Everyone who knows me knows that I take my red-lipstick obsession extremely seriously. If lipstick had as terrifying an expiration date as mascara or eyeliner, the drawer(s) in which I hold the majority of my collection would have a chance (not counting the rotating rack of rogue tubes in various handbags). Lipstick, as I’ve said before, is “one of my most precious and powerful tools.” That’s why any time a brand releases a new red, I have to try it. After all, no two are the same. Each is filled with nuance—a blue tone here, a slight shimmer there, a velvety formula, or a bulletproof matte. It’s sometimes difficult for me to name an all-time favorite. I love them all. It’s more of a flavor of the week or a list that I’m always adding to.
However, my latest red-lipstick crush stands out for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being that it’s made from the newly launched Kolorete Cosmetics, the first Filipino co-founded lipstick company in the U.S. In the past few years, I, being Filipino, have made an effort to seek out and support Filipino-owned beauty brands, such as my skincare faves Prim Botanicals and Pili Ani. But when it comes to makeup—lipstick, in particular—there aren’t really any available in the U.S. just yet. That’s why I was so excited to learn about Kolorete, which was founded by Johanna Vizmanos, who is originally from the Philippines, and her business partner, Angela Weinberg.
When I asked Vizmanos about the brand’s origin story, she told me that it was her lifelong dream to start her own lipstick brand. “Four years ago, when I moved to the United States from the Philippines, the very first thing that I noticed was the lack of Filipino representation in the beauty industry considering that, statistically, Filipinos are the second-largest Asian group in this country,” she said. This inspired the name of the brand, as kolorete means lipstick in Tagalog.
“By seeing Kolorete in the field, I aspire every Filipino, especially immigrants like me, to stand proud, pursue their dreams, and feel they belong in whichever country they choose to settle in,” she added. The brand’s mission is all about “changing the way that luxury looks” and is focused on inclusivity, representation, and recognition for everyone.
At first glance, I was impressed at how stunning the tube is. There’s just something about a gold lipstick tube that looks elegant and reminiscent of Old Hollywood glamour. Just call me Marie Monroe—or better yet, Marie Mansfield! It’s also sturdy and well-made, which makes me think I can toss it in my bag without having to worry about it getting banged up. The shade I tried, Red Manhattan, is rich and pigmented; the perfect classic red that I don’t have to think twice about.
There are currently three other shades, including Boracay Sunset, a clay orange named after an island in the Philippines; Bordeaux, a berry red; and Marrakech Red Clay, a brownish red-orange shade.
As for the formula, well, it’s all in the name. Lipstick Balm is already a good hint that I’m not dealing with a tough matte. Instead, it’s made to be more like “tinted skincare” for your lips—something that was important for Vizmanos, as she was always on the hunt for the perfect lipstick that wouldn’t dry out her lips.
The result was a soft, smooth, yet vibrant formula made with high-quality and organic ingredients like mongongo oil, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, and more. It left my lips soft and moisturized, and I didn’t have to apply lip balm beforehand either. (I usually remove it right before applying my red lip so it sticks and lasts longer, a little trick I picked up from makeup artists.)
However, it’s also important to note that these days, I do look for other things when it comes to lipstick, like whether or not it can withstand mask-wearing. Obviously, Lipstick Balm is not mask-proof. (Leave that to my Nyx Shine Loud Lipstick, $12, and Wonderskin Lip Stain, $32.) But that doesn’t knock down any points for me. Thanks to the pandemic, I now have two categories for lipstick (perhaps I need another drawer). Removing the lipstick is easy as well. Just a swipe of my favorite micellar water (Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O, $15) does the job. That’s the bad thing about those mask-proof lipsticks. You need a reverse spell and some heavy-duty oil cleanser to get them off!
Overall, I’m super excited about Kolorete and can’t wait to see what the brand comes up with next. Crossing my fingers that they find ways to incorporate natural ingredients from the Philippines, which is something that I love seeing in other Filipino brands. In the meantime, I’ll be collecting all of Kolorete’s red lipsticks, including some for my momma!