Just call me Virgil.
To save some money in the coming school year, I’m moving at the end of the summer into a two-bedroom duplex apartment. As moves go, this one will be almost comically easy, since my new building is next door to my current one. But I’ll be sharing the apartment with a friend from my grad-school cohort, and though she’s well aware of my makeup-hoarding ways, I can’t exactly continue to use my entire living space as as a vanity table. The more stuff I can eliminate this summer, the better, and I’m starting with lipsticks and glosses. I’m hoping this can be a semi-regular series of quickie posts in the two months leading up to the move.
I think most of us have a purge-atory: an area where we put beauty products that we never wear but can’t bring ourselves to throw away. There they linger for months or years, victims of our ambivalence. I’m guilty of saving unworn makeup for all the worst reasons: because I wore it to a Janelle Monáe concert, or my mom gave it to me, or whatever. But really, there’s only one good reason for me to hold on to makeup: I enjoy wearing it. There are quite a few lipsticks and glosses that I haven’t worn in over a year but have justified keeping around for one reason or another, and the time has come to cut the cord.
Lipsticks first! I started my purge last month by giving away three of my matte blue-based red lipsticks. Full disclosure: I gave them to the friend I’m moving in with, so they’ll still be in my apartment. They just won’t be mine anymore, and that’s totally different, right? Clockwise from top: Wet n Wild Stoplight Red, NYX Bloody Mary, Revlon Really Red.
My friend had never worn a red lipstick before I gave her these, but she loves Really Red and looks smashing in it. I, on the other hand, have fallen out of love with blue-based reds. They flatter me more than warm reds do, but they also feel dressier and stuffier. I find myself wearing warm reds more often because they seem more modern and casual: I have no problem pairing Topshop Rio Rio with a t-shirt, but something like YSL Rouge Gouache looks out of place when I’m dressed down. Fear not, though—if I fall back in love with cool reds, I’ll still have four to choose from: Rouge Gouache (glossy), NARS Mysterious Red (matte), Maybelline On Fire Red (satin), and NARS Flamenco (sheer). Even four seems like too many, considering how infrequently I wear red lipstick.
Over the last few months, eight other lipsticks have found their way into purge-atory (represented in the material world by the plastic bag hanging on my closet doorknob). Left to right: Maybelline Fuchsia Flash, Milani Flamingo Pose and Sweet Nectar, L’Oreal Fairest Nude, NYX Perfect and Black Cherry, MAC Capricious, and Laura Mercier Bare Lips. I’ve reviewed all of these in my Lipstick Chronology; the links go to the individual reviews. Looking at these early posts makes me think I should really retake some of the photos before getting rid of the lipsticks, but hey.
For all but two of these lipsticks, the problem lies in the formula, not the color. Fuchsia Flash is one of the two color-based exceptions. Fuchsia lipsticks usually suit me, but Fuchsia Flash has a harsh white base that makes the color jar with my skin tone. I actually offered it to the friend to whom I gave my three red lipsticks, but she wisely turned it down—she doesn’t share my fondness for screamingly tacky shades. Flamingo Pose is a beautiful reddish-pink coral, but I can’t stand the Milani Color Statement formula, which is heavy and drying and redolent of synthetic melon. Luckily, this particular shade of coral is quite dupeable, so I won’t be at a loss if I end up missing the color. Another grad-school friend wears Flamingo Pose all the time (I can take credit for that, too), so I’ll see if she wants an extra tube. Sweet Nectar is a double loss: not only does it have the Color Statement formula, but it’s perhaps my least flattering lipstick, a bright yellow-based orange that does nothing for my complexion. Fairest Nude is my HG nude in terms of color, but the L’Oreal scent makes this lipstick unwearable for me, and I’ve found a decent (though slightly less pink) substitute in Maybelline Nude Lust. Perfect is both drying and slippery, and it’s another very dupeable color. Black Cherry started to go off about a year ago, after just a year and a half of use—you might not be able to see it in this photo, but the top of the tube has turned darker. Capricious also seems to have turned: it’s coated in a translucent film that makes it look matte, which it certainly isn’t. I don’t know if this is just what happens to MAC Lustres after a few years, but I don’t want to take any chances. Finally, Bare Lips got lots of use before I figured out that lipsticks didn’t necessarily have to dry out my lips; then it got superseded by NARS Dolce Vita, Revlon Pink Truffle, and who knows how many other lip-friendly MLBBs.
Vision in Violet, an opaque blue-based purple, is just not wearable in polite society, and I don’t attend enough Adventure Time costume parties to justify keeping it around.
Despite its deep plum-brown color, Seduction is practically transparent on my lips, and its rancid orange scent makes me wonder if I happened to buy a really old tube. Fire is beautiful but impractical: if I want to wear an opaque red gloss, I’ll stick with Rouge Gouache, which actually stays on my lips.
Having written all this, I’m reminded of something I noted in my last post: that “we beauty addicts are too fond of consigning products to oblivion in order to justify buying new ones.” I can’t help but wonder if my newfound zeal for purging conceals the desire for an excuse to buy new stuff. I don’t believe in forcing myself to use up products I don’t really enjoy, but I also don’t want to be too hasty in banishing unloved lipsticks to the landfill. There’s been much talk of streamlining and KonMari and minimalism in the beauty blogosphere this year, and while I think there’s merit to maintaining a small, well-edited collection, I also think we need to be honest with ourselves about why we want to free up space. I’ll admit it now: the more old lipsticks I get rid of, the better I’ll feel about buying new ones. Which I will do, eventually, because I’m addicted human. Lipsticks aren’t very heavy and they don’t take up much room, and the space left when a lipstick is thrown out is the perfect shape and size for, you guessed it, another lipstick. For now, though, I’ll be good; I just won’t claim to be embracing minimalism for its own sake. Let’s face it, I’m not much of a minimalist in any other aspect of my life, so why should I be different when it comes to makeup?
See you soon for another journey through purge-atory!