This is the Best Lip Stain for Fall

The same thing happens at the turn of this season every single fall: my hair gets oily and my face gets dry. No matter how religiously I apply Marula Oil, no matter how much natural oil accumulates in the crevices between my nostrils and my cheeks and no matter how many times I vow to cut food that promotes the perpetuation of crappy skin, I can’t be helped. For the most part, I don’t mind it, but when my lips — typically a shade of peachy pink — suffer the side effect of my person’s foray into exotic skin manufacturing (this is a terrible snakeskin joke, in case that wasn’t clear), I want to do something about it.

Your lips are a window into your soul! They’re the vehicle that transforms thought to word, that facilitates the evolution of word to action. How powerfully can these messages be relayed, really, when they look dull as dusk on a foggy London day? How, I ask? How!

Last week, half a dozen lip pens landed on my desk. I was familiar with the brand (Ilia); they make this sheer red lip stain that’s not a lipstick, not not a lipstick, which I use when I’m pale in the face and need to come alive quickly, but these pens are different — possibly because the range of color is more diverse and nuanced, or maybe because the conditioning properties make me feel like I am treating my lips to the ~spa.~ I don’t really know, but I tested out all six and ran them up against a photo of me not wearing any lip color so you could see the difference. It is subtle to be sure, but aren’t all of life’s greatest things hidden in the can’t-pinpoint-why-this-works-but-man-it-does subtext? I think so!

And now, for a roller coaster of narcissism, starring me:

Here’s the before: a resting bitch face if I have ever seen one, primed for use as a legitimate mug shot. You know, I’ve been trying to reel in the self-deprecation as of late because it is so easy to talk shitty to myself, but as you can see, I am failing.

Color No. 1, Walk This Way

For when you’re used to a natural peachy sheen on the surface area of your lips and regret all those mornings you took advantage of waking up like that. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 2, Push It

For when you want to take the peachy sheen up just one single notch because the dreams that are coming out of your mouth today deserve something of a megaphone treatment. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 3, Dress You Up

One more from the peach family (even though it looks pink here)! I am running out of ways to describe the different uses for these stains, so un-technically speaking, I really like this one because it’s a cross between colors 1 and 2; neither quiet enough to seem like you’re wearing nothing nor loud enough to make itself heard. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 4, 99 Red Balloons

TGIF! For when you’re not wearing any other makeup, don’t feel like hassling with opaque lipstick, but still want to make a statement about what the magic keyhole between your lips represents. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 5, Tainted Love

Dustier than peach, slighter than burgundy but still powerful enough to give your lips new life: Tainted Love is a better color for those who maintain a skin tone akin to the color of my blouse. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 6, Transmission

Finally! Remember when brown lipstick was the thing? I have the most fond recollections of my mom’s Bobbi Brown collection, and I can distinctly recall the matte lipsticks she would apply, and then the glosses she would use over them. I could not wait to wear brown lipstick, but by the time I was of-age, light pink frosted lips were all the rage, then came the red, then I vetoed color altogether. But here we are now, and finally: a sheer and subtle version of brown to scratch nostalgia’s itch. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

I’ll have you know, by the way, that I did not use even a single mirror to apply any of the above lipstick.

Photos by Edith Young.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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