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I Tried It So You Don't Have To: Color Changing Lipsticks

I am notoriously lazy when it comes to any sort of beauty routine. The concept of reapplying makeup makes zero sense to me—I'd much rather only have to put it on once and forget about it for the rest of the day. Eyelid primer takes care of my eyeshadow, but I've had a devil of a time finding a lip product with that kind of staying power. Lipstick wears off easily and is too drying. Lipstain markers come off when I layer lip balm over them (which is often, especially in the winter). Tinted balms don't stay put, either, and using lip primer doesn't seem to make a difference one way or the other.

Then, I saw an article a while back about "henna lipstick". Supposedly, this green wonder product reacts to your skin chemistry to produce your perfect lip shade. It also is supposed to be super-long wearing and transfer proof.


Intrigued, I did some digging. As it turns out, the concept of color-changing, indelible lipstick is nothing new. It's been around since the 1920s, when Tangee lipstick first came on the market. You can actually still buy Tangee today, and as far as I'm aware their formula hasn't changed at all over the years. The secret ingredient hasn't, either—it's Red Dye #27, which is colorless until it hits moisture. In fact, every single "magic" lipstick on the market has the same secret ingredient. None of these lipsticks are intelligent enough to adjust to your skin tone, by the way. What's actually happening is that they're leaving a light stain, and leaving it up to your existing skin and lip tone to do the work.

The promise of lip color that I wouldn't have to reapply was too much to pass up, however, and I ended up getting several brands to see if there was a clear winner among them.

(From left to right: Lioele L'Cret Miracle Magic in Sexy Red, L'Paige in Blue/Yellow Combo, Beauty Treats in Black, Fran Wilson Moodmatcher in Orange, Hare Moroccan Magic in Green)


(Swatches, left to right: Lioele, L'Paige blue, L'Paige yellow, Beauty Treats, Fran Wilson, Hare)


You might be wondering why, if all of the lipsticks have the same dye in them, they all appear to swatch as different colors. That's because there are tints in the lipstick base that affect the final color. These wear out pretty quickly, though—after about 15 minutes or so the Lioele, blue L'Paige, and the Hare all looked virtually the same.

Lioele is a Korean brand best known for their BB creams. This lipstick differs from the others in that it's supposedly SPF 14, and each color has a different scent. I chose the Sexy Red (their name, not mine), which is rose-scented and supposed to change from a pink color to a classic red. Unfortunately, it doesn't deliver on that last part—what I ended up with was a deep pink, only slightly darker than the original base color. Pretty, but not the elusive perfect red lipstick I was hoping for. The Lioele base is also rather greasy, but is weirdly dry on my lips. It takes longer than the other ones to set, too, but the staying power is pretty good. That scent, by the way? Dissipates quickly, but makes the lipstick taste like perfume.


Next up is the L'Paige, an American brand out of Texas. What's neat about these ones is that they make "split" tubes, so you can try out two colors for the price of one. I opted for the blue (color change to mauve) and yellow (color change to coral).

I was really disappointed with this one. It takes almost as long as the Lioele to set, it's just as drying as your average long-wear lipstick, the glitter in the base is gritty on my lips, and—worst of all—the staying power is awful. After about 3 hours, the only color left was on the outside edges of my mouth.


Beauty Treats is another American brand, this time based out of LA. They do a couple different sets of "magic" lipsticks, one with the gold graphic print (as shown above) and one with a floral print. There doesn't seem to be any discernable difference between the two sets other than the packaging. The "black" is actually a dark purple, which changes to a deep berry color.

This one isn't bad at all. It's fairly moisturizing, sets quickly, and has decent staying power—about 8 hours or so. It does fade some after the initial application, but it does so evenly, unlike the L'Paige. This one's probably my second favorite formulation overall.


Fran Wilson is another American brand, and the only one that's actually made in America (the L'Paige is made in Taiwan, and Beauty Treats is made in China). The "Moodmatcher" name is a holdover from when these were still marketed as "mood lipsticks" in the 70s and 80s. They have the largest selection out of all of the brands, and their website allows you to try the colors on virtually. I chose the orange, which changes to a reddish-coral.

This one is very similar to the L'Paige, but sets a little quicker and is more moisturizing. After about a half an hour, though, it starts to feel plasticky and weird. It has the exact same weak staying power, topping out at about three hours, even though they're marketed as 12-hour lipsticks. I like this one a little better than the L'Paige, though not by much.


Finally, we have the one that started this whole thing, the Hare Moroccan Magic. This is the one that was covered in the ManRepeller post, and while it seems to be very popular in both Morocco and Qatar, I can't find any evidence of where the company operates from, or any other products they have for sale. The lipsticks are manufactured in Taiwan, and come in 6 colors, though the green is usually the only one you can buy individually—if you want any of the other colors, you have to buy a set of all 6.

This lipstick, by the way? Entirely worth the hype.

I did not know it was possible to love a lipstick before this one came into my life. The green changes to a bright pink, which is easily toned down by layering a nude tinted balm over top. It is crazy moisturizing—the only lip product I don't need to immediately top with lip balm, which for me is unheard of—sets immediately, and is the only one of the "magic" lipsticks that actually has the advertised staying power. I wake up the next morning with this stuff still on, no lie.


Words cannot adequately express how awesome this stuff is, and I heavily recommend it. Because life is too damn short to keep touching up your makeup.

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