Red Lipstick: A Timeless Classic
Bold Red Lipstick. Coveted by women all over the world, it can take the heartbeat of the opposite sex from 0 to 60 in just a couple of beats. This little dab of colour has influenced our class, gender, status, wealth and even health, for thousands of years. Pretty scary I’d say. But there’s more to the little red lipstick than meets the eye.
The first recorded use was back in 3500 BC in ancient Egypt. Historically, it has been worn by women and men for thousands of years. Yes, you read right. I did say MEN. But it was worn more as a status symbol rather than to attract the opposite sex. The colour was made from crushed stones, poisonous plants and even the blood of insects. Obviously this was harmful. Causing serious illness, mutilation and even resulted in death. But did they care? No. Their standing in society was more important. It was a status symbol for the rich and royal. The rest of the population reduced to living like peasants. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that simple but there was a clear divide between the rich and poor. And the red lipstick played a big role. Luckily makeup has come a long way since then.
Red lipstick has even been embedded in magic and superstition. Elizabeth I thought the colour red could ward off evil and even prevent death. Legend has it that she had a layer of lipstick nearly half an inch thick on her death bed. So the assumption was that the more you wore the more protected you were.
Along came Queen Vitoria who disapproved of the red lipstick and so the working class were allowed to have it such as prostitutes and actresses. Makeup was no longer meant for the higher classes. Luckily, the ingredients by now were bees wax and plants making it a lot safer to use.
Eventually the controversial red lipstick made a dramatic comeback during the Suffrogate Movement. Women wore it in defiance shocking the opposite gender as well as the older generation.
Fact: in 1923 the bullet shape design of lipstick was designed by Elizabeth Arden, based on the bullet shape of the First World War shell casing. Before this, the lipstick was wrapped in silk.
In the era of Cinema and Hollywood, red lipstick transcended time and fashion.
Fact: In the 60s, 98% of all American women wore lipstick, whilst only 96% admitted to brushing their teeth!
Iconic actresses like Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth were making their mark wearing the red lipstick. Eventually in the 1980’s Madonna began to wear the shade which prompted Mac to introduce their first line of red lipstick. Russian Red became globally recognised when she began wearing the colour.
Fact: Taylor Swift proudly announced she’s “always” wearing the colour, even naming her latest album and tour ‘Red’.
Fact: The face of Rimmel London, Kate Moss, created her own red lipstick for the brand, infusing it with black diamonds for a “timeless look”.
Fact: Rihanna is a big fan of a scarlet pout and recently created RiRi Woo in collaboration with MAC, a matte take on the brand’s classic Ruby Woo shade. The lipstick proved a huge success, selling out just three hours after its release.
Well, red lipstick is worn all across the globe today. By all classes, age and genders. In modern times, male models are made to wear red lipsticks on cat walks and runways. (Vivienne Westwood sent her male models down the runway wearing red lipstick for her 2011 Autumn/Winter Collection).
Even science has proven that women wear red lipstick to remind members of the opposite sex of their private parts. Quite mind blowing I’d say.
But the red lipstick is here to stay regardless of the stigma we attach to it or the reason we wear it. It’s a colour we have seen so many times and yet never fails to shock us.
PICKING THE CORRECT RED LIPSTICK:
For the individual, the problem lies in finding the right shade of red lipstick. Finding the perfect red lipstick is a very subjective mission in its self. It’s got to complement your skin tone and accompany your personality. My personal recommendation would be to shop around and try out the shades that appeal to you. Head over to your local makeup outlet and try out the red lipsticks in person. Recommendations are all well in theory but only you will know what looks good on you. You’re the one that has to carry it off and feel comfortable and sexy in it.
Just to get you started, here are some basic guide lines:
Fair skin types, would suit true reds. Reds with pink under tones for the daytime. A few of the lipsticks I would recommend are: Red Lizard by Nars and Ruby Woo by Mac (which has an orange tint to it). More suited to cool toned skin: Mac Red. And also Russian Red by Mac. Makeup For Ever #205.
If you are medium skin toned then you are amongst the lucky ones as practically any shade goes! Yellow based reds (reds that look a bit orange), bold reds, deep cranberries and even pink based lipsticks suit very well. Recommended lipsticks would be Blace by Illamasqua.
For the darker skinned toned, choose reds with blue undertones. These would be the more raspberry or maroon shades. Don’t forget pinks also pop against the darker skin. Recommended would be Tanganyka by Nars. Cherry Picking by Wet N Wild. And Rouge Valetine by Lancome.
- Red Lip Liner by Mac
- Make Up For Ever in 25C
- Milani in Cherry Pie
Both medium and dark skin tones will tend to have warm undertones in the skin so choose shades like Mac Lady Danger, Nars Heat Wave or NYX Eros.
History has never stopped women from shying away from bold red lipstick. Back in those days no one bothered with shades, hues or skin tones. So why should we confuse ourselves today? We don’t need to know about what hue matches what skin tone. It’s all about how you look and feel wearing a particular shade of red lipstick. The above is just a guide. At the end of the day you may find a red that complements you perfectly and it’s not a shade you would have dreamed of going for. It’s all about trying it out and checking the shade in true day light. Yes, always check your makeup in day light. Indoor lighting can affect the shade of colours. So always carry a little mirror with you so you can check the colour match away from the store lighting.
HOW TO WEAR RED LIPSTICK:
Of course with the lips being so bold the eyes just have to be subtle and sexy. So keep the eye shadow simple. Maybe just one neutral colour all over the lid and a touch of crease definition with a subtle brown. But be sure to have the eyeliner neat and classic. Line the top lash line and add a complementing flick at the end. Also, tight line if you have bigger or rounder eyes. This helps to create the illusion of bedroom eyes. Don’t forget to fill in the brows to frame the whole look. And of course add false lashes or even several coats of mascara to continue the impact.
Top Tip: When wearing bold lipstick is to put your finger into your mouth, wrap your lips around it and pull it out. This will ensure the centre of your lips are clean and no lipstick will not transfer on to your teeth.