An Ode to Revlon

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the most unforgettable women in the world wear revlonThis post is inspired by the Refinery 29 piece I recently shared on Wardrobe Oxygen’s Facebook page. I must say I was surprised to hear Revlon is not doing well; while their recent Love is On campaign doesn’t appeal to me, their actual product does. And unlike Refinery 29, I find Revlon’s packaging to be elegant, sturdy, and often times equal to department store brands in regard to style.

When I was first allowed to wear makeup, my mom allowed grey pencil eyeliner, mascara, and a light colored lipstick. That first lipstick was the one my mom currently wore, Revlon’s Iceblue Pink.

In college, brown lipsticks were all the rage and the best ones were by Revlon. While many adored Revlon’s Toast of New York, I preferred Coffee Bean, which had a bit of shimmer and a cooler chocolate tone.

After college, I had a job as a brand visual merchandiser and my supervisor really pushed having a polished appearance and dressing not for the job you have but the one you wanted. I began getting manicures to clean up my gnawed-on fingers, and went to get a makeover from a department store cosmetics counter. After that, I felt to be an adult, I had to leave the drugstore and enter the mall. I was a MAC loyalist for a bit, spent a good portion of my lunch break and paycheck in Sephora, and when I got married I knew I had to have the best – a face by Chanel.  But after the novelty wore off, I found myself returning to the drugstore for at first, lipsticks and then, almost everything else.

audrey-hepburn-breakfast-at-tiffanysOver the years, the drugstore brands caught up to the department store lines and in my opinion, the one at the head of the pack was Revlon. They had the most beautiful celebrities for their ad campaigns, the most beautiful packaging, the best variety of colors, and the highest quality formulas. And one thing I loved is their lipstick containers hardly changed at all over the decades. While Refinery 29 used a picture of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as an example of how the brand needs a makeover, I think it’s a selling point to use a brand that was chic then and now. I mean, look how many people still use Holly Golightly and Audrey Hepburn as style icons in 2016!

And so, I will share the current Revlon products on my dressing table and in my cosmetics bag. By doing this post it made me realize even more how much I use and trust Revlon:

I have written many times before about the awesomeness which is Revlon ColorStay foundation. I have used the liquid and the whipped formula and am amazed how it will stay on through humidity, through sob sessions, through a mega dance session at a GA concert. It never breaks me out, and whether I have a bit of a tan or am at my deathly palest, I can find a color that perfectly matches my skin.

Revlon’s Insta-Fix was something I picked up by random in early fall when I had an event after work and nothing to refresh my face. I bought it in Nude and I have never had a product so perfectly match my skintone. Lately, I use just a BB cream with Insta-Fix under the eyes, around the nose and lips and a bit between the brows to even out my skintone and add a bit more opacity. It’s awesome for travel and late in the day refreshes so I bought a second one to keep in my makeup bag.

I’ve tried a kazillion concealers over the years, but for the past several months I’ve been using Revlon’s Photoready Concealer in Light. It’s that perfect mix of creamy yet dry, so I can apply it, pat it in place, and it doesn’t fade, crease, or slide during the day. I use it under my eyes without it making my eye area look older; the formula is equal to fancy brand concealers I’ve paid twice or three times as much for (and that usually come in a smaller container).

revlon ads from the pastRevlon ColorStay eye shadow has been in my makeup drawer for over a decade. I still mourn the loss of the Neutral Khakis quad (RIP), but currently own Addictive, Adventurous, and Decadent and love how the colors truly stay, even with me constantly rubbing my allergy-prone eyes.

The only cream blush I have had success with is Revlon's Photoready version.  Both Coral Reef (a non-sparkly creamy alternative to NARS Orgasm) and Flushed (a cool pink that can look quite pretty) are in my arsenal and are go-tos when it's hot and sweaty or if I want a less “done” face.

I don’t think I have recommended a makeup product as much as I have Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic. I love this red, it’s a soft wash of color that makes me feel like Snow White, but it can be layered for more impact. It’s also gorgeous when worn over matte lipsticks (like Revlon’s discontinued matte lipcolors) to give a bit of shine without the original color wearing away. I also have this balm stain crayon in Smitten and Adore and always have at least one in my purse because they’re so easy to apply without a mirror (they also make great cheek color in a pinch).

I also love Revlon’s Lacquer Balms. Last summer when I was stuck in a cast up to my armpit, I decided to make the most of the situation and have it wrapped in hot pink. I matched that hot pink with Revlon’s Lacquer Balm in Vivacious and that bright bold pink was my signature color through Labor Day. While many things from my broken arm situation now make me sick to my stomach, I can still whip out Vivacious and feel like a complete badass.

Revlon’s Ultra HD lipsticks are awesome for when you want a super bold pout that is low-maintenance. The color really sticks on, is saturated, but your lips are soft and comfortable and look hydrated. Poinsettia and Gladiolus were my jams this past summer and looked amazing with just a flushed cheek and defined lashes. Another great product for bold lips with moisture is their Moon Drops lipstick. I am sorta in love with the green tube, and regularly pull out Hot Coral or Orange Flip for a bold pout with some summery warmth to it.

Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipgloss is a great alternative to high-end brands. I love applying it over the balm stain or a matte lipstick for some shine, or wearing it alone for weekends or when I have a really intense eye. Rosy Future and Fatal Apple are in my makeup bag at this very instant.

Blog_Revlon_1952_DorianLeigh_FireIce_Avedon_2010_JessicaBiel_MarioTestinoAnd of course the classic, Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipstick. No heavy smell, no drying formula, caps that stay put, bullets that stay strong even when you’re at the bottom of the tube (hello $26 lipsticks that crumble or gets smeary when not even halfway through the lipstick). The colors are true and there’s over 80 to choose from. I have seriously gone to four different big box and drugstores in a day to find different colors, and I likely have over 20 of these lipsticks currently in my possession. Red Lacquer and Certainly Red are regular bright reds that I rock, Cherries in the Snow is a bold pinky-red I adore, Plum Baby and Goldpearl Plum are pinky brownish nudes I regularly wear, and Teak Rose and Rosewine are warmer pinky brownish nudes I wear when I’m sporting more autumnal colors.

As for the other parts of the line, I have owned Revlon lash curlers, tweezers, and scissors and find them high quality. A Revlon brow brush is currently residing in my makeup brush cup and one of their pencil sharpeners is in my dressing table drawer. I don’t buy nailcolor often, but have found Revlon’s formula to rival trendier brands (and have just as cool of colors).

revlon magazine ads over the yearsOver the years, there have been many other Revlon products I have used and loved. But like most cosmetic brands, items (like my mom’s Iceblue Pink lipstick) end up discontinued. While I haven’t been impressed by their mascaras and haven’t tried their liners because I have a HG favorite from another brand, usually if I try anything from the line I end up liking it.

I do find their current target market with the eye and nail art products to be odd and a contrast to the rest of their line. I also wonder with their latest mascara collection’s bright tubes if they’re trying to be CoverGirl. I think what makes Revlon great is that they ARE a classic brand, a brand that focuses on quality, elegant packaging, and wearable color. I wish them the best, and hope they don’t discontinue that which makes them so great.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I’m upset with them for discontinuing the Fig Jam Lip Butter (which I think I heard about here). It was perfect for me. I’m using the “Pink Truffle” but don’t like the color as much.

  2. Reading through the comments it’s interesting the different views. I don’t use Revlon products because they seem to discontinue products frequently. And while I understand keeping up with market trends, it seems hard to find consistent coloring, etc. Like the Revlon Color Stay eyeshadows – why not keep classic shades around (like brown)? So for that reason I quit buying the brand – every time I fell for a product it got discontinued. Their best product was their Color Stay Nail Polish – sold as a kit – small bottle of color and a small bottle of top coat – and that stuff lasted forever on my nails. My preferred drugstore brand is L’Oreal because it provides good quality at a reasonable price point. It doesn’t hurt that I find most of the packaging nice.

  3. I have to admit that Revlon is what I think of as “my mom’s brand,” an unfair association formed way back when I began using make-up as a young teenager. Just as I think of Maybelline and Cover Girl and Wet’n’Wild as teeny-bopper brands, and of Almay as the starter-adult brand and so on.

    I’m sorry to hear they’re struggling, but I do love all the images you’ve included in this post. O, when supermodels roamed the Earth!

  4. I love the photo illustrations for this post. I remember being transfixed by the “unforgettable women” ad campaign. You’ve written before about your choices for green/nontoxic household cleaning supplies, and you also choose conventional cosmetics and skincare rather than the “green”/”natural” versions. I’m curious (not troll-ish/nasty curious, but genuinely curious) about why. Is it cost, quality, ability to make an impulse buy? FWIW, I’ve done the opposite: I choose green/natural cosmetics & skincare, but am more laissez faire about household products. Again, not trying to start a dust-up in the comment section, just truly curious.

    1. That’s a great question! I started with being more green in the house when I was pregnant and had a baby because I wanted to keep her as healthy as possible, and it became a habit. We still use only Dr. Bronner’s, BioKleen, baking soda, and vinegar as our main cleansers and soaps. I have tried more green of skincare, body care, and cosmetics… and I haven’t liked the results. I’ve broken out, my makeup doesn’t last as long, it doesn’t look as good, etc. It costs a lot to keep trying and trying different brands, and now that I am over 40, my skin reacts even more harshly to products. Emerson uses green body and haircare, but over the years I use less. You’re inspiring me to do more. I always talk about the oxygen mask – have to take care of yourself to properly take care of others… I’m big about the right food and products for my daughter but I am more lax when it comes to myself!

  5. At 60, I’ve been a fan of many brands of makeup. I started out with Maybelline then later moved on to Revlon. Now, I wear trendier brands of mascara, face powder and stay on lip color, but my all time favorite shade of lipstick is right here in my handbag….#640 Super Lustrous Blackberry creme. It is my favorite because it lasts, shines just right and looks fabulous on my skin tone, if I do say so myself. I hope they come out of their slump, as I would hate to lose my favorite brand of lipstick. I wish them luck.

  6. As someone who has had MUCH exposure to department store brands (I worked for Lancome, I have friends who work for Estee Lauder, and my mom sells MK), nothing beats Revlon Colorstay Overtime Liquid Lipcolor. The ONLY lipstick I use in place is another Wardrobe Oxygen find, Elixery lipsticks http://www.elixery.com/. I prefer Elixery because they are a “mom and pop” business, made in the US, organic, and they are AMAZING (honestly best tube of lipstick I have ever owned). But for a long-lasting formula and/or drugstore brand, NOTHING beats Revlon Colorstay Overtime Liquid Lipcolor.

  7. The Colorstay liner pencil is excellent, but I am with you–my HG liner is Smashbox Always Sharp in 3D Sparks and Night Gems, because it’s a softer look and easier to keep close to the lash line.
    I love Super Lustrous lipsticks, and I, too, have scoured drugstores and big box stores (and Ulta) for the right shade. As the Beautypedia says, if you can’t find a shade you like, maybe lipstick isn’t for you.
    It has no fragrance, so it’s not irritating!

  8. Confession: I’m 34 and have hardly tried any Revlon products. I’ve tried their lip butters and while they’re nice, I’m not a huge fan (not enough to make me stop buying Maybelline). Not to be offensive to anyone who knows and loves their products but it’s always struck me as “older” woman’s brand of make-up. I agree they don’t want to be too trendy but their packaging has never appealed to me, nor has their commercials or print ads. I much prefer Cover Girl or Maybelline (I typically use Maybelline though). I do think they could use a bit of a make over. Similar to what Ann Taylor did to themselves. They kept their classic style but freshened themselves up to broaden their market. I think Revlon could/should do much the same. Don’t lose your longtime customers and completely overhaul the brand but do freshen it up.

    1. Not offensive at all, thank you for sharing your perspective! I’ve always felt like Almay and L’Oreal were “older” brands (think L’Oreal for the smell of their lipsticks and that brass colored case) and while I love CoverGirl mascaras, I have never had success with Maybelline (and since I am 40, it also reminds me of my tween years when I would buy Great Lash in the different colors and the matching eye shadows). A friend shared that she wonders if its also regional, that Revlon may be more popular on the East Coast than other parts of the countries? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it helps me understand the article more!

      1. Funny you mention the L’Oreal lipstick smell. L’Oreal lipstick is about the only brand that *doesn’t* smell bad to me. Smell is so individual! In comparison, much pricier Estee Lauder lipstick smelled awful and went bad quickly. I liked Givenchy, too, but that’s not something I’m going to spend the money on, given how infrequently I wear lipstick.

  9. I also am a long time Revlon user. As I became financially secure I had love affairs with high-end department store brands, but over the years I have found Revlon to be my familiar “old love.” I am a huge fan of the Colorstay foundation, now using the dry skin formula. The best ever foundation, an “Active” name and formulation in a tube, was discontinued several years ago. The skin finish on that product was phenomenal and true to name, it stayed lovely during active workouts and summer visits to Disney World. My biggest disappointment is the quality of their mascaras as I find they all flake and smudge during the day. And I would love an eyeliner recommendation from the line, one that would not smear and transfer to my eyelids. I find Revlon to be readily available and reasonably priced, with a selection of colors to satisfy any need. I am sad to learn they are not doing well!

    1. I haven’t tried one of their mascaras in years because they in the past always failed me and I gave up. I got a chance to review some eye pencils from them a couple years ago but they’re discontinued. They were fine, nothing dramatically different from any other run of the mill pencil. I haven’t tried any of their other liners.

  10. I’m a devotee of the nail polish. The colors are great and long lasting and the bottle NEVER TIPS OVER. Plus the brush is nice and long. Essie and Opi and all the rest are top heavy and seem to get clumpy very fast. The Revlon colors don’t turn over as rapidly as the others, but they have a really big range, from classics to Halloween shades.

    1. They are also more reasonably priced. More often than not I get rid of nail polish because it’s gone bad or I’m tired of the color than that I’ve used it all up. Since they all seem to go bad about the same, why pay more?

  11. LIP BUTTERS! I’m not a big lipstick person because they usually taste or smell funny to me, but I love tinted balms, and the Revlon Lip Butter texture is exactly what I’ve always wanted in a tinted balm. I hand them out to girlfriends having a birthday, ask my husband to put them in my Christmas stocking, use any sale as an excuse to stock up. Plus, they’re a great gateway to makeup for skittish friends who want to look polished, but natural. LOVE!

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