On an holiday to London when I was 17, I excitedly bought a lipstick from H&M. It wasn't my first, but the sale came at a pivotal moment when I was trying to prove to both myself and the world that I was a woman.
Looking at myself in the bathroom mirror later that day, I knew something was wrong when the peach hue looked cakey, creasing in between my lip wrinkles like a saggy prune. My worst fears were confirmed when my mum and sister kindly nudged me to wipe it off as quickly as possible.
While I'm lucky to have full, plump lips, somehow that actually makes the problem worse, amplifying the incongruence like a toddler taking creative liberty in an art project.
The FOMO has been real as I've persevered, trying to keep up with viral trends and cult products that hoards of other people swear by. I shudder when I look back at selfies where I'm wearing the Kylie Beauty Lip Kits, and rue never getting to flaunt MAC's Velvet Teddy like all my friends.
Unfortunately, no hack from Pinterest or TikTok seems to help — not lining, blotting or doing a thorough colour analysis. Something about lipstick just fundamentally disagrees with my face, and though it may not sound like it, I promise I've finally made my peace with it.
But it's not the end of the road for me and my hunt for tinted lips. Thankfully, in the years since, a plethora of lip alternatives have been released onto the market that don't restrict me to a lip balm or clear gloss.
Here are nine products that fill the void of not being able to wear lipstick and still get the job done.