Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Hunt For The Perfect Lipstick -- Tangee Natural

Sorry about no lipstick reviews on Monday or Tuesday. It's a long story involving a dead ceiling fan, a crappy controller module in the canopy, a night of manic rewiring, one accidental touch of a live wire, and two falls off an 8-foot ladder (none from the very top, fortunately), none of which is even remotely interesting.

Instead, how about a review of something slightly off-kilter...the original Tangee Lipstick, "The Lipstick That Changes Color To Become Uniquely Your Own"!

The short review: The prototype "mood lipstick" has some good qualities, actually, but at nearly $15 a tube, there are better choices and cheaper versions available.

Longer review follows the jump-cut...

Candidate: Tangee Natural Lipstick (manufactured for and distributed by The Vermont Country Store)

Purchased: The Vermont Country Store

Cost: $14.95 per tube

Brand Info:
Tangee's "Uniquely your own" lipstick is the 1930's prototype for what would become known in later years as "mood lipstick". Mood lipstick, of course, isn't "mood" related at all; it's a wax/lanolin/moisturizer base with pigments that react to skin temperature and pH to create the "unique" color. Kids from the 70s and 80s will remember "green lipstick" (which tended to turn fuschia), but Tangee was the first and the most well-known. It left the market in the 60s, but was revived by the Orton family, who own the online nostalgia product site "The Vermont Country Store". Today, Tangee produces a line of cosmetics exclusively for VCS, and the centerpiece is the revival of Tangee Natural. No review of lipsticks would be complete without some mention of it.

The Tube: Black lacquer obelisk-like boxy tube. The join between lid and base meets at a strong and wide gold metallic band. The "Tangee" cursive logo is embossed on the tube in gold paint. The bottom has a white sticker with black print that spells out the color ("Natural") and the manufacturer ("The Vermont Country Store"), with VCS's 1-800 ordering number in print so small you need a jeweler's loupe to read it.

The Product: With a name like Tangee? Take a guess. O.K., time's up. It's tangerine orange, almost day-glo. Traditional bullet shape product with a delivery point at the tip that resembles...well, it resembles a woman's fingernail. Really. I'm not kidding.

The Application: ChapStick. No edges to aid in corner tailoring at all. That said, it does cover really well, and the color change happens almost instantly. In my case, it turns rubelite pink (which is a really reddish pink). It's shiny, but that shine fades pretty much as soon as it starts to warm up and be absorbed into the skin (again, think ChapStick).

The Taste: Grandma's cosmetic drawer. Seriously, think old-style cosmetics, with that odd blend of tastes (waxy, lotiony, strangely perfumy). I've read that the taste is almost exactly the same as when it was first around.

The Blot: The first blot barely even stains the tissue. Forget a second blot.

The Wear: Believe it or not, it does last. The color stays long after the product has absorbed into your lips or come off on your coffee cup. Which means you'd better hope you've got the right pH to turn this color into something you'll be happy wearing, because hon, it stays on until you take it off with cold cream/makeup remover. It does make a really good lip balm, however.

The Verdict: Mood lipsticks are a fun thing. Want something different? Try a mood lipstick. Want just a little color in your lip balm? Try a mood lipstick. Want something that you won't see coming at you on everybody else's lips as you pass the cosmetic counter? Try a mood lipstick. Want to save money? Don't buy Tangee Naturals. Seriously, your local dollar store probably has one that's just as good for a mere fraction of the price. Unless you're just really nostalgic for the lipstick Grandma used, save your money.

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