I’ll never forget the first (and absolutely last) time I tried MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Rouge. This was a product I’d heard great things about—it was said to be a favorite of Madonna‘s, and legend states that the two-step formula (first matte color, then a sealing gloss) was tested underwater for five hours for use by the Parisian Aquatic Ballet. I anticipated that it would be long-lasting, but what I didn’t expect was that it wouldn’t come off, hardly budging even when scrubbed with an oil cleanser. I was upset, and the bottom half of my face was stained orange for at least two days. Makeup forever, indeed.
Of course, this is a boon for some people. Any lipstick worth its salt these days goes hard on the “long-lasting” claims, because nobody needs the added complication of color that requires constant reapplication. Life is enough of a struggle already. But I’m starting to think that the idea of “long-lasting” has gone just an inch too far. Apparently, 12 hours just isn’t enough time, so Revlon’s new ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick says it’ll stay put for 24 hours. Where are you going that requires you have lipstick on for 24 hours?
By the time I get home from anywhere, ever—work, a party, drinks, work, drinks … well, those are the only places I go—the first thing I want to do is take my lipstick off. Eh, that’s not true: First the bra comes off, then the shoes, then the makeup. In that order. Lipstick that puts up a fight in the removal process is a negative thing for me, not a positive.
Isn’t the packaging part of why we spend all that money, anyway? Eliminating the need for reapplication means we spent $50 on that glorious gilded tube of Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope, and we don’t even get to show it off. Preening in front of a mirror, pulling it from our bags, the old “oh, this?” treatment when someone asks what exactly it is we’re putting on—that gets lost in translation when lipstick lasts all day and all night.
All I really want and need is a good four hours out of a lipstick. I want it to last from the morning until lunch, when I can eat and then reapply to get me through the rest of the day, without the pressure of expecting my lip color to actually stay on while I’m going in on a chicken Caesar wrap. I want it to stay off the rim of my wine glass, sure, but I want it to smear and smudge and spark trouble when I kiss.
For most women—and I’ve felt it too—there’s a need for impenetrability, a sense that when your lipstick starts to show signs of wear, you, too, start to crumble. A lipstick that stays put for 24 hours is another 24 hours you don’t have to be seen without lipstick on. Once it starts to wear away at the center and bleed into the lines around your mouth, you’re done. You’re a pumpkin again, and everybody knows it. It’s right on your face, after all. But—and I hope I’m not the first person to tell you this—that’s imaginary.
You can have your long-wear perfection and every single hour of dried-down formulas that last for-fucking-ever. I’ll take my creamy classic lipsticks, heavy and pigmented and one Fage yogurt away from being all over the place. Let me eat cake—and leave red lipstick marks all over the fork.