Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Revival of 90s Lipsticks


 I wasn't aware of brown lipstick as a nineties thing, and unless it was popular with children and babies I don't remember much of anything that was on trend in the nineties.  But since the nineties were two decades ago everything nineties is now officially vintage and those who came of age then are old enough to enjoy reviving various aspects of its popular culture.  Brown lipstick shades were popular then, ranging from orange browns to maroon and since I have recently discovered that the brown shades of lipstick are what suit me best, I am right on trend for the nineties brown lipstick revival.  As annoying as it is to be accidentally on trend when I loathe being trendy, it's good to know that my favourite lipstick colours are readily available.  Having spent much time and too much money figuring out what works for me and feels right, I am now fearful of my favourites being discontinued. 

Doesn't that always seem to happen? 

Whether I am looking for a nude, soft and peachy, medium basic neutral look, or my version of red, what works is always a brown based colour.  It works so well I have accidentally purchased identical colours in different brands and formulas because my radar is now so finely tuned to terracotta.

Long lasting formulas tend to be drying, so although I've experimented with them I would rather have a cream formula and just reapply it when needed.  I've found that if the formula is too sheer and oily it doesn't give even pigmentation and a pearl or gold glitter effect can resemble dry patches. 

Even when I thought I was neutral-cool toned I knew that brown was the right direction and always chose browned mauves.  Moving in a warmer direction I still look for brown but I've learned that brown needs to be the dominant colour.

Last year I went searching for my version of red.  I knew already that red in the tube, whether warm or cool, did not work for me and always ends up looking like a neon sign on my face.  I knew I needed the red to be muted with brown somehow and I homed in quite quickly on Rum Raisin.  It looked pretty good, though a bit dramatic.  I was excited.  I had never seen myself look this good in something that looked like a red lip.  I bought it.  I wore it a few times but stopped because it was just too much.  I tried blotting it but that always reduced it to a pinkier-red than looked good.

Reading some explanations about lipsticks for True Autumn on Christine Scaman's blog, 12 Blueprints, my experiences with lip colours began to make sense.  If there is too much  pink in the colour mix it can't find a colour in the Autumn woman's face to harmonise with and it sits apart; the pink begins to be what you notice most.  I had always wondered why lipsticks ended up looking more pink on me than they did in a swatch or in the tube and was puzzled because my naked lips are not overly pink or dark so it couldn't be my lip colour coming through. 

It was awhile yet before I tried anything obviously orange.  Rum Raisin, I learned, was a good colour for people in the Deep Autumn colouring group because it is not a purely warm colour mix. Deep Autumn has a touch of Winter.   It has a hint of cool red in it and that's why it pulls pink on me and looks just a bit off.  The lighting is dim but this is a fairly accurate representation of how these colours swatch on paper.

You can see how Rum Raisin looks more purple/plum next to the other colours I've collected.

Eventually I figured out that I needed purely warm colours and began to read suggestions for Autumn lipstick colours.  Given that MAC brand is very popular it is probably the most frequently referenced brand on Pinterest and in beauty blogs.  Nars is another.  I've not got access to department stores or Sephora, just a variety of drugstores and Walmart for my options so I gathered a limited list of suggestions and began to develop my understanding of what types of colours were being recommended, mentally translating Mac into Revlon as best I could.  Without realising it I bought duplicate colours in different brands and formulas but seem to be headed towards a favourite three.  These are the colours in the photo above.

Revlon Super Lustrous in Pink Truffle is a new  a very sheer formula they call shine and is rumoured to be the same as a now discontinued Lip Butter with the same name.  It is so close to my natural lip colour it's pretty much like wearing lip balm so I treat it like lip balm.  The name is a bit surprising but it's a pale warm pink-brown that is basically my version of peach.  The one actually named Peach Parfait is too yellow-peach for me and would suit someone with Spring colouring. Revlon Colorstay in Runway is nearly identical in colour but the formula is drier.

Revlon Super Lustrous in Rose Velvet is identical in colour to the Wet n Wild Mega Last lipstick in Sand Storm which I bought recently. The difference is that the Wet n Wild is a matte and the Revlon is a cream.  The cream certainly feels better on my lips and I think looks better on lips over 40 too. Despite their names, they both swatch as a warm pink-brown on paper and look like terracotta on my lips. 

Revlon Super Lustrous in Toast of New York is the actual vintage colour in my collection. It's an orange-brown and reads as a red on me, albeit a warm and muted one.  I can apply it straight out of the tube and would wear it any day. Photo at the bottom of the page.
Revlon Super Lustrous in Abstract Orange is similar in colour but the formula, isn't quite working for me. On my lips the colour reads nearly identical to Toast of New York but the formula is sheer and has a gold shimmer.  It seems to wear off in a patchy way that make my lips look rough and dry. 

Last Thoughts

Although I need lipstick colours that are quite brown, I do look best with coloured lips and not anything that approaches the nude look.  Beiges of any type, pink or peach look terrible and chalky and drain my face of colour.  I think this is because I need to match my makeup chroma to my personal chroma.  That is, my own colouring is very medium and a bit muted, and warm so I need to repeat that in the colours I wear, both in clothing and in makeup.  Too light is as wrong as too dark.  Bright and clear are also wrong and so is cool or neutral.  That neutral true red that it's claimed everyone can wear because it's neither more blue-red or more yellow-red?  Nope-it doesn't work for me.  It's not warm enough and it's too bright.  Revlon has lots of reds and several that are dupes for the popular MAC reds, but they all look atrocious on me.  Does this mean I can't wear a red lip? 

 Nope.  It means I needed to think outside the box in order to wear a red lip.

                                                    Revlon Toast of New York


  1. Ahh I remember the brown lip well,there is photographic evidence of me and my two h.s. best friends(one of them was married very young...yeah, didn't work out) ANYWAY, we look quite dated now (to my eye) as a bridal trio with ghastly brown lips! It is kind of an adorable time capsule I guess though - which does make me feel ancient! I also remember the ORANGE/rust shimmer, that was another favourite (gulp!). Although it might suit you, that orange-ish shade looks a nice natural/nude-ish on you. I cannot go too orange or too pink, somewhere in the middle and I'm fine, plums and muted fuschias are good too. Still searching for a red lipstick that looks ok, I have a tiny bit of a tan right now and the one orange-y red shade I own suddenly looks ok. Also experimenting with the dark lip revival, mainly in the privacy of my bathroom! ;-)

    1. Hi Steff! I think the nineties trend was at least sometimes more about the lips actually looking brown, though I could be wrong. Different people will get different effects. I don't want brown lips, just the right sort of pink or red look and strangely, I get that from orange or brown. You probably want the brown-mauve or brown-rose type colours for your MLBB look. Have fun experimenting! xoxo

  2. Ooh, I enjoyed this deep dive into lipsticks! I think we must have similar colouring, S, as I lean into the brown-tones as well. I have found that brick reds (lots of brown in them) look amazing on me, and read as true red on me. I tried a beige once (it was free in a pack with a raisin purple) and it wiped my lips right off my face! I took it to a Winesday party and we all tried it - that was a real eye-opener! It looked fabulous on 2 of the women and horrid on the rest of us. I'm a mostly MAC lipstick wearer, but I appreciate a good drug store brand. I'm quite fond of Rimmel and NYX, both of which are now stocked at London Drugs - the NYX line has really gotten bigger in the last month or so.

    1. Glad you liked it! I think we do have similar colouring and I could always see that you are warm-toned but didn't see it in myself. I think wearing the wrong colours kind of masked it. We both are warm but fair, which is a bit tricky. I would love to try MAC chili so one day when I make it to Victoria I will. NYX is supposedly the discount version of Nars and we do have London Drugs here so I must explore more. LOL-at the beige lipstick story. xoxo


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