The Great Lipstick Inventory of 2016

Wow, it feels like it’s been forever since I last posted here. And indeed it has been forever—well, 11 days in Earth time, but forever in blog time. March has been a trying month so far, due to various academic stuff that I won’t get into here because this is a beauty blog and not a bitch-about-grad-school blog, but this week is spring break and I’m trying to be aggressively nice to myself. Yesterday I took the train into New York for brunch with a friend I’ve known for almost ten years (!), and we ate delicious lemon-ricotta pancakes and speculated about the feasibility of burning down the academy. Then we went to the Upper West Side Sephora, conveniently located a few blocks from the brunch place. My friend bought a Bite Amuse Bouche lipstick in Sangria, a rich fuchsia, and I bought my first Marc Jacobs lipstick in So Sofia, a pinky-red coral. (I tried on a few pink and coral Amuse Bouches as well, but none of them flattered me. It was weird.) And then I got an iced coffee and a haircut in Brooklyn, and wandered around Williamsburg enjoying the early-spring sunshine, and eventually made my way back to Penn Station before the city could suck more money out of my bank account. If there’s a better way to spend a March afternoon, don’t tell me; I’m not sure I want to know.

Today I sorted out a couple of academic issues that had been hanging over my head for a while, and now I’m drinking a gin and tonic and blogging, so life could be a lot worse. I’m especially excited for this post, since I’ve been planning it for months: an inventory of all my lip colors! Most of them are lipsticks, but I’ve included glosses and stains in my inventory because I have too few to justify a separate post. Plus, there are so many liminal formulas these days that there’s no point in maintaining the stick/gloss binary. This is 2016, people! Lipstick can be liquid and matte. Gloss can be opaque and long-lasting. Open your mind.

These are all the lip colors I currently own. In the big box on the left, we have warm-toned lipsticks; in the big box on the right, cool-toned lipsticks; in the sorbet container on top, glosses, liners, and one liquid lipstick; in the sorbet container on the bottom, chubby lip crayons. The lipsticks outside the containers are the ones I’m planning to get rid of after writing this post, though a few in the containers are candidates for destashing, too.

One of my motives for doing this inventory (besides inviting you to ooh and ahh at the pretty colors with me) was to reduce my stash by at least a little. I’m not opposed on principle to large makeup collections, but I’ve reached the point where the size of my collection blinds me to individual productsa case of missing the trees for the forest, let’s say. Of the dozens of lipsticks I’ve listed below, I wear maybe half regularly, and by “regularly” I mean “a couple of times a month.” The others exist in a kind of limbo that reminds me of China Miéville’s novel The City & the City. It’s a tale of two cities that are also one: the European city-states of Besźel and Ul Qoma occupy the same geographical area. But the inhabitants of Besźel have carefully trained themselves to notice only the buildings, people, and landmarks of Besźel, and to ignore or quickly “un-see” those of Ul Qoma, whose citizens give the same treatment to Besźel. “Breaching”—that is, passing from one city to the other without going through the building at the official “border”—is a serious crime, and “breachers” are whisked off to a mysterious fate. The lipsticks I wear several times a month, such as Urban Decay Rapture and Revlon Sultry, inhabit a sort of mental Besźel: they’re more visible to me, more “real,” than the vaster, vaguer Ul Qoma of my neglected shades. This inventory is my attempt to breach.

A few notes before we begin:

  • I believe in thoughtful, careful consumption, but I have no interest in purging my collection for the sake of some abstract ideal of minimalism. I wear MAC Candy Yum-Yum, for instance, just a few days a year, but I’d rather enjoy the hell out of it during those few days than get rid of it while it’s still perfectly good.
  • Just as I have some liminal lip formulas, I have several liminal colors that could easily be slotted into two or even three different categories. Is NARS 413 BLKR a red, a brown, or a plum? Yes! And also no! In such cases, I’ve been pragmatic: I can fit only eight or nine swatches onto my forearm at one time, so I’ve filled out less populated categories with in-between lipsticks. I’ve also classified lipsticks according to the colors they turn on my lips, not their colors in the tube or in arm swatches.
  • To reflect use, I’ve twisted up all my lipsticks to their full extent.
  • There are some lipsticks here that I decided to destash before I took my inventory, but I swatched them anyway because more information is better than less. After each color category, I’ve written up a little overview with a note of which ones I’m destashing; I’ll go into greater detail about that in my next post.
  • Sorry about the weird lighting in a few of these photos. The weather has been extremely variable recently, and it’s rare that I’m home to take photos during a long period of uninterrupted sunshine. Though the white balance is off, the lipsticks look pretty true to color in the photos, I promise.
  • I’ve put asterisks next to my current favorite shades. Sometimes I fantasize about winnowing down my collection to just those sixteen, but I know I’m so fickle that I’d end up repurchasing the missing colors anyway.

Reds (9):

  • Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in 69
  • NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (mini)
  • NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red*
  • Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
  • NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama
  • Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Across the Universe
  • NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in 413 BLKR*
  • Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet (discontinued)
  • NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco (discontinued)

L-R: 69, Cruella, Mysterious Red, Fire and Ice, Alabama, Across the Universe, 413 BLKR, Red Velvet, Flamenco:

I think of myself as someone who doesn’t like to wear red lipstick, yet I’ve somehow amassed nine, and that number doesn’t even take into account the five I recently threw away or gave to friends. As you can see, I prefer dark, muted, slightly “dirty” reds to bright, clear ones. NARS 413 BLKR is the red I’ve worn most often in the last few months, and it’s barely even a red; I have to be feeling very bold indeed before I’ll consider wearing 69 or Fire and Ice. But the only red I might get rid of (though not before trying it again) is Across the Universe. Not coincidentally, it’s my only liquid red. The color is flattering and the formula opaque and long-lasting, but it’s so damn hard to apply the stuff evenly.

Corals and Oranges (9):

Revlon Moisture Stain in Barcelona Nights
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Streak*
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in Vibrant Mandarin*
Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple
Topshop Matte Lipstick in Rio Rio
Wet n Wild Megalast in Purty Persimmon
Revlon Matte Balm in Mischievous (discontinued)
NYX Butter Gloss in Peach Cobbler

L-R: Barcelona Nights, So Sofia, Streak, Vibrant Mandarin, Candy Apple, Rio Rio, Purty Persimmon, Mischievous, Peach Cobbler:

I also think of myself as someone who doesn’t own a lot of oranges or corals, but here we are. I’m going to keep all of these except Barcelona Nights and Purty Persimmon, which are both showing signs of expiration.

Light/Medium Pinks (5):

MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Creme Cup
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Primrose
Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Make Me Pink
MAC Satin Lipstick in Pink Nouveau*
Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Plastique

L-R: Creme Cup, Primrose, Make Me Pink, Pink Nouveau, Plastique:

Not my favorite lipstick category, clearly, but Pink Nouveau is one of my very favorite lipsticks. I’ve had Make Me Pink forever and I love the color—a neutral lilac pinkbut the formula is a bit drying and has no lasting power. I might keep MMP around, though, until I find a color dupe in a better formula. Or I might throw it out because life is too short for this kind of ambivalence. I haven’t worn Creme Cup in over a year, but I’ll give it another chance for this spring.

Hot Pinks and Fuchsias (8):

Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Adorned
Urban Decay Revolution Lipgloss in Scandal (mini, omg look how qt)
NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela*
Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia (discontinued)*
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in Vivid Rose
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow
Revlon Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie (discontinued)
MAC Matte Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum

L-R: Adorned, Scandal, Angela, Fuchsia, Vivid Rose, Cherries in the Snow, Raspberry Pie, Candy Yum-Yum:

Closeup of Adorned (left) and Scandal:

This category is my favorite to look at, but not my favorite to wear: the only lipsticks in this category that get regular wear are Fuchsia (my current tube is smelling a bit off, but I have a brand-new backup) and Angela. Why am I so afraid to wear Adorned out of the house? It’s gorgeous, but it appears on this blog only when I’m lamenting how little attention I give it.

Purples (9):

Maybelline Rebel Bloom Lipstick in Lilac Flush
NYX Round Lipstick in Castle
NYX Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart
MAC Amplified Lipstick in Up the Amp*
Maybelline Vivids Lipstick in Brazen Berry*
NYX Intense Butter Gloss in Spice Cake
Bite Lip Lab custom lipstick
Milani Moisture Matte Lipstick in Matte Fearless
& Other Stories Lip Colour in Droguet Purple

L-R: Lilac Flush, Castle, Raspberry Tart, Up the Amp, Brazen Berry, Spice Cake, Bite custom lipstick, Matte Fearless, Droguet Purple.

Yessss I love purple lipstick. Honestly, I’m surprisedand a little disappointedthat I don’t own more. My first purple lipstick is still my favorite: MAC Up the Amp, which is almost gone after almost four years of faithful service. (I just realized that I forgot to include it in the photo, ugh. I’ll have to retake that one tomorrow.) But I’m not crazy about MAC’s Amplified formula, so I’ll probably buy another medium purple, like Bite Spritzer or Urban Decay Bittersweet, instead of repurchasing Up the Amp. My second favorite purple is Brazen Berry: that tube looks so new because it’s my second one! I was planning to get rid of NYX Castle, which I bought for my Effie Trinket costume for Halloween 2014, but it’s so wonderfully weird that I just can’t part with it. Plus it fits into the gray-purple lip trend that’s happening right now (NARS Dominique, ColourPop Marshmallow, NYX Up the Bass…).

Plums and Berries (9):

Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry*
Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Get Me Bodied*
MAC Matte Lipstick in Eugenie (LE)
Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Embellished
Revlon Balm Stain in Crush
YSL Rouge Pur Couture in 08 Belle de Rose
Revlon Shine Lipstick in Plum Velour
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture*
Revlon Lip Butter in Sugar Plum (discontinued)

L-R: Sultry, Get Me Bodied, Eugenie, Embellished, Crush, Belle de Rose, Plum Velour, Rapture, Sugar Plum:

Do I need all these plums? No. Have I worn them all this past winter? Yes, except for the most expensive one. I’m attached to Belle de Rose because it was my first high-end lipstick, but it’s drying and I have a nearly identical color, Get Me Bodied, in a formula I like better. I think it’s time to say goodbye to BDR. I’m also tossing Plum Velour because it’s been aaalmost empty for over a year now and I’m so goddamn tired of looking at it.

Nudes and MLBBs (8):

Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle
NARS Cinematic Lipstick in Last Tango (LE)
NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu
NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien (mini)
NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita*
Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Nude Lust
Milani Moisture Matte in Matte Naked*
ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Trap

L-R: Pink Truffle, Last Tango, Tiramisu, Rikugien, Nude Lust, Dolce Vita, Matte Naked, Trap:

My favorites from this category are Dolce Vita (never absent from my purse), Matte Naked, and Trap. The obvious destash candidate is Rikugien, which is just too drying and frosty for me, but I think I’ll give it one more chance. I’m no longer crazy about Pink Truffle either, but I have so little left that I might as well try to use it up. However, I reserve the right to toss it if I don’t fall back in love with it.

Browns (7):

Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy*
Topshop Lip Bullet in Motel (mini)
Maybelline Color Sensational in Crazy for Coffee
Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce
Topshop Matte Lipstick in Boardroom
NYX Simply Vamp Lip Cream in Enamored
MAC Matte Lipstick in Antique Velvet*

L-R: Coy, Motel, Crazy for Coffee, Fierce, Boardroom, Enamored, Antique Velvet:

I bought all but two of my brown lipsticks in the past six months (!), which explains why most of them aren’t showing much wear. Motel, Crazy for Coffee, and Fierce look almost identical in these swatches, but I swear they’re different when worn. I’ll probably get rid of Enamored (too drying) and Crazy for Coffee (too blah).

Gold (1):

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in Dune (discontinued)

The Stained Glosses and original-packaging Lip Tars are currently $5 (reduced from $18) on OCC’s website! I’ve been looking for a shimmery layering gloss, so I couldn’t resist ordering Dune, which OCC describes as a “light beige with gold shimmer.” The gloss does look beige in the tube, but the shimmer is far more pronounced than the base color in arm swatches and on the lips, so I decided to create a separate color category for Dune. (I also didn’t want to retake the photos of my nude lip colors. Sue me.) The shimmer separates a bit in the tube, but it mixes with the base color as you squeeze it out. Full review to come!

Finally, here’s my tiny lineup (if you will) of lip liners, which I practically never use. L-R: Milani Nude, Barry M Plum, NYX Pumpkin.

Here’s the final count, pre-destash:

Lipsticks: 56
Glosses: 9
Liners: 3
Grand Total: 68

Maybelline Crazy for Coffee
Maybelline Make Me Pink
NYX Enamored
Revlon Barcelona Nights
Revlon Plum Velour
Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon

Which brings the final totals to…

Lipsticks: 51
Glosses: 8
Liners: 3
Grand Total: 61

This was fun, if very time-consuming! I actually have fewer lipsticks than I thought: I was expecting a figure in the realm of 75. (No, this does not mean I’m allowed to go out and buy 25 new lipsticks now.) Let me know if you have questions about any of them!

23 thoughts on “The Great Lipstick Inventory of 2016

  1. Damn, this post is making me feel so guilty. I don't even want to begin to count how many I have but in the last 3-4 months I've self regulated how much I buy. I have a disproportionate amount of nudes compared to other colours but you know, they're all different and special in their own way! *headdesk*Adorned is the kind of shade that makes you happy just to look at it, I have a couple of those shades as well. I rarely wear them but I can't bring myself to give them away. Also, I think you I might like Maybelline My Mahogany. Advaita | Blush Canvas


  2. Well, that was really fun. I don't think I've ever done this and I'm not super psyched about the idea, just because I don't really want to know, ha! I also don't think I have quite such an even distribution of shades. Probably 50% are red! Perhaps I'll poke around. I got rid of some of my oldest lipsticks a while ago and I could stand to weed some out again.


  3. Aww, no need to feel guilty! I've owned more lipsticks than this over the past few years, but I've done a bit of editing in the last year or so. I think we all have that one color we buy too many of because THEY'RE ALL DIFFERENT, DAMN IT. For me that color is definitely plum/purple.My Mahogany looks very pretty indeed, but close to a couple of others I already have (Motel, Pink Truffle). I also don't like Maybelline's regular Color Sensational formula very much, though I love the Vivids formula!


  4. I was surprised at the even distribution of shades! I think part of it is that I'm so stubbornly seasonal with my makeup, so I rarely contemplate wearing a coral in winter or a dark plum in summer. I recommend doing an inventory! It's very soothing, and you learn things you may not have realized about your preferences.


  5. That was fun! And it's interesting to see that most of your favorite lipsticks are among the more unusual colors. I've been thinking of doing this by category (red, MLBB) but it always seems like such a daunting task to photograph and describe everything. Even though I think I don't have any more than you. Nicely done!


  6. I took the photos and wrote the post over the course of two weeks, actually. It was maddening to wait for the light to be just right, take the pictures, realize I'd left out a lipstick, rearrange everything…oh, and now it's raining all of a sudden. I might go back at my leisure and retake some of the photos with less good lighting, but I just wanted to get the post up so I could move on to other stuff.I would love to see your inventory! I'm always so curious what other people have, and more importantly, what their favorites are.


  7. This is AMAZING, thank you so much. Though I have to say, every single time I see \”Get Me Bodied\” I die a little inside. I fell in love with the shade when you first got it, and it's… basically my perfect unicorn color. But I just can't justify the expense to have it shipped overseas, and my longing won't be calmed! I'm so jealous of your collection- and I really appreciate the time and effort that went into this post, I'll absolutely be referring back pretty regularly for comparison- we have similar coloration and taste. Thanks again for this, and PLEASE post something if Get Me Bodied is ever affordable in the US!


  8. I like the idea of separating lip colours by undertone! I just do it by brand, and have a separate organizer for my favourite expensive ones because they look so pretty all together. Not quite so functional, though.Revlon Sultry is such an interesting colour to me; it seems to look different on everyone. On me it's far from a plum – it's some mixture of brown/pink/red. Such a good colour, however it ends up looking.I just counted and I have 43 lip products (excluding lip liners, but I have fewer than 10 of those), which is a lot less than I was expecting, too. Still probably too many! Now I kind of want to do an inventory! The colour category thing would most likely just confirm that I need to stop buying fuchsias and berries.


  9. This is so inspiring! I'm glad you told us that it took you a while to pull it together, because that makes it easier to plan and pull together a similar post. I can't decide whether to do a post-purge version, or show all the colors, including the ones I've never worn, not even once. THE SHAME OF IT.


  10. GMB was available in a mini duo with Motel during the holiday season (and I'm pretty sure the duo was available in the US), so maybe they'll bring back that set later this year. One can hope. Honestly, though, I think there are quite a few color dupes of GMB floating around. The formula is great, but it's very similar to MAC's matte formula, and indeed I've heard that Topshop and MAC get their makeup from the same supplier. And you're welcome! I love looking at other people's inventories, so I'm glad mine is some help to you. 🙂


  11. It's funny, it never even crossed my mind to organize my collection by brand! I happened to have those two big Kate Spade boxes, and the organization just sorted itself out naturally. I had such a hard time deciding what category Sultry belonged in! It's not a plum on me, either, but it's closer to a berry than it is to a brown or MLBB or red, so I just lumped it in with \”plums and berries.\”I don't think any number of lipsticks is \”too many\” so long as you use them all, but my collection definitely needed some editing. I'm hoping it will be easier for me to cycle through them now that I've gotten rid of a few that I never wore.


  12. If I can inspire lipstick euphoria in just one reader, I've done my job. *sniff* I was surprised at the color balance in my collection–I guess I'm just that much of a neurotic completist. It would look less balanced, though, if I grouped plums and purples into the same category, or divided oranges and corals…


  13. It did take longer than I expected, but part of the problem was that I was too careless about matching my swatches to the lists I'd already put together. If I'd been better about that, I wouldn't have repeatedly left out shades and had to retake the photos. I'd recommend just swatching everything you own! I think more information is always better.


  14. Brown shades look horrible on me, but now I pretty much want every color you posted here. Maybe I'll limit myself to Colourpop Trap when I eventually feel the desire to place another order on their site.Also, it's crazy to me that you aren't a big red lipstick fan! Red looks faboosh on you.


  15. Thank goodness! I was beginning to worry that you were gone ala drivelaboutfrivol. I’m so grateful that I have vowed to comment on this wonderful blog more often rather than be a passive (but constant) reader.And you’re returned with a lipstick inventory! Hoorah!I’m not even a beauty blogger but my lipstick inventory isn’t drastically less than your stash. And your stash is so balanced! 20+ of my thirtysomething lipsticks are varying shades and finishes of red. Nudes and MLBBs just don’t work on me. Everything in the nude/MLBB spectrum makes me look dead. In fact, I look better with no lippie than with anything nude. Brights are a safe bet with me. Browned and muted reds work too.From your swatches, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry looks like it would be a great shade for me. When I tried it on a couple of weeks ago, I looked completely washed out. Very strange. I was sure it would mesh well with my skin tone (which is light olive).I ordered two lipsticks thanks to your swatches: Topshop’s Get Me Bodied and Rio Rio. I’ve had a mad desire for a plummy berry since January and couldn’t find anything like the ideal mind shade at the beauty counters. Once I saw Get Me Bodied in your archives, I thought: that’s it! That’s the one! Luckily, someone I know is studying in the UK and will return later this month. See? The universe wants me to get Get Me Bodied. I asked for Rio Rio as well because orange-reds almost always flatter me.There another, final lipstick on this blog that has induced can’t-be-ignored lust in me: NARS 413 BLKR. Such a complex, sophisticated, and womanly color. I’ve asked for it for my birthday next month and I am deeply impatient.I really appreciate that you are thoughtful about buying and consuming beauty products, yet you also have a sense of fun and balance. Like you, sometimes I feel guilty about owning so many lipsticks. But I really do wear all of them regularly. Yes, I can be extravagant. But I try my darnest to never be wasteful.


  16. I don't know why I shy away from red, but it definitely takes more courage for me to wear a bright red than, say, a dark purple. Maybe I just need practice! And I highly recommend Trap–it seems to look good on a variety of skintones, despite being a somewhat odd color.


  17. Don't worry, I don't plan to abandon this blog anytime soon! I've just had a particularly busy couple of weeks, and since so much of my life is devoted to writing, sometimes I don't feel like unwinding with yet more writing, you know?I'm glad I could convert at least one person to the cults of Get Me Bodied and 413 BLKR! They're both such awesome lipsticks. I hope you like Rio Rio, too. I sort of regret buying it because it just doesn't flatter me, but oh well.\”Extravagant but not wasteful\” is my general approach to makeup consumption, too. I don't think I'll ever be satisfied with a super-edited collection of a dozen lipsticks, but I've gotten a lot better at avoiding colors similar to the ones I already own.


  18. All of these lipsticks and swatches lined up is so satisfying to see! I was also impressed by how well-balanced your collection appears to be. Bright colours are still kind of intimidating to me. Also, Dune is such an interesting colour! I'm excited to see how you layer it.


  19. My collection is well-balanced in terms of the lip colors I own, but less balanced in terms of the ones I actually wear often!I've been experimenting with Dune, and it's harder to layer than I expected, because the gold shimmer is SO dense. I really love it on its own, though, so no harm done! I'm planning to review it in a few days.


  20. So many of your lipsticks look well loved, that's so cool and refreshing to see – versus YouTubers who have drawers upon drawers of lipsticks they only swatched once. I have to say that except for lip products in my panning projects, most of my lipsticks look pretty new, even the ones I've worn dozens of times. I would like to get to the point in my lip product collection where 80% gets worn quite regularly, the remaining 20% being weird and special colors I'm only in the mood for once in a while. That's the goal 🙂


  21. I've had some of these lipsticks for four years, so it's no wonder they look well loved! But yeah, it's not like I have to persuade myself to wear lipstick on certain days. I'm always willing to wear a lip color, even if it's a subtle one like Dolce Vita.Hmm, I wonder what my percentage of regularly worn vs. seldom worn would be. It's difficult for me to calculate because so many of my lipsticks are seasonal: I never wear corals in winter or berries in summer. Taking that into account, though, I'm probably at 70/30 right now. Which doesn't sound bad, but I have so many lip colors that \”regularly\” for me is, like, three times a month.


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