Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Pucker up!

Last week I made a decision - it was time, aged 41, to finally embrace red lipstick. Now, I've always subscribed to the David Bailey way of thinking on make-up: go eyes or lips but not both (unless you want to look like a hooker or Katy Perry or a cross between both - not a good look). Therefore I've always favoured a smoky eye and er... no lipstick at all. Plus lipstick takes a LOT of care - otherwise it gathers little balls in the corner of your lips, or smudges so you look like you've sunk 7 martinis when you're only on your first; it leave prints on cups and glasses, it gets on your teeth so you look like a mad old lady and it stops any kind of spontaneous snogging.  In short, lipstick is work.

But.... everywhere I look women are wearing red lipstick and looking AH-MAZE-ING. Luscious pouts abound from magazines and the sidebar of shame. Iconic images always feature a well glossed red lip: Monroe, Athena in the 1980s, Madonna in her Who's That Girl phase - and where would Gwen Stefani be without her lipstick?

So, I wandered into Mac make-up on a way to a meeting, thinking, I can do this. I can wear red lipstick and power dress my face. Some kind salesgirl took pity on me staring blankly at the vast area of reds to choose from and told me to go Ruby-Woo. She then helped me apply said lipstick - using a lip liner to stop the old bleeding lips look. Now this Ruby-Woo stuff could survive the apocalypse - it grips your lips and never lets go. The woman stood back and let me look in the mirror.


I felt like my lipstick was wearing me, rather than me wearing the lipstick. Part classy (obvs) hooker, part Sandy in the slut stage, part 1950s starlet, part burlesque, part mutton. Arriving at the meeting my two partners looked at me and went, 'Jaysus. Get your lips.' They went into shock and stared at my mouth for well over an hour. After that they said they liked it. I felt like I was naked, rather than just wearing a bit of slap.

3.5 hours later another friend joined the now ended meeting - and said 'Look at you and your big red lips.' Now, that doesn't sound good, no matter how nicely you say it. I disappeared to the bathroom and actually used soap to get the damn stuff off. It left me looking liked I had just had an upper lip wax...a slight pink smudge everywhere. I was also slightly put off as a girl I once briefly worked with wore this vibrant shade every day TO WORK and was nicknamed 'blow job lips' partly for her lipstick and mainly because she desperately wanted to shag anything that moved.

I just couldn't do it. I never went back and bought the lipstick. I'm thinking maybe I haven't got the correct shade yet... but also - I worry that lipstick is ageing - and no one wants to look like Joan Collins until they are Joanie's age. I'm a couple of decades away from that, at least. Red lipstick is so powerful and mesmerising that it has to be worn ONLY when the situation requires it. The school run not so much... Red lipstick requires a lot of confidence (like wearing a white dress when you have your period). To wear it, you have to be well groomed and to have the time to 'upkeep' it. You have to dress around the lipstick - anything too short, or patterned or colourful and you are in the mutton territory and you will never leave. So much planning has to go around the lipstick - everything else has to be muted, preferably black, so the lipstick can be the dash of colour, the centre stage. I just don't think I can put that much time, energy and effort into accessorising my life around my make-up.

Maybe, if I spent my life at glitzy parties or at cocktail soirees, then I'd get the use out of a bold lip, paired with killer heels and a flash of diamond. But my life is more chapstick than lipstick. So to all you bold gals who can get your ruby-woo on (as an aside my daughter calls her nether regions her woo, so that kind of puts me off too) - I salute you and your perfect pouts.

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