Thursday, June 17, 2010

Authentic Vintage Red Lipstick (and on a budget!)

(Revlon's "Fire and Ice" lipstick advertisement, circa 1952)

In all the years I have been a red-lipstick wearer, I have bought everything from the average-priced MAC, the crazy expensive Cle de Peau to the cheap Milani and Revlon. I have tried many colors and formulas and in the last couple of months, I rediscovered the world of Revlon lipstick. I still love my MAC Lady Danger but Revlon's Super Lustrous Fire and Ice, Cherries in the Snow, and Love That Red are quickly becoming my new favorites. Even though most modern red shades 'come close' to vintage colors, there is nothing like the real thing! Revlon's shades are not only authentic 1950s reds, they are cheaper too! I seen prices range from $5.49 to $8.99. (Revlon currently costs $8.99 at my local Giant grocery store but I have paid less at CVS and Wal-Mart).

I love how Revlon has continued to make Fire and Ice (a bright coral-based red with a slight pink undertone), Cherries in the Snow (a fuchsia-based red with vivid blue undertones), and Love That Red (a true red with a slight tomato undertone). I also like the smooth, creamy Super Lustrous formula. However, I did find the texture a bit "slidey" at first. To remedy this, I apply and just blot with standard, non-lotion type Kleenex.

In the 1940s and 50s, lipstick was creamier because they were made with mineral oils. Today's "matte" lipstick is a relatively new concept in cosmetics. MAC's red shades in Lady Danger, Russian Red, So Chaud, etc are all matte shades which have a dry feel and flat, non-shiny texture. In my opinion, I think Revlon's Super Lustrous lipstick captures this vintage element well.

I also like how vintage shades were bright-based red shades. I recently purchased a few vintage lipstick tubes from and some of the tubes had remnants of lipstick inside and some even had full, untouched color. Despite being tempted to swipe on 60-55 year old lipstick, I just froze the tube in my freezer and then when it was cold enough, I scraped out the old product and cleaned with rubbing alcohol. (By the way, the amazing and gorgeous Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage Blog has a fabulous tutorial detailing how to properly refill vintage lipstick tubes with modern lipstick bullets! You have to check it out!)

So, for those vintage girls looking for authentic vintage red lisptick, give these Revlon colors a try! Not only will you look amazing, you will be saving money (more to spend on vintage goodies!)


  1. Revlon's Really Red matte lipstick is nice too - The formula is so creamy, it goes on smooth (not dry and cakey like the MAC lipsticks) and the finish has a nice luster to it, not very matte at all actually.
    I LOVE the color too - stays a nice true red on me, and doesn't do funny things to my complexion. Definitely recommend giving them a try as well!

  2. Thanks for the tips, Moxie Tonic! I have Revlon's matte in Strawberry Suede. The color reminds me of a mix of MAC's Lady Danger and Morange lipsticks. I love the color of MAC's Ruby Woo but it is so dry! I heard from some reviewers over at that Really Red is pretty much a dupe for Ruby Woo. I am going to try it for sure! Thanks again!

  3. Hi LadyBetty,

    Stumbled across your blog when searching for comparisions of strawberry suede vs lady danger as I just received my strawberry suede and LOVE it and was wondering how it compares with lady danger (ie do I REALLY need to splurge on Lady danger now that I have revlon?). How are you liking your strawberry suede? Thankyou!

  4. Ching,

    The Strawberry Suede is more like a mix of MAC Morange and Lady Danger. Strawberry Suede is more coral while Lady Danger is more of a orange-based red. Basically, Strawberry Suede is a true coral tone and Lady Danger looks more like a true, bright warm red.

    I like the formula of the Revlon mattes. They are lighter in texture than MAC. I pair Strawberry Suede with MAC's lip pencil in Mouth Off. It would also pair well with MAC's pencil in Sublime Culture (for more of a toned-down, natural look). If I had to pick which of the two were my favorites, I would have to say Lady Danger since I love bright shades of red!

  5. My dad used to work for Revlon in the late '50s-mid '60s--what great makeup! It was before the Euro and boutique brands really hit the U.S. and Revlon was TOP-OF-THE-LINE. Back then, it was never sold in discount stores, only fine stores at full retail, on the orders of Charlie Revson. Their lipstick was the best. My mom, sister and I used to call ourselves "Revlon Brats," because Dad would get us everything with big employee discount. I still own a few vintage "Jeweler's Lipstick Cases" (designed by Van Cleef & Arpels) -- but without lipstick refills. If anyone knows if the old refills are available anywhere, any color, please post. I also own a "Revlon Doll," based on Barbara Britton, I believe. She is large and gorgeous, but I need to take her to the Doll Hospital here in NYC for some repairs. Seems I have a couple of real collector's items from Revlon.

  6. Ah, just found the Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage Blog on refilling lipstick. Thanks!

  7. I've been searching reviews trying to decide between MAC So Chaud and Lady Danger for a bright red-orange off the runway look. Then I came across this blog post...I immediately scrawled down Strawberry Suede by Revlon then I read how it is more coral than the brightness I'm looking for. So do you have a recommendation that has the bight red-orangeness of MAC So Chaud or Lady Danger?

  8. I came across thus discussion...just a few days ago. Ran to the pharmacy and acquired Cherries in the Snow and Love that Red. Now i found out that I can buy vintage Futurama lipstick holders/tubes. I red the instructions from Va-boom and was wondering if you can refill the Futurama tubes inn the same way. Any help is appreciated!

  9. I know you wrote this years ago but I just bought those three lipsticks today! I love vintage reds!