Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lipstick Chronology #32: Wet n Wild Stoplight Red and Purty Persimmon

Names: Wet n Wild MegaLast Lipsticks in Stoplight Red and Purty Persimmon

Dates of Purchase: September and October 2013

Grades: A-, A-

Notes: Wet n Wild's MegaLast lipsticks make me ask myself hard questions about my aesthetic threshold for makeup packaging. I'd like to believe that I'm the sort of person who cares more about the formula of a lipstick than the sleekness or uniqueness of its case. After all, we've all heard of lipsticks that look cool but perform badly (Kat von D's new Studded Kiss lipsticks come to mind). But what about the other extreme: a great lipstick in an ugly tube too short for the lipstick itself?


In other words, which is preferable: pure form or pure function? And if you chose the latter, would you enjoy carrying this around all day? Be honest.


Over a year after buying these lipsticks, I've come to accept that my tolerance for homely packaging is lower than I used to think. At first I was reluctant to confess this to myself, fearing that it would make me "shallow." Well, maybe it does, but lipstick is the sort of thing one likes for shallow reasons. There's no point in pretending otherwise. Stoplight Red and Purty Persimmon are long-lasting, pigmented, relatively non-drying satin-finish lipsticks, but I don't reach for them often because their appearance turns me off so much. When I wear a bold cherry red or red-orange lipstick, I want to think of myself as a bold bitch, and nothing destroys that feeling of boldness more quickly than touching up with a smeary, cheap-looking tube. A good quarter of the product juts out from the tube even when the lipstick is fully retracted, which makes it almost impossible to replace the cap without mashing lipstick all over it. And because the cap is clear, you can see the mess you've made. It's just kind of depressing. I mean, maybe it's cool in an I-don't-give-a-damn-I-just-want-red-lips way, but the fact is that I do give a damn. It's time I admitted it.

I cleaned them up before taking this photo, of course.

If you give less of a damn than I do, the MegaLast lipsticks are a great choice, especially for the price ($1.99 each, though I actually got Stoplight Red for $.99). Here are some swatches in natural light: Purty Persimmon on the left, Stoplight Red on the right. Check out that pigmentation!


Stoplight Red was part of my journey to find the perfect red lipstick, preferably matte. (I found it eventually in NARS Mysterious Red, which you already know because I wrote that installment of my Lipstick Chronology out of order.) Stoplight Red is a standard blue-based red, the sort of red that most of us own already. There's nothing truly special about it, but if you're missing this color in your collection and you're on a tight budget, you could do much worse.


I might have left Stoplight Red on the shelf had I not been drunk, but I was a couple of margaritas past caring whether it was too similar to Maybelline On Fire Red, which I'd bought a few months before. (This was also the CVS trip when I bought Wet n Wild Bare It All, a very unflattering nude: see this post for the full story.) Below, some comparison swatches:

Left to right: NARS Mysterious Red, NYX Bloody Mary, Wet n Wild Stoplight Red, Maybelline On Fire Red.

Stoplight Red seems closest to Bloody Mary, a matte pinky red. It's brighter than both Mysterious Red and On Fire Red; in fact, it's so bright and clear that I'm detecting some brown tones in On Fire Red, which in isolation doesn't look brown at all. Here's Stoplight Red on my lips (which are going through an especially dry phase right now, sorry). Freshly applied, it looks glossy; over time, it becomes semi-matte.


In the last couple of years, I've learned that I'm not crazy about most bright blue-based reds. I don't find them unflattering, but they always make me feel like I'm playing pinup. I've considered getting rid of Stoplight Red, but it has a tremendous amount of sentimental value: I wore it to a Janelle Monáe concert in Philadelphia in October 2013. Seeing the Electric Lady in person was overwhelming, especially as I'm not a concert-goer in general, and I don't want to lose my one physical memento of that night. As for digital mementos, I have quite a few blurry shots of the stage...

Her signature quiff came undone as she danced. It was adorable.

...as well as a classic, and very classy, pre-concert bathroom selfie.


From today, a better photo of Stoplight Red on my face. Yes, I am aware that I desperately need a haircut.


Purty Persimmon was a more thoughtful purchase, as well as a sober one. I didn't have a full-coverage red-orange lipstick, and I didn't want to pay too much for a color that might not suit me. My experience with Stoplight Red had made me optimistic about Wet n Wild's brighter lipsticks, so I picked up Purty Persimmon when I was in Washington for my monthly dissertation seminar. I've spent many a post bitching about the shortcomings of my local CVS, and one of those shortcomings is that it doesn't carry Wet n Wild. During the year of my seminar, I ended up making a ritual of buying lipsticks at DC-area drugstores. The big CVS in Dupont Circle stocked all the new lipstick releases months before they showed up in my town; the small, dingy CVS near Eastern Market may have had a ceiling leak right above the Wet n Wild display, but at least I found Purty Persimmon.


This is as orange as I'm willing to go with lip color. I actually wore it quite often last summer (here, for instance). When I bought it, I was expecting more of an orange-red than a red-orange, but I don't find it completely unflattering (though it doesn't mesh perfectly with my skintone, either). Here it is with a few similar lipsticks:

Left to right: Milani Sweet Nectar, Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon, Revlon Candy Apple, Revlon Fire and Ice.
Swatched on my lips:


And on my face:


Purty Persimmon is more matte than Stoplight Red, and I find it to be slightly more drying, too. As for longevity...well. I'm honestly never sure how to report on lipstick wear time, since very few lipsticks last more than a few hours on me. These lipsticks also last a few hours, and I don't detect much staining as they fade. They're pretty comfortable to wear, though it's hard to forget you're wearing lipstick when you have them on.

I'm planning to keep both Purty Persimmon and Stoplight Red for the foreseeable future, though writing up this review has made me resolve never to buy another Wet n Wild lipstick. No matter how enticing the price or how pigmented the formula, those tubes will always make me sad. Do you find that you have an aesthetic cutoff point for packaging, too?

17 comments:

  1. It makes me giggle when I hear about sober (or tipsy) lipstick purchase! ;D
    Both shades look very flattering! Stoplight Red is stunning and Purty Persimmon is surprisingly soft and pretty on your cool complexion.
    So now I exactly know what you mean. I've stopped looking at WnW display for the very same reason. I'd gladly pay a few bucks more if WnW things are more "presentable". The aesthetic aspect of a lipstick is quite important, probably more so than of other beauty products. ;)

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    1. Haha, I often feel tempted to buy lipstick or nail polish when I'm tipsy (which is not all that often, fortunately). Let's hope I never take up drunk online shopping...that's where the real danger lies. I'm still not convinced that PP is a great color for me, but I'm glad to have your vote of confidence!

      I'd pay a few more dollars for better packaging, too. Packaging makes a huge difference even on a subconscious level. The WnW lipsticks are definitely worth two or three times their price, but I'd rather spend $6 on a lipstick with decent packaging than $2 on a lipstick that makes me sad to look at.

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  2. I can't say I care much about the aesthetics of of packing for the most part. I mean, I like nice packaging, but ugly packaging doesn't turn me off too much. I have some e.l.f. lipsticks in really blah cases that I love (and that's an affordable cruelty free/vegan brand, btw!). Function, on the other hand, is a different matter, so I hate these tubes. How much more would it really cost them to add 2 mm to the tube so it would retract fully?

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    1. For me there's a bigger difference between ugly and meh packaging than between meh and fancy packaging. Seriously, all I ask for is a plain opaque black tube a la Revlon. And yes, I may have blurred the line between form and function in my post. The lack of function in the WnW tubes affects the form as well, so it's hard to distinguish between the two!

      I should check out e.l.f.'s makeup; so far I've only used their eyeshadow brushes and nail polish remover pads, and I've been happy with both.

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  3. Ah! Both shades of the WnW look really beautiful on you! I love how affordable and accessible the brand is as well. But yeah, that clear cap would drive me batty. It's not a matter of price, but the function....GACK!
    Actually Shu Uemura lipsticks (which are gorgeous) have a similar clear cap which also shows the various smears and I had to get rid of them. I am not a neat freak, but seeing the streaks did make me feel really icky!

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    1. I just looked up the Shu Uemura lipsticks, and I see what you mean! I actually have the same problem with my Topshop Lip Bullet, which also extends beyond the top of the tube and has a clear cap. Plus, the tube is white instead of black, which means further smearing. But for some reason, the Topshop packaging doesn't bother me as much as the WnW packaging, perhaps because in the latter there isn't the slightest attempt at sleekness. It's sort of aggressively ugly, like "HERE'S YOUR LIPSTICK, BITCHES." Not cool.

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  4. Yup, I think function is the problem here. I have no issues with ugly ass packaging if the product inside is good and doesn't get destroyed by simply opening and closing! I tried some WnW eye shadows and the plastic casing is so flimsy that I was constantly fearful of cracking them and had to get rid of them due to ever increasing anxiety, lol. (The shadows while pigmented and buttery soft were a little too crumbly as well.) I've never tried WnW lipsticks but both look fab on you. Maybe you can melt them into a lipstick pan and salvage them.

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    1. I was actually thinking about depotting one or both of them! I don't have a lipstick pan, but I'm sure I could find one online somewhere. I've never depotted (detubed?) any beauty product before, but lipstick shouldn't be too difficult.

      I have a WnW eyeshadow palette too; the shadows are decent quality, but I almost never wear them, because 22-year-old me thought it would be a great idea to buy a trio with silver, matte hot pink, and matte black with fallout-prone silver glitter...

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    2. Haha, I know exactly which trio that is. I actually really like that colour combination but the WnW variation is probably quite intense.

      I haven't bothered with depotting anything ever. But apparently pill boxes make cheap and good lipstick cases!

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    3. Oooh, or I could put one color into each side of a contact case! If I could find a suitably cute one, that is...

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  5. That's why I like too keep empty compacts or lipstick tubes that are pretty. If the formula of a certain item is good, but its nasty packaging prevents me from using it, I just, erm, repot. Those two lipstick would look fabulous in some cute vintage tubes, don't you think ;-)?

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    1. I wish I had some pretty vintage tubes or pots! I wonder where you find such things. I was considering depotting one of them into an empty glass jar of eye cream, which would unfortunately be less cute than a vintage tube. This one, maybe? http://modernfoppery.tumblr.com/post/94591253586/leaning-tower-of-pisa-lipstick-case-ca-1950

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    2. Oh, the tower of Pisa one is fantastic!
      Apart from Ebay or rummaging through a flea market, I find a good way to score, well, anything vintage, really, is to ask your older relatives/ friends. Because you never know what they store in their attic. And the sentimental value makes it extra special for me.
      Oh, there's always the option of buying empty lip tubes from DIY cosmetic stores, I guess? They're usually not that cute either, but maybe a tad bit more functional.

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  6. Your concern about the packaging isn't vain, I don't think. First of all, the bits of lipstick that are getting smeared all over the cap represent WASTE. Maybe wastage isn't as big a deal in a $1.99 lippie as a Nars one (hello there gloss pencils that ooze product when I sharpen them), but it's still undesirable.
    I love both those colours on you for different reasons: the red just perfectly suits your complexion and the Orange plays really nicely with tones in your eyes.

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    1. Surely there's a reason that no other brand has come out with a gloss pencil that needs to be sharpened. I sort of wonder what NARS was thinking. I've never even considered buying one of the gloss pencils because the potential for waste is so huge--and because gloss requires more frequent touch-ups anyway.

      I do think the warm tones in my eyes and hair allow me to wear colors that would otherwise look awful on me. It's playing havoc with my attempts to fit myself into the seasonal scheme (post to come on that, eventually). My best guess for myself is dark winter, but WHO EVEN KNOWS.

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  7. lol i agree with you completely. i have a lot of the wet n wild lipsticks. my brain knows that the formula is great (maybe a little stiff/waxy but whatever) and the pigmentation amazing yet i still dont reach for them b/c my eyes will draw out my 'special/fancy' lipsticks instead. such a sad truth :P

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    1. I don't even ask for fancy packaging, just packaging that doesn't make me depressed, you know? I wish I liked these lipsticks more, since they're cheap, the formula is great, and the brand is cruelty-free. Alas.

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