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The Red Lipstick Challenge

Theodora Goes Wild

What is it about red lipstick? I have far too many - more than I will ever use, and yet I still can't stop trying and buying new ones. At last count, I have thirty-five. I need red lippie rehab.

I have seriously cut back on my makeup buying over the last decade or so, but I just can't resist a red lipstick. It can rejuvenate you: your wardrobe, your skin. The right shade can give your complexion a real boost.

There is something primal about red lipstick. It's not for shrinking violets, you have to have a bit of confidence to wear it. Do you need to be perfectly groomed to carry it off? Hell no. It draws the focus away from those jeans you've been wearing every day for the last two weeks.

Is it the most purchased colour on the market today? Can I be arsed to do any research? Hell no.

I certainly didn't start my lipstick-wearing career with red. I was in the first year of secondary school, aged 11. The year of the perm in fact. It was a clear lipgloss from Avon, (very tame beginnings), which would thicken up so that you couldn't even get the top off. My best friend and I would sit near the radiator and put our lipglosses on it, and by the end of the lesson they were in liquid form again! Just in time for break, when we would swan around with our shiny lips thinking we looked like goddesses. Poodle perm with spots more like.

Red lipstick is essential kit if you dress vintage. It is central to the whole look. It connects you with history too. It is the 'war paint' worn by women during the Second World War in the factories, in the dance halls, and in the grand houses. It makes me feel good when I put it on.

Today I want to do a comparison between a high-end and a budget brand. Mac versus Collection.

From left to right:

Unfortunately, many of these shades have now been discontinued. Isn't it always the way? Thirteen has been unlucky for me.

From the Collection range, only four appear on the website now: Ruby Red, Cherry Pop, Valentine and Queen of Hearts. All the others are nowhere to be seen. I think some are still lurking in cosmetic stores around the country though, (if you're interested, and have the time and inclination to hunt them down). And when I say cosmetics stores, I don't mean Harvey Nichols or Selfridges. More like Superdrug or Boots.

As for Mac, they have discontinued everything except Russian Red, Lady Danger and Ruby Woo, which is out of stock at the moment. I only bought Dangerous last summer, so that was a short run. To be fair, it is quite similar to Lady Danger, a 'Retro Matte'.

Russian Red                                                                                   Ruby Woo

Lady Danger


Queen of Hearts                                                                            Ruby Red

                                                                Cherry Pop

The overwhelming difference between the two is the price. Collection is £2.99, whereas Mac weighs in at around £15. To be fair to Mac, their lipsticks do have a stronger pigment, and the matte texture of many of them mean they are very long lasting. That said, they do need a bit of help to actually get them onto your lips. A slick of lip balm before applying helps. I am personally  not a fan of that dry, claggy feeling on the lips. I much prefer the glossier feel of the Collection colours. The down side to that is that they do need to be 'built up' by blotting and re-applying, and also need more regular touch ups, but I don't mind that.

I am quite sad that So Scarlet by Mac is no longer available, as it is the shade I used when I did my makeup for the cover of A Stitch In Time Vol 2.

Image courtesy of Susan Crawford

This shade is a glossy one, and glides on beautifully.

                                                                    So Scarlet

For the cover of A Stitch In Time Vol 1 I used Ruby Woo. It is probably my favourite. A matte brick red. I tend to prefer the warmer reds, as the blue tones don't always flatter my slightly olive skin.

Image courtesy of Susan Crawford    
I have to admit that I am a Mixer! I never go out with just one shade, it is usually two or three. I mix them depending on the texture as well as the shade I want to achieve.

Overall, if you are on a budget, I would highly recommend Collection. The consistency is good, and the range quite wide, (less so now). For luxury, strong pigment and packaging, it has to be Mac. While perusing the Mac website I noticed a couple of new reds, which I will be checking out soon, if I can face going to the horribly loud Mac counter in Selfridges. It is very off-putting. All that modern noise. Or I could just go to the shop.

So, how many red lipsticks do you own? And how many do you actually wear?