There are some people—namely, models on the couture runway, or Rihanna—who can swipe on some emerald-colored lipstick and look impossibly cool. But as much as I'm typically down to try on a bold or edgy beauty look, I have to admit that I don't exactly have the same kind of DGAF confidence as RiRi to pull off such a statement. (Does anyone, really?)
But a few weeks ago, after previewing Kat Von D's fall makeup offerings, I was sent home with a goodie bag that included a longwear lipstick in an alarming shade of shimmery, gunmetal gray. "Who wears this?" I thought to myself, before realizing that someone like Rihanna probably would—and they would look badass, too. Why couldn't I? And thus, the gauntlet was thrown: For roughly one week, I would challenge myself to go throughout my life and business while wearing the most avant-garde shades of lipstick I could find on the market.
How would people react? How would I react? It was time to muster up my inner @badgalriri and find out.
Keep reading to see which shades I tried, how I styled them, and what others had to say about my experiment!
What I wore: Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick ($21) in Nayeon
I decided to opt for this gunmetal shade on a weekend day because it was the first and among the boldest of hues I would be trying throughout the week. I figured that rather than the weekday corporate rush, Sunday offered a slightly more relaxed setting to step out in something a little more avant-garde. Plus, the ‘90s resurgence is alive and well in my Brooklyn neighborhood, so I guessed (hoped?) I might blend in a little more with the hipster crowd. But while I was planning all of this in painstaking, anxious detail, I neglected to remember that New Yorkers are pretty much unfazed by everything.
My day began with a trip to the new Whitney Museum—which meant a commute into Manhattan on public transportation. But aside from maybe one or two halted glances, no one really gave me a second look. And it finally occurred to me that of all the things my subway companions would likely come across in the city today, my gunmetal lipstick was rather forgettable. When the friend I was meeting at the Whitney arrived, she didn’t mention anything about my appearance. I lasted approximately three minutes before motioning to my face and blurting, “But what do you think of THIS?” and admitting that it was a work assignment (cover blown, I know).
“I like it,” she said. “I didn’t say anything because you would wear something like that, just because.” Oh. Is it weird that I took it as a compliment?
What I wore: Illamasqua Lipstick ($26) in Apocalips
But the plot was about to thicken—on Monday, I had to go to the office. (Stupid Monday.) Knowing that green was next up in the queue, I carefully selected my outfit: a black American Apparel bodysuit and purple corduroy culotte shorts. (When your lips are bold enough to act as an accessory on their own, it’s important to think about your entire ensemble.) I kept the rest of my makeup very minimal (the theme of the week!) and tied my hair up in a chignon.
This look got a bit more attention than the heavy metal shade I had rocked the day before. When I left the office for a midafternoon coffee break, one woman did a double-take when I stepped on the elevator and then proceeded to stare at me the entire ride downstairs. (Which, come on—the look wasn’t aggressive enough to throw all social decorum out the window.) When I got outside, a fratty looking dude nudged his fratty looking friend and the two snickered (which was, coincidentally, the reaction I was having to their bro tanks, but the difference was that I politely stifled this and kept it internal).
And it was these exchanges that ultimately spurred me on, since I decided right then and there that the only way to do this right was to completely own it.
One thing you couldn't have prepared me for, however—seeing green marks on my coffee cup. Jarring.
What I wore: MAC Lipstick ($17) in Matte Royal
While singing this song to myself over and over, I swiped this shade on and immediately fell in love. It’s the most beautiful shade of blue—almost violet. I was wearing mom jeans and a white T-shirt that day, and the lip color was just punchy enough to bring the whole look together and make it a little less casual. It was one of those “f*ck yeah, look at me!” days—I felt pretty confident, and will definitely be adding this into my regular lipstick rotation. And a random bonus? Even after taking the color off with makeup remover, the most beautiful berry stain remained—that’s how pigmented the lipstick is.
(Some might be annoyed by this, but seriously—the residual color was just lovely.)
What I wore: Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick ($20) in Satin Black
I was not a particularly edgy teen—which is maybe why five years later, I’m going through a bit of a rebellious phase (at least in the realm of beauty). It was for this reason that I was particularly amped to embrace my inner goth and try on this glossy black color. And though I tried to balance it out with a more feminine outfit—a long silk tank dress over a white T-shirt—I wasn’t anticipating the aggressive vibe the lip color put out to the gen pub. While weaving my way through a slow-moving crowd is a daily struggle in Manhattan, today people seemed to dodge out of the way when they saw me coming.
Even the barista at my local coffee shop kept eyeing me nervously as she quickly got my cold brew, as if she thought I would cast a curse on her if she didn’t hustle. Is this what they mean by black magic?
What the heck goes with yellow lipstick? The answer: NOTHING. "Um, white. Or black," a colleague advised uneasily. (Why was SHE nervous?)
Google at least led me to a great picture of Solange, in which the singer rocks a sheer yellow tint on her lips, and I decided that I would maybe try this approach. Of course, as it turned out, while that sheer yellow looks gorgeous on her deep skin, I merely looked jaundiced when I swiped it on. So I dug up a bronze color I had also had on hold for the week, and added a touch of that on top of the yellow to see what would happen. And suddenly, perfect! The result was a shimmery golden peach stain that I paired with shimmery tan eyeshadow and bronzer.
"That's DEFINITELY your color," said a co-worker, and my friends mirrored that sentiment when I met up with them for drinks later. Maybe adding the bronze was kind of cheating, but on the other hand, isn't it kind of a miracle that I made yellow wearable? In the end, by some miracle, that canary-colored tube will be staying in my vanity—which is more than what I can say for the green. (The gunmetal? Maybe.)
Are you bold enough to wear an unusual shade out and about? What's your favorite unusual lip color? Tell me below!