Lipstick isn’t a huge part of my everyday makeup routine, mainly because it’s always been a constant struggle for me to keep it looking fresh. On a daily basis I bite my lips, sip tea, snack, etc, to the point that I find myself doing touch-ups or re-applying almost every hour.
I do however love the look of lipstick. I’ve just been waiting for the day when someone would finally invent lip color that lasted – truly lasted – through all the wear and tear of my daily routine. I never actually thought that day would come, but sure enough, I started to see reviews for new ‘smear-proof’, long-lasting lipsticks (starting with Youtube Beauty Blogger Tati’s review of the Lip Ink kits). Then I discovered LipSense by SeneGence through Instagram, and after checking out their huge color selection and ingredient-conscious formulations, I decided to give it a try – here is my honest review and first experience using the LipSense Starter Kit.
What is LipSense?
LipSense by Senegence is said to be a smear-proof, water-proof, budge-proof, kiss-proof, long-wear lipstick. Its lasting abilities are a result of Senegence’s patented super-adhesive lip color formula, a multi-layered lip color process, and sealing ‘top coats’ (aka glosses).
The Lipsense collection of colors and glosses is quite expansive. There are currently 70+ shades of the Lipsense Long Lasting Liquid Lip Colors available, plus a number of topcoat gloss options (including matte, rose, pearl, glitter, and even diamond finishes). And because of the 2-3 step layering process, they give you the option to combine different colors and create completely unique shades and combos.
Lipsense lip colors also contain cosmetic-grade alcohol, which has two benefits: 1) it prevents bacteria build-up in the product tubes, and 2) it exfoliates your lips and removes build-up leftover from other products (enough so that it supposedly restores and revitalizes your lips after 1-4 weeks of using the product daily). And finally, their products are vegan and cruelty-free.
LipSense’s Application Instructions
The key to Lipsense’s long-lasting abilities is partly in the whole layering process. Three coats of lip color (two for lighter colors) is what Senegence recommends. Add the gloss on top to further lock in the color as well as provide moisture, and you’ve got a (somewhat length) application process that goes something like this:
- Prep lips by cleansing them – removing any lip balm or other leftover products.
- Begin by applying the Lipsense lip color, in three thin coats (allowing each layer a few seconds to dry in between). Swipe the brush from one corner of the lip to the other without rubbing the applicator back and forth.
- Finish with a topcoat gloss to seal in the color and also hydrate the lips.
- Clean up any mistakes with the Ooops! Remover.
Shop the LipSense starter set…
Is the Oops! Remover Absolutely Necessary?
The Oops! Remover can be used to 1) correct any application mistakes and 2) remove the lip color at the end of the day. However, from my experience, it’s not absolutely necessary. I’ve found that regular soap and water, and even your standard makeup wipes work just as well (I’ve had luck with both Clean & Clear’s wipes and Dickinson’s wipes). You can also get away with using a Q-tip and some soap and water to fix minor mistakes during the application process. The Oops! Remover does however come in handy if you travel a lot and/or frequently apply your lipstick on-the-go.
My LipSense Review
For my first go, I tried out LipSense’s Starter Kit, which came with one Long Lasting Liquid Lip Color (I picked the shade Plumeria), along with a clear Moisturizing Gloss and the Oops! Remover.
The Application Process
Since I’m more of a lip balm/tint wearer, I initially found the whole LipSense application process to be a bit difficult. It took me some time to get used to drawing in my lips not only neatly, but also in one quick swipe. (Why is this so important? Because the lip color starts out sticky, and if you run the brush over the same spot a second time before it dries, it can lift off some of the product and create a patchy look.)
After some practice, I came up with a system: First, I’ll angle the lip color wand along one side of my cupid’s bow, and then swipe out to the corner of my lips. Then I’ll do the exact same thing with the other side. Finally, I’ll do one quick swipe along the bottom lip (the easy part). I’ll repeat these steps to build up coats, moving the wand closer in with each step to cover the middle of my lips.
The good news is that even if you don’t get the first layer right, most of the lip colors are so opaque that you can easily make corrections with the next layer, or third layer. (And any out-of-line mistakes can be fixed with the Oops! Remover/soap+water once you’re all done.) Sometimes I’ll even cheat a bit and dab the color on my lips with the wand and then (quickly – like within 1-2 seconds) smooth it out with my finger. Surprisingly, this works just fine and still gives me even coverage.
Also, I don’t always use the full 3 coats. Sometimes I’ll do 1-2 coats with the lighter shades (like Cappuccino, Apple Cider, and First Love) since they tend to be more pigmented. Or, occasionally I’ll use 1-2 if I just want sheerer coverage (however, as you might expect, this does shorten their wear time).
What Are the Formulas Like?
The formula of the LipSense Long Lasting Liquid Lip Color is that of a liquid lipstick, only a little thinner and runnier. It’s also quite sticky due to the product’s adhesive ingredients. After the full 2-3 coats (plus a top coat), as you might expect, the wear isn’t the most comfortable (nothing like the cushiony, lightweight feel of the Anastasia Beverley Hills or Kat Von D’s liquid lipsticks, if you happen to have tried them out). However, after some experimenting, I discovered that by applying the thinnest and least amount of coats possible (but still enough for full coverage), you can get the feeling of almost weightless wear. The lip color is also surprisingly flexible, and easily moves with your lips as your stretch them out without cracking.
One important thing to note is that all LipSense lip colors contain cosmetic grade alcohol to prevent the growth of bacteria in your tubes. This can cause unpleasant side effects if you have dry or chapped lips. Just like putting alcohol on a wound, you’ll feel a slight tingling/burning sensation when the alcohol comes in contact with any broken skin, which typically lasts around 5-10 seconds. To prevent this, it’s important to take extra care of your lips – that means always keeping your lips moisturized and smooth.
Now to the top coats. Their main purpose is to seal in the lip color, but they also provide a healthy dose of hydration that supposedly penetrates through the lip color to reach your lips. They can even be used alone to add shine and moisturize the lips, as they’re formulated similar to a balm. All the glossy top coats provide these benefits (Matte being the only exception), but probably the most hydrating gloss is the Moisturizing (or “Glossy”) Gloss which comes with all starter kits just for that reason.
LipSense Wear Test
Impressively, upon the initial application, the LipSense lip color is completely kiss-proof, smudge-proof, and waterproof, just as it claims. During the first 3-4 hours of wear, it was bulletproof and lasted through drinking, talking, and even a few quick smooches – with no transferring.
Even after 5-6 hours, the color was still looking as fresh as when I had first applied it. The gloss, however, had pretty much worn off and I was starting to notice a little bit of flaking around the corners of my lips. (I later learned that this is part of the natural exfoliation process that occurs when you first start using LipSense, and it eventually stops once the formula has removed all the dry skin/build up from wax-based products.)
It wasn’t until 8 hours later, just after a large and greasy meal, that the lip color really started to break down around the inner part of my lip. If you think about it, that sort of makes sense since the lipstick remover itself is in fact oil-based – so how do you avoid this? I contacted my distributor and she gave me this tip – apply the topcoat/gloss just prior to eating, as it helps create a barrier between the food and minimize fading.
Wearing the LipSense Long Lasting Liquid Lip Color in ‘Plumeria’ + Moisturizing gloss. Plumeria is a bright red-pink with some blue tones.
Initial application of the LipSense lip color in “Plumeria” + Gloss
First sign of significant wear after around 8 hours, following a large and greasy meal. Most of the color lasted, expect for the very inner part of my lips. However, we’re definitely in need of another coat/re-application here!
Lesson Learned – Wear the Gloss!
After continuing to test out LipSense for a full week, I learned that the key to making the color last all day is the top coat gloss – it needs applied frequently – every 4-5 hours or so. It’s not just there to add shine and re-hydrate – it really does help to coat and protect the base layers of color for longer wear.
So Does LipSense Really Last All Day?
You may have come across reviews (typically from distributors) where they share photos of their LipSense lasting all day – sometimes going as far as wearing while they sleep, brush their teeth, and then some, just to prove how long it lasts. But how realistic is this? In my case, average wear time is typically anywhere from 6-12 hours, and tends to vary based on a few factors, including:
- how often I eat and drink throughout the day (and also the type of food I eat – greasy/oily foods can be a little risky)
- how often I re-apply the gloss top coat (I try to aim for 5-6 hours, and always apply right before meals)
- how much wax, dry skin, and build-up is on my lips (which is why it’s important to apply LipSense to clean, exfoliated lips)
Final Thoughts on LipSense
Overall, LipSense lipstick definitely does rank as one of the longer-wearing lipsticks currently on the market. What is most impressive to me is that it lasts through touching, rubbing, chatting, and drinking once it’s initially set, and outlasts all my other lipsticks.
The only downsides to LipSense, in my opinion, are that:
- The formula isn’t the most comfortable to wear (but applying the thinnest coats possible seems to solve this).
- Frequent re-glossing is a must.
- The application process can be somewhat lengthy (and also take some practice, especially if you’re a lip balm-wearer, or swipe-and-go kinda gal like myself).
All-in-all though, as more of a minimalist when it comes to makeup, I don’t wear Lipsense everyday purely because of the application process (sometimes I just want a ‘swipe-and-go’ kinda lip product, especially on busy mornings). However, for special occasions and going out, that’s when I’ll reach for my Lipsense. It performs amazingly well whenever I’m out having drinks and/or a light meal. Not to mention, it gives me peace of mind knowing that it’s not going to smear all over my martini glass. And 9 times out of 10, it will stay put and look 100% fresh after an entire evening out. 🙂
Lipsense can be purchased from a Senegence distributor.
Tip: You can also find discontinued & discounted colors over on Amazon and eBay (where retired distributors often sell off their leftover stock)
Update – New Colors!
I ended up ordering a few more colors and glosses from Senegence after my initial test run, and thought I’d update this post with two of my favorite everyday-wearable combos!
Lipsense in Violette with Orchid Gloss top coat
Lipsense in Caramel Apple with Orchid Gloss top coat
And here’s my (still growing) collection after several months and how I store them.
I found this very sturdy acrylic organizer on Amazon that fits 23 tubes total. I love that it also conveniently shows all the lipstick labels! (You can also find some pretty unique Lipsense display cases over on Etsy.)
Shop lipstick organizers…
Have you tried Lipsense?
What are your thoughts on Lipsense’s formula and longevity?