Battle of the Week: Lipstick vs Lunch!

I was at a restaurant with a friend when he made a remark about the trail of bright red lipstick stains I was leaving behind on my food, cutlery, and straw. “It looks like you bled all over your dinner,” he said.

And it was true. I love red lipstick, but it’s hard to find one that will stick to your face and not your food. It’s sort of gross to leave behind bloody bright red stains on cups and spoons, so I set up a little experiment to see which lipsticks in my personal collection could survive the onslaught of lunch. The lipsticks I put to the test were the Make Up For Ever Rouge Intense #42, MAC Russian Red, and Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate #10.

I bought a tuna melt panini from Starbucks (delicious!) and carried out the experiment in the following order:

  • clean lips with oil-based makeup remover
  • apply and blot lipstick three times (no lip liner)
  • take four giant bites out of the panini
  • photograph the stain left behind from the bitemark
  • take notes of lipstick before, during, and after panini encounter
  • repeat

First up was Make Up For Ever Rouge Intense #42:

Before: Rouge Artist Intense #42 is a very highly pigmented bluish-red. It comes on really strong — aggressive, even — and is actually very moisturizing for a semi-matte lipstick.

During: I took the first bite out of the panini and was rather startled to see the serious amount of color transfer onto my wholemeal bun. And this was just the first bite! Will it survive the next three?

After: the intensity of the shade decreased significantly after the third bite. By the  fourth, it felt as if the “matte” aspect of the lipstick’s “semi-matte” qualities had completely disappeared. The  color on the edge of lips bled out a little, while the inner parts had practically turned into lip gloss.

Next, the legendary MAC Russian Red:


Before: I’ve seen other people wear Russian Red, and it has somehow always looked brighter on them. On me, it comes off rather dark — almost a vampy red, which I really have no complaints about :)

During: the color transfer after two bites in is negligible, considering the bright red bite mark left behind after one bite with the MUFE Rouge Intense.

After: still looking pretty good, especially considering the performance of the MUFE Rouge Intense earlier on. The formula remains matte, but the color has changed from a deep red to a brighter bluish red.

And then last but not least, Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate #10:

Before: the brightness and intensity of this shade lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the MUFE and MAC. Like the MUFE Rouge Intense, this is a semi-matte that glides on smoothly and feels extremely comfortable on the lips.

During: hmm, this is not looking good. I’m seeing a lot of transfer onto the bun, and at this point, I’m feeling worried about having eaten more lipstick than panini for lunch…

After: interesting! Despite the amount of color that has been lifted, the shade still looks solid, even if the color has lightened up a little. The formula is also increasingly more matte rather than semi-matte now.

Aaaand the winner is…MAC Russian Red! Despite leaving my lips feeling just a bit more dry than the others, it’s the one that went suffered the least amount of color transference with it.

Was it a fair fight? Probably not, because the Russian Red was the only true matte in a competition table full of semi-mattes. Still, I’m pretty impressed by the performance of the Rimmel, but underwhelmed by the MUFE (especially since it was the most expensive of the bunch).

If you’ve found a red lipstick that is loyal to lips and not food, share it with us here in the comments. Maybe one day we’ll end up experimenting on your lipstick of choice too :)