When I discover there’s a cosmetics company making flawless red lipsticks RIGHT UNDER MY NOSE here in Minneapolis, I experienced a mix of emotions: confusion, pride and desperation – I need them now! That’s how I felt when I found Aromi, a lipstick line created by fellow lipstick chick (and chemist) Hannah Follis.
She sent me a few to try and I fell instantly in love with the liquid-to-matte magic of Preppy Red and Flamenco Red, both of which last more than a few hours on my lips. I work long days on the sales floor at Len Druskin so I need a lip color that can keep up with me without flaking or fading. These do the job beautifully.
When I don’t need such intense staying power, I love Aromi’s range of traditional lipsticks. Jaqueminot is my signature red shade and so moisturizing. I just love finding new reds to add to my collection and it’s even better when they’re vegan, cruelty free, and local. Go, Minnesota! –Kara
You know all of those perfectly styled Instagram shots, perfectly contoured cheekbones and perfectly coordinated outfits on the internets that now seem more like the norm than the exception? Well this isn’t one of them.
The plan was to show off the new Revlon ColorBurst Mattle Balms that Kara has been raving about in time Valentine’s Day and I couldn’t be more mortified by how pale I look (despite 80s proportions of blush, I kid you not) and how poorly parted and stringy my hair was (thanks to a conditioner has since been regifted). I almost didn’t run these but decided that you deserve to see the imperfections, the realness . . . and how much fun Melissa Oholendt I and I have when we shoot together.
She makes me laugh and I obviously feel comfortable enough with her to ham it up, even if it doesn’t make for the most glamorous shots. The truth is, lately I’m kind of overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the perfection—and I’m guilty of contributing to it! Right here on this blog and every time I snap a “candid” photo I’m trying to create something beautiful, to inspire or entertain you, or take you to a happy place. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen—I have a bad skin day, I can’t get the lighting right, my left eyebrow looks noticeably smaller than my right eyebrow—and those are the photos you never see.
As for the lipstick, it’s Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Standout, a sort of brickish red that’s not for the faint of heart. Our Lipstick Queen, Kara, turned me on to these crayons: “Revlon is really kicking out some stellar products lately, aren’t they? My latest Revlon obsession is their new line of ColorBurst Matte Balm, an easy-to-use, self-sharpening crayon with a lovely minty scent. They toe the line between matte and cream formula, so they don’t get too dry. And if you’re a gloss girl like Elizabeth, try the sister launch, Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balms, instead! They’re super pigmented and a little bit sparkly, so they’ll go just perfectly with your Vday frock.”
Learning how lipstick is made has long been a dream of mine. What girl doesn’t want to see how they get those shiny, perfectly smooth bullets of color in the tube?! My dreams were realized when I took a trip to The Elixery in Minneapolis, where former microbiologist Karoline Wells whips up lipsticks in a rainbow of colors, from Rollergirl green to a few of my favorite reds. You may have noticed the Elixery line at various local retailers, like June Resale and Ampersand. Elixery’s lipsticks range from so no matter your preference there’s something for you to try.
Karoline and her team spend many, many hours in the lab creating their cosmetics. Knowing I am a red-lip addict, they had set out a few pigments (just to look!) and pre-mixed bases for me to play with. The Elixery’s lipsticks are cruelty-free and vegan; they’re not tested on animals, they’re tested on willing hands like mine. I mixed up a creamy true red and a deep raspberry color, which I got to take home in tiny sample vials. It blew my mind; I felt like I was watching the “Mr. Rogers” episode where he visits the crayon factory, except in lieu of crayons I was watching my beloved lipsticks being born.
Karoline said one of the toughest parts of their job is color matching. They have to remember exactly which pigments and how much of each they’ve mixed up, down to the teeniest drop. They do everything by hand, from creating and developing their colors to mixing and firing the lipsticks once they’ve been placed in their tubes – that’s how they get that brand-new shine.
I was really impressed by The Elixery team’s dedication to their craft; each tube of lipstick has been meticulously put together for you, so no matter which shade you purchase you know it’s of highest quality. They hope to branch out into other cosmetic realms in the future, but for now you can check out their lipsticks ($18-20) online or in various Twin Cities locations. I took home the vibrant red Rockits because, well, it’s an addiction. –Kara
With all the advances of modern cosmetic technology, I’m fairly certain it’s only a matter of time before my red lipstick is permanently lacquered to my face. But since we’re not quite there yet, I always reach for a long-lasting liquid lip color when I’m working a long day, going to a wedding or planning to dance all night at the gay bar. My go-to color is red, obviously, but both Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($22) and Wet n Wild MegaLast Liquid Lip Color ($3) come in a wide variety of shades to suit your needs, from fuchsia pink to easy nude. Both pack a punch of color and matte finish, so they’ll last 6+ hours without budging. (The Stila once went 10 hours, from my morning Starbucks to a drink with my ex. If only he were as fool-proof.) The texture of longwear lip gloss does feel a bit like sticky paint as they dry, but we make certain sacrifices for longevity, don’t we? Just pack a lip balm! –Kara