Long-wear lipstick is so full of promise. “You can totally make out with your boyfriend!” she says, luring you in. “And eat a Reuben! And not worry about your lip color until you want to take it off!”
She’s tempting, because the result is beautiful, vibrant, and precise:
Well, everyone, long-wear lipstick is a tease. I love the idea, so I keep giving her another chance, but my lips are typically pretty grody by the end of a day of wear. Though the color itself does not fade, I’ve found that I really can’t keep long-wear lipstick looking good for that, well, long.
After eating or just wearing for a few hours, I often find the center of my lips devoid of color; however, since this is long-wear lipstick, it doesn’t fade. Instead, it flakes and crumbles off, leaving a noticeable and jagged seam where the color picks up again.
WARNING: Graphic beauty content below.
At this point, I would typically just reapply, but Miss Long-Wear is having none of that. The seam of color means that reapplication is significantly less smooth and is now more prone to the same type of flaking; this creates a logarithmic lipstick function in which each successive application leads to less time before another is needed.
Though this problem does affect stand-alone products, like Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, I have found the issue is even worse with products that include a gloss or balm alongside the liquid color, like Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge pictured above. The product can’t properly adhere to lips or the prior application of color, since the gloss is in the way, thus decreasing wear time even further.
This is no way to live!
Luckily, I discovered a fix (albeit by accident). I was wearing Stila liquid lipstick in Beso, but I wanted the color to be brighter, so I added a touch of Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Stain in 09 to the center of my lips.
I felt like a goddamn alchemist. Instead of just sitting on top of the Stila product, the Glossy Stain melded with it to form a single layer; in addition, there was no seam when the stain ended, since the products blended so well together. I actually thought this could be a bad sign at the time, as I feared it would ruin the longevity of the Stila color, but I was luckily wrong.
Like, really wrong. After I initially tried this combination, I wore it for eight hours and two meals; by the end, the color had faded some, but I still looked presentable.
My experimental data for the photo below took place over five hours, but results are largely consistent for up to about 10 hours of wear. The fading I did experience was minimal and fairly even across my lips; additionally and amazingly, there was absolutely no flaking! I also found that if the color began to dissipate from the center of my mouth, I could rub my lips together a bit to redistribute it successfully.
I’ve since worn this look almost daily, with an excellent result each time. I really like this method because it combines a lot of elements that I am looking for in a lip color and had yet to otherwise obtain.
First, it is really, truly, long-wearing: I feel comfortable with this on for a full day with minimal reapplication and never feel like the quality of my lip color has degraded (e.g. flaking, opacity). Second, I do not have to wear a lip liner, since I only apply the gloss stain to the center of my mouth, so the liquid lipstick maintains its crisp edges. Third, it offers a slight satin finish to otherwise completely matte products; though I do prefer matte lip color overall, I think that some light reflection makes a product significantly more flattering. Finally, this combination is far less drying than other two-step long-wear products, since the moisturizing layer actually mixes with the long-wear color.
There’s another really attractive attribute to this method, though: customization. Since you are working with two separate and significantly different products, you have two fully customizable elements on your lips: finish and color. Customizable finish is very important to me, as I sometimes do prefer a glossier look for an event but don’t want to sacrifice my signature color. Though adding more gloss stain does detract from the longevity of the lipstick, I have found that this difference is significantly lower than if I apply a traditional gloss or balm.
Color play, though, is the really exciting aspect of this lipstick find. xoVain is no stranger to mixing lip color; since this method combines two highly pigmented products, it’s easy to do here.
Gloss stains are available in two main products: YSL Glossy Stain, as mentioned, and L’Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain. Between these products, there are over 40 shades available, offering plenty of mixing options with the essentially endless shades of long-wear liquid lipsticks. Though I do think that the Glossy Stain offers a superior effect in both opacity and wear, the L’Oreal product performs very well for its price point.
Here are the swatches of what I’ll be using, as well as the products pictured above:
My most common customization, as I mentioned, is between Stila’s Beso and YSL’s Rouge Laque 09. Beso is beautiful, but I usually want my red to lean slightly brighter than that, which Rouge Laque fixes perfectly. Working with close shades is a great way to fix any color that is so close to perfect, but needs a little bump. However, this difference is really only noticeable in person, and c’mon. I can have way more fun than medium red on medium red.
The first way I like to play with color here is through chiaroscuro, or the use of contrast between dark and light. On lips, this looks similar to high-contrast photo editing, but it doesn’t go away once you leave an American Apparel ad.
For example, if I’m feeling really dramatic and vampy, I keep the Rouge Laque, but put Beso on the sidelines in favor of MUFE Aqua Rouge in Burgundy 9. The shift from a deep and moody shade to maraschino cherry red in the center gives a lot more life to dark lips. My lips look plumper, since the color shift imitates shadows, and the effect is more flattering on my incredibly pale skin than the burgundy alone.
Now, let’s get a little summer-of-2011. That’s right: ombré! Since the products blend well together, it’s easy to mix unrelated shades; additionally, the pigment tends to stay where you want it, so an ombré look stays intact. Since I used more expensive products for the last look, I’ll do this one using drugstore products. Since I’m craving summer, I created a sunset on my lips:
I chose to use Maybelline Superstay 24 Color in Continuous Coral under L’Oreal Shine Stain in Coral Tattoo. Despite the similar names, the Maybelline is a peachy pink, while the L’Oreal is bright orange. I used the same process as before--concentrating the gloss at the center of my lips--but since the colors weren’t as similar, it doesn’t read as just the effect of a shadow.
This look is also really wearable, since the color shift isn’t glaringly evident from far away; instead, it just adds a bit of interest to the lip color.
What colors would you use? What are your best accidental beauty discoveries?