Three Perfect Lipsticks For Those Who Look Best In Blue

Many things happen to our faces as we age. Some we accept, some we ignore, some we address. Let’s have a show of hands, please, under the cloak of invisibility. How many have woken up one day, looked into the mirror, and wondered, “Since when are my lips the same color as my face? And who, might I ask, decided this was acceptable?”

As a young woman, mascara was de rigueur, lipstick optional. Lipstick I wore for flirting, for seduction. Lipstick took me to the next level of polish, something a Sturdy Gal always finds elusive. Things change. It is a somewhat curious fact that our lips and skin converge, over time, as though the effort of maintaining a separate existence is too much. Lipstick, in this era, takes on a new role.

Recently I realized I needed a pink one. I did. Please do not question me on this. We’re friends, aren’t we?

How does one arrive at this sort of conclusion? One stands in front of the mirror one day, dressed in navy and white, and realizes that red lips may look too jingoistic, nude too pale. In stead, for those who look best in blue, better pink than all those cool, louche-on-the-Italian-Riviera, shades of peach, coral, or tan.

As it turns out, the best way to choose a lipstick is to take your cue from the color that casts you in your most beautiful light. For me, it’s blue. Leading to the inevitable conclusion that my lips are going to look best in blue tones. Bluish-red, bluish-pink, bluish-nude. And yes, there is such a thing as bluish-nude. Let us review.

Here, as you know, is my red lipstick. Lipstick Queen, in “Medieval.” Very sheer. Sturdy Gals can’t wear opaque red lipstick unless they are completely intoxicated, by one thing or another.

Here is the nude.  NARS, “Cruising.” Also sheer, to avoid the dreaded “ghost lip syndrome.”

And here is their new friend, Giorgio Armani Pink #500. Not sheer. Matte, long-wearing. Multi-dimensional color that manages to include both pink and, um, tan? Brown? Sand? In the tube, looks very much like the nude NARS. On the lips, quite different.

This lipstick reminds one of frescos on stucco, the way the pigment takes to your mouth, the way the color appears to layer in multiple shades. I kept sneaking peeks at myself in the mirror, and feeling pretty. It’s a good thing, feeling pretty at 54, when one’s mouth is fading. fading.

I had never tried the Armani colors, but a woman at the Laura Mercier counter told me that while Laura, a brunette, didn’t do blue tones very well, Giorgio, perhaps under the influence of Jodie Foster, was a maestro. I also listened to Donna Artz, that genius of cosmetic application, who has been talking about the Armani pigments in a hushed, worshipful tone (there is also talk of frittatas, in this video). Good guidance.

Just to round out the the story, here are two lip pencils I use. The Chanel works with both red and pink. Ironically, it’s called “Nude.” (No longer available, similar.) Women of color have dealt with the Nude Irony for years, so I cannot complain. Chanel makes a great, smooth lip pencil, with a built-in lipstick brush on the other end. The NARS pencil is for a nude lip, and it’s called “Tonga.” (No longer available, similar.) What the universe wants me to understand, by naming my nude lip pencil “Tonga,” I simply cannot say.

I anticipate your lipstick wisdom, happily.

Links may generate commissions


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  • Lisa I am so happy that you made these discoveries. I think lipstick is one of the hardest of makeups to “get right”

    I am looking forward to trying you new pink! The Nars Cruising is in my lineup, and I also love sheer glosses.

    Art by Karena

    Do Come and enter my Great Giveaway from Serena & Lily!

    You will love it!

  • You’re making good use of your lightbox in this post, I see. :)

    I don’t wear much makeup any more – it irritates my face and makes my eyes water. A puffy face and raccoon eyes sort of defeats the purpose of wearing makeup, yes?

    I gave up trying to figure out why cosmetic companies give the names they do to lipstick and nail polish a long time ago.

  • I’ve always worn some sort of pink, rose, burgundy, mauve lipstick. I like a red gloss, but don’t wear red much now I have auburn hair, so no red lipstick. Pink is always good and, strange as it sounds, some shades of orange. But mainly pink.

  • Lisa, I love Chanel & YSL colors. But, because I’m SO blonde with pale skin I can’t wear any kind of dark hued lip color. So I wear pale lips with dark eyes. x’s

  • I could never do matte. It’s sheer all the way for me.

  • Nothing lifts the spirits like a new lippy, does it?

    I’ve had nearly invisible lips for the longest time — and don’t always want to deal with the whole lipstick routine, so I’ve become a big fan of tinted lipbalm. Current fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rosé. I’ve also tried Burt’s Bees new line in Rose and Red Dahlia, and they are pretty colors, though they don’t last as long.

  • I loved every single word of this post. All of it. You perfectly nail the situation many of us contemplate every day, and without a good friend’s insight and/or the guidance of those who deal in such things professionally, it can be a challenge.

    Oddly, I have two lip pencils also called “nude,” one from Bobbi Brown (I think) and the other I don’t recall, but neither is remotely “nude.”

    Happy new week to you Miss LPC,

  • Lipstick wisdom:

    1. Either focus on the eyes OR the lips, not both.
    2. As you age, be very careful of reds. It can highlight everything that you don’t like…lip wrinkles, teeth that are not perfectly white, sun-damaged skin. Find the shade that compliments your skin and use it only occasionally, not as your daily uniform.
    3.For a natural look, apply an opaque color by tapping in on you lips as opposed to smearing. It adds a little color that is more long lasting than most sheers. Top it with a little gloss, just enough to moisten.
    4. Silly but effective trick: Can you handle spice? If you take a little gloss and add a TINY drop of pepper sauce, mix it in your hand and apply to your lips, you’ll get fuller lips. The capsaicin in the pepper sauce

  • …..lightly inflames your lips. Also nice for soem hot kisses!

    2:48 pm
    Lara in Long Beach said...

    I am SO impressed with my typing today……

  • I love that video of Donna’s. Now we just need a photo of your beautiful pink lips. Please share.

  • Fascinating post, @lisa. I am also a blue gal and while I can’t profess to have 1/2 of the fashion saavy of your good self, I long ago decided that red lipstick made me look like a vampire while nude wiped me completely out of the picture. So *all* of my lipsticks are now pink, albeit different shades. So nice to have some clarity at mid-life on one small thing…

    Delia Lloyd

  • My mother has never gone out in public without lipstick. When I was in college / started working, I would actually be berated for going outside without lipstick.

    My mom wears nothing but red lipstick, loose powder and maybe a little blush – no mascara, no eye shadow, no concealer, nothing. She’s in her 60s.

    Her lipstick is always bright red, usually opaque. I once bought her a berry-shaded gloss from Clinique, which she rejected as being “invisible.” (I kept it. It’s the one that looks like a giant crayon and it’s great).

    For women with black hair and eyes, I think dark, bright, red / berry hues work best. The beautiful colors shown here would disappear on me and my mom.

    By the way, I don’t look particularly good in blue!

  • On a side note, bright red opaque lipstick is a pain in the butt. It’s unforgiving, melts in the heat, smears, gets on your teeth, rubs off, etc. If you’re really dedicated, you line first with a lip pencil, then apply multiple layers while blotting. But who has time for that?

    That’s why I personally prefer glosses or sheer lipsticks, while sticking to my mom’s darker colors. I don’t want to get halfway through a work shift with my makeup half rubbed off.

    Bright red lipstick is great if you have time to constantly look after it!

  • Wearing a red lipstick with a hue of blue, appeals to me most too. So true about our colors fading as we age. Sigh.
    I agree with Lara above, it is either the eyes or the lips, which should be focused. Maybe one day the eyes, next time the lips.
    Once again, I like the somewhat unfinished look with makeup too.
    Thank you for your nice post.

  • I have been reading about lipsticks as well and it appears that pink is the best for women this side of 50!
    I have several pinks a Chanel and an Aveda…I feel much younger wearing pink shades…and feeling younger is a win win in my books!

    Please consider taking a picture of the new lippy!

  • Hmmm, perhaps I need this pink to wear with my MOTB dress. I like your suggestion, btw, about guessing which shoes I chose, and I’d love to hear what you’d pick. I’ve added the challenge to my post, after reading your comment — thanks!

  • Great info. Forgive me if this has been covered here previously, but what are people finding useful for the lines on aging and disappearing lips? Could use some collective wisdom here. Thanks.

  • i think the important thing is to wear some color on your lips. whatever that color is for you is best. lipcolor perks up the whole face, complexion, mood, etc. great post.

  • Nice post. I think it really depends on the shape and volume of one’s lips. On very thin lips, a slash of scarlet might scare the spots off a dalmation puppy, because it can look rather villainous.Being fair with blue eyes, I have a veritable wardrobe of pinks and use a slick of gloss on top for extra oomph.However, I don’t think Angelina Jolie will be losing any sleep over the competition!

  • I go back and forth about whats best for my lips. Stain, gloss, lip pencil only, sheer, etc etc. I end up with many and some I hate after a while. When I do find one I really like my daughter decides she does too. ;)

  • I had never thought about this, but I think I am fortunate at age 59 that my lips are still lip color and haven’t faded. So–I’m still in the group that thinks that mascara is the most important thing. i can leave the house without lipstick, but seldom do–as a bit of sheen adds a bit of polish to my look.

    I still hunt for lip colored lipsticks and for me, that means “Sweet Honey” by Clinique and “Satin Blush”, also by Clinique. I have always avoided reds (too harsh) and have never tried a pink. Maybe I should. I tend to prefer the sheers to the matts, but I’m taking your opinions under advisement.

  • I love lipstick – in Australia (and California too I imagine!) it also provides sun protection. Women get significantly less skin cancers on their lips than men.

    The pink looks like an amazing colour. I still struggle with matte as it gives me flashbacks to the 90s when everyone was wearing those very dark matte colours.

  • Love your lipstick observations and the Armani one looks beautiful. So funny yes, when did our lips become the same colour as our faces?!! (or not, funny really in the ha ha sense!) Great phrase – ghost lip syndrome. Off to check out the Armani make up soon! x

  • My go-to color is MAC Bombshell. Pink with a hint of gold frost. Tons of compliments

  • Thank you for another helpful post, Lisa.

    I will have to look at GA lipsticks too.

    SSG xxx

  • I’ve become a fan of long-wearing lipsticks.

    You can put it on in the morning and then refresh with some of those sheer ones as the day wears on.

    I like that shade a lot and will have to remember to look for it.

  • “Let’s have a show of hands, please, under the cloak of invisibility. How many have woken up one day, looked into the mirror, and wondered…”

    …from whence cometh these three hairs of a moustache? how hath they come to appear above my upper lip just as they have disappeareth from my brow? why doth my brow thinneth whilst my stache do thicketh? This is what I ask with my hand in the air. And I confess that I plucketh them whether that is proper or not.

    9:12 am
    Lara in Long Beach said...

    Thou doth speak truly, Good Lady. I fear the steady onset of years brings still more insult yet with the brazen appearance of several billy goat hairs on mine chinny-chin-chin. What purpose here but to now “swear by my beard”?! God’s Teeth, I shall first set the sharpest blade to mine own neck!

  • Sadly, I have no lipstick wisdom to share. I am color-blind (technically, color-deficient) and am always choosing the wrong colors. So I am so thankful for your post since we have similar skin and hair color and I am going to steal your color choices.

    What I mostly wanted to say is how much I enjoyed your writing in this post and your choice of phrasing. It was very conversational and a joy to read the beautiful writing.


  • i feel completely naked without something on my lips. i’m a pink girl… light pinks and corals seem to add color to the rest of my face. red lipstick makes me look like a hooker. or a vampire. or quite possibly a vampire hooker.

    I do love a nice gloss!

  • Great post, as usual, Lisa! I can’t remember the last time I ventured out the door without at least a little gloss. It is true that your lips lose their tint as you get older, and I’ve heard that wearing red lipstick over the years can cause that, too.
    My pet peeve is seeing fair blondes wearing bright read lipstick (especialy matte – Ugh!)when they would look better in some shade of pink. A good pink looks good on just about everyone!
    Post photos of yourself wearing some of the above shades, please!

  • I love red and hot pink but my go to colour is Mac viva glam 2 because someone once told me it is kinder on an aging lip, being a sort of nude/nautural pink…x

  • I feel undressed without a lipstick and also favour a pink undertone. Channel does some good ones as does bobbi brown. Might try the Armani.

  • When I remember, I use my Bobbi Brown nude lip liner. Ms. Brown herself once outfitted me with “shell pink” lipstick. It would not have been my choice (I prefer rosy nude-browns), but I trust her!

    Now I’m wearing a lip tint by Laura Mercier called “cocoa” as well as Bobbi Brown’s “rosy” for more pigment. Will try the Nars you recommend!

  • A fellow blue-eyed blonde, here, and gloss just doesn’t cut it for me. My lipstick collection borders on hoarding. Current favs are NARS “Funny Face,” L’Oreal Infallible “Enduring Berry,” and Lipstick Queen “Rose Sinner.” Have just ordered Lipstick Queen’s “Pink Sinner” and am excited to give it a try. Pale shiny pinks look sort of “porn star” – not a fan (apologies to Charla Krupp).
    I’ve lately been enamored with the JCrew catalog look of a bright lip.

  • I recently got talked into a color that would probably look great on you – Bobbi Brown’s Plum Rose – but I should have had the courage of my convictions and stuck with a hue that is friendlier to my coloring. Blue is not my best color; instead, I look great in coral, and it’s good to know that I can now describe myself as “louche-on-the-Italian-Riviera.”

  • An incredible amount of color vision is lost 40+; we end up seeing much more yellow than actually exists. I wouldn’t trust my own assessment of what my colors are. We need young eyes for verification.

  • I love CHANEL lip liners. I’ve been wearing ‘framboise’ a lot this spring. It’s a very bright, deep blue pink, as the name Raspberry would suggest.
    Must give Mr. Armani’s lipstick a try. I also hear fabulous things about his foundations. Have you tried those?

  • Well…I am not sure that I look best in blue…but I love Nars’s “Chelsea Girls” in the jar. A make-up artist friend recommended it and noted that it is a hit for everyone. It definitely works for me! It is in the neutral/pink family.

    For applying brighter colors, Nordstrom has a great how-to video with product recommendations:

  • Intriguingly, while my lips are a nice shape (if I do say so myself), they’ve been face coloured since I was in my 20s. If I don’t wear lipstick I look vaguely dead. But with lipstick, I have luscious lips :-)

  • I like the natural/nude shades of the Nars and Armani lipsticks. I don’t really wear lipstick but tend to go for a tinted balm instead because it’s easier to apply!

  • I love the Armani line. Love the lipsticks, especially. A nice addition if the color works for you would be Bobbi Brown plum stain. Just enough color and polish to finish a look off. (in a good way!)

  • HEY! You and I must have the same complexion–I wore NARS “Crusing” for my wedding, and I’ve been a fan of Armani color for a long time (also I love how it wears). That’s funny about Laura Mercier not understanding blondes. Where were you shopping that a saleswoman knew enough to tell you that? (We are clearly lipstick twins, but not wallet twins.) xo

  • Karena – It certainly has taken me long enough! To say nothing of the part where once you get it right your coloring changes:).

    Jan – That I did. Also Photoshop Elements. It’s very hard to get lipsticks to appear in their correct color onscreen. Who knew?

    Shelley – Red lipstick and red hair does require a certain something to carry it off. I always think of Julianne Moore.

    Marsha – That’s such a glamorous solution:). I like the YSL cream blushes quite a lot.

    Buckeroomama – I would have said the same, the Armani lipstick is pigmented in a way I’d never experienced before.

    Rubi – Exactly! Very spirit-lifting. I also use lip balms, for every day.

  • TPP Aw. Thank you. Good week to you too.

    Lara – Agree completely, except had not heard the tapping trick. As for red, the Lipstick Queen product is so sheer it works. I use LipFusion for the lip plumping effect:). Soem hot kisses are my favorite kind:).

    Susan – Really mulling the whole photos issue, esp. my resistance.

    Delia – Thank you so much. Lipstick clarity should never be underestimated:). Sometimes it’s all there is.

    Joyce – Fascinating. And I have noticed for years how wonderful Asian women look in these shades. And I appreciate you confirming for me that it’s tied to looking good in blue.

    Mette – My pleasure. I also like a slightly less finished look.

  • Hostess – I am thinking. I know that Charla endorses pink, in blush too.

    mater – I made my guess! Then Blogger was a brat the next day and I couldn’t comment:(.

    Erin – Good question. I use LipFusion for plumping, but around the lips I find primer and a lot of sleep are the only things that help. I haven’t tried any of the more serious interventions like fillers or lasers. Not yet.

    Janet – Thank you. And in the end mood is the real deal.

    Miss Tabitha – So true on the slash of scarlet problem, although the truly Artsy can make that work…

    Ms. Givens – Ah, daughters…mine is a red-head, so the overlap is less. She just grew out of my shoes too:).

  • Susan – Yes. Very fortunate. On the other hand, lipstick technology has come a LONG way. Shades that used to look artificial can now lie very nicely on the lips.

    A Farmer’s Wife – I hadn’t even thought about that, but of course. The Armani does not appear dark.

    Sarah – Thank you. I think you might enjoy the Armani pigments.

    Gablesgirl – I used to wear a pink with gold – always felt very glamorous. Sometime around 50 the effect wore off:). I bet you look great.

    SSG – My pleasure.

    RoseAG – Thanks. This is quite long-wearing, IMO.

  • BethAnn – Hello:). Thank you for educating me on color-deficient. I didn’t even know it was possible. And thank you very much for the kind words on my writing. They are deeply appreciated.

    Flo – Bwahahaha. And thus spake Zarathustra. Plucking hurts too much. If I told you what I do it’d count as TMI.

    EM – The thought of you as a vampire hooker is probably the funniest thing I’m going to experience ALL DAY LONG!

    SouthernWASP – Thank you so much. I am mulling over the photo situation. They say red lipstick actually leaches color? Yikes.

    FF – If I had lips like you I’d be all over the Viva Glam:).

    Chicatanyage – Conversely, I will take a look at Bobbi Brown. I always assumed her stuff was similar to Laura Mercier. Maybe erroneously.

    8:01 pm
    BethAnn said...

    Most people who say they are color-blind are really color-deficient, as it’s extremely rare for someone to see no color at all. The remainder of us color-blind folk see colors but we have a deficiency in distinguishing certain colors. I, unfortunately, see pink when the color is actually orange. Makes for very bad lipstick choices. And difficulty in choosing an outfit for “class color” day in prep school where my Class of ’88 colors were pink and cream.

    Looking forward to lipstick shopping this weekend with your list!

    8:15 am
    Lisa said...

    I wish you good lipstick shopping!

  • Miss Cavendish – Looking forward to any report you feel like providing.

    Genuine Lustre – A new show. Lipstick hoarding:). I don’t do pale shiny pinks either, to me it reads too dowager on the beach.

    MJ – I will take note of the color. And I envy you the Italian Riviera:). Of course you can also take that color palette towards Earth Mother. I may just be making all this up. But you know that already.

    Martha – Really? Seriously? Will indignities ever cease? Thank you so much for that information. I’m afraid I have to color myself for my own eyes – I certainly care more than anyone else:).

    Laura – I have tried the foundations – that’s too much pigment for me. I feel more comfortable in a tinted moisturizer.

  • The Online Shopper – I looked up Chelsea Girls on Makeup Alley. Sounds like people ADORE it!

    K-Line – Well, then, we’re just going to say it. You have luscious lips!

    Stephanie – OK. That’s two votes for Bobbi Brown plum. Hmm. Must research:).

    Mouse – How fun to have a complexion twin:). And I was shopping at Saks in San Francisco. That’s currently my fave place for makeup shopping out here. I justify expensive lipsticks because on a cost per wear basis it’s still so little. Of course, I can justify expense in far too many ways, but that’s a separate issue. This one still works.

  • Oooh, a game I can play! Sadly, not WASP, never privileged, and did not receive my first pearls until I inherited them at 37 — but I love lipstick and, just as with hair color, am old enough now to slightly need it as opposed to only liking it. So I have thought about this.

    My current rotation of pinks are: NARS Dolce Vita (a little more pink than Cruising), Laura Mercier Baby Lips, Julie Hewett Kiki, Lipstick Queen’s Jean Queen and Saint Rose, and MAC’s Viva Glam V and VI. On the more neutral side, Bobbie Brown Rosy (and a Bourjois #29 that I hoard because they discontinued it, dammit). When I need a red (rarely), I also wear Lipstick Queen Medieval, and if I need more color (even more rarely), Julie Hewett Film Noir, which manages the remarkable trick of being sheer but not shiny.

    8:18 am
    Lisa said...

    Oh I do appreciate a well-researched list. It sounds as though you and I have similar coloring, and that I ought to take note. Thank you very much. And, just in case I haven’t said this in a while, if everyone couldn’t play here I ‘d decamp. It’s kind of tricky, writing from a culture that cherished exclusivity, and doing so with open doors, but that’s my goal. Again, thank you.

  • Who doesn’t adore Donna Artz? And just when I thought she was a unique discovery!

    I found your blog courtesy of Alice @ summerisaverb.


One Trackback

  1. […] two neck diamond solitaires. No, I have far more respect for you than that. We are focsuing on the Giorgio Armani Pink 500 lipstick, which single-handedly returns us blue-toned sorts to the land of Those With Face Color. I layer on […]