I have a thing with red lipsticks. While I am starting to appreciate a subtle pinky-nude (the favorite shade of my mother, the woman responsible for my lipstick hoarding ways) and even unconventional shades like black and purple, reds always catch my eye first. I'm sure there are other red lipstick aficionados who are always searching for their holy grail: something long lasting, the perfect shade for their skin tone, a non drying formula, etc.
Having this obsession has lead me down several paths. I have tried just about every drugstore brand and variety possible (Revlon is the reigning champ). I also enjoy indulging in cult classics as well as testing how each type or formula works for me personally. My preference is a matte look that is easy to apply. I'm also not biased towards a warm or cool undertone for my own skin so the range of shades available is like a lipstick theme park for me.
In my college days, it always seemed like the surest way to make sure I ended up with pizza for dinner was to do a bright red lip during the day. Whether my friends and I decided to hit up a campus event for free pi- I mean social activities or I was feeling lazy, I ate A LOT of pizza in college. I don't eat quite as much now, but I basically have my own wive's tale: If I'm wearing red lipstick, I'll probably have pizza. Just like if I ever straighten my hair, it will definitely rain.
I reached into my make up stash to test out five formulas against one of my favorite foods. I didn't buy any of these specifically for this experiment, but I chose them based on how often I see the brands/formulas recommended on places like r/MakeupAddiction and their reviews online.
Here are the shades:
- Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Tannin, $26- a warm toned deep red described online as a "Poppy Red." It has a creamy feel and a slightly satin finish. Rating on Sephora: 4.7/5.
- NARS Audacious in Annabella, $32- a bright orange-red also listed as "Poppy Red." It is extremely creamy and dries down demi-matte. Rating on Sephora: 4.6/5.
- NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, $26- a cool toned, bright red with a matte finish. Listed online as "Siren Red." Rating on Sephora: 4.5/5
- Colourpop Lip Liner and Lippie Stix in Frenchie, $5 each- Described online as a "bright warm neon red," which is an excellent description. Similar to NARS Annabella. Dries down mostly matte with a soft looking finish. Rating on Colourpop: Around 4.7/5
- Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, $14- Described online as a "matte bold classic red." The most neutral toned of the bunch and what I would call a true red. Matte finish when it dries down. Rating on Sephora: 4.3/5.
For the sake of keeping things real, I ate my Papa John's leftovers like I would normally: with a glass of water, using the garlic sauce (duh), and occasionally blotting with a napkin to make sure I don't smear lipstick all over my face. I didn't do any special preparation or priming with any of the colors. With the bullets, I applied once, blotted, then applied a new coat. For the pencil and cream lip stain, I did one coat. I used the accompanying liner with the Colourpop shade because that's how I would normally wear it.
Bite Beauty Amouse Bouche in Tannin
Rating: 4/5 slices
When it comes to shade range, it is really hard to beat Bite's Amuse Bouche line. Coupled with the fact that it is made with 12 edible oils, it is no wonder this is a recently hyped favorite. In this line alone there are seven shades of red to choose from. The finish on this lipstick is also very flattering and moisturizing rather than overly drying. I enjoy the shade immensely and wore it all day the day of this experiment. That being said, one coat slid pretty much right off when I indulged in a pastry earlier that same day.
With two coats and a less awkward food, the staying power of Tannin was vastly improved. I love the feel of this lipstick right out of the tube. The creamy texture of a lipstick like this normally doesn't fare too well in a longevity test, but I was pleasantly surprised. The color is definitely dulled a little bit compared to when first applied. However, because this formula is really forgiving with touch-ups, it still ranks 4/5 slices.
NARS Audacious in Annabella
Rating: 2/5 slices
Oh, NARS. Such sleek packaging. Such cheeky names. And typically, such amazing products to back the prestige. I picked up my first tube from the Audacious line while traveling in New York by myself. I loved the color selection and the inspiration behind the line so much that I went back to pick up another shade. Annabella is what I thought was my perfect, punch-your-lights-out bright red.
It is no secret that these have a creamy formula. In fact, I believe one reviewer commented that she had to apply with a lip brush because there is simply no way to apply a neat line with the bullet. Perhaps that is why I found myself reaching for this lipstick way less than I anticipated considering the $32 price tag. However, the creamy formula does feel amazing on and deliver one heck of an opaque swatch with just one go. That same creaminess, however, is its downfall.
I don't think I even ate a full slice of pizza. I munched on a breadstick as well and noticed I left behind a huge amount of lipstick with each bite. That's not too unusual when drinking from a straw or eating, but it doesn't usually end well for my lips. This is no exception. When I was done, there was an entire patch missing from the middle of my lips with only an awkward line around the edges. I maintained a 2/5 slice rating because the lipstick itself is a beautiful finish and shade, but it is no match for pizza.
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl
Rating: 3.9/5 slices
Even after the disastrous Annabella experiment, I wanted to test my first true red lipstick love: Dragon Girl. The Velvet Matte lip pencils from NARS have one of the best finishes I have ever used. They are truly matte, but don't settle into any lip lines. They also last forever and end up more like a stain than a lipstick. Dragon Girl has long been a staple in my rotation as you can see with the tiny pencil nub in the first post photo.
So if that's the case, what is with the 3.9/5 slice rating, right? I'm not sure if it is because my pencil is a little bit older, but the color payoff from Dragon Girl isn't nearly as bold as I remembered. It's hard to really wow me after eating pizza if I wasn't impressed with the initial application. The before and after comparison itself would garner a rating closer to 5/5, but I'm unlikely to even want to reapply this pencil even if it did get messed up.
Colourpop Liner and Lippie Stix in Frenchie
Rating: 4.5/5 slices
Colourpop is the definition of a lipstick lover's paradise. All of their products are like little candy bites for people who want to experiment with color or texture. Considering the price point of these particular items ($5 each), they are a go-to when I want to experiment with an unusual shade. Of course, that didn't stop me from buying Frenchie: the ultimate neon red.
I prefer the Colourpop Lippie Stix with the matching liner underneath for the sake of precision, but I don't know exactly how necessary using both is. For a more true matte feel, I would go with just the liner. However, the wow factor really comes from layering the two products. Even together, these two products are less expensive than anything else on the list which goes a long way in determining their 4.5/5 slice rating.
The color itself barely faded or budged after eating what was left of my pizza. Since I can't ACTUALLY eat five pieces of pizza in one sitting, I had to ration each piece a bit. You can see where the color is a little less bright and it slightly faded in the middle; but overall, I don't think I would really need a touch up if I were in a public setting.
Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red
Rating: 5/5 slices
If I had to liken this lip stain to an item of clothing, it would be a pair of thrift store jeans that I always forget I have but fall in love with once I put them on again. Basically, this is a one and done type product; but because it is so easy, I often forgo it for flashier new lip products that catch my magpie eye. I can thank this experiment for making sure that doesn't happen again.
I actually hypothesized to myself before I started that this would be the winner based on trying to wash the swatches from my hand:
That being said, I was disappointed when I didn't get the chance to test this lip stain out in the first round. Fortunately, I had two more pieces of pizza to scarf down for another meal. I had to test this one separately, which may account for the clear victory. I prefer to think that it is just an amazing product. The after pictures are after two whole slices of pizza, whereas the others tested were spread out over three slices between four products.
Typically, I would also apply the matching Sephora Lip Liner To Go, but I have misplaced my tiny pencil. This is just one stroke with no lip liner or primer. When I used a napkin in between bites, none of the product blotted off. Plus, I think the shade and precision make this a really clean look. This is the overall winner with a ranking of 5/5 slices, especially at the price point of only $14.