I can’t do my makeup to save my life. In theory I have images of the perfect smokey eye and a strong eyebrow game. In practice? A wonky brow and some very weak attempt at a cat’s eye. Maybe some cream blusher smeared asymmetrically in the vague direction of my cheekbones. Highlighter? Don’t make me laugh.
One thing I can do is a red lip. In fact, a statement lip is pretty much my go-to look. Can’t be bothered with eyeliner? Just let me loose with a nice scarlet liner and a liquid lippie and I’ll be ready to go in 3 seconds.
Now me being me, this was always going be a cruelty free festive lippie post. I don’t care how many times folk try to say that MAC or Bourgeois do the “perfect” shade of red; they test on animals (or sell in China), so they’re on my no-way-José list. There are so many options out there, for all budgets, that there’s no real reason you can’t find that perfect match. With so much information available at or fingertips there’s no excuse not to find a cruelty-free version of an old favourite. I’d be amiss to claim I’m a cruelty-free blogger if I bought or promoted products tested on animals or owned by parent companies that either test or sell in China.
If you’re in any doubt, Cruelty Free Kitty is a FANTASTIC blog with extensive lists of which companies do and don’t test. Also check out Ethical Elephant, which is an excellent resource with comprehensive lists of brands that fill the cruelty free bill.
There are also so many fabulous cruelty free blogs and bloggers out there, with recommendations for everything from the latest eyeshadow palette, haircare, and every possible skincare product you might ever need. I’m not a beauty blogger. I’ll probably never be a beauty blogger. I’m just a slightly cynical lass who hates the idea of an innocent animal suffering for my vanity.
For this post, I thought I’d share a variety of reds. Bright and bubbly orange tones, true reds, and deeper vampy rouge. Some are from luxury brands like By Terry and Chantecaille, and also some drugstore brands like Barry M and mid range lipsticks from Lush and Hourglass. I wanted to show the variety out there at every price point.
I didn’t use lipliner with any of these because I figured this would give a better representation of how each lipstick actually went on. Also I couldn’t find one.
SHEER: Chantecaille Lip Chic in “Amaryllis” £30
I’ve only ever tried Chantecaille’s sheer colours, and they’re beautiful for an everyday look. They’re so easy to wear and the formula feels great; they wouldn’t last through a cup of coffee or a brownie, but then again I don’t really expect that of a sheer shade. I can apply these without a mirror, if that’s any indication.
Somewhere in between a tinted lip balm and a full coverage liptick, the Lip Chic range is something I use for an everyday look, and I’ve definitely used this coral red shade before. It’s an easy to wear option if you’re wanting a red lip but don’t really fancy the full-on look of a more pigmented shade. SUPER easy to wear. Red without the commitment. Smells like cake, but subtle, so cake that’s far away.
LIQUID MATTE: Chantecaille Matte Chic Lasting Liquid Lip in “Carmen” £33
The liquid lipsticks were new from Chantecaille, part of the festive limited edition collection. I’m not sure if they’ll be doing these shades into the new year, but I was intruded by the formula. I mean, Chantecaille do a great lipstick. This one in particular was a universal deep red, with balanced warm and cool tones.
A lot of liquid lipsticks claim to be a velvet formulation and non-drying, but let’s be honest, that’s usually a blatant lie. This Chantecaille liquid lippie actually lives up to that hype, so even though it isn’t exactly as uber matte as some others, it also doesn’t make your lips feel like the Sahara. Beautiful colour, beautiful texture, and goes on like a freaking dream. I didn’t use a lipliner because I suck, but you probably should (just because it’s such a strong colour). Smells of nothing, which confused me.
LIQUID MATTE: By Terry Terrybly Rouge Liquid Lipstick in “My Red” £30
I think By Terry’s liquid lipstick applicators are the best I’ve ever tried – not the common doe foot, but a weirdly ergonomic wand that makes slathering on a lippie more or less foolproof. It just goes on so perfectly, and the bright pink version of this formula is my all-time favourite lipcolour.
Very slight floral perfume scent to this one, and like the Chantecaille liquid lippie, it’s actually not too drying for a matte. I kind love everything about this one, from the shade of red to the applicator, the formulation. It’s ever so slightly on the warm side, so I reckon more a fire engine red than a true red. Hoo boy I bet it’s going to be fun coming up with types of red later, considering we are only on lipstick number 3. I’d say By Terry’s formula is more of a semi-matte, and more creamy than some other liquid lipsticks.
This one was a really nice true red, and I’ve heard it’s also super pigmented. This is more a velvet matte than the finish of a liquid lip, so I had high hopes.
Isn’t it strange how you can definitely feel more “drag” in a regular ol’ tube lipstick after sampling a couple of liquid formulations? I wouldn’t say this was super-drying, but it definitely FELT more so than the previous two. This wee guy is more matte than either of the velvet liquid mattes I just tried, and though it was harder to get a defined application without a lipliner (I suck, I should have used lipliner), it went on pretty well.
Oh and can we take a moment to excuse the utter grossness of my skin right now? I’ve had a cold for a week, so my face is dryer than a sunburnt arse. I don’t have leprosy, I’ve just been blowing my nose continuously for 7 days. Send help. Send echinacea.
CREME: Kevyn Aucoin The Expert Lip Colour in “Carliana” £28
This one had a stronger scent, berry, that reminded me of my aunt’s ancient lipsticks from the 80s. This was more a creme than a matte finish, and a bright red. Like, very bright.
Ermagherd, can we talk about how incredibly creamy this lipstick is? I mean, it’s so creamy I was worried it wasn’t vegan, because it’s probably butter. This is probably the most delightful lipstick I have every applied and I am going to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS. I actually want to go around kissing stuff, but that’s frowned upon. Not a matte, but it’s pretty pigmented, and I basically love it so I don’t give a fuck.
MATTE: Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope in Brat Pack £35
First can I say that I LOVE the texture of Lipstick Queen lipsticks? I first heard about this brand when I was a kid, and so I know all about founder Poppy King’s search for that perfect matte red that wasn’t drying, had staying power, and felt great on. I own so many Lipstick Queen lippies. The packaging is gorgeous in every way, and I’m basically in love with this brand.
The Velvet Matte formulation is just fabulous. This lipstick went on like an absolute dream, wasn’t drying at all, and I’d say is probably one of my favourites. Lipstick Queen velvet mattes are the very best of the velvet mattes out there, and basically every single colour is beautiful. “Brat Pack” is the closest to a true red I’ve tried so far, and it is weightless. In fact, in the time it took me to type this, I forgot I had lipstick on. So much so I LITERALLY FORGOT TO TAKE A PHOTO. I actually only realised when I had to make the collages the next day, so the pics are of me with messy hair and no makeup.
MATTE: Lipstick Queen Sinner in “Red Sinner” £22
My application skills were getting sloppy at this point, but in my defence the last two I tried went on so effortlessly it was like the lipstick was applying me to it rather than the other way around. Er, I’m not sure if that analogy works.
The Sinner range from lipstick queen is formulated using rubber pigment rather than powder, and at 90% is meant to be VERY opaque. A perfect example of a pillarbox red, with a bit more “drag” than the Velvet Rope velvet matte formulation from the same company. I stopped sniffing my lips about 3 lipsticks ago, and I can’t really detect much of a scent with this one. Maybe it’s that cold coming back.
SEMI SHEER: Lipstick Queen “Eden” Lipstick £22
Is it cheating that I’m “testing” this one? It’s actually the lipstick I wear every day, and one of my favourite reds of all time. This isn’t part of any particular range, it’s just a universally flattering opacity and shade of apple red that seems to suit many skin tones. Nice texture, lovely colour, but I honestly don’t know if I can say anything more relevant than I choose to actually wear this ALL THE TIME. It’s also moisturising so you don’t need to pack a lip balm. Oh and the red on red packaging? Kind of genius aesthetically.
This Hourglass orange-red was the first lippie I picked up, and I went for the tube lipstick as I hate the applicator for the liquid lip with a freaking passion.
I’ve not been the biggest fan of Hourglass lipsticks in the past, and their liquid lipstick formula (and colours) just never did it for me. Maybe my lips are too dry. Maybe my hand isn’t steady enough. Maybe the applicator is just crap and bends way too much for precise application, and maybe it just flakes off on everyone.
I did not like the shape of the lipstick. Seriously Hourglass, why must you fuck with applicators and lipstick shapes? It made doing my top lip super easy and efficient, but the very opposite for my bottom lip. I. Don’t. Get. It.
This went on surprisingly creamy, the formula was lightweight, and the colour shockingly kinda suited me. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with warm and orange-toned reds in the past due to them looking terrible on me. This might have hit the orange sweet spot.
LIQUID MATTE: Lush liquid lipstick in Decisive £14.50
Before writing this post, I genuinely didn’t realise Lush did makeup. Maybe I’ve been distracted by the bath bombs and bright colours, but the whole makeup section just passed me by.
I wasn’t bowled over by the formulation, if I’m honest. It’s lightweight and non-drying, but felt slightly strange to me. Greasy maybe? This ended up a cherry red with some cool undertones, which is NOT how it appears in the bottle! Loved the colour though, and if a bold Cruella de Ville red is what you’re after, this shade is perfect. PLEASE DO NOT HURT THE DALMATIANS!
MATTE: Barry M Matte Lip Paint in “Bombshell” £4.99
The Barry M lipstick were the most inexpensive of all the ones I tried, and it’s really freaking awesome to see something at such an affordable price point that eschews animal testing. My first impression was that depending on how you apply this one, it would make a beautiful matte red lip stain. This is proper retro, pin-up girl red, and it is VERY matte. Still not too drying, a decent formula, and very very good value for the price. I mean you could buy 8 of these for the price of the Chantecaille lippies, and as they aren’t tested on the fuzzies, it’s kind of guilt-free.
Well, as you can see, the look in my eyes was screaming “let this be over please”, and I’d run out of babywipes. So I’ll stop at the nice “round” number of 11 bright red mouth icings and stop talking y’all. Have a very Merry Christmas!