“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor
According to research *cough…Wikipedia* the origins of lipstick can be traced back to Ancient Sumerians, 5,000 years ago. The Sumerians would use crushed gemstones to decorate their faces. Ancient Egyptians used red lips to represent a social status symbol, used by both men and women. The infamous Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra, was believed to use pigments from crushed bugs to create red lips. If you are thinking to yourself “Eww…bugs,” the practice was used well into the 19th century. In the US, lipsticks got their color from a dye called Carmine. Carmine was extracted from scale insects called Cochineal. Aren’t you glad they moved to much better ingredients?
During the early 20th Century, color shades were limited with dark lips being the most popular. During the Flapper trend, the dark lip was a symbol of independence and freedom. In the 1930s, lipstick was a symbol of sexuality. Young women believed lipstick was a symbol of womanhood. Adversely, parents viewed the use as an act of rebellion. Many immigrant cultures prohibited the use of lipstick by their teenaged daughters. During the 50s, starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor really popularized the dark red lips. Since many parents were still uncomfortable with the widespread of this trend, companies began creating pink and peach tones, becoming more widely acceptable and popular to use lipstick.
The 60s had the white lips trend made popular by girl musical groups like the Ronettes and the Shirelles. The 70s saw a surge of iridescent colors, greens and silvers. With the emergence of the Punk culture in the late 70s, came the black lips trend. The popularity of the black lipstick could be seen well into the 90s. Previously regarded for the use of little girls, the 80s brought about the use of lipgloss. The 90s gave us various shades of brown and what I like to call the Chola look (deep brown lipliner accompanied by a nude lips). The 21st Century has brought us the popularity of the nude lipstick, bright bold colors and the current liquid lipstick craze.
I have always viewed the lipstick as a symbol of femininity, individuality and strength. It took me many years to feel comfortable wearing a bright, bold red; however, once I got over the shyness and embraced the feminine power, there was no stopping me. From a nude to the trendy ox blood hue, there’s very little I shy away from now. My first experience with a bold red was at 26 and with the famous Russian Red from MAC. No better red to try with. Russian Red is a blue based, matte red. It was a color made popular by Madonna during her Blonde Ambition Tour. This red makes you look and feel like an old Hollywood Star.
MACs Russian Red and her sister Ruby Woo (another popular red) are very matte formulas. I would recommend scrubbing your lips prior to application. This process helps slough off any dry or chapped particles from your lips, leaving your lips smooth. Once you have scrubbed, add a light amount of lip balm or moisturizer. Matte formulas can be uncomfortable when you first apply. It took me sometime to get used to the formula. Now, it seems like all I ever wear are mattes. It’s all a matter of getting used to.
My favorite lipstick of all time has been the Guerlain Rouge G lipstick in the color Gala (21). Encased in a jewel toned tube with a built-in mirror, it is a gorgeous and creamy medium red. The formula has a glossy finish. I was so in love with this red. It was introduced to me by representatives of Guerlain at Sephora showcasing their new products. The salesman walked up to me and said “I have something for you.” He was not lying. This red is a stunner! Probably the only lipstick I have worn to the very bottom of the tube. Even its steep price of $52.00 didn’t stop me from repurchasing. Sadly, they discontinued Gala. I went into a beauty depression when I found out. One day, I went looking for it and no one could explain the sudden unavailability of this color. No note, no good bye, no chance to buy every single existing tube in the whole of NYC. This happens often, you fall in love with a color or a makeup line or product and suddenly, it’s pulled off the shelf, never to be seen again. You wander the earth like David Carradine in King Fu, searching for a near exact match to replace your beloved product, but nothing ever comes close [Sigh…shout out to Chanel Lip Glossimer in Satinette].
Here’s a list of a few other beloved lipsticks and brands I can’t do without:
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick ($21) in Underage
Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit ($29) in 22
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick ($20) in Vampira, Lolita, Bow n Arrow
Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick ($24) in Bawse
Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick ($20) in Sad Girl
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($26) in Damned, Dragon Girl
Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick ($21) in Femme Fatale Matte
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge ($25) in RD 607
Lipsticks are amongst my favorite beauty products to buy, own and play with. It is a must-have for every makeup lover, whether it’s a nude, a light pastel or a bold, dark color. No face is complete without a good lipstick. The use of the lipstick dates back to Ancient Sumeria and early civilization. Next time you go to the store and find yourself debating whether you should buy that lipstick, remind yourself that Ancient Egyptians used it as a symbol of status. Buy it QUEEN!
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