While you might not know it from looking at my current makeup stash, I was a lipbalm and pink gloss only girl up until just a couple of years ago. I knew plenty of women who rocked lipstick, but I never felt sophisticated or confident enough to pull it off. While some people can cannonball right in, I’ve always been a more “sit on the edge and ease myself in” type of girl. After a little practice, I’ve finally grown comfortable enough to wear my brightest pink and darkest red with the best of them. If you’ve been eyeing the lipstick aisle with longing, but aren’t quite sure how to make the jump, here are my tips to go from cherry Chapstick to Kat Von D’s Backstage Bambi.
1. Up Your Lipbalm Game
If you wear little to no lip product whatsoever, the best place to start is adding a little tint in with your go-to. A great beginner option is Lip Smacker’s Dr. Pepper flavored lipbalm. It has a light berry tint while still the exact look, shape, and feel as regular ol’ Chapstick. Depending on how pigmented your lips are, this can go from a barely there tint to a noticeably (but still natural) berry hue. Sephora also sells an EOS-esque lip color in a few shades, I’ve got one in Cotton Candy, a subtle pink.
2. Try an In-Between Formula
Once you’ve grown comfortable walking around with a bit of color, the next hurdle to pass is how lipsticks feel. Most lip balms are waxy and hydrating, while lipsticks can range from creamy to somewhat drying. Everyone has a different preference and level of tolerance of formula’s, but jumping from a smooth lipbalm to a drying liquid lipstick can turn you off from all lipstick ever. Instead, try products like Clinique Chubby Sticks, Maybelline Baby Lips, L’oreal Colour Riche Balms, Tarte Amazonian Butter lipsticks, and Clinique Almost Lipsticks. All are hydrating lipstick-lipbalm hybrids that have a good range of colors and pigmentations.
3. Stick with Nude or Natural Colors
The way I started getting into lipsticks was to make sure I was picking more neutral tones. While I did pick up a bright pink Baby Lips, I found I never used it until just a few months ago. It’s best to try to stick to more subtle colors (I also picked up the Baby Lips in Peach Kiss and have used that color waaay more). I’ve found the safest bet was picking a color the same color or a tad darker than my natural lip color. Picking a lighter version may seem easier, but sometimes end up looking too light and concealerish, which is NOT a good look on anyone. Remember, if you pick up a color that ends up not being the most flattering, you can almost always return it (just keep the receipt).
4. Pick Your Price
I have two different theories…the first, that you should totally splurge and get a good, high quality lipstick. The second, that drugstore lipsticks can be just as good as highend lipsticks at a fraction of the price. Personally, my first lipstick was from the drugstore. I figured if I ended up never wearing it or just not being a lipstick wearing girl that I wouldn’t have wasted much money, and I was old enough (or mature enough) that having a Brand Name product wasn’t the biggest deal in the world. That being said, I always coveted a “fancy” lipstick and ended up receiving my first high end lipstick two Christmases ago from my parents (Nars Roman Holiday, which is still one of my favorites). Depending on your preference, there are super affordable, quality colors from the drugstore starting at around $2, all the way up to uber chic, uber expensive colors (the most expensive lipstick I found on a quick search at Sephora was over $50!).
5. Go crazy!
Now that you’re used to wearing some color and you’ve gotten used to the formula it’s time to branch out! Try a liquid lipstick, pick up a bright color, give in to your inner vamp with a deep burgundy! The lipstick world is your oyster. If you’re unsure of how a color will look on you and are unable to test it out, a good tip I heard was to hold it up to your face in front of your mouth. It’s not completely fool proof, but it will give you some idea. Swatching colors on your hand or wrist is also helpful, but I use this more to get a feel for the opacity, as the color can look different depending on your lip pigmentation and face color (your face and wrist typically don’t match, which is why it’s recommended never to test foundations on your wrist but rather your neck).
Prepping your lips can help lipstick apply smoothly and last longer. A simple lip scrub can remove any flake or dead skin to create a smooth surface. Lip scrubs are sold in beauty stores (my favorite is from Lush), or you can mix a little sugar and olive oil to create your own. Take that Chapstick that you hold near and dear and use it about 10 minutes before applying a lip color. Continue using your lipbalm on the days you don’t wear lipstick to keep your lips in tip top shape. Another great idea is to grab a lipliner. Lipliners help everything stay in place and extend the wear time of your favorite shade. My favorite lipliners at the moment are Essence lipliners. They’re super cheap and come in a variety of colors. NYX also makes great lipliners, and Urban Decay has a variety of bright colors to go with your brightest pinks. And if you’re looking for funky, you can’t beat OCC Cosmic Colour Pencils, who’s cruelty free, vegan product include pinks, purples, blues, browns, oranges, and more!
Foraging into the world of lip color can be intimidating, but taking small steps can make the process a lot less stressful. Makeup is all about having fun and feeling yourself, so go with whatever makes you feel most confident, whether it’s a sheer nude lip butter or bright purple liquid lipstick!