When I get stumped by my makeup, I'm tempted to buy a new product, illogically thinking that'll make everything fresh and exciting again. The smarter thing to do, of course, is to use what I already have, but try a few new looks or alternative application methods. With that in mind, I've decided to start a new series called 1P2L (1 product, 2 looks). The goal? To use the same product to create discernibly different looks. I'm not a makeup artist, so of course none of my creations will be particularly awesome or unique, but I do hope they'll serve the "stop buying shit you don't need" purpose.
The trick with the lips on the left: use your lipstick as a stain instead of applying it at full opacity. You can do this two different ways. The first method is to rub your finger on the lipstick, then pat the color in to your lips, using a clean finger to spread or press it in without distributing more pigment. The second method necessitates a thin layer of slick lip balm on the lips; then you brush the lipstick on using light, feathery strokes, applying as literal pressure as possible. I actually did both here--pressing with my finger for a base layer, then adding balm and a bit more lipstick on top for more color--but do whatever works best for you.
Obviously, the more full-on look is just the lipstick applied straight from the bullet. I still recommend a few additional steps, though: exfoliate your lips beforehand to get a smooth application, and use a lipliner to keep the shape relatively straight, even if you're using a very forgiving shade.
Here are the two piles of products I used for these looks. (I certainly didn't rub a candle or some perfume on my face, but it's an instagram photo, sooooo.) For the lighter look, I skipped foundation and kept the brows a little softer and messier, but I also applied a much stronger red (Stila Hibiscus) to keep the face from looking too bare. For the heavier look, I added winged liner and darker, more drawn-on brows to balance out the darker lipstick. And since Jungle Red is a satin matte, I tried to create a glossier finish on the other parts of my face.
Using lipstick as the first product for 1P2L may seem like a copout, and it...kinda is. I talk about using your lipsticks as a stain all the time. But it did encourage me to get rid of Jungle Red, since I have similar shades I consider more flattering on my skintone. Small victories!