Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vampy Winter Lips for Beginners

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
The beginner I'm mainly referring to here is me. I know that some of you are seasoned vampy veterans, but I haven't historically been a huge lipstick wearer in general. I've even declared in writing that I was giving up on lipstick because it was too high maintenance. Instead, I wore every other type of lip product: stain, balm, tint, gloss, etc. But somehow, in the last year or so, I've got a lot more into lipstick. I don't know what happened. Bored with other types of makeup? Getting old and no longer as self conscious? At any rate, probably 80% or more of the makeup I've bought in the last 6-9 months (which hasn't been a lot) has been lipstick, and when I'm browsing it's usually the most appealing category to me lately.

Revlon Balm Stain in Crush, Paula's Choice Plum, Bite Mulberry/Scarlet, Maybelline Creamy Matte Divine Wine, and Urban Decay Matte Bad Blood.
Left to right: Revlon Balm Stain in Crush, Paula's Choice Plum, Bite Mulberry/Scarlet, Maybelline Creamy Matte Divine Wine, and Urban Decay Matte Bad Blood.
One new change that I've really only embraced this winter is dark or bold "vampy" lipstick. Now I am talking about vaguely vampy shades, nothing extreme. I'm still a beginner, and my coloring makes things look more dramatic than they might otherwise. There's nothing black (or blackish) in my lineup. The few lipsticks I have that could be categorized as vampy are mostly very pigmented berries or wines. Wet N Wild Sugar Plum Fairy (a supposed dupe for MAC Rebel) is sort of my baseline for comparison here. If you consider Sugar Plum Fairy or Rebel to be a "wearable berry" then you're probably going to roll your eyes at my whole weak foray into bold lipsticks. If, on the other hand, you find it slightly intimidatingly bold, I'll assume you're with me on this one. I'm not saying Rebel is vampy, but for me, anything darker than that is edging into vampy territory. It's my vampy watershed. Or something.

Here is my small collection of debatably vampy lip colors, with Wet N Wild Sugar Plum Fairy also swatched for comparison:

Swatches of Wet N Wild Sugar Plum Fairy, Revlon Balm Stain in Crush, Paula's Choice Plum, Bite Mulberry, Bite Scarlet, Maybelline Creamy Matte Divine Wine, and Urban Decay Matte Bad Blood
Why do they all look bright pink? Shitty winter light!
Left to right: Wet N Wild Sugar Plum Fairy, Revlon Balm Stain in Crush, Paula's Choice Plum, Bite Mulberry, Bite Scarlet, Maybelline Creamy Matte Divine Wine, and Urban Decay Matte Bad Blood.
I actually took photos of my whole face wearing each of these lipsticks. I don't do that very often. Notice that it was before I dyed my hair dark brown, which I did in December, so I have been sitting on these for a while. I've found that with the darker hair color, the lipsticks look less startling. In general, though, it's funny how in person these lipsticks look like A STATEMENT (and not just to me--I've got comments on them). But somehow in a photo they look pretty tame. Maybe because I'm so used to looking at photos of dramatic makeup. Or maybe because I took these photos in my bathroom, and the poor flattering light diffuses everything a little. I  obviously didn't style my hair on any of these days, because when I work from home I can't be bothered. Seems unnecessarily damaging to heat style and then stay in. Somehow I have no problem putting on a full face of makeup just to stay home, though. Go figure.

Anyway, part of the point of the full face photos is that purplish or dark red colors can be tricky with my coloring. They have a tendency to exaggerate the dark circles under my eyes. These particular lipsticks cause minimal problems of that sort, which is why I like them. (A good concealer still goes a long way, however.)

If you are beginning to consider experimenting with vampiness, I highly recommend trying Revlon Balm Stain in Crush. It was definitely a gateway vamp for me. It seems to be kind of a chameleon, though, so your results may vary. Just look at the Google images of Crush--some are almost fuschia, some berry, and some quite reddish. I have pigmented pink lips, and on me it's a darkish, purplish stain. In fact, I was convinced that this was the lip color they put on Jessica Jones, until Krysten Ritter said she was just wearing clear balm. I love this stuff. It's comfortable to wear, easy to apply (since it's sheer, it's not finicky), and long-lasting.

Revlon Crush
The next lipstick in my vaguely vampy lineup is the berry shade, Plum, from the Paula's Choice lip crayon set (reviewed here). In the swatches above, you can see that it looks very close to Sugar Plum Fairy. It's less opaque, however, so it's easier to manage. Still, not truly venturing into vampy territory yet here. (This post is one big mixed metaphor. Sorry. At least give me credit for avoiding the "vampy virgin" alliteration that keeps suggesting itself to me.)

Paula's Choice Plum
The Bite Duo in Mulberry/Scarlet isn't available anymore--only one of these duos is left, and I'm kind of tempted to get it now that that Luminous Creme lipsticks have been discontinued. The mini duos aren't as bad a value as them might seem at first. The Mulberry side seems to be a non-scary berry, again, though it looks much more like a dark purple in person.

Bite Mulberry
The Scarlet side has more wine in it and is a little more intense. And, as is typical with shades like this, it is a bit streaky. I still think it looks good, though.

Bite Scarlet
Probably my most respectably vampy lipstick at the moment is Maybelline Creamy Matte in Divine Wine. The first time I wore it, it was a bit of a "whoa" moment for me. Definitely outside of my (previous) comfort zone. Of course, in the photo below, it just looks like . . . lipstick. No big. It's surprising that in the swatches it looks quite close to the others, but you can see even in the first photo in this post that it's in a different color family. It has much more red and brown in it than the others, but unlike some colors of this type, I don't think it washes me out too much. Gloomy facial expression notwithstanding.

Maybelline Divine Wine. (This was the least grumpy photo I took that day . . . )
Divine Wine is trickier to apply evenly than the other lipsticks I have from the Creamy Matte line. I recommend using a dark lipliner to clean up the edges. Mine is Prestige's Black Plum ($5), but here's the secret: if you use it after putting on your lipstick, your lip liner doesn't need to match your lipstick exactly. This color actually works with every lipstick swatched here. (Sidenote: What's going on with Prestige? They seem to be disappearing from all the places I used to find them. Sad, because they made some great products.)

Prestige Lip Liner in Black Plum
Prestige Lip Liner in Black Plum
Another vampy-ish option is just to wear a dark red. I have a whole other post in mind about how hard I find red lipstick to wear, but leaving that aside, here's one of the few deeper reds I have that is still definitely red (not wine or something else): Urban Decay Matte Revolution in Bad Blood. (I also have Nars Cruella, but it looks terrible on me. Makes my skin appear sallow and sickly.)

Urban Decay Matte Bad Blood
Bad Blood looks fairly bright on its own here, but compared to other reds, it's quite deep.

So that's as vampy as I get. So far. Like I said, with my hair dyed a darker brown now, these lipsticks feel much less adventurous, but I'm still not ready to go full goth. After all the experimentation, Revlon Crush is probably still my favorite.

What about you? Do you shy away from vampy lip colors or are you all about them? If you wear a bold lipstick, do you adjust the rest of your makeup at all?


  1. Yay, vampy lips! I wore MAC Antique Velvet today. Crush certainly is a chameleon; it looks so much warmer on you than it does on me (and thanks for linking to my post)! Looking forward to what you have to say about finding a red lipstick. Bad Blood is a great red on you; it reminds me of NARS Mysterious Red.

    1. I actually have a few reds that I really like, and I sometimes put them on at home and think, "I should wear this more." And then I don't. I will write about it eventually, but posts that involve a lot of photos take me a long time to put together--as this one demonstrates!

  2. I have yet to find the balance between the correct amount of blush and dark lip colours. No matter how much red the colourhas, most dark lipsticks make me look exceptionally sallow and dead. And since i live in an eternally hot place, i only have a grand total of 2 deeper lip colours because i wear them like, once a year. Haha

    1. I was surprised to find that peachy pink blush worked quite well with some of these dark berries. I'm wearing a normal amount of blush in these photos, but the bright light washes it out. (Though if I wasn't wearing any, you could probably tell, because I'd look dead too.)

  3. God, I wish I could hate Krysten Ritter and all of her perfection. I loved this post!

    1. I know! I'm sure it was partly the purplish filter on the show, but I was sure she had some kind of stain. I also loved her makeup in Don't Trust the B. Thanks!

  4. I really like all the photos! They make me want to venture into vampy lipstick land. And that says a lot because I usually shy away from both lipstick and vampy looks.

    1. I don't know why I'm suddenly more interested in lipstick! It's still ideal when I'm going out somewhere in the evening, because I'm almost always eating, and I can't not make a mess of it.


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