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By Darcy Meadows

As the new century begins, so many of life’s details remain comfortably, or uncomfortably, the same. We women still spend the greater portion of the morning readying ourselves for the work place, school, or recreational trips, by using cosmetic products we can only hope will live up to their claims.

And, of course, they often don’t. How many times have you cursed under your breath over lipstick that doesn't last past the first sip of coffee? How many times have you had your "locked on color" turn into a bleeding mess, and you have to grin and bear it? There has to be a product out there that can offer some certainty in something as simple as color stay lipstick. Right? That’s what we at Fashion Finds wanted to find out.

Turn on the television, open a magazine, listen to the radio -- all the cosmetic companies claim they have the answer we’re looking for. But which company makes a really effective color stay lipstick? One that won’t kiss off? One that survives a special dinner? One that feels right on the lips, and comes in shades that are suitable for each of us?

Four of my very helpful friends took the challenge to find a reliable color stay lipstick, and to compare one brand to another.

Will we find that the advertising campaigns are a bunch of bull? Or will we be deliciously surprised?

My friends are Sue, Leslie, Rana, and Freya. Here were their final ratings:


Revlon: A+
Cover Girl: B
Maybelline: F
L'Oreal: C


Revlon: C-
Cover Girl: F
Maybelline: D
Loreal: B+


Revlon: A
Cover Girl: B
Maybelline: D
L'Oreal: C


Revlon: A-
Cover Girl: B-
Maybelline: B+
L'Oreal: A+

The final averages are at the end of the article.

Sue is a very dedicated, hands on teacher, a mother of two, and a wife who actually enjoys seeing her husband every once in a while. She needs a break with her cosmetic regimen. She is dark featured with normal skin type, and has a fair complexion.

Freya is a budding actress. Her dedication to the theater, as well as her teaching position at a modeling school, keeps her super busy. She needs a little extra time to lead the guys on a wild chase, and look good while doing it! She has a combination skin type and a fair complexion.

Leslie is married to her job. She rarely gets a day’s rest from the

office, and tends to let some things go, in order to maintain her professional duties. But she is the last one to sacrifice her beauty in the name of a career. In her view, there is dedication and then there's just plain stupidity! Her appearance is very important to her, and yet she would love the opportunity to spend less time getting "made up" in the morning, and less time on maintenance at the office, so she can get her work done. She has a mixed skin type, oily through her T zone, dry on cheeks and chin. She has a dark complexion, a reddish brown tone, similar to actress Angela Bassett.

The last lady to offer her assistance was my good friend Rana. She is a Leo first and foremost. And like the typical Leo, she takes beauty very seriously. Rana wouldn't mind daily hours of beautification, except for the fact that she works two jobs, has a busy family life, and of course a social life that demands she step away from the mirror from time to time! She has combination skin type and is olive skin-toned.

Given the lifestyles of my friends, we are definitely on a quest to

figure out what products could be the most beneficial for our individual lifestyles.

I decided to round up samples from each of the leading product lines. I started with the most popular, Revlon's Color Stay Lip Color. Revlon’s claim that it "Won't kiss off" had my friends jumping to start testing. (Who says science isn't fun?) Next, I picked Cover Girl's Marathon Lip Color. Cover Girl suggests you "Spread The Word, Not The Lipstick". Maybelline's Great Wear/Budge Proof Lipcolor, ("Color Locks On . . . Stays On!"), and L'Oreal’s Rouge Virtuale long wear lip color rounded out the four brands being tested.

I instructed each woman to purchase each brand of lipstick, in their preferred shades. I then sent them out into the cruel, cruel world, to see how each brand fared during a number of tasks, including working, dating, eating, exercising, etc. They then kept a log of what activity they were engaging in, and how well the product lasted, if it did.

Sue took several weeks to test all the lipsticks, making sure to wear each in most situations. She tested Revlon's Color Stay in Mica first. She said she really liked this product. "It was by far the best of the four" that she tested. She particularly liked the texture of this product because it was "moist without feeling too slippery," which was very important to her since she works in a really dry environment. She reported happily, "It definitely

stayed put throughout the day. I found that I only needed to reapply it one other time, and that was only to deepen the color after eating and drinking. And it really does stay on after kissing (her husband volunteered, all in the name of science, of course!). No smudging or smearing at all." Although pricey at $9.00, she says it's "definitely worth it."

Next Sue tested L'Oreal's Rouge Virtuale in Plushrose. L'Oreal's line offers a choice of matte, creme or pearle. Sue picked the creme. She reported that L’Oreal has a great selection of colors to choose from. However, the texture was not to her liking. She described it as having a "thick, heavy feel to it after only one application -- like wearing my mother's lipstick. While it did manage to stay on for most of the morning, it quickly did a disappearing act after eating lunch. For sheer kissability though, it does work. Didn't end up on my daughter's face."

Next for Sue was Maybelline's Great Wear/Budge Proof Lipcolor, in Heather. Her opinion was clear right away -- she didn't care for this product at all. Her main complaint challenged their slogan of "Locks on…stays on" directly. "The slogan's right - the color does lock on, in a "stain-like" way. Upon application, it immediately felt dry on my lips and after a small cup of coffee with a bagel, took on a feathered, bleeding appearance." If you want a supple-looking smile, Sue suggests you avoid this product.

Finally, she tested Cover Girl's Marathon Lip Color, in Mauvelous. The product was fairly acceptable by her standards. It stayed on for most of the morning, and just required a slight touchup during the day to avoid looking discolored. And she liked the consistency. Her only complaint was that she "made the mistake of picking the wrong color. It looked more bright pink than mauve on me, and I felt like my lips were screaming "look at me", all day. But other than that it was a real bargain for under $6.00." So, for readers out there interested in these "color stay" lipsticks, take Sue's advice to test the color before having to be out and about!

Leslie was the second subject to offer her assistance. She tried Revlon Color Stay in Chocolate. Unfortunately, she had a nasty experience, an allergic reaction. She reported that her lips "itched like mad. I didn't reapply it because it was too painful, but I didn't wipe it off either, and it hung in there all day." She liked the color, and the texture was not too chalky, and seemed moisturizing enough, but too hard to judge given the irritation.

Next was the L'Oreal Rouge Virtuale, in Espresso. Leslie chose the pearle finish. She loved the color, calling it "wonderful." She had to go to a Mary Kay party that Sunday morning, and was supposed to go "clean-faced." However, that was a little "too real" for her, so she cheated and wore the L'Oreal lipstick, which gave her a little confidence. "It went on very smooth and pretty long wearing. It even survived a smooch-fest with my two month old god daughter, Cameron!" Her overall one word summation for the L’Oreal product was an enthusiastic "Yummy!" If L'Oreal would increase the colors available for minorities, she said she'd likely try another shade.

Leslie’s next product was Maybelline's Great Wear/Budge Proof Lipcolor in Stone Age. She totally hated this product. The texture was "chalky and not flattering at all! Someone really needs to introduce these folks to a black woman. Maybe if I was fair-skinned, like Halle Berry, their shades might work. Otherwise -- UCK! But then again, there is obviously not enough minority input in the testing lab at Maybelline, so I doubt there's much to offer." Hopefully, Maybelline is reading. How about listening to Leslie, guys?

Leslie’s last test was Cover Girl's Marathon Wear Lip Color, in Espresso. Actually, she chose Espresso simply because there was practically no selection to choose from for her skin coloring. "The color was not very rich, but it was pretty moist. It lasted almost all morning without reapplying." As for future possibilities, Leslie said she would not ever wear it again, and would not recommend this product for African American women, "because it's too pale for medium dark blacks."

Overall, she said she would go with L’Oreal. "I was very disappointed with the others because I thought drugstore cosmetics were embracing the minority customer. I think to get a full line of products, a minority woman is better off sticking with the Estee Lauder lines: Clinque, Prescriptives, Origins or Estee's signature line."

Next up was Freya. She too made sure she wore each product throughout her average day (to work, dinner, lunch, dates, etc.) to get the maximum impression of their true capabilities. She tried Revlon Color Stay in Skin. She reported that it was "perfect", withstanding the trials of eating and drinking, working and playing. Her only complaint was that unlike her favorite product, Revlon's texture "lacked the smoothness and softness" that her usual L'Oreal lipstick had.

Next she tried L'Oreal's Rouge Virtual in Angora. She really loved this product the best out of all four lipsticks, because it was definitely "undying" in it's quest to STAY. She offers, "I wore it everywhere, ate, drank, kissed, blah blah blah…without reapplying! But I also like it the most because it is moisturizing, unlike the others."

Freya’s next product was Maybelline Great Wear/Budge Proof Lipcolor in Sexy. She said it lasted a long time as well, all through her day and nightlife festivities. In fact, she fell asleep with it on and "it was still on in the morning!" Freya’s only complaint was that the Maybelline product was very drying.

Her last test was Cover Girl's Marathon Lip Color in Blush. The texture was not to her liking, but the "durability" was fairly OK. "It was good and lasted a long time, unless I drank anything warm, like my Caramel-Vanilla lattes!" By all means, never give up those lattes, Freya! Switch products….

Rana was the last to offer her time and opinions. She tried Revlon's Colorstay in Vixen, with mostly positive results. She reported, "This deep, beautiful color glided on smoothly and very easily, although it did not contain enough moisture to keep my lips from chapping. It had a long life, lasting until mid-afternoon, through a lot of pen cap chewing, snacking at my desk, and even a brisk mile walk to the downtown post office on a windy day. I had to reapply after direct swipes with a napkin at lunchtime, but other than that, it appeared to be pretty smudge-proof."

Next up for Rana was L'Oreal Rouge Virtuale in matte Heather. Rana liked that the color went on easily, and the color was deep and rich, but she disliked the lipstick’s dryness. "Being a matte finish, it did not seem to have enough moisture to keep my lips from cracking and chapping. It survived a Burger King breakfast sandwich and a few sodas, but after two hours at Six Flags, this lipstick succumbed to high-speed exposure to the elements. It was completely gone by lunchtime, making a joke of this brand's slogan!"

Maybelline Great Wear in Flesh was her next test product. She liked this product the least, saying the brand did not impress her in the least. "It is too dry, and does not apply easily. The shade is not very flattering at all, also." She did add her one exception to the rule by reporting that "The color is unflattering, unless you like having colorless lips and go for the near-death look. If you are among one of those people, then this is the shade for you!". She said her lips felt rather heavy after the application, looking cracked right off the bat. And as far as the "lasting concept," forget it! "This brand did not appear to have a long life." Then again, if she looked like a walking chapped, dried-up corpse, let's be happy for her that it didn't "hang on" all day.

Lastly, Rana tested Cover Girl's Marathon Lip Color in Plum Mauve. She reported that this brand took quite a few strokes to get an even application, yet it seemed to contain more moisture than the other brands, which she definitely requires to keep her lips chap-free longer. The shade however, left something to be desired for her, as the actual lipstick color was much brighter than the color guide on the store display and the lipstick tube itself. "The slightly metallic shimmer to the shade seems ideal for ladies of youth, but it looked somewhat clownish on these 28-year-old lips." As for endurance, she reported, "It stayed on strong all morning, fading by half when the 5pm whistle blew. At the end of the day, as I washed my face before bedtime, I noticed faint traces of the color still on my lips."

Her overall consensus? "They all seem to live up to the "smudge-proof" claims, although some do have a shorter life than others. It would also appear that in order to achieve smudge-proof status, moisture must be sacrificed, a concession that can lead to ugly, dry lips that no amount of color can make attractive. My picks: Cover Girl Marathon for moisture and endurance, Revlon for color richness and smudge-free activity."

Looking over the results, one thing is definitely clear -- Maybelline needs to go back to the drawing board. Every tester found it to be overly drying, chapping their lips quite quickly. Also, most of them didn't much care for the shades Maybelline offered. Especially poor Leslie, who was fighting a losing battle trying to find a shade to go well with her skin tone. I find Maybelline's product totally unacceptable, given the limited number of shades offered to women of color. Leslie was downright lost in her testing, not being able to find products that would look good with her skin coloring and last long enough.

When it comes to the "smudge-proof" aspect of the Maybelline product, there was some variation in the testers’ reactions. Rana reported that it came off quite soon after lunch, however Sue and Freya reported that it lasted much longer than they would have liked it to. It could just be a coincidence that most of the women I used in our test didn't like it. Maybe there are plenty of consumers out there who love this product. However, I think I'll be scratching Maybelline off the Christmas list.

Rana made a valid observation about the moisturizing qualities of color stay lipsticks. For the product to be "long lasting", it probably is going to be less moisturizing, which would inevitably lead to dry or chapped lips. So why even bother with overly drying lipstick in the first place? One good

thing we can report is that Revlon's Color Stay lipstick didn't leave any of the testers with overly dry or chapped lips. In the end results, it is apparent that most of them chose Revlon as one of their best picks.

Another point needing to be touched on, is that even though most of the ladies really liked Revlon, and would use that over the others, not every "good" product is for everyone. As was clear in Leslie's case, when she tested Revlon. She had an allergic reaction, and that would leave all of us miserable. I hate that she had to endure that, but since we were testing, it was a great result to be able to report. Everyone needs to test products before planning on being out on the town or in the conference room with everyone's eyes on you. I personally know a lot about allergic reactions. I used to be allergic to most cosmetics. It can be downright humiliating if you are one of the "lucky" people to suffer such afflictions. Leslie's unfortunate incident is a good opportunity to stress the importance of testing products yourself, in the privacy of your own home!

Another finding: The shade differences. Both Rana and Sue voiced their annoyance with the color charts and lipstick tube being a much different shade than the lipstick itself. In defense of the products, it's awfully hard to capture the exact lip color on paper or plastic. The fact that the main purpose of these lipsticks is to hang in there all day long, makes me pretty wary of ever trying a new shade on the way out the door. Don't! Make sure you try it out on a day when you will be hanging around the house, to avoid the "look at me!" syndrome Sue described.

In the quest for an easier and better-wearing lipstick, I think Rana, Sue, Freya and Leslie did some great "dirty work" for us. We know what products will last the longest, and which are the best moisturizing. We discovered color-availability issues. Those are the most important findings. Just remember to do the testing yourself; not every product is for everyone.

Here are the final tallies:

Revlon: A-
L’Oreal: B
Cover Girl: C
Maybelline: D+

Please let us know about your experiences with color stay lipsticks!  Click here to send us an email.

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