Who doesn’t love a nice new bit of stationery? I can’t resist, whether it’s a set of notelets (with matching envelopes, obviously) a lovely fresh notebook just waiting to be filled with profound thoughts or a set of pristine felt tip pens. Ahhhh, felt tip pens...
Well the make-up equivalent of a fancy marker pen or crisply sharpened pencil is, as far as I’m concerned, just as seductive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be parted from my beloved lipsticks any time soon (although lip gloss can do one, frankly – does anyone actually wear that messy, sticky stuff?), but I am being swayed on a near daily basis at the moment towards lip crayons and pencils.
They are two very different products with drastically opposing finishes – lip crayons are moisturising, glossy and easy to use (seriously, you don’t even need a mirror, just scrawl somewhere in the direction of your mouth and it’ll probably be fine) while pencils give a precise, matte, velvety lip and there is very little room for error – you need a steady hand and a sharp eye.
Ok, so let’s look at crayons first.
Many people assume Clinique’s Chubby Stick was the first really good lip crayon around, and I DO love this product – I’ve been wearing it almost every day all summer. The new ‘Intense’ incarnation really does give a rich, creamy shot of colour to the lips, while somehow simultaneously managing to look ‘natural’ – as if you just happen to have a rosy, velvety pout. I love that. My favourite shade is Roomiest Rose. It feels moisturising but not greasy, doesn’t slide all over the place and wears down nice and evenly.
BUT there is another contender for the ‘first lip crayon’ title: Lipstick Queen’s ‘Glossy Pencil’ (I know, it calls itself a pencil, but it’s a crayon, honestly. Confused? Me too.) This delivers an incredibly sheer, wash of colour to the lips and feels extremely moisturising too. I love the packaging the product comes in – a noirish box with a silhouetted illustration – and the giant chunky pencil sharpener that’s included to keep the crayon optimally pointy.
If you’ve never worn red lipstick before but want to get into it, the Glossy Pencil in Chinatown Chase would be a great gateway product – it’s subtle, but you definitely look like you’ve got some colour on your lips.
Okaaay, onto the NARS: the first thing I want to say is, don’t attempt to sharpen your chunky little NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (although it looks like a crayon etc etc) in the Lipstick Queen sharpener, it won’t go well. Sob. Moving on! This reminds me one of those creamy watercolour crayon-pencils - the kind where you draw with it, then use water to blur the lines into a wash. Even though it has a matte finish and you have to apply it quite carefully, the end result doesn’t feel dry on the lips – you can move it around and rub it in with a finger to achieve a more casual look.
So, pencils proper: I suppose the real purpose of a lip pencil is to outline the edges of your lips to prevent your lipstick from bleeding, but I prefer to use mine to fill in my whole mouth because it gives this amazingly intense finish. It’s seriously matte – there’s not a hint of a gleam anywhere on the mouth, but I really like that, it feels crisp and elegantly grown-up and particularly appropriate for autumn somehow.
It’s tricky to achieve – pencils don’t look great when applied in a wobbly line, you need to practise and be careful, but once you’ve achieved an outline you’re happy with and filled in the middle, this stuff won’t budge a bit and it looks intense (I think it makes the lips look fuller too). Be warned though, lips will feel dry – it doesn’t bother me, but if yours are feeling too parched just slap a bit of balm on them (you’ll lose the velvety effect though.)
My three favourites at the moment are:
Diego Dalla Palma lip pencil in no. 58, £14, marksandspencer.comThis was the poor pencil I cruelly coopted into my 'red eyes' story last week. It's quite pliable and easy to move around - you can smudge it into a lip stain (and dab a little on your cheeks as a subtle blush.)
Bobbi Brown Lip Liner in Red, £16, bobbibrown.co.ukA classic red in a nice firm pencil - nothing waxy or crayon-like about this make-up bag staple. I would actually use this for its intended purpose - to outline my lips and keep lipstick in place - as it's such a true red.
bareMinerals Marvellous Moxie lip liner in Amped, £13, bareminerals.co.ukConversely, this is more like a precise little crayon but again it's not too difficult to use and gives a lovely rich, deep red colour with a subtle warmth.
Oh, and it's no coincidence that all my top picks come in varying shades of RED - it is my all-time favourite lip colour and makes me feel instantly pulled together, even when I'm wearing a t-shirt and jeans. But a creamy crayon or a strong, almost-chalky pencil would be just as effective in one of autumn's deep, dark wine shades. Keep the rest of the face clean and eye make-up minimal and let your lips, er, do the talking.