The Totally Justifiable Reason Why I Always Splurge on Luxury Lipstick

Rachel Krause
The Totally Justifiable Reason Why I Always Splurge on Luxury Lipstick
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Kim Kardashian has her faults, but when I see Daily Mail commenters, Twitter trolls, mommy bloggers, and anyone else who thinks time spent letting loose their rage on celebrities from behind the safety of their computer screen is time well spent pull the “bad mother” card on Kim for letting her toddler daughter fuss with makeup, I roll my eyes. Hard. Because while North West and I have very few things in common, one trait—the only trait?—we do share is an inborn penchant for beauty products.

Our paths diverge from there. Three-year-old North gets her hair done by Jen Atkin; three-year-old me wouldn’t leave the house without a swipe of my mother’s frosted mauve lipstick. And I mean, I literally would not leave the house without this weird lip color on. I was obsessed.

For years I wore that lipstick everywhere, with mom as makeup artist—with the exception of school, given that my mother, understandably, did not wish to rouse the attention of child services—until I was permitted to choose my own shade from the same place my mom chose (and regularly re-upped) hers: the Dior counter at Saks. (For what it’s worth, I opted out of the frosted finish in favor of a sheer rose, which is about as age-appropriate as it’s going to get when you’re, like, ten.)

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I would hate to place blame on anyone for anything, but it’s definitely, entirely, absolutely 100-percent my mom’s fault that I’ve been hooked on high-end beauty for the past two decades and then some. How could you expect a 13-year-old to go from Dior to drugstore just like that? Not gonna happen. True to my adolescent self, lipstick has always been my vice; I’d rather have one $50 tube than ten $5 tubes. Or five $10 tubes. Actually, ten $50 tubes would be ideal.

I don’t deny that there’s something to be said for the thrill of a great product at a great price. Of course there is. It’s just that my personal preference is, and has always been, to spend foolish amounts of money on something you can find for a much lower price somewhere else, albeit less luxuriously and packaged in significantly less lacquered metal that feels weighty and important, like some kind of medallion, in your hand.

But if you have other plans for what to do with your money—putting it in your savings account, for example—then celebrate your levelheadedness with a more affordable likeness of my costly faves… or the real thing. It’s your call, but let’s just say you know exactly what I would do.

MORE: The Real Reason Why Makeup Is So Damn Expensive

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Let's be real: There's just nothing quite like a Tom Ford lipstick except a Tom Ford lipstick. Impossibly smooth, intensely pigmented, never dry or caky, with a faint vanilla scent and the perfect satin finish somewhere in the nebulous realm between matte and shiny—there's a reason everyone obsesses over the formula, myself included. This vivid coral, which strikes just the right balance of pink and orange tones, is my favorite.

Tom Ford Lip Color in True Coral, $53; at Tom Ford

Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Purty Persimmon, $2.29; at

This one may look unsuspecting in the (very pretty, very shiny) tube, but its sheer, buildable nude, which is neutral with just a whisper of pink, gives lips natural-but-better color that feels incredible on—this formula is downright buttery.

Chantecaille Lip Chic in Anais, $36; at Chantecaille

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Almond Nude, $8.79; at Ulta

They aren't wrong about this formula being "pure glamour and luxury for your lips"—it glides on smoothly, with none of the drying effects one might associate with a matte finish, and the bright, true red is seriously flattering. Perfect for any instance of needing to look like a grown-up in a flash.

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope in Brat Pack, $50; at Lipstick Queen

COVERGIRL Colorlicious Katy Kat Matte Lipstick in Crimson Cat, $6.94; at Walmart

I've never known a lipstick quite like this one: It's a deep brick red with lots of brown, but it doesn't look retro or, well, like you're wearing brown lipstick. The formula is super smooth, the finish is matte but not flat, and the color can be applied with a light hand for a subtle stain or generously for '90s-inspired drama.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Birkin Brown, $32; at Charlotte Tilbury

Maybelline Color Sensational Loaded Bold Lipstick in Coffee Addiction, $5.59; at Target

One of the O.G. liquid lipsticks, this formula has a velvety, almost fluffy texture that's one of the best I've ever tried. It claims to be matte, but it has a little bit of dimension to it—kind of a glow—that makes it surprisingly forgiving on dry lips. It's just comfortable, and this intense poppy red brightens up the entire face in seconds.

Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in 402, $38; at Sephora

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Morocco, $6; at NYX

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