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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog
The perfect lipstick


Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, April 27, 2005 7:07 PM (Eastern)

So...what is your perfect lipstick and how do you find it?

Is there a difference between drugstore lipstick and department store lipstick, beyond the (sometimes significant) price difference?

Here I must employ a common beauty board term: "meh." Sometimes price does not quite mean quality, nor a guarantee that you will love this lipstick a year from now. Sometimes lower price does not mean greater value for your money.

In any case...here is my personal experience in the wide world of lipstick.

Department store brands overall have superior packaging. Drugstore brands tend to be functional, but not particularly pleasurable...just a plain old lightweight plastic tube without much pizzazz.

A few d/s brands have used rather stylish packaging, such as the old Fetish and Jane: minimal clean-design tubes.

A few department store brands have used rather homely packaging...Clinique comes to mind...and paying more does not mean better packaging...MAC comes to mind. Probably the cheapest department store brand, MAC has lovely sleek tapered black tubes that go with everything.

Department store brands seem to have better reds. I searched for my perfect red in drugstores over some years, and have yet to find it. A few have come close...Revlon "Blackberry" Super Lustrous lipstick, Black Opal "Barely Mocha" lipstick...but most turn bright fuchsia pink on me with just a trace of red.

As far as lasting power, you have the edge with some department store brands. My sheer MAC lipsticks last as long as full-coverage d/s ones, for example (and I loathe to reapply). Conversely, the Cliniques I've tried fade faster than Revlon.

All of that said...so why buy drugstore brand lipsticks? Some of them are good. Revlon Super Lustrous is a good brand, now that they're unscented/unflavored. L'Oreal is good if you don't mind the L'Oreal rose scent.

On the health food store side, find a Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer or a Terra Tints colored lip balm for a few bucks (both have good colors and function as lip balms).

Some of these lipsticks rival department store brands, and, they are cheap, or else they go on sale and get cheap. Falling out of love with a cheaper lipstick means you can toss it without an excess of "trashcan remorse." There is the variety/experimentation factor too in that, if you are paying $18 for a lipstick, you can play with only so many.

So why buy department store brands? You get to swatch before you buy. There tend to be greater selection and more complexity in shades...you will find shades here (such as the aforementioned elusive perfect red) that don't exist low-end.

Another factor is that drugstore brands, infuriatingly, discontinue their shades and formulas at the drop of a hat. If commitment is your thing, you will face more heartbreak at the drugstore than the department store.

After years of soul-searching and trying this and that, I ended up with two MAC "Lustre" formula lipsticks, Viva Glam V and Sophisto. Viva Glam V is somewhat more versatile in that (on me anyway) it is truly neutral and can be worn with warm or cool eye makeup. Sophisto is somewhat prettier than VGV...a bit more color, a bit cooler (which makes teeth look whiter), more lipstick-y all around.

These taste faintly of vanilla (as do all MAC lippies), last well, keep reasonably well (more than a year, since it takes forever to use up a lipstick)...the price is right for me. If ever MAC dared discontinue Sophisto (VGV is part of the fundraiser series so not to worry, they'll continue making it), I would feel momentarily sad, yet I would replace my Sophisto with another MAC Lustre shade...so there is that security-blanket feeling there too.

These are both sheers (compatible with my full lips, which look clownish in more solid colors).

Am I in lipstick heaven? Is the search over with? Yes...it is actually.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
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