Friday, November 12, 2010

Expensive Does Not Necessarily Mean Better!-My Never-Ending Quest For The Perfect Red Lipstick

So, a while back, I posted a question asking "how much is too much when it comes to buying makeup?" Well, the other day while out at Neiman Marcus, I learned that not only is spending too much silly, it also does not guarantee good quality!

Take for example, the now-famous Tom Ford Private Blend Lipsticks. These lipsticks cost 45.oo USD and boast rich color payoff and a luxurious texture housed in a posh white and gold case. Even though I have found perfection in Make Up For Ever's Rouge Artist Intense Lipsticks (19.00 USD) and MAC's Pro Longwear Lipcreme (14.50 USD), I felt compelled to try the Tom Ford shade in Cherry Lush. Cherry Lush is a bright, true vintage red with a strong pink undertone.

The sales associate working at the counter raved about the lipstick and how the intensely pigment was paired perfectly with emollient comfort that lasted for hours.  After she sanitized the tester, I excited swiped a healthy slash of color on my lips. For 45 dollars, I was expecting the 'holy grail' of lipstick. You know, the lipstick what would put all others of out commission? Well, the color was indeed glorious. The red hue reminded me of maraschino cherries, dripping wet with wanton sexy abandon. But something was off. It was the texture!  It was like butter and not in a good, Mike Myers as Linda Richman/Coffee Talk way.  I felt like it was literally putting Land-O-Lakes Whipped butter on my mouth! I am all for intense creamy color but this was ridiculous!

I politely told the sales associate that I would walk around and test it out. She said "sure!" and I snuck out of the store. As I got back in my car, I looked in my mirror and noticed that the lipstick after 10 minutes of wear, was starting to bleed. Not good. I promptly wiped the lipstick off and put my MAC Lipcreme in Prolong back on. Whew.

So, maybe in some cases expensive is better. I have found this to be true for shoes, foundation, and eyeshadow. As for cheaper being better, MAC and Make Up For Ever fit the bill wonderfully (for the most part).

In the end, I think finding the perfect shade and/or formula depends on testing or trying before buying. I tried to like the cheap Revlon reds but they do not work for me. They either slide off (Super Lustrous) or dry my lips horribly (Revlon matte). I have also tried the expensive Hourglass Femme Rouge (too wet) and Guerlain (bad taste, yucky texture and poor shade range). Based on my experience with the Tom Ford lipstick, unless the lipstick can REALLY wow me in color intensity, longevity, formula, and comfort, I do not see myself being able to justify buying it.

What do you think, girls?


  1. The only red lipstick I LOVE is Red Velvet by Besame. It's just the perfect red for my skin and eye colors and not too drying, not too soft. It's $22 for the new larger version (they sold out of the less expensive smaller one) so it's pricey. I keep trying to find a drugstore alternative but I can't quite get the color match!

  2. This might be a dumb question, but how do you sanitize lipstick?

  3. I'm so glad you test this stuff and let us know! I personally wouldn't pay that for a lipstick anyway unless I was much better off financially, but to hear that is isn't that good anyway makes me feel better ;o)

  4. Ah, this is why I love blogs. So heartening to read an honest review, especially when it is making me feel better for being a cheapo anyway!

  5. Trixie,

    I have tried the Besame colors and they are amazing! I love the original lipsticks but they are tiny! They are apparently discontinuing the small lipsticks for the new larger one that comes with a matching lip pencil and lip brush. I have read reviews that state that the formula is not as pigmented as the original.

    As for drugstore versions, I have really really tried but nothing comes close to brands like Make Up For Ever, Nars, or MAC.

  6. Betty2Tone,

    The way they "sanitize" lipsticks is by spraying the tester lipstick bullet with alcohol. Sometimes they will use disposable doe foot applicators to carve off a bit of color and then hand it too you to try on.

  7. Fiona,

    I love "Test-driving" products! I am a totally makeup junkie! I was surprised that all the hype about the Tom Ford lipsticks turned out to be, well, just hype. I was expecting this miracle lipstick but it was just an oily, overpriced lipstick cased in pretty packaging! Oh well, I love my Make Up For Ever and MAC. They are not super cheap but they do not break the bank either.

  8. Penny,

    Thanks for the compliment! I love testing makeup! I feel like I learn what is good and what is bad. A lot of expensive and cheap makeup is pure rubbish! Through my research, I have discovered great products/brands that really are amazing. I have also found several that were bad bad bad! For example, Kiehl's "Silk Groom" is a hair pomade that industry experts and celebs rave about yet when I got a sample, my hair felt like it had been covered in glue! It was gross! I had to wash it out! I am all for being thrifty too. I have my limits. I think most of the super cheap lipsticks are horrible and yet, a lot of the fancy, posh high-priced stuff is all "smoke and mirrors." You just are paying for the name, not the quality (or lack thereof!)

  9. As a makeup junkie I’ve purchased both high and low end brands over the years, spending way too much money along the way (I have an embarrassingly large stash of makeup, most of which I do not use!)

    I have to say that I have been most pleased with the pro “stage” brands (Kryolan, Joe Blasco, Graftobian) I’ve tried—these are no frills lines (basic packaging, no fancy advertising behind them), but they deliver professional results at pretty reasonable prices (somewhere between drugstore and a mid-end line like MAC or MUFE). In fact, the best foundation I’ve ever found (the Kryolan TV Paint Stick I reviewed awhile back) is a mere $11. I wish I had discovered years ago, before spending hundreds of dollars on products that were never quite right!

    I will say that my favorite red lipstick is Besame Red Hot Red—I’ve never found another brand that wears so well for me (it’s very long lasting, never bleeds or smears, and it leaves a nice stain when it finally fades away.) It’s a shame that they are doing away with it as I’ve never found another that equals it!

  10. Try the Lancome Color Design Mattes. They're only available at Macy's (if they're still in stock) or online. Check out Karla Sugar's swatches:

    They're not totally matte, go on really smooth, and don't feather! I have Stylista and Corset and they're amazing - great staying power!