There is something magical about red lipstick. When my hair won't do what I want, when my eye makeup is kind of a mess, when I just feel kind of blah in general, red lipstick is the answer. It makes me feel glamorous when I'm not; it enhances a feature that I like; I enjoy the ritual of applying it. So what's not to love?
Red lipstick has made a real comeback over the last couple of years, with vintage looks regaining popularity, and I am so glad. When I started university in 2006, I loved the idea of wearing a strong red, but I was terrified to do so. I mean, it's such a statement. A bright red can be seen from far away. It stands out from every other part of your face. AND it really draws massive attention to your mouth. That can be intimidating (albeit gorgeous)!
My closest friend was a true proponent of the red lip, and she encouraged me to try it. I bought a No. 7 long-wearing red (since discontinued, it was the kind of matte that is food and drink proof but dries your lips out like crazy). And I loved it! It can't be said that I had the greatest sense of style in those days (though it was definitely unique), but my choice of lipwear never failed to garner compliments; and it made me feel fantastic. I have never looked back!
But it's not all rainbows and sunshine, of course. And subsequently, there are a few things that only regular wearers of this glorious substance will appreciate. Amongst them are these:
1. YOU USE UP LIP LINER A ZILLION TIMES FASTER THAN ANYONE ELSE BECAUSE YOU USE IT TO FILL YOUR ENTIRE LIP, NOT JUST THE LINE.
In the battle for long-lasting lip color that isn't drying, a great technique is to apply lip liner over the entire surface of the lip. This way, if/when the lipstick wears away from eating, drinking or kissing, there will still be a layer of liner underneath which is a little more hard-wearing.
2. YOU CARRY A COMPACT, LIPSTICK, LINER AND LIP BRUSH AT ALL TIMES. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU'LL NEED A TOUCH UP.
On the train, at the office, in a restaurant, or at a bar. If you are anything like me, you will be obsessed with checking that your lipstick hasn't smudged or bled, is still there and is still perfect. To that end, you keep a first aid kit for lips on your person regardless of where you go. Red is hard to maintain, after all.
3. YOU ARE CONSTANTLY TRYING TO DECIDE WHICH SHADE WORKS BETTER FOR YOU: A BLUE-TONED RED, OR AN ORANGE-TONED RED?
I am still trying to work this one out myself. I am of the understanding that a blue-toned red will make your teeth appear whiter, but an orange-toned red will complement most skin tones better. My teeth can use all the help they can get, so I tend to opt for the blues (keep your bad British teeth jokes to yourselves please). But tanner skin tones look great donning the warmer, orangey tones.
4. EVERY RECEIPT/BUSINESS CARD/ENVELOPE IN YOUR PURSE ENDS UP WITH LIPSTICK KISSES ON IT, BECAUSE YOU USED THEM TO BLOT WHEN YOU RAN OUT OF TISSUE.
OK, so this could just be me, but I doubt it. Since I have a habit of applying or maintaining my lipstick on the move, I still need to blot! While I remember all the makeup, brushes and mirrors I need, I never remember to carry tissue or napkins. Ergo, lipstick covered receipts, bus tickets, business cards... you get the idea.
5. YOUR INDEX FINGER OFTEN LOOKS A LITTLE PINK, AS YOU USE IT TO REMOVE ANY PRODUCT WHICH COULD HAVE ENDED UP ON YOUR TEETH.
You know that suggestive little trick for removing any extra product from the inside of your lips? The one that stops it ending up on your teeth? Hands up everyone who has ended up with a reddish, pinkish tinge around the index finger as a result.
6. YOU HAVE DONE THE ABOVE, VERY DISCREETLY, IN PUBLIC.
As I mentioned, sucking your finger is kind of suggestive, but when you find yourself with a freshly-applied mouth and you're in a public place, what's a girl to do? A quick glance around to make sure no one's looking and *pop* goes the weasel.
7. WHILST EATING, YOU HAVE TO CONSTANTLY CHECK YOUR CHIN AND NOSE FOR LIPSTICK TRANSFERRED WHEN BITING INTO FOOD. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR BURGERS AND SANDWICHES.
This is the bane of my life. Biting into anything, but particularly really good sandwiches, with a perfect pout inevitably results in a chin and nose covered in red. I have tried to find a way around it but it cannot be done. This is where the lack of tissues I mentioned can really become a problem.
8. “WELL-MEANING” PEOPLE ENJOY REMINDING YOU THAT THE REASON YOU WEAR RED LIPSTICK IS TO ATTRACT A MATE, SINCE IT MAKES YOUR LIPS "LOOK LIKE A VAGINA." OR MAYBE YOU JUST LIKE WEARING IT?
Ugh, this. It's not even a joke. Let me set the record straight here, once and for all. My mouth is not a vagina. That should not be confusing for anyone; it's a pretty simple concept when you think about it. And that's all I have to say about that.
9. PEOPLE CONSTANTLY SAY, "I WISH I COULD WEAR RED LIPSTICK," AND YOU GENUINELY DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY COULDN'T.
The absolute best thing about red lipstick is that anyone can wear it. There are so many shades, tones and finishes to choose from that there is literally something for everyone. So, if you think you can't wear it I would suggest you give it a try anyway. You might be surprised.
10. IT CAN TAKE ANYTHING UP TO 1854795 ATTEMPTS TO GET THE PERFECT CUPID'S BOW.
No matter how many times I have painted my lips, I still struggle on the Cupid's bow. I always get one side perfect, but the other remains asymmetrical (likely because my lips are not symmetrical)! This is vastly improved with the use of lip liner, however, so that is my tip for you.
11. FINDING A LIPSTICK WHICH WILL STAY ON WHEN EATING, DRINKING AND KISSING, WITHOUT DRYING YOUR LIPS, AND SIMULTANEOUSLY REMAINING EASY TO REMOVE WHEN YOU ACTUALLY WANT IT GONE, COULD SERIOUSLY BE CONSIDERED A LIFE GOAL.
When I first started wearing red I used a long-wearing, lip-drying, impossible-to-remove type substance which looked great for a while. But you couldn't reapply it due to flakiness. It was a nightmare to remove at the end of the day. I have also used ones which are way too oily and can withstand precisely nothing. The perfect solution is somewhere between the two and I will find it.
12. YOU SPEND WAY TOO MUCH TIME TRYING TO DECIDE WHETHER FILLING THAT WHITE LINE AROUND YOUR LIPS LOOKS RIGHT, OR OVER-DRAWN.
This is a toughie. Professional MUAs have told me that when you line your lips, you should draw on the white line, since that is technically a part of the lip, and will have the added bonus of making lips appear fuller. The problem I have is that whenever I try, the end result is never quite right, and I wind up looking a little like Sharon Needles. See above.
13. YOUR ACTUAL LIPSTICK HAS TAKEN ON THE WEIRDEST SHAPE FROM USING IT WITH A BRUSH RATHER THAN APPLYING IT STRAIGHT TO YOUR LIP — BUT IT'S WAY MORE ECONOMICAL, AND YOU GET A MUCH BETTER APPLICATION!
If you use a brush with your lipstick, you will know exactly what I am talking about here. I have no hope of ever using any of my lipsticks directly on my mouth, ever.
14. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY SHADES, FINISHES, TEXTURES OR BRANDS — HOW ELSE ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?
This is absolutely true. Plus, not all reds go with all blues, or all greens, or all whatever color you happen to be wearing. So you need to have a choice of shades to make sure that you don't clash. At least, that's how I justify my collection!
15. YOU KNOW THAT WEARING RED LIPSTICK IS NOT JUST A BEAUTY CHOICE, IT IS A WAY OF BEING.
Red lipstick is the epitome of fabulousness. It is gloriously, glamorously gorgeous and has an amazing transformative quality. When worn, it adds a spring to your step and a song to your heart and all of those other wonderful things that describe feeling bloody marvelous. Three cheers for red lipstick!