COSMETICS : Which Brands Give the Best Lip Service?


How do popular, pricey lipsticks withstand the test of time?

The only way to know for sure is to test some. So I did. On eight days I liberally applied a different designer-label lip color, just before breakfast.

Without reapplying, I drank my usual three cups of coffee before noon, and I ate lunch, careful to use flatware and accompany the meal with a beverage for the sake of consistency.

The best part of the experiment was that it proved what I had always figured: The highest-priced lipsticks don’t necessarily last the longest.


Lipstick: La Prairie Cellular Complex Lip Colour-Creme.

Price: $22.50 (department store brand).

Duration: Three hours, 50 minutes.

Scenario: Applied 9:12 a.m., followed by a wake-up cup of coffee. It was still going strong at 9:55 a.m, after a coffee refill. And it held its own at 10:50 a.m. after a third cup, although there was some some slight feathering around my upper lip. The color was still intact for lunch at 12:50 p.m., but by 1:05 p.m. it was all but a goner.

Lipstick: Chanel Rouge a Levres.

Price: $17.50.

Duration: Three hours, 10 minutes.

Scenario: Applied at 8:50 a.m and still intact after coffee break No. 2 at 10:50 a.m. The color started fading at 11:10 a.m, after a third cup. It was still presentable after an 11:40 a.m. lunch, but by 12 p.m. it was history.

Lipstick: Borghese Radiant Moisture Lipstick.

Price: $17 (department store brand).

Duration: Two hours, 42 minutes.

Scenario: Applied at 9:50 a.m., followed by the usual. An even color held through a 10:32 a.m. third cup of coffee. Then at 12:40 it began to crack and fade.

Lipstick: Guerlain Rouge Sublime.

Price: $18 (department store brand).

Duration: Two hours, 5 minutes.

Scenario: Applied at 9:15 a.m, still going strong at 10:32 a.m., it remained impressively intense until 10:32 a.m., after a third cup of coffee. But by 11:20 a.m. it had faded considerably. This one didn’t last till lunch.

Lipstick: Prescriptives Classic.

Price: $12.50 (department store brand).

Duration: Two hours, 55 minutes.

Scenario: Applied 9:15 a.m., followed by coffee. Holding strong at 10:10 a.m., after a second cup. At 10:30 a.m., after a third cup, the color started to fade. By 12:10 p.m. it was time to get out the lipstick again. This one missed lunch too.

Lipstick: M.A.C nificent Lipstick/Rouge a Levres.

Price: $12 (department store brand).

Duration: Two hours, 40 minutes.

Scenario: Initially applied at 8:40 a.m., followed by java. The color and texture were still intact at 8:55 a.m. After a second coffee refill at 10:15 a.m., the color was starting to feather just slightly. But it held on valiantly through a 10:45 a.m. third cup of coffee. Still, at 11:20 a.m., well before lunch, it needed to be reapplied.

Lipstick: L’Oreal Creme Riche Lipstick.

Price: $5.75 (drugstore brand).

Duration: One hour, 35 minutes.

Scenario: Applied at 8:45 a.m, before coffee. The color held through a 9:50 a.m. refill. The fade-off occurred at exactly 10:20 a.m. Pathetic.

Lipstick: Max Factor Lasting Color Lipstick.

Price: $4.75 (drugstore brand).

Duration: A record-breaking six hours, 56 minutes.

Scenario: Applied 9:14 a.m, followed by cup No. 1. After a refill at 10 a.m., the color was still going strong. Through a third cup at 11:12 p.m and a 1:30 p.m. lunch, the color held on. In fact, the lipstick was still intact at 3:45 p.m. What finally did it in was a Coke, sipped through a straw, at 4:10 p.m.

I didn’t use a lip liner or a base product. But professional makeup artists tend to agree that wearing one or the other increases the staying power of any lipstick.

Paula Begoun, author of the critical cosmetic industry expose “Don’t Go To The Cosmetic Counter Without Me,” (Beginning Press, $10.95), is a former makeup artist-turned-”Ralph Nader of rouge” who evaluates close to 5,000 products in her book.

Three of her favorite lip color prolongers, which also help prevent feathering and bleeding, are Chanel’s Protective Colour Control stick, Coty’s Stop-It and Revlon’s Color Lock. They range in price from $4.95 to $20.