This Frosted Cranberry Matte Lip & Cheek Colour is really neat; it’s a hybrid between a matte liquid lipstick and a lip stain. It has a creamy consistency that dries down to a powdery, transfer-resistant finish. Richly coloured, it both wears and re-applies well, and it’s comfortable to boot. Hooray!
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I’ve been experimenting with a variety of liquid-lipstick-type formulations for years. After many iterations and trying quite a few well-reviewed commercially made ones, I’ve concluded that I’m not a big fan of matte liquid lipstick. I mostly don’t like how dry and uncomfortable they are; the dryness is a big part of the “matte” look, and if you apply lip balm or gloss over top of a matte liquid lipstick, that added fat breaks down the film former and reduces the wear time. I also find they don’t wear as long (or as well) as I want if I’m expected to put up with that level of discomfort. I’ve tried formulations from Smashbox, Pat McGrath, Maybelline, NYX, Fenty, and more, and yeah… I don’t think this style of lipstick is my jam.
This Frosted Cranberry Matte Lip & Cheek Colour was originally planned to be mostly a cream/liquid blush that could double as a lip tint. However, once I applied the first draft to my lips I immediately fell in love with the rich cream-to-powder finish and the soft, lived-in look of the colour and knew I had to commit to this formulation being a full lip and cheek deal.
The bulk of this formulation is TKB Trading’s Mousse Medium base for an easy, slippy, blendable, transfer-resistant formulation chassis (a functional base, basically). I also included some Film Fix for improved transfer resistance. Powdery, silky sericite mica and kaolin clay give this formulation its gorgeous cream-to-powder skin feel as well as boosting viscosity, and a titch of ultra-slippy silicone elastomer levels up the formulation with improved slip and richness.
The colour in this formulation comes from lip-safe dry/powdered pigments and dyes. My early experiments (the ones that were meant to be blush first, lip tint second) used dyes that had been pre-dispersed in castor oil, but once I decided this was going to be a primarily lips formulation I switched to the un-oiled powdered dyes. Oils and fats break down the film formers in this formulation; the trimethylsiloxysilicate in the Mousse Medium and the Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer in the Film Fix, and film former breakdown = shorter wear time. This is another reason liquid lipsticks are drying—they can’t contain much (if any) oil because oil damages performance, and if you add oil on top (in the form of lip balm/gloss/etc.) that also decreases wear time.
Wear-wise… I’m tempted to say “you’ve got to try it to get it!”, but obviously that’s not super helpful 😂 I’d say it looks more like a lip stain than a liquid lipstick on the lips, especially if you blend it out with a fingertip. It really reminds me of Korean lip stains, with a beautiful diffuse, soft, lived-in look (though you can really build it up if you want to!). Thanks to the Mousse Medium and Film Fix it is transfer-resistant, but not fully transfer-proof. This allows it to wear off more evenly than most liquid lipsticks I’ve tried, so while it doesn’t stay on as long as a liquid lipstick, you don’t end up with a brightly coloured rim and a naked inner lip—it’s more of a gradient. Comfort-wise, I’d put it somewhere between a liquid lipstick and a lip stain, leaning closer to a lip stain (which I think is a good thing!).
I recommend packaging this formulation in a doe-foot/wand tube rather than a squeeze tube. It’s quite potent, and I think a squeeze tube would make it difficult to “dose” well. I used 5mL black doe-foot tubes from TKB Trading in the video, and some now-discontinued 3mL ones from YellowBee during development (they’re the frosted ones you see in the photos).
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Relevant links & further reading
- TKB Mousse Medium in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Isododecane (and) Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer (TKB Film Fix) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sericite Mica in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Kaolin Clay in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Silicone Elastomer (Dimethyl Siloxane Elastomer, Fumed Silica) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Carmine in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- More lip & cheek colour formulations:
- More Frosted Cranberry formulations:
Frosted Cranberry Matte Lip & Cheek Colour
1.1g | 5.5% dry pigment
Weigh the base ingredients into a small cup or screw-top jar (choose something with a well-fitting lid if you are planning on storing the base to use over a period of days/weeks/months) and stir very thoroughly to combine (I used a micro mixer to ensure an extra-thorough blend, but hand stirring is fine). Once the mixture is uniform, that’s it—that’s the cream-to-powder matte base!
To transform the base into the final product you’ll need to add dry pigments/dyes. I chose to divide my batch of the base into four so I could create four different colours:
4.725g | 94.5% Cream-to-Powder Matte Base
0.275g | 5.5% carmine
Just weigh everything out and stir it until smooth. That’s it! The TKB Trading 5mL black doe-foot tubes have really wide openings so they’re pretty easy to fill—watch the video to see that in action.
To use—I like to dab a small amount of product onto my lips and cheeks and blend out with a fingertip. Please watch the video to see this in action!
Shelf Life & Storage
This formulation should last for approximately one year. The base is formulated to allow for additions of up to 50%, and is preserved with that in mind.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this formulation in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 20g, which will fill four 5mL tubes.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- Please don’t change anything in the base formulation. If you do, you will be firmly in re-development territory.
- You can learn more about working with Mousse Medium by clicking here.
- You can use whatever blend of lip-safe oxides/pigments to create all kinds of colours! I find dyes have the longest wear. Don’t use the ones pre-dispersed in oil as the oil decreases wear time.
- You could definitely experiment with including micas as well! Have fun with it.
The mousse medium, silicone elastomer, and doe-foot tubes were gifted by TKB Trading. Links to TKB Trading are affiliate links.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.