Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Guide to All Things Lipstick

I really wanted to come up with a creative and more "specific" name for this blog post, but the truth is that I wanted to write a detailed post about buying, wearing and storing lipstick. I didn't want to say it was strictly for vintage enthusiasts, because I think this post could be a useful resource (I hope) for people who are interested in modern styles as well. I also didn't want to label this as a beginner's guide, because I feel like no matter how experienced you are, there is always something new to learn.

I'm writing this guide, for the same reason I wrote my Vintage (Style) Can Be Appropriate post and my Saving Your Pennies: Beauty post. I know there are a lot of women out there who like the look of a bold lipstick colour, but are afraid to try it out for themselves. I also thought I would try to incorporate some tips for budding vintage enthusiasts and for people who enjoy wearing lipstick already. I'm going to avoid recommending specific products in this post because I am hoping to post up some reviews in the future (haha) and I haven't tried all there is to try (especially not in the way of high-end brands). 


As you can probably tell by now I really like wearing lipstick. I wear lipstick probably nearly every day and I own a lot of it. I really like the way that it makes my lips stand out and I feel like it balances my appearance a bit, because I naturally don't have very pigmented lips, I have pale skin and dark hair. If I only have time to put on one cosmetic before I leave the house, it's lipstick. For me lipstick is bit of a confidence booster, but I think you also have to be confident enough to wear it. I like that it's not the kind of cosmetic you use to hide an imperfection, but rather to enhance a feature.

Some people believe that women  only wear lipstick for aesthetic reasons. I don't think this is true. Sure I want to look pretty, but I'm also a big believer in everything that lipstick stands for. Wearing lipstick during the second world war was a symbol of courage. It's also a way for me to express my creativity on a daily basis. It makes me feel like I am putting in an effort and it does make my whole look feel a little more vintage-inspired. 

I don't believe that propaganda about men being more attracted to women who wear lipstick and I don't wear it to please anyone else. While magazines and websites might have statistics that say women who wear lipstick (or make any kind of effort) are more likely to impress, I beg to differ. In my experience, while I have received some nice comments (mostly from other women) I have also been given plenty of strange looks, and had some awkward conversations. 


I think this is probably one of the most intimidating aspects of wearing lipstick, especially for beginners. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a lipstick, such as: texture, wear time, moisture, compatible colour and occasion. While it can be a little tricky at first, once you figure out what you like and what works for your colouring. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the different choices available, but hopefully this guide can make it a little simpler.

As far as finishes go you can get matte, satin, gloss/cream and shimmer/glitter lipsticks. Traditionally matte colours are drier and longer lasting and creamier shades are moisturising, but don't have long wear time. However, in recent years there have been moisturising matte colours and longer lasting creamy shades, so you need to decide what you want in a lipstick and do some research to find out which ranges offer those qualities.

 I find that you generally have to choose between long lasting and moisturising, though I am starting to find that a lot of long lasting lip colours tend to be less drying than they used to be and that you can wear balm underneath. If you don't want your lipstick to budge I suggest a matte or semi-matte finish. Liquid lipsticks are great for a long staying look, but I try to get a matching lip liner to neaten up the edges as it can be difficult to apply and remove.

Choosing the colour can  be a little difficult. Typical colour guides go on skin tones (such as fair, medium, dark) or undertones (such as blue or yellow) and don't take other factors such as eye colour or hair colour into account. I have been told that I have yellow undertones, but I have worn blue-based reds before and gotten complements from strangers. I have pale skin, but I have worn darker colours plenty of times and I haven't been called a goth once. I think a mid-toned dusky pink or mauve-brown suit a lot of complexions, and are both very wearable colours, so if you are really unsure that might be a nice place to start. 

The best way to figure out what suits you is to think about what clothes you have and what colours they are. You also might find it's best to go to a beauty section of a department store and try out some testers or to get a hold of some samples. If you try a colour and you are still not sure, take a picture with your phone to help you decide. If a colour doesn't suit you, but you still really want to wear it scroll down to the "Applying lipstick" section for some tips that might help you get away with it.

Because I live in a small town, there isn't a huge range to choose from locally, so I buy a lot of my make-up online. This can be a little difficult as you don't always know what to expect. I find it's best to read some reviews and look at some swatches of the product on google images before clicking "buy". If it's a dearer product look for any cheaper options that give the same result by searching for "dupes". Sometimes paying more money is worth it, while sometimes paying extra is only because of the packaging and the designer ad campaign.

There is no rule to how many lipsticks you can buy. If you only want to try it for special occasions then one or two colours might be enough. It's completely up to you. If you don't like the feel of lipstick you can try a tinted balm, a pigmented gloss or a lip stain instead. If you can't find a matching lip liner, look for a concealer pencil. 


This depends on personal preference. I like to apply a lip balm before I do the rest of my make-up, apply lip-liner first (all over), apply lipstick, blot and maybe powder if I want a super matte finish. It really depends on what I am doing that day and what lipstick I am wearing (some lipsticks I own don't need or match a lipliner). I know blotting seems wasteful, but it means it's less likely to get smeared everywhere later and it actually lasts longer. I don't agree with the foundation base for lipstick as I find it too drying and if a lip colour is really glossy or creamy I will avoid using a lipliner (and instead go for a concealer pencil) as the matte texture of a lipliner can go cakey. 

As far as underdrawing or overdrawing lips goes, its up to you. If you are happy with your lips the way they are, then just stay within your natural lip line. If your lips are not symmetrical just overdraw on the otherside to make them even. I am not a huge fan of the modern way of overdrawing lips, but I do like the 1940's Method. Also keep in mind that darker colours tend to make lips look smaller and lighter shades make them look bigger. 'Retro Makeup' by Lauren Rennells is a helpful make-up guide with plenty of tips on making lipstick last and creating different lip shapes. 

It's also important to consider what clothes and make-up you are wearing with the lipstick of choice. While matching your accessories to your lip-colour might be cute, wearing a matching dress is too much. Also, if your lipstick looks out of place, you might be wearing the wrong make-up to complement it. Also, I wouldn't recommend wearing way-out colours like bright purple or orange in a conservative workplace.

Make-up Suggestions:
  • If you are wearing a colour that suits you you can get away with wearing it without make-up if you wish. 
  • If you have noticeable blemishes and under-eye circles, wearing warm-toned (yellow undertones) lip colours can accentuate these imperfections. 
  • If a colour seems too bright or too dark for your complexion (when you have no make-up on) you can try evening out your skin tone, wearing bronzer, defining your brows, wearing mascara/liner and a sweep of bronze/champagne eyeshadow.
  • If a colour really does not suit you, but you cannot be told, your best bet of getting away with it is wearing full coverage foundation, a colour correcting powder, a defined cat eye, bronzer/contour/highlight. 
  • Try not to wear dark lipstick and dark eye make-up together as this can look too heavy. Some darker lipsticks call for a little eye definition to balance out the look. 
  • Brighter lipsticks need to be accompanied by a blush. I usually go a pale coral or light pink. 


I wouldn't say I am the most ladylike person there ever was, but I try not to be a slob. Here are a few personal rules I like to follow when it comes to lipstick.
  • I wouldn't say the rules of lipstick are as strict nowadays as they were  during the 40s and 50s. I wouldn't go fixing up my lipstick at a restaurant table or the dinner table at a formal event. However, during the day, in a less formal setting I prefer to try and be as discreet as possible without leaving the room. 
  • Try not to touch your mouth so you don't get lipstick everywhere. 
  • Try not to wear white (especially not long sleeves) if you are wearing a notoriously messy lip colour (or one that takes a bit of work to apply).
  • Carry these items with you when you go somewhere: Tissues for blotting, a tube of the lipstick, any matching lip-liners/glosses you are wearing and a compact mirror. I sometimes carry a similar shade in a moisturising formula so that I have a back-up if my lips start to go dry. 
  • Avoid eating greasy food and touch up after meal times. 
  • Drink from a straw, glass, or sports bottle, rather than a screw top bottle.
  • Try not to rub lips together too much. 
  • If you touch your face, make sure you wipe or wash hands so you don't accidentally stain other things or people. 


If you want to get your moneys worth out of your lipstick, I don't recommend tossing them around a lot or letting them roll around in the bottom of a messy bathroom drawer. Here are some more dot points.
  • Invest in a lipstick holder. This will make them easy to locate and will look pretty on display. There are plenty of cute porcelain ones on etsy for people who only have a few lip colours. If you have a lot I recommend getting one of those cheap acrylic stands from ebay or aliexpress. 
  • Do not store it in the bathroom. The steam with make them go moldy real quick. Keep them in a dry and cool place out of direct sunlight. 
  • Try not to drop them as they will break. 
  • Try to keep packaging clean as it can stain the lining of your handbag. 
  • Empty out your handbag every once in a while. You'll be surprised how many "missing" lip colours you find. 

As usual I hope you all enjoyed the post and found something useful in there. Please feel free to list any of your own tips or product suggestions in the comments below.

Please note:
  • I do not own these images. To view image source click on the heart icons under the photo
  • I am not a make-up artist/hairdresser. Most of this post is based on my personal opinion and experience. I also spend way too much time reading beauty guides and watching youtube. Do what you want. Take this advice with as much salt as you need.
  • I'm not forcing anybody to wear lipstick. If you don't want to wear it, that is totally cool. This guide is for people who want to wear it. 

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Witchcrafted Life said...

Seriously stellar and immensely comprehensive post, dear gal. I loved every word of this ode to one of my favourite (and most frequently worn) beauty products. You really knocked it out of the ballpark with this awesome look at lippies!

♥ Jessica

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

Thanks for the compliment! At some stage I may even attempt to write a part two and show a picture of my collection

Lavender and Twill said...

Such a helpful guide Natalie! Thank you so much for sharing. I definitely learned some new tricks that I will use next time I'm creating my favorite red lip look. :) ❤

bonita of Lavender & Twill