Lipstick: coquettish, womanly, bold, scandalous, demure. As many women, personalities and preferences out there, just as many swipes of rouge. The colour you paint your lips speaks volumes about how you want to present yourself to the world even before you do- it’s part of your style, just as much as your favorite sweater, the cut of your hair or the perfume you can’t be without. Pushing the pedal and going for bold red shows how you want to be perceived, just as much as choosing a neutral, barely there shade or eschewing lipstick altogether does.
The connexion between women and their rouge goes a long way back in time. It is believed that the first appearance of lipstick dates back over 5.000 years ago, to the time of the Summerians, when both women and men used it around their lips and eyes as decoration. Cleopatra was also a known lipstick lover, using crushed bugs to color her lips, and ancient Egyptians, both men and women, used lipstick to show rank. Oh, and did you know that solid lipsticks in tubes were invented some 1400 years ago, in the Islamic Golden Age? While in Europe, Queen Elizabeth I (16th century) also used to wear crimson lipstick, and the French aristocrats of the 18th century used to colour their lips and cheeks red, regardless of gender.
However, lipstick did not always stand for power and beauty: in Ancient Greece it was the mark of prostitutes, as it came to also be known in Victorian Era Europe, while upper class women most often went barefaced. By the turn of the 20th century, women started using lipstick as a form of rebellion and liberation. They wore it relentlessly, through periods of restrictions and war, as well as throughout the crazy 30’s. In the post war era, more and more shades became available, with women having the option to choose what image of themselves they want to show.
And yet, with this long and winding history that women have had with their lip rouges, I can’t help but notice that the popularity of this particular makeup product has drastically dropped in recent years. Maybe it was the pale lips of the 90’s that lead to almost invisible and finally absent lip colors, or the insane popularity that the 2000’s brought to lip glosses, bumping lipsticks to second place, or perhaps it’s the whole smokey eyes- contoured face- strong eyebrows trend taking off, leaving lipstick to be forgotten on the bottom of women’s makeup bags. With matte lipsticks being on the rise, we are indeed experiencing a resurrection of this makeup product, but from my direct experience, women are either adamantly for it or against it.
As for me? Well, look no further than the title to see what category I fall in. I am always wearing lipstick, no matter the time of the day or occasion. I feel more naked without it than without any other makeup product, and am always packing at least 3-4 different shades in my bag. And here’s why:
To me, lipstick speaks of infinite grace, femininity and charm. It is a quintessentially feminine item, and although throughout history men and women have shared it, lipstick is still the embodiment of ladylike elegance to me. Being the huge 50’s fashion lover that I am, I can’t help but think of cherry red lips and cat eyeliner as the ultimate sophisticated and glamorous makeup look. Sultry, smoldering smokey eyes are all well and good, but a pretty coloured pout will always steal my heart.
My connexion with lipstick is also a very emotional one, as it was the first makeup product I was allowed to use growing up, the most coveted item in my mom’s drawers during my childhood, and the magical finishing touch I watched her put on everyday in the mirror before going to work. As a young girl, lipstick meant maturity, confidence and independence to me, and that feeling still hasn’t completely left me. Every time I swipe my favorite lip color* on, I feel strong, in control and ready to take over the world.
*(Post contains affiliate link)
Lipstick is one of the most bright and colourful items in your makeup bag, (and if you follow me here or on my Youtube channel, then you know I’m all about the bright & colourful). You probably won’t wear pink, orange or red around your eyes, but you can well pull off a ruby red lip. There is such an abundence of shades, textures, finishes, pigmentation levels that it’s almost impossible not to find a lippie you like. Decide who you want to be everyday: a demure damsel, sultry vixen or deadly vamp? The world is your oyster with the right shade of lipstick. And if you choose the right formulation, you can make sure your lips will be plump and hydrated as well, so you have a 2 in 1!
And speaking of 2 in 1, lipstick is so versatile! You can use it for many other things than just colouring your lips, such as in lieu of eyeshadow (for natural beiges and nudes) or as a purple dark circles concealer, underneath your actual concealer (apparently red/orange lipstick neutralizes blueish hues). Or even as a marker to write down your number on a cute guy’s arm 🙂 (be careful with that one though). But my favorite use of it is…. well actually, instead of telling you, why don’t I better show you? Click the image below to see my favorite lipstick hack for a beautifully monochromatic look:
And finally, trying to throw at least one objective point into the mix, lipstick gives you a polished look, no matter how much other makeup you may or may not be wearing. Many makeup artists agree that a swipe of lipstick does more for a put together look than concealer, foundation, mascara and eyeshadow combined. It’s a surefire way to look professional, composed and like you took more time to get ready in the morning than you actually did. And if there’s something that will give me an extra 10-15 minutes in bed in the morning, you can be sure I’m taking advantage of it!
And you? Where do you fall on the lipstick love-hate spectrum? Do you find it a nuissance, a fussy makeup item that you always have to be careful not to smudge and ruin, or is it your mark, a part of you, the flag you raise everyday to signal your presence to the world?