How To Wear Lipstick When You Hate Wearing Lipstick

by Julie Schott

Bright lipstick is a beauty commitment that anyone who wears reds, oranges, pinks, regularly can attest requires precision, touch-ups, and meticulous removal. In short: It's a pain in the neck. In my hierarchy of makeup needs, lipstick sits firmly at the bottom, beneath concealer, brow pencil, mascara, and balm; it's an accessory, not an essential. But there's something so easy about the way makeup artists have been applying lip color on the Spring/Summer 2019 runways — particularly at Mara Hoffman and Jonathan Simkhai, where the bold lips were so far from high-maintenance, that even the lipstick-averse can get behind. Yep: They've figured out how to wear lipstick even if you truly hate wearing lipstick.

Backstage at Mara Hoffman, on one of the sweatiest days in September, lead makeup artist Min Min Ma leaned into simplicity, using just three products (Marvelous Matte Crème Foundation, Palette Perfection Eye Quad, Divine Duo Lip & Cheek) from Lilah B's natural makeup line to give models soft, seamless skin, taupe-y lids, as well as the focal point — popsicle lips (that perfect stain a cherry ice pop leaves behind) using a diffusion of red pigments. The effect was softly powerful — self-assured but not attention seeking, just like Hoffman's clothes, designed with the idea of growth in mind. “This is a funeral party to release the things we no longer need to carry and we have to let go,” the designer told WWD of her collection.

Here's what set Ma's rendition of a red lip apart: She played with three shades of Lilah B's Lip & Cheek. Each model got a wash of strawberry pigment b. furious layered with an accent shade — b. daring, a tangerine stain or b. memorable, a sheer Bordeaux — pressed into lips using fingertips to create a multi-dimensional feel, Ma explained.

Getty Images Victor VIRGILE / Contributor

At Jonathan Simkhai, makeup artist Gace Lee riffed on a stained mouth by cutting liquid lipstick, Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Composer, with Baby Lips balm. Lee pressed the plum jam shade into the center of the lips, where they touch, before diffusing the pigment with a fluffy makeup brush. "You have to work a little quickly," she cautions, because matte lipsticks dry quickly, which is where Baby Lips comes in to help with smudgeability. The finished product was far from symmetrical, a sexy, messy, burst of color with no hard edges, the way lipstick might look after a good meal. "We wanted the girls to look young and innocent, but there’s a little naughtiness," Lee explained.

Courtesy of Maybelline

As for the rest of the face, Lee kept skin mostly bare with the exception of concealer and strategically placed highlighter, a mix of Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter shades, light and medium, plus Baby Lips, dabbed along the bridge of the nose, above the cupid's bow, under brows and at eyes' inner corners. Lee's approach to highlighter "gives you shine and dew but it doesn't look like Instagram makeup," she tells us backstage. And while both makeup looks are decidedly anti-Instagram, I can confirm they're still plenty photogenic. (I tried them myself.)