For National Lipstick Day, some thoughts and faves

Today is National Lipstick Day, so we asked our editors to share some deep thoughts and true feelings about the world’s greatest makeup achievement—oh, and tell us their favorite lipsticks too. 

“In my teens and early twenties, I could never figure out quite how to wear lipstick without running to a mirror and wiping it off immediately. I grew up in a period of peak lipgloss—the tacky, occasionally sparkly, often mango-flavored kind that sat on your lips just inviting stray ponytail hairs to stick to it— and lipstick seemed fussy and formal, something for women who were at a higher level of adulthood than the one I’d achieved. In my head, there were the kind of people who can wear lipstick—the same set of women who could do their taxes and, presumably, whip up a four-course dinner without breaking a sweat—and the kind who maybe can’t, and I, decidedly, was in the latter camp. It was one of those things that was vaguely, needlessly intimidating, and so I avoided it.

But in my mid and late twenties, I found myself circling back to things that never made sense to me, that seemed sort of scary and too complicated to deal with, and suddenly finding that actually, they were pretty great. Cooking a pan steak? Not that hard. Going jogging? You know, it’s pretty satisfying.

And one day, I found myself admiring my friend’s lipstick and resolving to figure it out. Because I’m bad at easing into things, I went straight for the brightest, stoplight-iest, HI HELLO IT’S ME RED red I could find: a tube of Mac’s Ruby Woo. When I put it on, I was no closer to being a formal or fussy person than I was when I first decided that those were the ladies who got to wear lipstick. My apartment was still cluttered, and sometimes my meals still consisted of ice cream and chips and hummus. But none of that prevented me from wearing lipstick whenever I wanted. And you know what? It looked pretty awesome.

Since then, I’ve collected several dozen shades of lipstick, in every imaginable hue—green and blue included—and I’ve found formulas that I like better than Ruby Woo. But I wear it sometimes anyway, because it reminds me of something important: Adulthood isn’t some set of ideals that you have to chase after and fit into. It’s not a club that requires you to unlock a certain number of achievements every day to be admitted. The best thing about adulthood is that it is a collective of adults, and each of us get to decide what it means. The best thing about lipstick is that there is no kind of person who can or can’t wear lipstick, there are only people who decide whether or not they want to. Isn’t that great?”—Margaret Eby

“Growing up, I really didn’t know what to do with makeup, so I took most of my cues from pop culture. In particular, I, like so many others, was so completely inspired by the beauty and style icons in Mad Men. However, while Joan and Betty became inspirations off the bat, my favorite lipstick came from Peggy Olson, or rather what one TV recapper thought Peggy was wearing in one scene. The shade is Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick’s Coral, a clean matte color that is the perfect orangey-red, and it’s been in my lipstick stable ever since.”—Lilian Min “If someone were to ask me ‘what’s the most important style or beauty thing in your life?’ (which no one will because life as an editor in chief—or at least my life as an editor in chief— is not how it looks in rom-coms, usually people ask me about social media and commas and if we can run another story on Taylor Swift), but if they did, I would definitely say “red lipstick.” I have been wearing various shades of red lipstick every day of my life for the past 17 years, basically my entire makeup-wearing existence (there was a brief ’90s period when I wore brown lipstick, sometimes with lip liner, but we don’t talk about these times). With other forms of makeup there always seems to be so much risk and skill and effort involved, but lipstick is simple, it’s portable, it’s transformative. Red lipstick makes you look chic and like you tried, even when you definitely are not feeling chic and definitely did not try. It pulls you together. It appears French. It distracts from stains on your clothes and nerves in your body (at least this is what I tell myself). It is the best and I love it more than anything I own, girl-wise. Right now, I am working a combo of two favorite red lipsticks simultaneously. The first is NARS Audacious Lipstick in Annabella, which is a creamy-bright very good red, but not quite as orange I would like, so I use it as a base. The second is Proenza Schouler’s Mangrove Matte, which is the perfect color and I have written about before, but dries the hell out out of my lips and leaves weird crusts and cracks if worn on its own. Together, however, they are ideal and stay on forever and make me feel as if I am living the glam editor-in-chief life of movies and dreams.”—Jennifer Romolini

“I was scared of wearing red lipstick for a really long time. Because didn’t you have to be a really put-together grown-up, human woman to pull off a bold red lip? Didn’t you need perfect, it’s-mid-August-dewy skin before you started painting your lips red? Didn’t you have to own cool, pretty clothes that fit your body in all the flawless ways before you posed in a picture with your red lipstick on? The answer to all those things, first of all, is no —red lipstick requires no prerequisites. Red lipstick is a stand alone statement, and the only real thing you actually need is the want and desire to wear it. Simple. Oh —and the perfect shade that speaks to you.

Enter ‘Red Lizard’ by NARS. It’s a classic, true red that’s semi-matte and doesn’t make your mouth feel like Palm Desert after a couple hours. It’s the color of two days too-ripe strawberries — a slightly deeper red with blue undertones, but a shade of red that still pops. It smells like fruity tea.  And it goes with everything and anything and any kind of skin tone. ‘Red Lizard’ is my dream lipstick, and it probably will be yours, too.”—Gina Vaynshteyn  “Earlier this year I discovered I was allergic to my eyeliner (tragedy) and had to seek out a makeup line that was super hyper-allergic (I know, I know, sob, sob, sob). The makeup line I discovered, and am now fully obsessed with is Bare Minerals. I now buy all of my makeup there (this is not an ad, Bible) and am obsessed with their Marvelous Moxie lipstick in Lead the Way. You can put on a teensy bit and look like you just happened to eat a bowl full of berries, or you can coat it on thick and seriously vamp it up. I honestly could write 500 words about this lipstick, I love it so much, but I’ll leave you with this little truth bomb about lipstick in general: Lipstick has magical powers, it fixes bad days, it leaves kissy marks on love letters, it can become your “signature” thing if you want it to. And Lead the Way is officially mine.”—Elena Sheppard