A perfect red lipstick could be considered the beauty world's equivalent of a perfect pair of jeans. If you find the right shade, it can make you feel more put-together than exercising, eating breakfast or answering emails all before 8:30 a.m. on a Monday. That said, if you're able to find a lipstick that manages to last from dawn till dusk, you know you've met a keeper.
I've always been a fan of red lipstick. I'm pale, so it suits my complexion, and I often like to wear liquid eyeliner so a scarlet lip colour tends to compliment the whole Alexa Chung beauty vibe I've been attempting to emulate since I was 15. Given that I've been dabbling with the whole red-lip look since my teenage years, I've tried and tested many, but even the best tend to be saved for the nights out when I don't mind topping-up. In essence, it's tough to find a long-lasting, go-to red lipstick.
In light of this makeup-bag conundrum, I decided to carry out a test to discover which I could rely upon without having to check my reflection every 10 minutes. I call it the "sandwich test" because that's exactly what it is: I ate multiple sandwiches while wearing countless different lipsticks. Lots of carbs were consumed, much lipstick was applied and the outcome surprised me. Keep reading to see which red lipsticks stood out from the crowd…
First up in my quest was Nars's Semi-Matte Lipstick in the shade Jungle Red. I'll be honest, I think I found a winner straight away. This lipstick applied smoothly, the colour payoff was perfect (not too cakey and the perfect orange-red shade) and while some did come off on my chicken caesar baguette (delicious) from Pret, I finished my lunch happy with the result. Had I not been able to top up, I still would have felt confident with my lipstick choice. Test over? No, no—more to go.
I'm a big fan of Charlotte Tilbury's lipsticks already. So much so that I have four in my overflowing makeup bag. The shade Red Carpet Red is probably my all-time favourite red for when I want to dress up. It's slightly darker than a traditional red but looks incredible on.
So does it last the sandwich test? Well, it doesn't and it doesn't. It didn't go all over my chin (a plus), but it did need topping up after. I couldn't finish my lunch and sit there without reapplying it. That being said, my love for this creamy rich red still runs strong.
Laura Mercier's Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick glided over my lips like a dream. It feels like velvet and it's the perfect true red. You can see from this image that the colour started to wear slightly in the middle but lasted along my lip line. This would most definitely need a top up, but I'm very into the texture and love how small the application bullet is.
This is obviously a bagel and not a sandwich, but it still counts because it's full of carbs (plus, there's an added challenge of claggy peanut butter). In light of this, I decided to test out a brand my friend swears by for red lipsticks, Barry M. I can honestly say this lipstick lasted while I ate the entire bagel and still looked as good as it did at first application. In fact, I took this photo after eating one side of the bagel. If you need a long-lasting lipstick, add this to your collection ASAP.
Full disclosure: It Cosmetics Blurred Lines lipstick probably isn't meant for sandwich testing. It's enriched with hyaluronic filling spheres and collagen to help uplift your lips and leave them with a glossy coating of colour, but I wanted to try something a little different to be a fully scientific experiment here.
I love the fact it's a glossy red, but I knew before application it wasn't going to last—and it didn't. I'd still wear this day-to-day, though, as it gives your lips a subtle red tint. However, I'd top it up like I would my trusty lip balm.
Mac's Matte Lipstick in the shade Russian Red is the first ever red lipstick I ever bought. I was probably 17, and I've loved it for over a decade. To this day, I wear it on a regular basis, and I've probably eaten multiple sandwiches while it's painted on my lips. I won't lie: It doesn't fully last, but it did leave a kind of blurred-lip effect post-wrap (fish finger wrap from Leon, anyone?). Plus, if it's good enough for Jeanne Demas, it's good enough for me.
Unfortunately, my favourite shade is sold out, but below is the colour I'd pick next.
I'll be the first to admit that I adore Glossier. I regularly use its products and swear by many. However, Generation G in the poppy red shade, Zip, and I haven't always got on. I love the sheer matte formula and use the brand's subtle peach shade, Cake, as an everyday lip colour, but I've found that Zip just doesn't last past my morning commute. This was the same for my lunchtime sandwich, as you can see from the above. I think I'll stick to Cake for any future sandwich tests.
Like the Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick, this Hourglass one was heavenly to apply. I have thin lips, so any lipstick with a smaller bullet is immediately my friend. As the name suggests, this product is high intensity and stood the test of time when eating my wrap (if you haven't guessed, I tested multiple lipsticks on the same sandwiches for a relatively controlled test). Pretty impressive considering it contained mayonnaise too.
This lipstick is glossy, and we all know that glossy doesn't bode well for eating. While my face didn't look like the above post-sandwich, the lipstick wasn't all over my face like I expected. I'm into the gloss effect, but I would probably save this one for when I'm at some kind of soirée where I can drink from paper straws all evening.
Forgive me, editor, for I have sinned, or rather slipped up. This one isn't technically red, but there's always room for a little variety, isn't there? Illamasqua's Lava lipsticks use tonal pigments to give a seriously rich colour payoff, and this dark plum red colour is no exception. It did come off under my lips as I ate my egg-and-mayo sandwich, but that could be easily fixed with a napkin. Apart from that, this stayed firmly on my lips.
Last but not least is Bobbi Brown's Luxe Lip Colour. I've used a photo of my actual sandwich to illustrate this one, as I've come to the conclusion that I can't look at my face anymore leaning slightly to the right, and also that wear too many roll-necks.
That aside, this lipstick is buttery in the best way possible and applies seamlessly. I'll be honest: It didn't last. You can see from my one bite that lots of lipstick was transferred to the bread, and this continued for the next three bites I took. For £28, I'd expect it to last through a meal, but I do love the light-reflecting sheen it gives to your lips.