3 Ways To Revive A Dated Lipstick Color

Most folks would just return the unwanted colors, but my blood was pumping hot with determination and nostalgia.
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Beth
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Most folks would just return the unwanted colors, but my blood was pumping hot with determination and nostalgia.

It was just last November when I was struck with the notion that I had to have NARS The Multiple. And yet, even though I knew The Multiple is a quality product, I was willing to accept a cheaper substitute, were I to find one. (This theme keeps popping up through years of therapy, sadly.) 

The Internet gave me a few ideas, but I couldn’t find those products in stores. Friends suggested perfectly capable liquid highlighters, but I was sick with tube-shaped-stick-highlighter obsession.

“But see, I’m looking for a tube!” I shouted into the ULTA salesperson’s face, pawing desperately at her lapels.

In all honesty, I maybe popped into two or three stores before going rogue. I am notoriously impatient, plus I had a wedding to attend in about a week, and I was consumed with creating a bronzy, monochromatic look. 

A lightening bolt of inspiration (or stupidity--I can’t quite be sure) alit upon my skull and reminded me that I wore shimmery, warm brown lipsticks back in the ‘90s. TUBES! 

Why can’t lipstick stand in for a lovely, powdery highlighter stick? Well, there are several reasons, but most importantly I discovered that pearl finish does not necessarily translate into shimmer.

Get it?

Get it?

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Coffee Bean and Champagne on Ice: two lipsticks that I first wore in high school. 

For those keeping score, that was 20 years ago. Most folks would just return the unwanted product, but my blood was pumping hot with determination and nostalgia. I wore these colors almost every day from about 1992 until 1998. I was devoted.

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The formula hovers just on the opaque side of translucent and is nicely moisturizing. However--and this is a big however--I am not in a rush to look like I’m clinging sadly to my youth, or like I’ve been picked up by a time-traveling phone booth. Kind of like the same reason I didn’t hop on the recently resurrected romper or acid-washed denim trends.

My second year of college, circa 1997. I can’t tell you what my hair is doing exactly, but my big brother has come to visit. Huzzah!

My second year of college, circa 1997. I can’t tell you what my hair is doing exactly, but my big brother has come to visit. Huzzah!

I’ve come up with three strategies for repurposing or reviving dated lipsticks. Or lipstick that came as a free gift with purchase, or given to you by your mother, or that you bought without proper research, or… you get the idea.

Stick with simple, timeless beauty.

Those of you with extensive makeup experience might call this “my everyday makeup.” For our purposes, we can also call it “staying as far away from how the lipstick was originally worn as possible.” 

In the case of these two shades, I want to avoid that mid-‘90s look: overly matte skin; thin eyebrows; light, shimmery eyeshadow. As you can see in the above photo, I also liked to use lip liner and several coats of Coffee Bean.

This time I used a clear lip liner and a brush to apply one coat of lipstick. The rest of the look is made up of a bit of BB cream, a slight wash of Bobbi Brown Blush in Peony, highlighter on the inner corner of my eyelid, and lots of my favorite black mascara, Maybelline Full & Soft. 

It’s simple enough that it doesn’t belong to any one era. It’s your face, but better, plus a nice neutral lipstick. No one will accuse you of being a cutting-edge makeup artist, but it will allow you to wear a possibly dated lipstick without looking like you’re going to a costume party.

Coffee Bean

Coffee Bean

Champagne on Ice

Champagne on Ice

Borrow from other eras.

Much like the first strategy, this is about avoiding a completely retro look, but it ups the potential for more fun and experimentation. I avoided looking all-‘90s-all-the-time by pulling trends from other decades, and the possibilities are endless.

I turned to one of my current beauty obsessions, Ms. Dionne Warwick, as inspiration for the first look. All due respect to our resident cheekbone alien baby, Alle, but Dionne is the original cheekbone alien. I like her imperfect, “unfinished” look. 

I realize that the Champagne on Ice color puts the look at risk of looking too ‘60s, but I think the pearl finish elevates it beyond costume-y.I actually do this one for fancier date nights or dance parties.

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I also exaggerated the cat eye to modernize the look.

I’m not going to recommend this eyeliner. As you can see, it cracks and flakes for anything more intense than defining a lash line. Teachable moment: Do your research.

I’m not going to recommend this eyeliner. As you can see, it cracks and flakes for anything more intense than defining a lash line. Teachable moment: Do your research.

I paired the Coffee Bean with a warm, monochromatic look a la 1975.

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I blended Sephora + Pantone Universe Solar Power Bronzer in Toast just under my cheekbones and on my eyelids. I used a the bronze shade from my Pixi Mini Shade Quartet in Shades of Daylight to line my lower lash line and define the outer corner of my eye into my crease.

Play with color.

Once upon a time, I gave y’all a quick and dirty lesson on the color wheel to help pick eyeshadows that flatter. We can do the same thing here, pets! So, I’ve found myself with an orangey-brown lipstick AND a pinky-sand lipstick? Let’s get a little nuts!

I went with a bold orange eye to work with the warm Champagne on Ice.

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Fierce. Tangy.

Fierce. Tangy.

I warmed up a bit of Maybelline Color Tattoo 24Hr Shadow in Fierce & Tangy (xoVain’s unofficial “it” color of 2013) on the back of my hand, then applied it to my lid and into the crease. 

I then blended a dark coral/orange at my lash line and outer corner of my lid, and a bit of yellow at the inner corner of my lid (both from the Maybelline Eyestudio Color Plush Silk Eye shadow Quad in Coral Oasis). Black eyeliner on my waterline and black mascara complete the look.

I used a complementary approach with the Coffee Bean. I thought a rich, dark blue would look nice with the orangey warmth of the lipstick, so I built up layers of L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Midnight Blue on my lids, concentrating more color on the outer corner.

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In the past twenty years, I’ve learned to accept both gray hair and wonky eyelids.

In the past 20 years, I’ve learned to accept both gray hair and wonky eyelids.

Now, this product is not quite a powder, not quite a cream. If you apply with your finger, you get a much more intense result. I used a brush to get a washed, smoky effect, but then found that it is difficult to blend in this way. I still like the result, even though my blending rendered the rich pigment into an almost gunmetal grey. It is definitely different from my high school days, and I plan to test out the high test, full strength, finger-applied look for a serious night out.

Hopefully, this can be a launching point for makeup experimentation. Upgrade an ‘80s fuchsia. Take your matte ‘60s baby pink to another level. Another planet. I might raid my mother’s makeup and unearth a diamond in the rough.

Tell me about your favorite lipstick from high school. Or let’s talk our favorite ‘90s albums. I’m easy.