The lips have it!
You may recall, a few weeks back, a political uproar over a certain “lipstick on a pig” comment. We’re not going to go into the political side of things because, frankly, that’s not what we’re about. Instead, we want to talk about the power of lipstick. This blend of many different kinds of oils—including a great deal of castor oil (one more good reason not to eat your lipstick)—along with pigments and moisturizers, vitamin E, aloe vera, collagen, amino acids, and sunscreen has its origins in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Women would decorate their lips with either crushed precious stones or (yuck) the red color from the crushed shells of carmine beetles and red ants. Later, in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I popularized the more recognizable form of lipstick, made in those days from animal tallow.
But it’s not the natural or social history of lipstick that interests us. It’s the effect. Why is lipstick above all other facial adornments associated with feminity and sex appeal? Why do we feel more attractive when we have shiny, deeply colored lips? In part, it’s because of the nature of how we perceive beauty. The smile is the banner of beauty, the only part of the face that’s constantly changing from moment to moment. We begin an encounter with someone by looking at their eyes, but the smile quickly takes over from there. The lips are the exquisite frame for teeth, laughter, and speech. The more alluring and sensual that frame, the more attracted people are to the face around it and the person that lies behind it.
Lipstick has power because it’s the most vibrant color on the face, pulling our attention to the mouth. When it’s richly colored and glossy, it stimulates the hard-wired male attraction to beauty. Evolution has designed men to be drawn to vivid color and shine in hair and skin because in ancient times they were signs of health, youth and fertility. So when you put on that deep ruby shade, you’re speaking in a sexual lingua franca that goes back thousands of years.
And because color also carries subtle messages about personality, you’re also broadcasting something about who you are. What does your lipstick color say about you? We’ll tell you:
- Deep red—This one doesn’t take much figuring out. Red is the color of sexuality, passion and intense emotion. It’s no accident that red is the color of the power suit or power tie, and that red roses represent romance.
- Pink—Pink (as well as coral, salmon, and fuschia) is a softer color that represents femininity, girlishness, or playfulness. It’s better suited for a casual affair than a formal dinner or social event, though if a pink shade works for your coloring, always go with what makes you look ravishing.
- Purple—Purple seems bold and exotic, and indeed it can work best for women with dramatic coloring, but there’s no reason any woman can’t make it work for her. Purple suggests sophistication, regal bearing, and an independent spirit.
- Yellow—Yellow? Not so fast. Yellow family colors include amber and orange, which are certainly colors you can try. In general, this family of colors speaks of energy, caution, warmth, cheer and friendliness.
- Brown—Whether you’re talking about a russet or a leather hue, brown is the color of melanin, the body’s natural pigment, and so brown shades suggest a natural, earthy quality.
As makeup guru Bobbi Brown says, never choose a lipstick shade based on your skin or hair color. Base your choice on the natural color of your lips. Of course, there’s a lot more to this topic, from SPF protection to lip liners and glosses to the many variations within each color family based on the minerals the color was made with, and so on. If you really want to dig into the topic, we suggest talking with a professional, certified makeup artist. Then let the color of your lips do the talking.
Debi & Eva