My mom has fallen victim to nearly every multi-level marketing scheme that’s come to fruition. She’s bought thousands of dollars worth of Pampered Chef, PartyLite, Arbonne, Mary Kay, Younique, Plexis, and Young Living products. She’s dragged me to dozens of her friends’ parties for these brands. At one point, she even became a Scentsy consultant just so she could buy hordes of scented wax at a discount.
So I was not at all surprised to find a massive stash of LipSense products, that weird all-day lip stain all your Facebook friends are selling, in her makeup drawer when I visited over the Fourth of July.
So I decided to try it for myself. Here’s what happened.
I started with a shade simply called “Nude.” The first thing that hit me was the horrible smell. The product smells like nail polish. It also burns my lips like I would imagine applying nail polish on my lips would. You also have to shake it thoroughly before applying, just like nail polish. The eerie similarities of a lip product to nail polish were not lost on me. The c-word (cancer) was looming in the back of my mind throughout this entire experience, although a dermatologist told Refinery 29 the product shouldn’t be irritating or harmful.
I have naturally dark lips — they are almost a reddish plum color without any products — so this shade didn’t really show up even after four coats.
My mom tried to warn me about waiting until each layer was completely dry before applying another coat, but I didn’t listen. She was right, of course — whenever I applied a new layer over an existing, not-quite-dry coat, it took some off. These nine-step directions I found later explained what was happening rather well.
You know when you draw with a dry erase marker? If you go over the same spot twice, the first layer will lift a little bit? It’s very similar with LipSense. Try not to layer the passes until they’re completely dry!
The second time I tried it, I took this advice more seriously, and decided to opt for a shade that was a bit darker.
From start to finish, it took about 40 minutes to apply. I painted my toes and filled out an insurance claim form while waiting for layers to dry.
You also have to top it off with a special top coat to seal it all in and to make it not look goopy and weird.
My mom tells me that it gets easier to apply with time. She’s been using it for several months now and is a pro. It only takes her a few minutes, and her lips look perfect all day long. So I’m sure if I continued to practice, I could cut down the application time.
Here’s the final result. Please ignore the derpy face I’m making — the top coat was still drying and I had to hold my mouth open a bit or risk smudging nearly an hour’s worth of work.
It looks fine. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of this shade. It looks pretty close to what my lips look like on their own. If I were to try LipSense again, I would opt for a much bolder shade, like this one.
Here’s what you really need to know: all of the viral claims are true. It really does stay in place all day. You can eat (or kiss) and it won’t smudge. When you drink a glass of water, no lipstick comes off. It’s totally insane.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a video. You can find dozens more exactly like this one by searching “LipSense doesn’t come off” on YouTube.
All of these benefits, however, make the removal process killer.
You have to use a special remover product, which smells and feels like a combination of vaseline and paint thinner. I lathered this on all over my lips, rubbed them together, then scrubbed hard with a makeup remover wipe. When I looked in the mirror, the product had barely budged. I did this three more times.
Bottom line: LipSense really does stay in place as well as everyone says it does. But I’m not sure the benefit of all-day lip color is worth the hassle of applying, burning sensations, torturous removal process, and the chapped lips fterwards. It’s also pretty expensive. Each tube is about $25, which isn’t terrible. But one must have the special top coat and the special remover to make it work. So even just to try it will put someone out $75.
My dental hygienist is hooked on LipSense. After my mom showed it to her a few months ago, she bought several tubes and has been using it every day. When I asked her if the burning sensation or the smell bother her, she said yes, but it’s worth it because the hygienic mask she has to wear all day doesn’t take any of it off. It stays in place all day long and doesn’t smear all over her face, like other products often did, under her mask.
If I were a surgeon or a dentist, I would probably use LipSense too. But alas, I’m a reporter who works from home most days. I don’t have to wear a mask and can re-apply lip colors whenever I please. For me, LipSense just isn’t worth it.