In Vintage Inspiration

Vintage Lipsticks: Tabu and Tangee

The Vermont Country Store recently contacted me, after posting about my recent trip, asking if I’d like to review some of their products. Because I have visited The Vermont Country Store and purchased some of their products myself, I know this amazing family owned general store has a reputation for great quality and awesome stuff. Needless to say, I did not even hesitate to accept their offer!

The Vermont Country Store graciously sent me some Tabu brand lipstick and a 2lb bag of Storekeeper’s Surprise candy! Someone did their homework and therefore knows I’m a fan of lipstick and candy 😉 Since many of you were curious about the color changing Tangee lipstick I bought previously, I decided I’d review that in addition to the Tabu.


Tangee is a decades old cosmetics brand made famous for their lipstick that changes color to suit your individual skin tone. How neat is that? I’ve seen Tangee ads from years as early as 1928, but my favorite ad is definitely this one from WWII describing it as “The Uniform Lipstick”. If the history of Tangee alone isn’t enough to make you fall in love with it, wait until you see the color!


Tangee is rather shockingly bright orange straight out of the tube, but this magical sheer lip color transforms into the most beautiful shade of pink! Well, it turns this color pink on me, it will look slightly different on everyone. I almost can’t imagine this color being popular in earlier decades. It’s so trendy looking, isn’t it? It’s the perfect spring time shade if you ask me!


I really love this lipstick for a subtle 1940’s day time look. I really love almost everything about Tangee except for the taste haha! It has a wonderful perfume-y smell that gives me some serious nostalgia and takes me back to the days of sneaking into my mom’s makeup vanity when I was younger. …but that perfume-y-ness does not taste as nice as it smells. It’s not bad so long as you don’t load on the layers, which is really tempting (almost inevitable actually) when you first try out this lipstick. My advice is to apply just one or two layers and then wait for a few minutes to see what the color will be. Then, if you’d like brighter/more intense color, blot your lips really well and apply another one or two coats. This cuts down on the amount of  Tangee that you accidentally ingest with your coffee because of your overzealous first time application. Not that I speak from experience or anything 😉


Tangee works really well as a lip stain too! I prefer to put it on, let it change color, and then add cherry chapstick over the Tangee as it wears off throughout the day. This method keeps that nice pink color that I like without getting any slight color variations that might develop from applying too much product.


For a more dramatic 1940’s makeup look, try Tabu lipstick in the color Granada. This lipstick was most popular in the 50’s, but I did spot a vintage Tabu ad apparently from ’47. Awesome!


I have to admit I’m a huge Besame fan, so I was the slightest bit skeptical to try a new shade of red. Spoiler alert: I love this lipstick! Granada is the perfect shade of warm red with a medium to slightly sheer amount of pigment. Unlike the high intensity pigments of Besame, this lipstick allows you to customize your shade by wearing a different tone of red lip liner under it to change the overall color. I also love the slight sheerness of the color because it blends into your natural lip line more seamlessly, allowing you to skip the lip liner all together like I did in the above photo. In natural sunlight, Granada is a beautiful coral red that would be perfect for summer.


Here I’m wearing a blue-based red lip liner under the Tabu color and you can see how it’s toned down the overall coral shade to a more true red. Pretty neat, huh? The possibilities are endless! (p.s. the Tabu does not have a noticeable scent or taste like Tangee)


I love both the Tangee and the Tabu, and find both brands to be moisturizing, lasting colors. Both washed off with just soap, water, and a washcloth at the end of the day. The Tabu will leave a kiss mark on your coffee cup (which I think is cute actually) if you wear extra coats of lipstick like I do (I like the satin look, not matte finish). But with the proper lip liner and blotting, I could easily see this lipstick surviving multiple meals. The color definitely does last a long time which left me a little surprised when it washed off at the end of the day without a fuss. I also love that both lipsticks come with a nice pointed tip so you can apply them without the need of a lip brush. They’re both great lipsticks, and though you might find similar colors at a drugstore, you definitely won’t be finding these vintage brands anywhere else!


Oh! Before I forget the candy… (pffft! Like I could ever forget candy) The Storekeeper’s Surprise is awesome because it includes two of my favorite things: candy and pleasant surprises. There’s really nothing else I can say to market this any better because, let’s face it, the candy doesn’t need my help 😉


These kinds of surprise grab bags are a gamble because you don’t know what you’re getting, but there’s bound to be something in there for everyone so you can’t really go wrong! My favorites ended up being these baby sized Glitterati fruit candies. Disclaimer: I say “baby sized” as in the candies are super small, not as in feed them to your baby. Choking hazards and all. You understand.


Anyway, the Glitterati candies were super tasty and adorable. I also had an epiphany when digging through all this candy that made me realize I’ve been unjustly holding a grudge against Mary Janes. I used to roll my eyes when getting them in my trick-or-treat bucket during Halloween, but turns out they’re delicious!! Why did I hate them so much as a child? Good thing I ate mass amounts of them before having to get a root canal (not related to my candy consumption I assure you) last week. Now taffy like candies and I should probably stay away from each other.

Perhaps I should ask The Vermont Country Store for some sort of vegetable and lipstick next time? 😉 Their food selection certainly rivals their candy counter in deliciousness! Mmmmm lobster mac and cheese




Special Thanks To:

The Vermont Country Store for providing the Tabu Lipstick and Candy

HMC Advertising for the studio lighting and other flash photography equipment

William Waldon for being there to photograph my face when I cant <3

(hair and makeup by me)

  • isohappynow

    This lipstick smells absolutely fantastic!

  • Judy Robertson

    This is an adorable article. Very well done. I am in my 70’s and clearly remember my mother being angry at me because the Tangee lipstick was too dark. It was my first lipstick and just turned a lot darker on me than on my mother and sister. Because I got fussed at every time I tried it, you can image, I hated it! Fun article,

  • Deborah Wilbrink

    One of my authors is telling about Tangee, her first lipstick, in her memoir. I remember it too, on my grandmother’s dressing table. Jean was probably trying it in the late 30s, and I tried it out in the 60s. Thanks for showing us it still works! Personal Historian Deborah Wilbrink

  • Julia Lenz

    I found this site by accident and really enjoyed the facts and comments about the lipstick I used so often beginning in my own teenage years. Thank you for a pleasurable read and memories!!

  • Josephine

    Haha, did you have to buy the lipstick? Can we review it to and get it for free!?

    • Rochelle

      The Tangee lipstick, as I mentioned, I bought myself on my first visit to the Vermont Country Store. I was then approached by the Vermont Country Store in regards to the Tabu lipstick, which they sent to me for free in exchange for a review. I decided to review both lipsticks since a lot of people were asking about the Tangee.

  • Pingback: Sew For Victory Giveaways! | Lucky Lucille()

  • Pingback: Cosmetic Lust #1: Tangee Lipstick | Vintage Vessel()

  • Oooh! I’m so glad you reviewed Tangee! I have been eyeing it for years, but have never bought any (though I should–we need to order a couple bags of the gummy green army men VCS sells and we’re addicted to. lol.). Now I need to add some to my huge stash of lipsticks! lol.

  • I remember looking through Vermont Country Store catalogs as a kid, and haven’t thought about it since! Thanks for reviewing these products, I may need to look into the Tangee 🙂

  • Dakota W

    Oh, brilliant!! I live very near to the Vermont Country Store (I always buy my silly vintage perfumes there 😉 and have always wondered about both of these lipsticks!! I think I may give Tabu a try sometime; it looks lovely on you!

  • Daisey Jayne

    Great post! Both lipsticks look beautiful on you, I would actually buy the first based on your review. And the candy! I love the Vermont Country Store 🙂

  • Jessica Cangiano

    This post is every bit as sweet as that scrumptiously lovely bag of candy, dear Rochelle. I’ve long admired both of these classic lipstick brands and after reading your review here, I’m going to do some research, see if either (or both) is gluten-free (having celiac disease, I need to ensure any beauty products I put on or near my lips are gluten-free) and if so, add it/them to my birthday wish list (sure, July is a ways off still, but it’s never to soon to start coming up with ideas).

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Thank you very much for your awesomely nice comment (compliment!) on my vintage outfit post yesterday, honey.

  • Great reviews! They both look gorgeous on you. I really really need to try both of these! I love having lighter more more stain/gloss-like shades for when red lipstick isn’t quite appropriate (work or er, laziness, lol). But decent ones are few and far between!

  • Rebecca Wagner

    Do you know if there is anywhere is Adelaide, Aus you could get the Tangee from, or Aus or shipped? 🙂

    • Tangee is now made exclusively for The Vermont Country Store and I’m not sure if they ship world wide. But! They gifted me another tube of lipstick AND the blush that I will be giving away at the end of the month so you’ll have a change to win some! I will ship world wide 🙂

      • Rebecca Wagner

        Oooh ok, I shall look out for the comp 🙂

  • I own quite a few lipsticks, so I’m trying to be good and not buy both of these immediately. But let me tell you, your review rocked, and it is taking quite a bit of self-control to not add the lipsticks and candy to my shopping cart RIGHT NOW! You look gorgeous! 🙂

  • Sarah

    Both lipsticks are so pretty!! I am a bit wary of the Tangee smell/taste, but boy oh boy is it a pretty shade of print. The Tabu is a gorgeous colour and I love the idea of having a lipstick that’s been a staple for so long. And that candy? YUM!! You, of course, look stunning! Just like you walked out of a 1940’s ad!

    • Mary Flowers

      The smell and taste of the Tangee lipstick are getting a bad rap. I used this lipstick over 55 years ago when I was in high school. Loved the smell and taste then and still do. Found it listed in the Vermont Country Store catalog and recently ordered it and am proudly wearing it again. I love it. Will be ordering another tube shortly so I will have a spare. One for home, one for my purse.

  • I really want to get the Tangee lipstick! Thanks for reviewing them, I wasn’t familiar with either brand until your post!

  • Monica Swift

    Oooh, love this! A friend and I were just talking about planning a little Vermont road trip (I live in the Adirondacks), and it looks like this place is a must-visit. Love the lipsticks, especially that color-change one, I love the history!!