Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stress-Fueled Impulse Purchase #4: Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in 69

I don't wear much red lipstick. Is that a strange admission for a lipstick addict to make? Red is the iconic lip color, the color that we all think of when we hear the word "lipstick," yet it's rare that I reach for a true red: I prefer my reds sheer or burnt or plummy. When I wear bright red lipstick, I worry that I'm inadvertently advertising myself as a certain kind of person. In my mind, a red-lipped person is bold, friendly, outspoken. At a party, she's more likely to make conversation with strangers than to hide in the kitchen, her only companion a handful of pretzels. In other words, I've somehow gotten it into my head that red lipstick is reserved for extroverts and for introverts who can fake extroversion successfully. And, well, I can't always fake it. And if I can't fake it, I'd rather not be wearing a lipstick that suggests I can. I don't want my appearance to promise something that my personality can't deliver. Or maybe it's even sadder than that: I don't want my makeup to be disappointed in me.

Despite this neurosis, I recently developed a desire for a bright cherry-red lipstick with a glossy or satin finish. I've tried many pinkish-red lipsticks over the years: Revlon Certainly Red (the first lipstick I ever bought), MUFE Rouge Artist Intense #45, YSL Rouge Gouache, Wet n Wild Stoplight Red, NYX Bloody Mary and Chic Red. But the Revlon and MUFE went back to the store, the YSL got too little wear before it expired, and I gave the Wet n Wild and NYX lipsticks to friends. I probably should have concluded from all this that bright cool reds weren't for me. Instead, I concluded that I just hadn't found the right bright cool red. I was indulging in one of the worst delusions of the makeup junkie: Holy Grail thinking. But it's one thing to write a blog post decrying a certain delusion, and another thing to fend off said delusion when you're ill and tired and overworked and Urban Decay has taken 20% off its entire site for a Columbus Day sale. And so I ended up with Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in 69, a "bright red with pink undertone."


Prior to the sale, I'd spent a good deal of time vacillating between 69 and Bésame American Beauty, both $22. The Bésame lipsticks are nearly a gram larger than the UD Revolution lipsticks, but I'm so unlikely to finish any one lipstick that I tend to consider unit price instead of price per gram, and UD's sale price of $17.60 was certainly less than $22. (If you're more likely than I am to finish a lipstick, see Cheap as Fuck's latest post, which explains the sneaky tricks beauty brands play to make you think you're getting more lipstick per dollar.) Plus, I knew that I liked the Revolution formula, and 69 seemed closer than American Beauty to the Platonic red in my head. I had just two reservations about 69: the flatness of the bullet, which pretty much guaranteed I'd have to use a lip brush, and that fucking name.


Now, listen. I am neither a prude nor a philistine. I'm fine with most representations of libertinage. I didn't bat an eye at NARS' Guy Bourdin collection two years ago. But I don't like the name of this lipsticknot because it's offensive, but because it's juvenile and dumb. If you put a 12-year-old boy in charge of coming up with lipstick names, "69" is the first name he'd think of. Compare two of the lipsticks from the Guy Bourdin collection, "Goodbye Emmanuelle" and "Last Tango," which were named after erotic films from the '70s. Those names reward research; they take on a new meaning after you've done your homework. "69" is so crude by comparison. To quote This Is Spinal Tap: "it's such a fine line between stupid and clever." But it turns out that for a 20% discount, I'm willing to overlook a stupid name. It's a good thing in life to know your own price.


I love the lining of Urban Decay lipstick boxes. A minor detail, but such little touches really do help justify the higher cost for me.


Good news: 69 is just the color I was looking for! It's a very bright, very opaque pinkish red with a glossy finish that fades to semi-matte.



Comparison swatches, left to right: NARS Mysterious Red, Maybelline On Fire Red, Urban Decay 69, Revlon Cherries in the Snow, Maybelline Vivid Rose.


69 is definitely a lipstick-lover's lipstick. Not only is it bright and opaque, but as I feared, it's nearly impossible to apply without a lip brush. You might have better luck if your lips are larger than mine, but the broad, flat top of the Urban Decay lipstick doesn't play well with my thin upper lip. (A few weeks ago, a random person on Instagram advised me to "overline" my upper lip to make it look bigger. Gambit declined, madam.) It's easy enough to lay down the color with the tube, but I need a brush to define the shape and ensure that the lipstick isn't sneaking outside the borders of my mouth. I can't figure out why Urban Decay gave its lipsticks this shape; I mean, there's a reason that most lipstick bullets are pointy on top instead of flat. I'm almost tempted to slice off the top of this bullet to get a pointy edge, because going in with a lip brush is such a pain. 


As with Streak, the bullet is a bit loose in the tube: I can feel it wobble when I pat it across my lips. This doesn't impact the lipstick's performance, but it's annoying—and considering that two of my three Revolution lipsticks have this flaw, it would seem to be a structural problem across the line. I actually considered returning 69 because of the wobbly bullet and the flat top, but in the end I couldn't bring myself to send it back. It's just so pretty and festive. Is there a more perfect holiday red?



The Revolution formula is comfortable to wear but not exactly lightweight. It reminds me of MAC's Amplified formula: thick and creamy, with a tendency to come off on cups. (If lipstick often feathers on you, a lip liner might be a good idea with 69—and, in a truly extraordinary coincidence, Urban Decay makes a matching lip pencil.) Of my three Revolution lipsticks, I find that 69 is the longest-lasting and the most comfortable. I wore the super-matte NARS Mysterious Red for most of my birthday but put on 69 before dinner, and it was like removing a pair of tight jeans and slipping into yoga pants. The color also fades evenly, dwindling to this after several hours:


While taking photos for this post, I realized that I don't actually know what my undertone is. Depending on the lighting and the time of day, my complexion can look pinkish or warm or very pale olive. Am I just so white that I take on the quality of whatever light happens to be shining on me?


I think I'll keep calling myself "neutral leaning cool" and leave it at that. My veins do look blue and not green, after all. Obviously this issue matters a great deal.


My makeup is almost identical in these two photos: concealer, mascara, Illamasqua Zygomatic blush, and a dark neutral color on my upper lashlines. In the second photo, I'm wearing Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide-On Eye Pencil in Plushie, a dark purple. My package came with two samples of Plushie, which I think is being discontinued along with the other pencils in the Velvet range. I like the formula, though it could be a bit more opaque.

Will 69 turn me into a devoted wearer of red lipstick? I don't know, but I like it a lot. And writing this post has made me resolve never to feel outclassed by a lipstick again. Introverts can wear red lipstick too.

The theme song of this post is, of course, Hyuna's "Red."



16 comments:

  1. That looks gorgeous! You are tempting me, because I get the impression that we have a similar (in)tolerance for drying lipstick formulations, and the word "comfortable" means something coming from you. Although I don't think I could put up with a lipstick that needs a brush. A trick I've found useful is to apply the lipstick as evenly as possible from the bullet and then use a matching (or even just close) lipliner to refine the outline. This somehow works better for me than a brush. I also find red lipstick difficult, partly for the reason you describe, but also because it always seems high maintenance in a way other colors, even very dark or bright ones, don't. I unreasonably expect it to look perfect, and I've more often had red smear gruesomely outside of the lines than other colors, for whatever reason. I have had in mind a post for a while now lamenting the elusiveness of red for me. And thanks for the link!

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    1. Yes, it's very rare that I can call a lipstick formula "comfortable." That said, I think I've grown more tolerant of drying formulas so long as they don't actually tear up my lips (looking at you, Milani liquid mattes). I love lipstick, but most lipstick is somewhat drying for me, so I can either limit myself to only a few formulas or I can suck it up and wear the colors I want.

      I think I have the same feelings about lipliner that you do about lip brushes! The good thing about a brush is that once you've perfected the outline, you don't usually need the brush for further touch-ups. Or maybe the same is true for liner? I wouldn't know. And yes, there's something about the high-maintenance factor of red lipstick, and the way it marks its wearer as somewhat high-maintenance as well. I don't strive to be low-maintenance (I think the concept is fairly sexist anyway), but wearing red lipstick means broadcasting the fact that you care about your appearance and want to make a strong impression.

      I'd love to read your own thoughts on red!

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  2. That's funny, I've always thought of bright cool-toned red as my "back off" shade... Paired with an expressionless stare (I refuse to use "resting bitch face", mostly because nobody asks guys why they're not smiling all the time), it works very well ahah !

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    1. It's interesting how we all have different reactions to colors! For me, a "back off" shade is a brick red or a dark plum. And I agree with you about the misogyny of the "resting bitch face" concept.

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  3. That is a lovely color on you. I think I have a small sample size of 69, and I quite like it. Unfortunately, bright red lipstick tends to be my go-to when buying lipstick, so this sample is getting a bit lost.

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    1. I sort of wish this were a sample-sized lipstick, since I don't see myself wearing it very often. Maybe I'll get into a serious red-lips phase soon, though.

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  4. Okay, this is perfect on you--you canNOT get rid of this one!

    And I agree about the names. I don't mind sexy stuff in the slightest, but stuff like 69 just feels lazy compared to some of the more careful, tongue-in-cheek stuff.

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    1. Thank you for the endorsement! It means a lot coming from such a thoughtful lipstick collector.

      The worst sexual makeup name I've ever encountered is Illamasqua's Load, for a very pale yellow nail polish. That's not even sexy, it's just repulsive.

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  5. I love that colour, in general and on you. The slightly pinkish undertone makes it a bit less of a serious colour, I think. That's usually my reservation about wearing a true red - I generally like my lipstick to be a bit more fun. The slightly raspberry tone is very wearable.

    I've heard mostly good things about the UD Revolution lipsticks, but the bullet shape kills my curiosity. That's one of the main reasons I can't deal with the Revlon Lip Butters anymore. I just do not have the time to pull out a lip brush every time I want to wear a certain colour. But maybe it's worth it if it's a colour you really love?

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    1. Thanks! And I agree, pinkish reds seem a bit more playful than other reds. As for the shape of the UD lipsticks, it hasn't been a real problem for me with the lighter shades, but it definitely interferes with this one. I also don't find the Lip Butters to be problematic in that way, due to their sheerness--if some of the color ends up outside my lip lines, it can be easily removed. The problem with 69's formula is that it really stains, so it's crucial to keep the color on the lips and nowhere else. I feel a tiny twinge of regret at not holding out for the Besame, but I do love this one too.

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  6. You know I love a red, even if I don't actually bust them out all that often. It's funny, I feel a lot more comfortable with the Reds that lean slightly orange or purple, but every now and then I find that a cool toned choice pops against golden toned skin - think it depends on my mood. I would definitely agree with your neutral leaning cool classification of your undertones! Also re: name -- it's jut lazy. I'm waiting for someone to just blatantly come out with "Dildo".

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    1. I feel the same way about warm-toned red lipsticks (like Rio Rio, the one I bought when we were together!): sometimes I want that pop against my complexion, but most of the time I don't. And thanks for the corroboration re: undertones. I've been scrutinizing my own complexion for so long that I'm not even sure I'm seeing it accurately anymore.

      Okay, but I'd TOTALLY buy a lipstick called "Dildo." Some of my favorite early modern poets wrote poems about dildos.

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  7. That is a really beautiful shade of red. It looks very natural on you, which at least for me can make or break a lip color *wax lips shudder.* Some of UD's names are so eye-rollingly "risqué" it really deters me from buying more from the brand. Actually, that happens to me a lot, and not just with Urban Decay, which is a stupid standard to judge products by but sometimes it's just beyond consideration. Kat Von D is another primary offender for me, though I have other reasons for not buying her stuff.

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    1. I was actually afraid that 69 gave me that wax-lips look, so I'm glad to hear that it doesn't! And yeah, I don't usually care that much about makeup names, but there are some that really repel me--I mentioned Illamasqua's Load nail polish in another comment. I don't think I've ever bought a product *because* of the name, though I do appreciate that MAC Eugenie has almost the same name as my undergrad advisor (the last person I'd ever think of in the context of lipstick, which makes it funnier).

      Kat Von D's names are on another level of grossness. I understand that her brand revolves around being ~alternative~ (but you know, not too alternative for Sephora), but names like "Underage Red" are the laziest kind of alternative.

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  8. The UD lippie is so pretty. These are the kinds that I usually prefer. I gotta grab one and try it out!

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    1. Thanks! It's a good one. I really want to try UD's new matte line too (but not anytime soon: I'm on a temporary no-buy).

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