Today’s MASSIVE, pic-heavy post is all about the best lipsticks for people 40-ish and over – focusing on colours and formulas that perform the best. In other words, lipsticks that won’t further dry out already dehydrated lips, emphasize lines and texture, that last the longest, and have the best pigmentation.
A few years ago, I avoided matte lipsticks like the plague – they were long lasting, sure; but they dried the living hell out of my poor lips. Dry = aging. But these days, there are some high end and luxury brands which work some kind of voodoo magic with their formulas, and the result is the beautiful finish and long-wear of a matte, without the lip crud. I’ll be sharing some of these here today!
Now, of course, the right colour for you is a somewhat subjective thing – however, I think we can all get behind avoiding colours that wash us out and make us look like Night of the Living Dead, or conversely are overly-harsh, emphasize dull skin tone, or make us look hopelessly dated (matte brown lipstick circa 1995, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?).
I thought the best way to tackle this subject would be to organize the post into three basic colour families; i.e., nudes, reds/oranges, and pinks/violets. I’m not going to get into novelty colours, as I think most of my readers are interested in what’s more universally flattering when you’re Of a Certain Age. If you are into Cerulean blue lips, then I say go for it! But we’re going to stick to the basics today. So, with no further ado, let’s start with the ubiquitous…
So, let me just say that I was surprised to discover that I have more nude lipsticks than I thought I did…and I just did a massive destash. I semiannually go through my collection, mercilessly tossing anything that’s over two years old, or that I haven’t worn in a few months. This gives me an excuse to head downtown and replenish my woefully diminished stock with new makeup. Brilliant, no?
Clearly, my little collection of lippies is now rather pathetic in size, but they were carefully curated for quality and wearability.
Now, although I love a good, flattering nude lip, I often find it can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Whereas it’s easy for me to find flattering reds, for instance, it requires a lot more effort on my part to find nude shades that don’t make me look sallow, washed out, and tired. Or, you know, older. On the other hand, the right shade of nude lipstick can actually make one look youthful and fresh. Plus, it’s the perfect foil to a super-dramatic or smoky eye makeup.
So while it can seem challenging – especially on a more mature face, which may already be contending with dullness and tired looking skin – to find a flattering nude, fact is, there is a plethora of shades to complement every complexion. The key is to avoid anything with a grey, flat brown, or too neutral (not the same as a nude) tone. Nude lipstick requires an undertone of peach, pink, or gold/orange to help liven the complexion and avoid the whole “concealer lips” phenomenon, circa the entire 1960’s. That way lies madness, Kumquats. The last thing any of us Ladies of a Certain Age needs is to look cadaverous, ill, or like we haven’t slept in a week.
Just as the proper bright shade of lipstick can enliven the face, the wrong nude can make one look rather…Walking Dead.
So, the key is not going too light, beige, or neutral without enough pigmentation. Find the undertones that work best with your complexion, and go with it. And, don’t forget the lip liner (for the love of god, don’t skip this step); this will add more definition, and sometimes make an otherwise too-pale shade more wearable. With nudes, you can actually change the way a shade looks using different liners. A deep beige will bring out the neutral tones, and a pink one will enhance the rosy tones in a pinky nude. Also, don’t forget the blush/bronzer, to avoid looking washed out! While it’s easier to get away with skipping this step with a bright or deep lip, it’s essential to ensuring your nude lip look is pulled together and balanced. Try matching it to the undertones in your lipstick for the best effect – this as well will bring out the undertones in your lipstick.
Some of my favourite nudes for my super pale, sometimes sickly complexion:
- Pink Dusk, Tom Ford – a classic pinky-nude that is creamy, opaque, with a softly shiny, satin finish. I find this shade to be incredibly flattering on many skin tones, while keeping the lips moist throughout the day. Perfect with an intensely smoky eye, simple cat-eye, or no-makeup look.
- Honolulu Honey, NARS – a pale, peachy-gold shade that works best on me when I’m a little tan, this is another classic nude which I’ve worn for over a decade. Its satin finish and warming shade is so gorgeous, and reminiscent of Bridgette Bardot.
- Dreamgirl, Marc Jacobs New Nudes – a darker nude, this is a pinky-beige brown lippie with a semi-sheer, glossy finish. This is probably the most moisturizing, all-around comfortable nude I currently own.
- Real Lip, Natasha Denona Lip Color Shiny – a pretty, opaque, shiny neutral pinky-beige, this is a gorgeous universal shade that works with most eye shadow colours I pair it with. As the name implies, it’s quite close to my natural lip-tone…only better.
- Natasha Denona Lip Color Shiny in Ballerina – I love how delicate this colour looks on my lips; it’s the perfect subtle, natural pinky-nude. These ND lippies are extremely comfortable, as well as long-wearing.
I think that this family of shades looks particularly great on we Vintage Babes; there’s something so classy, not to mention classic, about the Perfect Red Lip! I don’t have nearly as many of these as I’d like, after The Culling (as I like to call these little destashing fits). A woman can throw on a pair of shades and a red or orange lipstick and call it done. They can enliven one’s complexion when it’s looking a little less than rosy, and do wonders to cheer a girl up.
And, once again, it’s all about the undertones. With reds, there are three main ones; yellow (warm), blue (cool), and neutral (a balance between the two). Some people look better in cooler tones, some in warm – while neutral reds tend to be universally flattering. Then, you have the shade itself – do you like a bright, 1950’s red? Or a deep, vampy blood-red? Perhaps a brick red with brown undertones is more to your taste – let your complexion and personal style be your guide.
Pictured above are a few of my absolute favourites. I think they are pretty universally flattering – you can be pale as a snowflake like me, or dark like Grace Jones, and these will probably look fabulous on you:
- Ruby Rush, Tom Ford Lip Color Matte – this is such a beautiful, classic red. I know TF lippies are expensive AF, but trust me, they are so worth the splurge! This non-drying, non-flat matte lipstick is so long-wearing, pigmented, and so comfortable! I wear this one all the time, and it makes me miss my beloved discontinued Chanel Dragon just a little bit less, as it’s replaced it as my signature red.
- Sedition, Pat McGrath LuxeTrance Lipstick – another wearable, long-wearing lippie from Mother McGrath that won’t dry out lips, this lipstick is the perfect Winter shade; bright, deep, rich, with just a touch of cool undertones. So vampy. A new classic.
- Pirate, Chanel Rouge Allure – this is a true, old school Classic. Pirate has been around for ages, and is considered the quintessential Chanel Red by many. It’s quite moisturizing, and with the blue undertones, is great for my extremely pale sisters, as well as beautiful for dark skinned babes.
While orange shades can be a little trickier, it’s a really on-trend shade this Spring/Summer, so there are many options out there at the moment. Oranges are great in warmer months, when that Classic Red is seeming perhaps just a bit too too, especially for daytime. I love the slightly edgy feel of an orange lip, and it looks so great with a tan, and on dark skin tones. I do love it on pale skin as well, as it really stands out and makes a statement.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of orange lipsticks – something I must remedy ASAP! But, I adore the ones I do have, and wear them a lot, especially this time of year. If you like something a little edgy, orange is definitely one way to go without looking like you’re trying to be sixteen.
Current favourites, pictured above:
- Tropicalia, Pat McGrath LuxeTrance – this is such a pretty, orangey-coral shade! I love how opaque these lipsticks are – they seriously last me all day, even through meals. This is a great subtle intro into the orange family, without being super in-your-face as it’s got a neutral base.
- First Light, Chanel Rouge Velvet – I wasn’t sure whether to put this in the orange or red category; I decided it is just a little more orange, so here it is. It definitely looks more orange in bright light. This is a gorgeous colour for summer, because of the hot, sunrise tone, and brightness. It’s a matte that is very wearable, and non-drying. So pretty. I’ll be wearing this one all Summer!
- Tell Laura, Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips – this is probably my current fav, although it’s almost a tie with First Light. This is just a bit more orange, a true, clear orange without being obnoxious, or looking like a glass of juice smacked you in the face. The formula is amazing, too – so smooth and hydrating, but long-wearing.
Some people assume that once you hit 35 or so, pink and violet lipsticks are off-limits; something about the colours tend to make us thing of little girls, not grown women, I suppose.
Not necessarily so, my little Kumquats – I adore a bright, fuchsia or violet lipstick! I also appreciate the more subtle shades – it’s all about the mood I’m trying to create, and of course my entire makeup scheme. Brights in this range are really attention-grabbing; unique without being over-the-top, and can work for just about any skin tone. The more sheer, light, and subtle shades are super flattering on extremely pale skin.
I DO tend to avoid bubblegum or Baby Doll shades, as I think they look a bit too immature and silly for someone of my vast years, ahem. I think those specific shades look great if you’re in high school, and are super cute on the very young – but I personally feel like on me, it looks as if I’m trying to recapture my cheerleader days, and should be playing with Barbies wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt and be done with it.
Hey, I collected Hello Kitty as a girl – but I’m pushing 50 soon, and my Barbie days are loooong past.
These deeper, more grown-up shades are all wonderful for brightening up dull complexions, without looking immature or “girlish”.
So, I hope you can see that pinks and violets clearly aren’t just for kids! Plus, they’re appropriate for Winter or Summertime, and look great on us Vintage Babes, because they lend a healthy, youthful glow to the entire face. Youthful, not immature!
Some of my favourites, as pictured above:
- Violine Troublant, Givenchy Rouge Interdit Vinyl Lipstick – This lipstick formula is so, so hydrating, glossy, and sheer. It’s a subtle, bordering on nude, violet shade that is so soft and pretty. I love this whole line of lippies from Givenchy, and have several shades. The brights are very pigmented, while still bordering on being a straight up gloss. Such a cool formula! Plus, if you’re wary of purples and violets in your makeup, this is subtle enough to let you wear it in the most conservative environment, without being boring.
- Beauty Junkie, Pat McGrath LuxeTrance lipstick – Ah, now this is a VIOLET! The truly unique thing about this shade, as demonstrated in the two photos, is how much the colour seems to shift between violet and fuchsia, depending on how the light hits it, and what colours I’m wearing with it. It’s super opaque, crazy pigmented (as are all PMG lipsticks), and non-drying, even in the matte formula. I adore this lippie – as is evidenced by its woeful condition…sigh.
- Pink Ultraness, Pat Mcgrath LuxeTrance lipstick – A clear, bright pink that just never fails to cheer me up. I love wearing this with a clean cat-eye look, with a single light nude or pink shadow, and clean undereye. So pretty!
- Candy Flip, Pat McGrath MatteTrance lipstick – This lighter pinky coral shade has just enough punch and dimension to save it from being Girly AF. I love this colour for the warmer months, especially – and PMG’s matte lipsticks are so amazing in how they never dry my lips out!
So, you’re probably all wondering why I don’t have any drug store brands to show you – and the reason is pretty straightforward. I truly believe that these lipsticks are superior quality to cheap brands. Look, I spent my teenage and college years scrounging up enough cash for one Wet ‘n Wild lippie – but when I became a model and then makeup artist, I was exposed to all the high end and luxury brands. And I fell in love with the quality pigments and ingredients that didn’t fade or make my lips peel…I admit it, I got spoiled! And these days, I can afford to indulge my addiction, somewhat. I don’t have nearly as much makeup as a lot of beauty gurus/bloggers, but what I have is good shit.
I’m not saying you can’t find good makeup at the drugstore, I just like my Sephora, et al, products. My clothes, on the other hand…lol.
Anyway, I do hope this post was helpful! Please share your favourite lipstick with me – I’d love to hear from you! Stay pretty, people.
XO – Monday