Lip Service

wearing Makeover Workshop "rue Rivoli" lipstick. Read about my other favorite lip colors at

It’s been said that when it comes to makeup at our age, less is more, and I tend to agree. To keep from looking overdone, current wisdom has it that we want to steer clear of heavy foundation, and emphasize either eyes or lips, but not both. If I have to choose, I’ll choose lips every time. (I reserve the right to count brows under the heading of “face” rather than “eyes.” I never go out without filling in my sparse brows.)

I’ll admit it, I’m a lipstick junkie. I often cycle between 3-4 different shades over the course of a week. And I’m always game to try a new shade or formula. But I keep it simple; I don’t contour or concoct complicated blends…some prep, some liner (maybe) and a swipe of color, usually right out of the tube. During warmer months, I lean more toward sheer colors.


My lips tend to be dry and sometimes flaky, and living in a drier climate doesn’t help. Every few days I exfoliate with a little bit of Fresh Sugar Lip Polish as part of my nightly routine. I apply a dab of the Makeover Workshop Re-Creation Lip Treatment 2 or 3 times per day. I LOVE this stuff…it’s really improved the texture and condition of my lips over time. (Let it absorb for a few minutes before applying lip color.)


If I’m in a hurry and wearing a more natural color, I often skip liner. But I do use with more intense color and think Brian’s Makeover Workshop Longwear Gel liners are the best I’ve tried. They really stay put and prevent feathering. Play around with combining different liners and lipsticks to get different colors and effects!


I love bright lip color, but have learned it works best on me when I’m wearing neutrals alone or neutrals with a single color accent like a scarf. If I’m wearing clothing in soft colors or multiple colors, I keep my lip color close to natural (*a “My Lips But Better” color). I feel washed out with no color at all. And I think most nude lip colors make me look like a corpse. No matter what I’m wearing, I can’t tolerate formulas that are drying. Unfortunately that rules out a lot of the “long wear” lip colors. Here are the colors I’m wearing most often:

Above, I’m wearing Makeover Workshop “Neapolitan” liner and “rue Rivoli” lipstick.

What about you…lips or eyes? Or both? Do you prefer brighter or more natural lip color?

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  1. You always are so “put together”. Top to bottom. That is a compliment, by the way! I have a horrible time with lipstick feathering…..I’ve tried a million and one lip liners and none really work that well…..I might give the one you mentioned a try, if it doesn’t have Parabens in it…..I’m a “NO PARABEN” woman. Will check it out. Thanks again for an interesting take on eyes and lips….and yes, I fill in my brows daily. The only time I don’t is when I go surfing or hiking…….

    1. Best skin care tip I ever got was from my derm’s assistant – put eye cream on your lips. I’ve been plagued with dry and peeling lips my whole life (allergy plagued mouth breather here!) and this tip has totally solved this problem at the early age of 54!! I just put a TINY smidgeon of eye cream on my lips right after I do my eyes, morning and night.

  2. Hi Susan! I’m looking forward to trying out some of your recommendations. My problems is I go to the lipstick counter and get tired before I find one I like–I’m currently wearing one I got from a bonus purchase!

  3. Nothing says “dressed up” like lipstick. My mom was religious about putting some on before leaving the house. That said, I always felt hers was too harsh, so I choose softer tones. But I don’t like nude. I like it on other people, but when I try it, I hate the look.
    As I wear glasses, I always always put on mascara. Given a choice, it would be mascara over lipstick. I can always rub my lips together to give them some color in a pinch.

  4. If I had to choose, it would be eyes over lips. That might be because my lips have a strong bluey colour and I can’t really wear red lipstick or any colour but what they are naturally. Otherwise they look so weird…to my eyes, anyway. Most of the time now, I just wear clear lip moisturiser… and focus on my eyes. That colour looks lovely on you, though.

  5. I always wear mascara and fill in my brows but when I go out I always wear lipstick as well so I guess both! Like you I need some colour or I look washed out. I am new to your blog and enjoy it very much.

  6. My mother was the lipstick gal! Never went anywhere without it! And used it till she died last year at age 97. So, I opt for lipstick over eyes although like you fill in the brows! Would love to try the liner as I have trouble with feathering/bleeding and it drives me crazy! Thanks for the good advice and love your lip color. Wearing nudes fades me out also!

  7. Thanks for the lipstick post. It’s so hard to find the “right” color. I also agree that less is more. I don’t leave the house without lipstick and touching up with my eyebrows with brow powder (unless they have been recently colored).

  8. As une femme d’un certain age I have encountered sparse, thinning brows and hated it. Fortunately I found Revitabrow, and I’m thrilled with the results. (I have no stock in the company, nor do I receive compensation in any way for the mention.) I got mine at Nordstrom, but I think you can buy on Amazon as well.

  9. I owe you a great deal for being the one to inform me about Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter – which, of course, they no longer make (I’ve been able to scare up a few tubes on Amazon). Do you have a preferred replacement that is equally nondrying and subtle?

  10. I’m also a lipstick junkie… maybe even more than I am a nail polish junkie. I have one drawer in my bathroom full of these two categories.

    I love a bright lip, and I routinely outline my lip with a clear, matte, lip liner and if i’m in a rush I don’t outline my lip in color at all. I just smear on lots of terra-cotta or terra-leaning fuchsia. Sometimes a pretty burnt orange by Laura Mercier called Embrace.

    And, I quit wearing foundation in my early 30’s. I use a concealer pencil to cover small brown spots, then wear a translucent powder on my lower 1/2 of my cheek, cream blush in a light pink, on my “apples”, and a matte powder on my forehead. Pretty simple, and very natural looking…

  11. Eyes definitely. I prefer neutral coloured matt eyeshadow, usually Estée Lauder, Chanel waterproof eyeliner and Max Factor mascara. I look unwell without eye make-up. Happy to wear a sheer lipstick, again I favour Estée Lauder.

  12. That color looks great on you! I typically stay with a fairly neutral lip color. My favorite “My Lips But Better” choice is No Lipstick Lipstick by Perricone MD. One shade, but it happens to work perfectly for me. The consistency is super smooth and soothing.

    1. I second the No Lipstick Lipstick by Perricone MD. So creamy and shade works perfectly for me too. Not too warm or cool, pink or orange, it’s great!

  13. I definitely agree on no foundation any more, although I have luck with a tinted one applied over my moisturizer. Recently I discovered that the one that is SPF 15 did not save my face from getting burned outdoors recently in Monterey. I wonder if the tint affects its effectiveness. So back to an SPF moisturizer and the tinted one over that. On lipstick and your comment about feeling washed out without it, it reminds me of what a friend’s mother said to us when we were young and talking about make-up. She said that she believed her colorless lips were due to all the years she wore lipstick and that the lipstick bleached her lips! Gave us something to think about. All I know is I cannot go without something on, and I don’t mind both eyes and lips, and if I am wearing a bright color eyeshadow, I’ll use a hint of color on my lips, and vice versa. Funny how they seem to get away with it in the ads but in real life it can look garish!

  14. I’m with the eyes. Although I have tons of lipsticks/glosses, Chapstick ends up being my ol’ reliable. But the eyes. I need to have at the least, eyeliner and mascara..and naturally, the brows!!!!

  15. I second your recommendation for Fresh Sugar lip polish, but they also make Fresh Sugar tinted lip treatment, which is like a lip gloss and so smooth and silky when applying to your lips. It’s also SPF 15 and no parabens, petroleum, mineral oil or lanolin. I have dark hair and eyes, so chose Berry, but lots of other really nice shades. It’s at Nordstrom and also Blue Mercury shops, which is where I found it.

  16. I guess eyes, when I do wear makeup. (which in the summer, especially, is very rare) The best tip I ever got about filling in eyebrows naturally is to use a standard #2 pencil. The color is perfect!

  17. Bravo! However, I don’t think we need to choose “either” lips or eyes. Do them both, do them well, and make them memorable! Ruby Woo as the base, Dior as the top and false eyelashes make the outside feel as good as the inside!

  18. I like your lipstick post. I I also agree that less is more. I don’t leave the house without red lipstick and brow pencil. I dont like nude lip color too, look like I died.

  19. I am also a lipstick junkie!! Always looking for that perfect, long lasting color. I tend to go toward a darker color as I feel too many make my lips disappear.
    I also never leave the house without some liner,brows & mascara. I am turning 66 this year but I don’t follow the “rules” for “older” women!

  20. I’m an outlier, I guess. The last time I wore actual foundation it was for Halloween! For everyday, just moisturizer, Clinique’s Super City Block 40 spf tinted sunscreen & pressed powder. Burts Bees tinted lipgloss. But I’m rarely willing to leave the house without touching up my light, unruly brows with Clinique’s Just Browsing Brush-On Styling Mousse – quick, easy, subtle & long-lasting!

  21. Well, you inspired me. I was getting some holes rewoven in a favorite cashmere sweater at Alex’s on Pico and realized I’m right near Bryan’s makeover apartment. So I texted him and son of a gun he was available. So I purchased the lip treatment which I loved when he made me over. I’ve also been looking for some lipsticks to brighten my face after having three skin cancers removed. He had the perfect red for me, your recommendation Rue Rivoli, plus a bright pink and lip liners. So glad you blogged about it because you reminded me that I needed a bit of help to get over these days of face redness and swelling. Perfection. I’ve really had a hard time finding a red that wasn’t too bright and his works just fine. Of course I’ll go back there when I pick up the finished sweater.

  22. I stopped wearing foundation and mascara three years ago (I’m 56) and and have not missed it – life is so much easier! I’m very fair with freckles and strawberry blonde eyelashes/brows. I just moisturizer like crazy, use La Roche-Posay Anthelios 40 sunscreen daily (recommended by dermatologist – another red head), sheer powder and a very light dusting of a soft blush if I remember.)

    Lips are the priority! Wearing glasses with colorful frames takes care of my eyes, although I MUST fill in my brows – white/grey ones starting to take over. I’m going to try your lip recommendations!