The power of a red lipstick

voiceless palatal fricativeThis blog is called “A hobo with red lipstick” and yet I haven’t shown a single picture of me wearing red lips yet, have I?  Time to remedy that in this post.  Let’s get straight to it with my favourite red lipstick of all time, Guerlain Garconne.  Which I spelled incorrectly, but I still haven’t figured out how to enter the voiceless palatal fricative in on my keyboard.  Oh, how the age of touchscreens has made me lazy.  Anyway, this is my favourite red lipstick because it has the magic conjunction of being moisturizing, opaque, fairly long-lasting and not transferring everywhere and to everything if you just look at it funny.   It also comes in a swanky jeweller’s case that lets everyone know you paid too much for it.  Literally, a jeweller’s case, the case was designed by the jeweller Lorenz Bäumer (whose website really sucks, but his works are pretty at least).  Those of you who love this colour but hate the price of Rouge G’s and still demand an acceptable or at least non-drying formula, don’t despair: Bite Pomegranate is almost a 100% dupe of this.  I’m absolutely sure there’s a Revlon Super Lustrous dupe (Certainly Red or Love that Red perhaps?), but don’t ask me about it since I don’t own it!

2015_170aNow, onto red lips in and of themselves, since that’s what this post is really about.  Red lips are not a Thing in Germany, nor were they in Northern Virginia, my former residence in the United States.  For some obvious reason in these conservative and highly Christian cultures they call to mind the image of “sinners.”  Yeah, don’t candy wrap it, when you wear red lipstick “polite” company may not say it publicly but they’re often thinking you look like a whore.  Or as my mother has diplomatically tried to put it, “it makes you look old.”  As if looking old was a bad thing!

red apples
It often seems like red calls forth the knee-jerk reaction: “You must be a sinner!”

Here’s the problem: I love wearing red lipstick.  I don’t think it makes anyone look like a street-walker.  I hate that men have this love-hate relationship with women who wear red, anywhere, and am a little annoyed by the kerfuffle that Angela Merkel caused years back simply by wearing a red blazer.  Red lipstick is my friend.  It gives me confidence on days when my self-esteem is reaching new depths, it makes me feel powerful on days when nothing is going my way, it restores my sense of equilibrium when I’m acting off-kilter.  And I don’t care if no one else is going to see it except for my dog.  It’s about attitude, and how red lipstick can adjust my own.  The brighter, the better!

I don’t know if red lipstick inspires this sort of chemical brain reaction in any other people, but that’s directly what it does to me.  It’s a struggle, because where I live, just about everyone hates it.  I’ve done social experiments to test it on my small-town community, wearing both a full face, as well as no makeup at all other than a red lip.  Across the board, only friends and neighbors will even bother to greet or smile at me on days that I wear a red lipstick; when I wear a red lip with a full face, I can actually actively garner gasps and scowls, though usually only from older women.  Also, my husband dislikes it, mostly because it inhibits his ability to be the recipient of colourless kisses I suspect.  It’s a flashy colour to pull off and if you choose it, you have to be sure you’re the one wearing the red lip and not vice versa.

I’ll end this on a positive note: there’s a more affordable red lipstick out there that’s also a industry-giant classic, and nearly universally flattering: Revlon Fire and Ice.  I’m not sure why this shade is iconic; Marilyn Monroe’s infamous red lips were actually from Max Factor if I recall correctly.  Still, if you’re a fan of red lipstick, you’ve probably heard of this one.  It walks the line of being bright and warm as expected of a red, but having an unexpected touch of coolness to it that brings on the “ice” in the description.  It’s a wonderful lipstick, slightly moisturizing, and a great alternative to the massive lineup of Guerlain’s red Rouge Gs, if you’re just looking to dip your feet into the waters.  Don’t waste your time with cheaper reds, though – I have, and while there are nice colours from almost every line, their big downfall is usually the transfer.  Red lipstick is really not a colour you want to have smeared across your chin unless you’re making a music video or something similarly artsy.  In this regard Revlon is a great deal, the formulas I’ve tried tend to stay put on my lips, including Fire and Ice.  Just be sure you don’t settle for a lipstick that doesn’t satisfy you completely – red should inspire confidence, not make you feel self-conscious about yourself.  So choose a formula that will help you have one less thing to worry about as you go through your day.

revlon fire and ice
Red, every damn day! (OK not really, but….)

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