I’d say, on average, I wear bold lip color once a week, but apparently my brain processes that fact as “I need 28 orange lipsticks.” Indeed, at last count I had 28 shades from YSL and MAC to Wet n Wild. And while they might look exactly the same to the uneducated beauty consumer, I’m willing to wager most of you reading this would see clear differences with the majority. Or, maybe that’s me justifying the fact I have a bit of a hoarding problem.
As for the best orange lipstick, though, I’m still very much undecided. My eye is typically drawn to the super-saturated, neon tangerine colors I so often see on the runway (most memorably at Rag & Bone Spring 2014’s show, a beauty moment still referenced today) and the bold, sunny shade J.Crew made famous, although I’ll never kick a bright-red-leaning orange out of my makeup bag, either.
The fact is, there’s a lot written about finding the most flattering orange for your skin tone, but I’ve found that most are more versatile than you’d expect so long as you look for shades that aren’t too brown to blue undertone-wise, which can make most of us look sallow, no matter what our complexion.
Then there’s the issue of longevity—if I’m going orange, I’m going big. Meaning, I’m looking for the shade that not only says “hey world, I’m wearing lipstick today!” but one that stays put from my morning iced coffee to my evening glass of wine (if it can last through a couple slices of pizza too, I know she’s a keeper.)
In the name of VIR (Very Important Research), I’ve spotlighted 12 shades of orange lipstick, from muted coral to juicy tangerine—both new and classic—and added color swatches and the scoop on how long they last.
Tom Ford Ultra-Rich Lip Color in Solar Affair, $52
Shade: A pale coral orange that looked lighter on my lips than it did on the tube; almost like something your grandma would have worn in Palm Beach during the '60s—in the best way possible.
Finish: Creamy with a subtle shine.
Does it last? Given how smooth it is, I didn't expect it to last terribly long, but TF earned his keep by making this formula stay put through a giant salad and a quart-sized bottle of water. When it finally faded, I wasn't left with gross residue or flaky lips.
MAC Lipmix in Orange, $15
Shade: A very editorial bold tangerine that borders on neon. Since it's part of MAC's Pro collection, it's designed to be worn alone or mixed with other lipstick shades to create a custom color. Alone, it looks very much like the lips at Rag & Bone's Spring '14 runway show—one of my favorite beauty moments ever.
Formula: Super-thick and a tad gooey if you're not careful. A tiny bit goes a long, long way.
Does it last? Forever. Not only did the ultra-matte cream stay on for the most of the day, but it didn't really transfer to my coffee cup or water bottle. It's a tad drying, but nothing a little Carmex before bed can't fix.
Wet n Wild Megalast in Purty Persimmon, $1.99
Shade: Vivid red-orange that can impart a "just-bitten" look if you dab it on with your finger, or appear super-bold if you apply straight from the tube.
Formula: Super-matte, crazy-pigmented. Just don't expect hydration.
Does it last?: Not only does it last, but I had to werk to get it off.
Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Delicious 415, $34.50
Shade: The brand refers to it as a "golden terracotta," but it's more of a muted orange-apricot.
Does it last? Not bad! Stayed on through sushi and a few glasses of water, but not at full opacity.
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in Orange Shot, $7.99
Shade: A poppy orange-red.
Formula: A Kylie-esque liquid that dries to a velvety matte finish without looking flat and never feels tight, dry, or thick.
Does it last? For how creamy it feels, it lasted surprisingly long but definitely needed retouching after dinner and drinks.
L'Oreal Infallible Lipstick in Always Apricot, $9.99
Shade: Sheer orange with subtle shine.
Formula: Super creamy. It's made with hydrating vitamin E and definitely felt more like lip balm when applied.
Does it last? Not terribly long—it started to budge after a few sips of water and left a bit of a line around my lips.
Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Sheer Slowburn, $22
Shade: Sheer orange-red.
Formula: Kind of like a tinted lip balm with good pigment. On me, it didn't read as much orange as it did natural pink.
Does it last? About as long as typical lip balm.
POP Beauty Matte Velvet Lipstix in Pop Persimmon, $16
Shade: Orangey-coral, with barely any red or pink tones.
Does it last? After the creamy luster started to fade, the formula definitely appeared more matte but became lighter in color. Bonus: It smells and tastes like coconut.
Rimmel the Only One Lipstick in Call Me Crazy, $5.99
Shade: A flattering deep, bold orange.
Formula: It definitely lived up to its name, the Only One, thanks to its triple-crown mix of long-lasting color, creamy moisture and wear.
Does it last? All effing day.
Black Up Cosmetics Lipstick in 34M, $23
Shade: Bright red-orange that's specifically made for women of color. I'm Caucasian but found the shade among the most flattering for my light-medium skin.
Formula: Super matte with a touch of cream.
Does it last? It lasted so long, I had to use a micellar-water wipe to take it off.
Milani Color Statement Moisture Matte Luxe Lipstick in 75, $5.99
Shade: Vibrant warm orange.
Formula: Creamy matte.
Does it last? I've always had a soft spot for this drugstore shade, and while it doesn't pack as much as a color payoff as others like it, it stayed on fairly well.
Chosungah22 Flavorful Lipstick in Guava Tint Jello, $18
Shade: Sheer pinkish-orange.
Formula: Like solid jelly, if that makes sense.
Does it last: I found myself reapplying this K-beauty tube, meant to be a transparent tint not a saturated lipstick, all day because I loved the texture and the super-slight flush it added to my lips.