Red Lipstick: A Guide and Manifesto
When Isabella Blow famously barked, "Don't talk to me if you're not wearing lipstick!" I know she meant red lipstick. She always wore it, like Diana Vreeland, Madonna, and Dita Von Teese. These women knew that anything less than red is a waste of time. Why even bother?
I only buy red lipstick, but as I have often confessed, my Red Era didn’t start until I was 33 and got divorced. I was upset to find myself a “Divorcee", a term that brought to mind a desperate woman wearing tight toreador pants and holding a martini glass. The Divorcee also wore red lipstick, the better to signify her availability (i.e., desperation.) In order to confront this image head on, I began wearing vivid red lipstick.
Now I wear red lipstick because it's part of who I am, and I wouldn't feel like me without it. A nice byproduct is a truth affirmed by a friendly saleslady, who confided, "The mens love red."
The mens do love red. Let's say you want to change lanes on the freeway. If you're wearing red lipstick, just catch someone's eye and smile. A space will open up like magic. In all situations where you need some man to sign off on something, red lipstick will give you the edge. Let's not get all feminist here; the tool that gets you what you want is the one to use. It's empowering to use your savvy. And since the mens love it, it's a win-win.
Here is the best tip I can give you, as the owner of enough red lipsticks to fill a museum: When you find the perfect red, stockpile it. It won't go bad. It's like money in the bank. Never forget your instinctive knowledge about make up. If the color is perfect, it will be discontinued. So far, the only instance of this not happening is with MAC Ruby Woo.
Ruby Woo is the go-to color for all Rockabilly girls and burlesque performers, and would-be pin-up models. It's the color for vamps. I can always recognize Ruby Woo. It's a vibrant blue-red with a heavy pigment and a matte finish. It's a little drying but too bad. It's a modern classic and there's nothing else like it. A hot MAC employee named Alberto explained that it’s formulated with a special clay for longevity. I've been through countless tubes of it over the years.
Another must-have red is Dragon Girl by NARS. It's a matte crayon so you'll need a good sharpener. It's the reddest ruby-red I've ever found, and it lights up a room when you wear it. This reminds me to go and get another Dragon Girl! Other brands are bringing out matte
formulas but it's easy to get it wrong. Put some on your wrist and wait a few seconds. If it wipes off easily, forget it. You want something that leaves a stain.
Whenever I hear someone say, "I can't wear red," I can't help proselytizing. There is a red for every skin-tone. Too often, the I-can't-wear-red-belief is based on fear. You don't want to look like a clown or a hooker or a crazy person. These fears are misguided, though. It's something to do with your childhood. It's baggage you don't need. Red is bold. Red says, "I'm here!" Red says that you're comfortable being a woman, with no apologies. With the appropriate eye-contact, red also says "Come and get it." But that's up to you.
My personal preference is a blue-red, rather than an orange-red or brick-red. Blue-red is most flattering to your teeth. Your biology can affect the color, just like with fragrance. That's why it's best to try it on your wrist and see what develops. I am happy to report that The Queen of England likes a blue-red, and commissioned her own shade from Clarins to match her coronation robes. Her majesty has been seen in public refreshing her lipstick, so if anyone tells you it's bad manners, advise them in your best royal accent to kindly fuck off.
Here's a short list to guide and inspire you, until you start your own:
Best Ever, RIP: Rouge Velvet by Chanel
Second Best, RIP: Red #22 by Chanel
Most Pigmented But Drying: Ruby Woo by M.A.C.
Most comfortable Matte: Infrared by Smashbox
Most Fun to Paint On: Beso All-day liquid lipstick by Stilla
Most Indelible: Rouge Velvet Icon by Hourglass
Most Adorable Case: Victory Red by Besame.
The One I Bought Twice By Mistake: Roulette Rouge by Dior
Most Depressing Smell and Case: Estee Lauder