The Secret to Perfect Metallic Lips Isn't Lipstick
This story originally appeared on Allure.
My beauty look has always been, shall we say, quirky. I have had electric-orange hair, wear smoky eyes roughly every single day, and never shy away from Schiap pink or emphasis-on-the-black black-cherry lipstick. Suffice it to say, no one was really shocked when I Instagrammed a photo of my lips covered in full-on Bond villain metallic gold. After an Allure regram made me unexpectedly popular (enjoy those cat pictures, new followers!), I was inundated with comments from people asking how they could re-create this look for themselves. So here, friends, is the journey that brought my lips 15 minutes of internet fame.
The inspiration came from Pat McGrath's blindingly shiny Droid makeup look for the CoverGirl x Star Wars collection. I immediately wanted to re-create the metallic effect myself—and no, the idea of waiting until the CoverGirl collection launches on September 4 didn't seem like an option.
Online searches for gold lipstick were disappointing. There aren't many out there, and most are designed to be worn over other colors like a topcoat, so they lacked the full-coverage payoff I was looking for. It was time to get creative.
As it turns out, I've been unknowingly hoarding gold makeup for a while now—bad news for my overstuffed makeup drawers, great for after-dinner makeup experimenting. (I'm not saying there was wine involved, but I'm also not saying there was not wine involved.)
Like all great (lazy) explorers, I went for what I thought was the most direct route first. The__ Make Up For Ever Metal Powder in 1 Sunflower Gold__ rattling around in my makeup bag seemed like an obvious choice. I mixed the loose powder with Vaseline, then painted it on with a lip brush. The color was fully opaque, just as I'd wanted, but the effect gave my lips an oddly blurred look (see the middle photo above) and the pigments kept migrating on to my teeth, leaving me with a messy accidental-grill situation and a coppery taste in my mouth. Not great.
"Maybe something less slick," I said aloud to my cat. (OK, there was definitely wine involved.) Luckily, I had nearby the sad remnants of a tube of plain lip balm that had experienced an unfortunate run-in with my washing machine. I melted it in the microwave and mixed it with the pigment, which yielded a concoction that had better staying power but still gave more of a brushed-metal finish than the I-literally-dipped-my-mouth-in-gold effect I so badly craved.
Then I found the little pot of Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in Metallic Gilded Gold lurking deep within my makeup collection. Combined with the balm, the color was a translucent rose-gold on my lips, but mixed into the original Make Up For Ever blend, it added more glint without any Kesha circa-2010 glitter fallout (see the the bottom photo above). I was almost there!
Still, my new concoction left something to be desired in both longevity and portability. Since I was already mouth-deep in eye products, I decided to see if eyeliner might work. I went with L'Oréal Paris Silkissime Eyeliner by Infallible in Gold for its creamy texture and shiny, true-gold shade. The opaque color went on smoothly, left a crisp outline, and set completely in just a few seconds (see the top photo, above). I had finally achieved my Midas makeup dreams! Yes, it felt a little drying—on par with many long-wear lipsticks—but after a quick swipe of a silicone-based lip gloss (an oil-based one would break down the bonds that kept the liner in place, my inner Bill Nye told me), and I had perfect, selfie-ready gold lips.
But there's one important thing I was still wondering: Is using an eyeliner on your lips safe? The ingredients in eyeliners are carefully regulated because eyes are more sensitive than other parts of your face. (Using lip liner on your eyes? A definitively bad idea.) So in terms of the potential for irritation, eyeliners and shadows aren't likely to cause issues when you swipe them on your lips. But what about the traces that you inevitably swallow when you eat/drink/go about your day like a human being? Cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer assured me that I won't be keeling over from eyeliner-induced poisoning any time soon. Colorants in the eyeliner I used are also frequently used in lipstick products, he points out, and the other ingredients should be safe in small amounts if ingested (just try not to snack on your eyeliner, OK?).