On Red Lips: not for the faint of heart…

Photo: Marie Labbancz

The classic ruby lip: cosmetic counters and make-up aisles offer endless variations on the theme and beauty magazines reinvent the look each season to make it seem “new.”  I assert, however, as a make-up artist and avowed cosmetic voyeur, that women may want to rock red lipstick, they might even buy a tube or two, but they are not, for the most part, wearing it.

In the early 50’s when Revlon mad genius Charles Revson launched the crimson masterpieces “Cherries in the Snow” and “Fire and Ice”—both available to this day— most of the women who were inspired to buy the shades actually wore them.  Then again, this was a more formal era when hats, gloves and structured purses were standard in everyday fashion.

We now live in a world where flip flops are okay at the White House, and women, both young and old, can be seen at the mall in what appear to be jammies.  One might understand, therefore, why high maintenance red lips might make one feel a tad overdressed.

In spite of the marketing and the overwhelming selection, the fact is that not all of us look good in red lipstick, and this has less to do with the shape of the mouth or the skin tone and more about our personalities and how we feel about ourselves.   Vibrant lip color creates a strong personal statement that many of us are just not that comfortable making.   It takes confidence to pull off, for example, a classic matte red lip, and let’s face it; the beauty industry was not built on the backs of confident women.

Do you know a woman (hint) who doesn’t like having her picture taken?  “She” probably doesn’t feel comfortable in red lipstick either.  To “her,” red lips feel risky, unsettling and overly seductive.

Notes of encouragement: you can work on getting comfortable with a lip that shouts “Here I am!” by taking it out for short test drives.   Ground rules: if your skin has yellow undertones, then a warm red will work, while those of you with pink undertones will be better off with a blue-based shade.   Keep eye make-up to a minimum and cheeks soft.

Once in your fiery state, think about how you feel and note the reactions you get from others.  With practice and positive reinforcement, you might begin to grow into the woman you imagined you would like to be, the one wearing that perfect shade of red lipstick.

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