross-eyed just thinking about all of that, I’ve put together a little cheat sheet of the different formulas and my favorite brands of each.

First things first – no matter what formula you choose, invest in a good lip liner. There is nothing worse than lipstick that bleeds into the lines around your lips. If you don’t want to deal with matching lipstick and lip liner shades, you can get a clear liner. My favorite is Know Cosmetics No Bleeding Lips. It creates an invisible line around your lips to keep any shade of lipstick in place.

Now, on to the lipstick. Like I said, I skew inexpensive with my cosmetics, so if you are reading this to find out if the Kat Von D lipstick is better than the Kylie lip kit, you’re in the wrong place.

• Matte: Matte lipstick is the most long-wearing of all of the formulas. It is a highly pigmented flat finish that gives a perfect pop of color. Matte formulas are not the easiest to wear, though. They can cause your lips to dry out. The best way to combat that is to keep your lips hydrated with a good balm in between applications. Of all the lipsticks I own, a basic matte is the one I wear the least, mainly because of the drying factor. The one I’ve tried is Maybelline Color Sensation Creamy Matte. I know creamy and matte sound like exact opposites, but they work well together in this case. This is the least drying of any that I’ve used, mainly due to the creme and matte mix.

• Liquid Matte: This is my favorite type of lipstick. Despite being a liquid, these lipsticks dry to a matte finish, but are less drying on your lips than a traditional matte formula. I have so many liquid matte brands that it is hard for me to narrow them down. If I have to pick one, it’s Ciate London Liquid Velvet. It is extremely pigmented and lasts throughout my entire work day without drying out my lips.

The runner-up, and cheaper option, is L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Gloss. It goes on really smooth and keeps my lips hydrated all day without losing any color. This is my go-to red lipstick. I have a hard time finding reds that don’t bleed or crack, and this is the best red lipstick I’ve found without delving into the really expensive brands. My only complaint is there is only one red in this line, and it is an orange-red. I like my red with blue undertones, and that shade isn’t available... yet. Fingers crossed.

• Creme: Classic creme lipstick is the formula most of us are most familiar with. Although not as shiny as a lipgloss, it has a fair amount of sheen you won’t find in matte formulas. Creme lipsticks are easy to just swipe on and go, but they don’t have the staying power of a matte. My favorite crème lipstick is NYX Turnt Up Lipstick. It comes in tons of shades, so there is a color for every skin tone. It’s really creamy, so it keeps your lips hydrated.

Another favorite from NYX is their Butter Lipstick. It glides on – like butter! Ha! – and gives the perfect amount of lightweight coverage for an everyday look.

• Gloss: Gloss finishes are exactly what the name implies – a high shine, glossy color that probably reminds you of what you wore in junior high. Glosses have made a comeback, though, and aren’t as sticky as they used to be. They also keep your lips incredibly hydrated. My favorite gloss is Colourpop Ultra Glossy Lip. Colourpop is my preferred affordable non-drugstore brands, with lipsticks coming in at only $6 a tube. The only downside is it isn’t available in any stores. You have to order online. On the plus side, they show you the lip colors on three different skin tones, so you don’t have to guess how a color in the tube will look once it gets on your lips.

If you prefer a brand you can find in a store, I suggest Buxom Full-On Lip Polish. Be warned, though, this is a plumping gloss, so you can expect a slight tingle when you first put it on that will fade in a few minutes. My favorite shade is Dolly, which is a shimmery mauve that looks good on everyone.

• Stain: Imagine how your lips looked as a child on a hot summer day after eating a few too many red popsicles. That is exactly the look you will get with a stain. They aren’t as pigmented as mattes, but have the same longevity. This is the one lipstick I don’t use. I like high-pigment lipsticks. But, I have a few in my arsenal that I can review for you.

One is CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain. I wasn’t impressed with this one. The color didn’t last, and it smells like you are applying a felt tip marker to your lips.

The other brand I have is Wet n Wild Megaslicks Balm Stain. This one is definitely more pigmented than the CoverGirl and stays on longer. The berry color I picked out turned pink on my lips, though. I’d be willing to try it in another color, though.

The best stain came from an unexpected place – the wine bottle lip gloss. I ordered what I thought was a rose pink and a burgundy. What I got was hot pink and bright red. It was way too bright for my liking, so I tried to wipe it off. While the glossy part came off, the color stayed. And stayed. And stayed. That pink color made it through exfoliating twice with lip scrub, rubbing my lips with a towel soaked in waterproof makeup remover, three drinks, one meal, and a three-hour nap.

If you have a favorite that won’t cost me a paycheck, let me know! I am always on the hunt for new lipsticks to try. With Sephora and Ulta both in Hattiesburg now, it’s easier than ever to indulge my obsession. Heck, I may even give in and try a Kylie lip kit.

Emily Hall is the Fashion Editor for Signature Magazine. If you need to reach her, she will be at home still trying to scrub off the wine bottle lip gloss.