I like bold lip colors — bring on the cherries! the fuchsias! the corals! — but they often require more forethought (“oh shoot, this fuchsia lip clashes with my coral blush”) and time (lip liner is non-negotiable for a lipstick like Bite Beauty Squid Ink) than their neutral brethren. (Sistren? Let’s make that a thing.) That’s probably why, despite lovin’ them bolds, I wear neutral lip colors most days. Not proper “nudes,” because they tend to make me look sickly, but good ol’ my-lips-but-better lipsticks. “What is a my-lips-but-better lipstick?” you aren’t asking, because you are the sort of person who reads beauty blogs and you already know the answer. But I’m going to tell you anyway, because my sisters aren’t familiar with the phrase and they’re my litmus test for “should I explain A Beauty Thing?”
A MLBB lipstick is exactly what it sounds like — a lipstick in the general vicinity of your lips’ natural shade or color, but ~better~ — whether that ‘betterness’ comes from the more even finish provided by a high-opacity lipstick, a slight sheen that makes them look plumper, havin’ a little something on your lips to hydrate, or layering a bit of extra color preferable to your own (mine are plummy and cool and look dead against my warm skin, so I like MLBBs with just a touch of warm pink flush for that “why yes, I belong here among the living; I am definitely not a reanimated corpse nor do I have late-stage liver failure” look — but that still fall within the range of “Yeah, that color could totally exist on a normal person”).
I have a LOT of lipsticks that technically qualify as MLBBs, but there are three I reach for on a regular basis. Without further ado:
MAC Almondine ($17.50/.10oz; part of the LE James Kaliardos collab, but it’s still available at time of publication and may be similar to the permanent MAC Patisserie).
This is always in my purse, unless it’s in my pocket. Regardless, it is On My Person every day (and has consequently endured multiple trips through the wash and is in desperate need of replacement). Though it’s my first (and only!) MAC lipstick — I know, I know, how dare I co-host a beauty blog when I only own one MAC lipstick; do you even lip, bro? — it does everything I expect from a MLBB lipstick — semi-opaque, balmy sheen, comfortable wear, easy reapplication. It’s the kind of pinkish-warm-touch’o’coral-nude that makes my face look more ~polished~, whether or not it’s obvious that I’m wearing lipstick. I find that this shade doesn’t sit in my liplines and doesn’t highlight dry flakes — if anything, it smooths them over and makes my lips look plusher and healthier. Huge fan of this lipstick, despite the scent (it is a STRONG and SWEET vanilla — I never understood the gripes about MAC lipsticks until now! And I’m a vanilla fan!).
Urban Decay Sheer Liar (I have it in the discontinued Revolution formula — currently on clearance for $10/.09oz plus free shipping for all UD Junkies at their website! — but it’s also available in the new Vice formula for $17/.11oz)
Though this color is similar to the MAC Almondine, the texture is a little different — the Almondine has more of a traditional lipstick feel to it, while this sheer lipstick has a thick-and-creamy tecture. Plus, MAC Almondine is very nearly opaque (just translucent enough to keep it from looking too “done”), and this one is definitely more translucent — not sheer, mind you, just kind of “smoothingly non-opaque” — with a more mellow plummy-rose color deposit. I find this one remarkably hydrating, and the creaminess of the formula does a great job hiding any lip flaws, of which I have many at any given time. Bonus: it doesn’t smell or taste like anything!
Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Pepper ($26/.15 oz)
Okay, this one veers more strongly from MLBB territory than Almondine — it’s decidedly more brown and dark than my lips — but I don’t think it looks THAT weird on me and I love the formula. This is by far the most opaque and least-glossy of the bunch. This particular Pepper swatch is the old Luminous Cream formula, but the Amuse Bouche interpretation isn’t too far off, shade-wise. (As far as formula goes, the LC is a little more hydrating with a tad more slip; AB is a bit drier and clingier). This shade looks particularly lovely on my olive-toned, dark-haired, high-contrast sister, so I’m thinking it might look decent on a variety of skintones? This one smells like Bite’s trademark fruity pink lemonade.
Bonus Round: Urban Decay Super-Saturated High Gloss Lip Color in Glinda (just a relabeled UDSSHGLC in “Naked,” it turns out)
This wasn’t on my original list — it’s long-since discontinued, and I dislike how its “Naked” replacement shade in the (more-recently discontinued) traditional Revolution formula looks on me — but I do reach for it all the time and Collier complimented it yesterday, so I figured I’d throw this in the mix. This is — what else? — a muted plummy-mauve-brown. It also has a hint of pearlescent shimmer; too little to be considered “frosty,” but just enough to optically suggest that your lips are smoother and fuller. Though the color isn’t anything special, I genuinely love the formula — it’s thick, creamy, and surprisingly clingy — if you press your lips together, there’s definitely a little bit of stick. This is lovely for those of us (like me) who is nervous about lip color spreading outside the lip lines, or who likes being able to FEEL that yep, color is still on your lips for 100% sure, you’re good. In addition to the slight tackiness, it’s nicely hydrating, doesn’t get caught in lip flakes, DEFINITELY doesn’t congregate in lip lines, and the chunky-pencil format lets me get a decent outline and fill.
Requiem for an HG MLBB: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in “Pink Truffle”
Though mine has long since worn to a stub and been tossed in the trash, this shade deserves a loving eulogy — and if The Interwebs are to be believed, I’m hardly alone in my love for this particular product (which Revlon discontinued, because apparently Revlon doesn’t like making money. What gives, Revlon?). Anyway, this product combined the perfect rosy-with-a-hint-of-brown color with a comfortable formula (hydrating and lightly glossy!), a medium-opacity finish, and a $7/.09 oz price tag. If your skin is in the lighter quadrant of skin tones and you happen to stumble across one in a clearance bin somewhere, it’s worth taking a chance on. (For this record, this is one of my all-around favorite formulas in general — I have noticeable usage on tubes of Peach Parfait, Berry Smoothie, Candy Apple, a bright watermelon, and a punchy orange-coral.)
Since everyone’s MLBB shade is a little different — mine is plummy-rose-with-a-touch-of-brown, obviously — I figured this would be a good chance for everyone to chime in with their favorites for their particular coloring. What’s your HG MLBB? Tried any of these ones?