It’s an agonising choice before a trip • risking the duty free shop to find the exact lip colour you like in order to make a saving on your expensive Chanel, Dior, or YSL lipstick, or playing safe and heading to your favourite department store to be sure to get exactly what you want, but lose out on a bargain.
There is no easy answer, but these days, you can play your cards right if you do a bit of planning. Many airport websites now give you direct telephone numbers of their stores so you can ring up to find out if the lip shades and brands you like will be in store on the day you travel.
And, of course, you can get the prices too; handy if you want to make sure you are going to make a big enough saving to make it worth your while.
The other positive is that colour cosmetics is a boom area within beauty and that means more duty free shops are expanding in the segment. Lipsticks, lip glosses and make up are growing at a faster rate than some other beauty categories which means that more brands and more lines and shades are making their way into airport and ferry outlets.
For example, at the high end Tom Ford now has his highly coveted Private Blend Lip Colour Collection of just 12 colours available at a few select locations around the world including London Heathrow (where each stick costs £29.75 at World Duty Free compared with £35 in the domestic market) and Dubai International Airport. Another brand that takes lips seriously, but for a lot less dosh, is Los Angeles studio cosmetics house Smashbox. It has been expanding fast in duty free and its creations extend to lip primers and plumpers, glosses and double-ended pencils to first fill in and then finish. Prices can also be very good value when buying in sets: its Softbox Collection of six glosses is just $29.
Classic brands have also been investing in updating their formulas and image. Among the best revamps is Wanted Rouge from Helena Rubinstein whose modern one-click mechanism is built into a tube designed to look like it has ribbon-ties. It is a perfect blend of modernity with classicism, the ribbon ties evoking the design elements of the Wanted fragrance from the same house. Estée Lauder meanwhile relaunched its Pure Colour franchise in March 2011 with a line up of 28 shades from Creative Makeup Director Tom Pecheux, 15 of which are described as ‘intensely pigmented’.
And Lancôme has been doing its homework on women’s lips around the world. Before launching its latest line called L’Absolu Nu in 12 shades, it claims to have determined an ethnicity-specific Lip Beauty Index based on a study of preferences of more than 3,000 women from four ethnicities (Caucasian, Asian, Afro-American and Hispanic).
Meanwhile brands such as MAC have increasingly been opening larger and larger airport locations • some standalone • where in-store theatre and makeovers are guaranteed to get you to buy more than just the lipstick you nipped in for. MAC has always been super creative in the colour stories it invents throughout the year and it showcases them extremely well, so be prepared to be tempted by matching cheek colour or eye highlights to complement your favourite lip shades • or opt for a totally new look perhaps.
Then there are more country specific brands: if you are shopping in an airport in a German-speaking market look out for Artdeco which has a very wide range that includes lip liners and correctors. And if you are passing through Italian airports Collistar too is a brand to try. Both of them are mid-priced but even less expensive lip pampering can be had from brands such as Bourjois and Revlon.
Red may still be the lip colour of choice for most women, but make-up colour stories are now so daring that almost any hue is a possibility these days • and consumers are less bashful in trying them. That also applies to lip glosses. Once they were just about putting a bit of shine and lustre on lips, but now they can also add sparkle, glitter, pearlescent or lacquer finishes, or extra plump and pout, thanks to the latest formulations and fashions.
A last word of advice: lipstick ingredients are also becoming more advanced and many brands are now marketing their lip products as ‘skincare for lips’ because they include such ingredients as SPFs, collagen, vitamins, moisturisers and a slew of anti-aging complexes. Weigh up the real necessity of such extras in relation to the cost, before you buy • wrinkle-free lips are a nice idea, but depending on the shade you are wearing, and the gloss overlay, who is really going to notice?