I Destashed 15 Lipsticks

…oh, and two eyeshadows, but who cares about those?

I took a lipstick inventory six months ago and got rid of six products. But that didn’t come close to eliminating all the lip colors I no longer wore, and I returned from my travels last month with a clearer sense of what I could trust myself to wear and what I could live without. Today being Labor Day, I put aside my academic work to clean the house, including my makeup shelf. For some reason, I found destashing much easier than I had in March, and I ended up with a pile of 15 lipsticks and glosses to toss or give away:

The warmer colors:

L-R: Topshop Wink, Revlon Mischievous, NYX Peach Cobbler, Rimmel Across the Universe, NARS Flamenco, NARS Last Tango, NARS Rikugien, Maybelline Nude Lust.

Swatches, same order:

L-R: Wink, Mischievous, Peach Cobbler, Across the Universe, Flamenco, Last Tango, Rikugien, Nude Lust.

And the cooler colors:

L-R: Topshop Plastique, Revlon Raspberry Pie, Maybelline Lilac Flush, NYX Raspberry Tart, Revlon Violet Frenzy, Maybelline Brazen Berry, NARS Angela.

Swatches, same order:

L-R: Plastique, Raspberry Pie, Lilac Flush, Raspberry Tart, Violet Frenzy, Brazen Berry, Angela.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a makeup minimalist, especially not where lipstick is concerned. I like to have variety in my collection. I savor the ritual of choosing a lip color every morning. I think there’s a perceptible difference between a matte lipstick in shade X and a satin lipstick in the same shade. And I don’t see anything wrong with keeping a lipstick that I wear just a few times a year, provided I enjoy the hell out of those times. (MAC Candy Yum-Yum comes to mind.) But I do have a few dealbreakers:

  • an unflattering color, or one I just don’t like wearing anymore
  • tragically ugly packaging (looking at you, Wet n Wild)
  • a shape or consistency that makes application difficult
  • a very drying or very slippery formula
  • a noticeably patchy or streaky finish

I know myself. More specifically, I know I’m lazy. I’m not going to work extensively with a lipstick. I’m not going to use a lip brush, layer a patchy lipstick over primer or liner, or mix an unflattering color with a better one. I don’t ask for much, but I need a lipstick to apply smoothly straight from the tube, look decent on its own, and fade without sucking all the moisture from my lips. Each of these 15 lip colors has failed in at least one category. I tossed the older ones in the trash, but I’m going to see if anyone wants the others; if not, I’ll have to throw those away, too. Little by little, I’m conquering my guilt about throwing out makeup (more on that later).

Without further ado, a short blurb about each lipstick and gloss I’ve destashed, in alphabetical order by brand. I’ve linked to my own reviews where they exist.

Maybelline Brazen Berry:

I actually used up a tube of this lipstick, a bright semi-sheer pinky purple. I even got my mom addicted to it: it’s now her daily color, which she layers with Revlon Berry Haute for a more toned-down purple. But after I acquired my second tube (that is, stole it from my mom), I lost interest. There’s nothing objectively wrong with this lipstick; it’s just brighter, sheerer, and shinier than I prefer these days. I started using it in the summer of 2013, and my tastes have changed since then. I know my mom will be happy to have this back, especially since I haven’t used much of it.

Maybelline Lilac Flush:

By contrast, there’s a lot wrong with this lipstick. It’s a white-based lavender-pink, a color that looks good on very few people and certainly not on me. It’s not opaque, but not truly sheer eitherit just looks streaky and weird, and it fades quickly, and I can’t wear it when my lips are dry because it catches on the dry bits. Worst of all, it’s not the true lavender it appears to be in the tube! Come on. I’m going to offer Lilac Flush to my mom because she likes mixing her lipsticks and might be able to do something with it, but if she doesn’t like it, it’s going in the trash.

Maybelline Nude Lust:

This was an okay nude for me until I found a better one: Bourjois Rouge Edition in Beige Trench, which is pinker and grayer than Nude Lust (and which I still have to review, sorry). I wear nude lipstick so rarely that I can’t justify keeping both, and I know that if I want a true concealer nude, I’m going to reach for Beige Trench. Plus, my tube of Nude Lust has gross-looking wax bloom all over it.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela:

Ugh, this breaks my heart. Angela is one of my very favorite lipsticks color-wise and I was so excited when I first bought it, but the Audacious formula dries out my lips really badly. I can’t keep a lipstick that necessitates a weeklong recovery period after every wear, so I’m going to take advantage of Nordstrom’s generous return policy and see if I can get my money back. I may eventually have to seek out a color dupe of Angela in a more lip-friendly formula, because that bright magenta lights up my complexion and my heart. </3

NARS Cinematic Lipstick in Last Tango (LE):

This was one of the five Cinematic lipsticks in the Guy Bourdin collection for Holiday 2013. Everyone praised the Cinematic formula for being more moisturizing than NARS’ other formulas, but that certainly wasn’t the case for me. The color is also a bit off: warmer than a MLBB for my complexion, but not warm enough to be a statement lipstick. I’ve been trying for three years to integrate this lipstick into my regular rotation, but it’s just not happening.

NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien (mini):

Yet another NARS lipstick formula that my lips reject. This was one of the Sephora birthday gifts last year (I’m keeping my mini Cruella), and as excited as I was to receive a NARS birthday gift, everything about Rikugien turned out to be a bummer. I hate the frost (why??), the “universal” peachy color that clashes with my undertones, and the fact that NARS’ satin formula is mysteriously more drying on me than the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil formula.

NARS Sheer Lipstick in Flamenco:

I bought this ages ago (four and a half years!), used up almost all of it, lost it, bought a replacement, and eventually found my first tube again. If I were being honest with myself, I’d probably get rid of both tubes because I barely wear Flamenco anymore, but I do think there’s a place in my collection for a sheer neutral red. Just not two of the same sheer neutral red. I’m keeping the newer one, but the older one is just a nubbin and it can go.

NYX Butter Gloss in Peach Cobbler:

I don’t wear lip gloss. I’m not a gloss person, period. Why do I keep trying to convince myself otherwise? Why am I keeping this gloss just in case my tastes change overnight? They won’t, and this gloss is two and a half years old anyway.

NYX Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart:

See above.

Revlon Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie:

Every few months I dig this lipstick out, wonder why I’ve been neglecting such a pretty color, wear it for a few hours, and remember: oh, right, that’s why. It’s too moist and slippery to be as opaque as it is. I don’t mind some transfer from my lipstick, but a color this pigmented needs to last at least a few hours without leaving traces of itself all over the universe.

Revlon Matte Balm in Mischievous:

Surprise: a stark, white-based pastel orange has a streaky, clumpy formula and looks weird as fuck on my face. Who’d have thought? I put it on a few days ago, just to make sure it deserved destashing, and I couldn’t bring myself to wear it out of the house. I even used peachy blush and eyeshadow so that Mischievous would look less awkward on my face, but lol nope:

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Violet Frenzy:

Meh. I have so many purple lipsticks that I don’t feel the need to keep such a mediocre one. An opaque purple lipstick with silver pearl would look cool, but Violet Frenzy is far from opaque, and it’s as slippery as most of its Super Lustrous siblings.

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Across the Universe:

This is one of those old-school liquid lipsticks that don’t dry down even a little. Non-matte liquid lipsticks fell rapidly out of favor a few months after I bought Across the Universe, but have since returned as “liquid satin lipsticks.” People are hailing the formula as a revolutionary new alternative to liquid matte lipstick, as if it weren’t just what liquid lipstick was for decades. In any case, I didn’t like liquid satin lipstick before 2015, and I don’t like it now. Across the Universe’s deep bricky red is flattering on me, but the phrase “on me” implies that I can actually get it onto my face without making a mess, and I can’t. When I want a dark autumnal red, I always choose NYX Alabama or NARS 413 BLKR, both bullet lipsticks, over Across the Universe.

Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Plastique:

Not quite as bad as Lilac Flush, but suffers from the same problems: streaky formula, white-based pastel color that makes me look a bit sick. Honestly, though, I’m not sure I’ll destash this: I wore it so often in the spring of 2015 that I think there’s a chance I’ll fall in love with it again.

Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Wink:

I’m so annoyed at myself for ordering this sight unseen from a website that doesn’t allow makeup returns. It’s a washed-out sheerish coral with big gold sparkles. I don’t know why it exists. Ugh.

And just for fun, those eyeshadows I mentioned earlier: Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 16 Purple and ColourPop Super Shock Shadow in Cowboy. Both of these have been dry, patchy, and generally shitty for their entire existence, and I’m tired of allowing them a place on my shelf.

And here’s my lipstick collection now, filling three containers instead of four. The only two lipsticks not shown are NARS Dolce Vita, still MIA after my trip to LA, and two minis: Bite Radish and Kat Von D Mercy.

I now own 50 lipsticks (including liquid lipsticks and lip crayons), 5 glosses, and 2 lip tints, for a grand total of 57 lip colors (60 if you count my lip liners). If you do the math, you’ll realize that my lipstick count hasn’t budged: I’ve collected as many lipsticks since March as I destashed today. But at least I’m enforcing a “one in, one out” policy, and eliminating the lipsticks I never wore has made my favorites easier to find. I wasn’t running out of physical space, but the extraneous lipsticks were contributing to visual clutter and distracting me from appreciating the others. Nor am I done culling: there are several lipsticks that will be put to the test and possibly destashed in the coming weeks.

I’ve never read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but her arguments are so prevalent in the beauty world these days that I feel as if I have. Kondo spent five years as a miko, or Shinto shrine attendant, and her approach to objects is inspired by the animist nature of Shinto. She encourages us to acknowledge the joy that each object has brought us by thanking it as we throw it away. I tried this today, whispering “thank you” to each lipstick and taking a moment to conjure my favorite memory of it. I remembered wearing Raspberry Tart and Peach Cobbler during my dissertation seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library. I remembered wearing Raspberry Pie to the Jefferson Memorial on an impossibly sticky day in the summer of 2012. And sure enough, it became easier and easier to open my hand and drop the lipsticks one by one into the garbage can. (To Cowboy, I whispered “Thanks for nothing.”)

I hope to revisit this destashing project soon, but for now I’m pretty satisfied with the progress I’ve made. Here’s to a lipstick collection comprising nothing but the stuff I love!

11 thoughts on “I Destashed 15 Lipsticks

  1. Rikugien was bad! It lasted for maybe six months in my stash. I still love Cruella, though.Revlon Raspberry Pie is such a bummer! I haven’t worn it in at least two years, probably. It was my second lipstick ever (purchased for a Halloween costume in 2012 because I was like, \”Who would wear a colour like this in real life???\” hahaha) and the oldest one I still own. I’ve been holding onto it with the intention of getting an opaque, matte version of it made at the Bite lip lab (we’re finally getting one here!), although I guess I could have probably found a regular ol’ dupe of it by now. The Lip Butters in general I found better in theory than practice.Congrats on such a large destash! That’s really impressive. I worked today and am too tired to fathom such a thing right now, but I’m off tomorrow and you may just have inspired me to go through my own.


  2. What's funny is that to my eyes the the Revlon Matte Balm in \”Mischievous\” looks really cute on you! It just goes to show how different people's tastes are.\”I'm not a gloss person, period. Why do I keep trying to convince myself otherwise?\” <— Literally me, lol.


  3. How timely: I'm probably going to buy Nyx Up the Bass tomorrow, lol. Sorry to hear your Kiko shadow stick was a pain! I'm hoping I can rescue mine from the university mail services sometime soon. I didn't get any too crazy colors – purple eyeshadows can be finicky in all forms, or at least I'm telling myself that. I was reeeaaaaally confident in January that I wasn't a lip gloss person too, but now I've totally reversed that position. I have, thankfully, recovered my lipstick enthusiasm. Really looking forward to some of the UD Vintage shades.


  4. I have been slowly going through my own lipsticks and trying to get rid of various tubes. Every time I manage to cull at least one or two for different reasons. I'm thinking about doing another one, because I have a couple that I love color and formula wise, but I hate the application and so I never wear them.I feel your pain with glosses. I also don't like them, I KNOW I don't like them, and yet somehow I occasionally find myself purchasing a gloss just in case. Inevitably I toss it after a few months because I hate it. Talk about being wasteful and having a terrible carbon footprint.


  5. Why is Rikugien frosty when no other NARS satin pencil is? WHY?! I wouldn't say I love my mini Cruella (the formula is sheerer than the full-sized version), but I assume it will get some wear this fall.Haha, in 2012 it was still sensible to think that! Good luck with finding a dupe. Bite has a few similar colors in its Amuse Bouche line–Radish and Beetroot are the ones that come to mind right now.It's funny, once you complete that initial destash, the thought of getting rid of even more lipsticks becomes less daunting. Good luck!


  6. Aww, thanks! It's not the worst lipstick I've ever worn, but the combination of weird color + weird formula is one too many weirdnesses for me. There's just something about that yellow orange against my complexion that makes me think of Cheeto dust.


  7. Up the Bass will look beautiful on you! For what it's worth, I may have stumbled upon the worst eyeshadow stick in the entire line, because all the others I've swatched have seemed great. I should wear Golden Mauve more often (and, you know, review it).My tastes are fickle too, which is something I always worry about when I get rid of makeup. What if I decide in a month that my official aesthetic of Fall 2016 involves a glossy peach lip?? The UD Vintage shades are a bit sheer for me, but I do like the look of Oil Slick. It would be cool to have a sheer black (see also Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit) for those soft-Gothademic days.


  8. At least you're aware of that behavior! I'm guilty of it too, though these days before I buy a lipstick/gloss I ask myself, \”Do I actually have a chance of finishing it?\” Of course I rarely finish lipsticks, but there are some that I'd be content to use until they were gone (provided they didn't expire), and others that I know I won't use more than a few times. There's definitely a place in my life for weird lipsticks that I don't wear often, but I want most of the lipsticks in my collection to be ones that I'd be happy to wear for days and weeks on end.


  9. Great job on decluttering no longer loved lipsticks! I also found with my nail polish that when I was attempting to purge a good amount earlier this year, it was a very difficult process for me, but once I sat on it for a few more months, it became much clearer which colors I was not in love with anymore. I tend to destash my lipsticks regularly; as soon as I notice that I dread reaching for something or already own another very similar product, I prefer to pass it on to a friend or family member.


  10. You've been a huge inspiration to me with your own panning and decluttering projects! I wish I had more friends and relatives who liked makeup, but I have a small and far-flung family and most of my friends don't care about makeup or have, like, one special-occasion lipstick. So if I decide to get rid of something, it's probably going in the trash, which saddens me even though I know it's irrational to feel that way.


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