On The Everlasting Quest For Semi-Everlasting Lip Color

God, I hate to reapply makeup. I hate it. (Except when it’s in some kind of officially ritzy powder room setting, and your “reapplying” is just a rouse to gossip about shit with your lady friends while vaguely throwing some more lipstick in the general direction of your mouth or whatever.)

The only thing keeping me from tattooing makeup on my face is….okay, literally a hundred reasons. Needles near my eyes? Never getting to try out new versions of stuff? The chance that the tattooer might sneeze and I’d wind up going through life with a tragically-clown-like drunken lip line? No. A hundred times no. But STILL, the permanency sort of appeals to me a bit.

I’m constantly on the lookout for products with great staying power, mainly because I live in a place where the average resting temperature is a balmy zillion degrees and my face starts sweating any time I’m outside, talking, nervous about anything, or not covered in a blanket of ice. I’ve gone through love affairs with the usual long-wear products (primers, mattifying sprays, liquid liner that sticks to your lids like a Sharpie, hair starches, blah blah blah) but right now I’m all about the lipstain.

Another reason I love the idea of semi-permanent lipcolor? I consider nothing to be grosser than leaving lipstick marks behind you on other people’s glassware like some floozy old-school prostitute. You know, and then the wife finds the lipstick stain on the glass and she’s like, DON’T LIE TO ME, I GAVE YOU THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE, WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS, DON’T BE GLIB, CLIFF, YOU KNOW I HAVE NEEDS, DO YOU THINK I HAVEN’T WANTED SOME EXCITEMENT FOR MYSELF? DO YOU THINK I HAVEN’T LUSTED AFTER THE POOL BOY EVERY WEEKEND FOR THREE YEARS? And the old-school prostitute is just driving away in her little convertible, laughing all the way to the bank, dressed in a feather boa or some shit.

I digress.

I love lipstains because they make you look effortless and Snow White-like, as though you were born with naturally ruby/coral/toffee/burgandy/etc-colored lips and you wake up every morning all flushed and perfect looking, smelling slightly of lemons and honey. They are way less committal than a lipstick. Or a gloss, for that matter. JESUS, lipgloss is the most high maintenance relationship ever. Lipgloss is like the Kim Kardashian of products. You have to reapply five times before you’ve even left the house. Lipstains are great for work and evening and weekend and all the other time blocks; they are easy to apply, easy to forget you’ve applied, and easy to touch-up if need be. They can be dressed up or down, and they look timeless and modern simultaneously. They are the Emma Stone of products.

The only problem is: One, they dry out your lips. (See my previous post on medicinal-smelling Japanese moisturizer to address this.)

And Two, they never last as long as you want them to, and when they start to fade away mid-meal you wind up looking like you went and ate a popsicle in the bathroom between the salad course and the entree. Not flattering.

Thus far I have found two lipstains that are worth 5x their weight in gold, because honestly, they really don’t weigh very much on their own, you know?

The first is this stunner right here:


Yeesh. I know. $32.00 a pop. This is not an impulse buy. This is not a crazy new flavor of gum that you decide to take for a spin, just as your time to checkout of DuaneReade has come and you have to put down that People magazine lest they make you actually BUY it.

But this stuff is serious. It’s somehow glossy and stainy and lipsticky all at once, and Lord Have Mercy it STICKS AROUND. You want to exfoliate your lips first, then apply to bone-dry skin. Let it dry (it’s almost like an entirely new layer of skin) and take your lips out for a really nice dinner. This is lipstain to last you through your wedding, or through a long day at work when you don’t even have time to PEE, let alone painstakingly reapply your makeup. It’s super luxe and well made and the color spectrum is fantastic, so  women of all skin tones can find a shade to flatter them. I’m partial to No. 9, a true bombshell take-no-prisoners red, and to No. 6, a pinky caramely J.LO color when I’m feeling especially On The 6.

For those of us not diving into a pool of gold coins Scrooge McDuck-style, there’s a lowbrow version that– while not AS perfect– delivers similarly long-lasting results…

24 hours? Let’s not get crazy. You are a solid, 8-hour lipstain and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Maybelline Superstay 24 Hour Lipcolor.

This is the best of the cheapos, in my personal opinion. It comes with a stupid little gloss/hydrator to be applied on top of the stain, which of course rubs off in 10 seconds like any regular chapstick would, and is basically just there to guard against the inevitable drying that comes with wearing a stain. The key here is adjusting your expectations. This is not a lipstain that isn’t going to fade a bit throughout the day. But it’s a great choice if you have an event and you need your lip game on lock for 4-8 hours.

We have this thing here in Key West called the Zombie Bike Ride, which is exactly what it sounds like. I painted my face like a sugar skulI, threw some crazy flowers on my head, the usual. For my lips, I put this on in Maybelline’s “Flame” color (after a recent rebranding, I think it’s now called “Keep Up The Flame.” Whatever, Maybelline. Get your brand on.) Then I drew stitches over them ’cause I like to be frightful, immediately decided I needed to drink some wine, drank some wine, rode my bike 45 minutes in the blazing sun (read: super sweaty face), drank a number of other beverages, rode for another 2.5 hours, licked my lips a ton, talked big game, ate a giant plate of nachos, had some more beverages (I GET THIRSTY, OKAY), kissed my boyfriend a bunch (I mean, sorry, but it has to be included because it constitutes wear-and-tear), rode my bike home, drank some water, and generally touched my face a lotttttt. All in all, about 8-9 hours of wear.

This is at right around hour 1. I’d done my makeup, swanned around a bit, drank some wine….it’s pretty flawless.

So, then I got thirsty:

Drinking with abandon.

And then I got sweaty:

Notice how creased and streaky my boyfriend’s makeup is? He should have used the Maybelline, duh.
Also: Notice the sheen of sweat on my face? I’m not kidding around. It was like the surface of the sun out there.

And then, finally, after 8+ hours of wear, I decided I should probably take a picture of my lips after I’d eaten a big plate of nachos, just to see how the stain had held up:

Sorry about the shitty lighting. Nacho bars are not known for their interrogation-quality overhead brightness.

PRETTY FUCKING GREAT, RIGHT? That’s a lot of mileage for one measly little $9 lipstain. (If you’re interested, the eyeliner-used-as-lip-stitches that ALSO held up really well is Stilla, natch.)

This stuff needs a good scrubbing to take off– makeup remover is your friend here, and a nice exfoliator for your lips again afterwards cause they’re gonna be dryyyyyyyy as bone. Follow with a super-duty moisturizer to take you through the night and when you wake up, pat yourself on the back. You did good, kid.

So, there you have it. REAL LIFE TRIALS FROM A REAL GIRL, or something. This lipstain may not be the flashiest, it might not speak three languages and have mad Chanel purses in its closet, but when you need a matte cherry lip to take you through the evening looking fly, it has you covered.

Yours, still wearing my flower crown because it makes me feel like a centerpiece,


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