Let me preface this by saying I have worn red lipstick out in public exactly once, and that once was for a Christmas party just this last week. That lipstick was not this particular shade, the Milani Lip Flash Pencil in Hot Flash, but the Wet n Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Stoplight Red I reviewed a few weeks ago.
What I’m trying to get at is, lipstick is kinda a makeup maven’s white whale — you spend your whole life looking for that one that suits your coloring and doesn’t turn too orange, or pink, or brown, or berry. Then, especially if you’re not used to wearing red lips, you have to work yourself up to it. Maybe you wear a sheer red gloss out one day.
Then you spend a few worrying tries in front of the mirror, precisely lining your lips and filling them in, before getting cold feet at the last minute and scrubbing it all off. Finally, FINALLY, one day, you just do it, forget the haters.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Point is, everybody has that thing they feel like they just can’t do. I can’t have blunt bangs or I look like a racist caricature of myself. For a lot of girls, they’re afraid they can’t rock a red lip.
The one time I dared to wear a red lipstick in public before, I was shot down by my unhelpfully helpful boyfriend who implicitly insinuated I looked like a whore. (He’ll deny this is how the conversation went, but he might as well have been singing Hellfire and dressed as Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame for how I recall the events.)
Anyway, years later, I’ve decided, eff it. I’m a semi-responsible and largely grown adult (by most legal standards in the US, anyway). I am intelligent and educated, about to attain my Masters degree, and working a full-time job. I’ll wear the red lipstick, boyfriend be damned, cue inspirational music and slow-clapping onlookers in the background.
That was my internal vision, anyway. In real life, it was a low-key affair — my friend complimented me on my makeup, I admitted it was a journey years in the making and then the floodgates opened as all the women collaborated on how their SOs had, at one point or another, unintentionally given them complexes on wearing certain things.
So to this review, then. The Milani Lip Flash Pencil in Hot Flash is not for the person who is afraid of a bold lip. Nor is it for the person who favors a classic red, or the one who likes a more subdued, office-friendly red.
If Milani hired me to write this description, I would’ve just put “drag queen red” and called it a day.
That’s not a bad thing — if there’s a group of people I admire in makeup, it’s drag queens. But in more precise terms, it’s a blue-based red with red metallic shimmer. On me, it leans almost berry (which a lot of blue reds do).
My point is this is a transformative lipstick. This is one of those shades you put on and everything needs to be centered around it.
It provides opaque coverage in one swipe. My big gripe with it was that, despite its pencil format, I found it hard to maneuver and to get a precise line. As with many bold shades, this benefits from the use of a lip brush, but it seems to me the point of a pencil is to provide an easier way to apply lipstick.
This is super glossy; of course it won’t be a wet look like an actual gloss, but it’s definitely shiny.
It had comfortable slip on my lips and did not accentuate any dryness, but you absolutely cannot smoosh your lips together or you get uneven coverage and a weird line where the lipstick gooped off into the sunset. (These are all very technical terms.) Just put it on and leave it. Like you tell your dog when you see he’s got your nice heels in his mouth.
On me, it lasted around 4 hours with very light drinking and eating. It stained my lips quite heavily, but wore off in an uneven and extraordinarily unflattering ring. The pencil is, at least, very convenient to tote around for touch ups.
Here, I compared it against two other reds I favor: NYX Black Label Lipstick in Opium (an orange-leaning, almost coral-y red) and Wet n Wild MegaLast Lipstick in Stoplight Red (currently my favorite!).
You can really see how the metallic shimmer jumps out here.
This is a shade that most people would shy away from, I think. This is the lipstick you wear with those clothes that you kinda have a suspicion might actually be lingerie, but you wear them out clubbing anyway.
I haven’t yet found a reason to wear this out, but believe you me, I’m looking.
Milani Lip Flash Pencil in Hot Flash is cruelty-free and available here for $6.99.
Disclosure: I purchased the product(s) featured in this post. All opinions are my own.