I got into the makeup game late. Unlike other girls who experimented with makeup in their teens, I waited until college to start wearing lipstick and mascara. My first introduction to makeup was MAC Cosmetics, which is a fave brand of many a woman of color. I remember my very first purchase – a chestnut lip liner and a beautiful bronzy brown lipstick, which I wore faithfully for years. As I got older, I experimented with different shades like plum and berry, and even a nice pink, but I was too afraid of red lipstick.
Red lipstick may seem like an innocuous thing, but it carries with it numerous connotations. Ask your average Black woman, and they’ll tell you that someone in their family – be it Mama, Big Mama, or Auntie – cautioned them against wearing red lipstick. In some families, red lipstick and red nail polish were reserved for “grown” women, not little girls or teenagers. For some, red lipstick was a sign that a girl was “fast” – too sexy at a young age. Others said that red lipstick was not for women of a certain skin color – I can’t be sure which one, because I’ve heard that both light-skinned and dark-skinned women should not wear red lipstick (and who even comes up with these rules?).
I can’t say that any of these so-called rules were handed down to me in-person, but I picked them up over time. No one ever said to me “you can’t wear red lipstick!” but something in me felt like I shouldn’t. A little voice inside me said “no, it’s not for you!” and I didn’t have the strength or desire to drown it out. I’d see the magazine spreads proclaiming that red lips were in, but I never thought I could pull it off. Browns, plums, pinks – they were all safe and expected, easy to wear with no stress and no fuss.
Overcoming My Fear
I can’t say there was a moment or event that caused me to tackle my fear of a red lip. I suppose it was a gradual change, that started as I also started to embrace and love more of myself. That started when LM came into my life – his love and admiration of me has rubbed off on me. I’ve become more bold in my fashion choices, and my overall outlook is changed. I feel better and that translates into how I look, and I take more care into my appearance. All that coupled together has given me confidence to try new things…including a red lip.
I took the plunge during a makeover at Sephora. I was having my face done for my bridal shower, and I wanted to try a lip color that I could wear for my wedding. On a whim, I told the makeup artist about how I’d always wanted to wear a red lip, but I was worried I couldn’t pull it off. He listened, studied my face, and walked away. He returned with a YSL glossy stain and carefully applied it to my lips. I turned to look at myself in the mirror, and I immediately loved what I saw. I was wearing a red lip, and it looked great! I had done it! I decided to buy it and use it as my lip color for my wedding, and the compliments I received at my bridal shower confirmed my purchase. I loved wearing the YSL glossy stain on my wedding day – it held up through photos, kisses, and even the delicious food and drinks at our cocktail hour. I only needed to reapply once through the entire night!
After that first taste of a red lip, I was hooked. I started making more frequent trips to Sephora, to try new products and different shades of red. My next purchase was the Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Chunkiest Chili. Its listed as a brown red, but I don’t see the brown in the color. Normally lip balms are more sheer, but I love how pigmented this chubby stick is. I started wearing this color everywhere, especially because it provides much-needed moisture for the lips. Around the same time, I also received my Sephora birthday gift, which was two NARS lip pencils, a satin rosy pink, and a velvet matte in Cruella, which is a scarlet red. Now this was a red lip! Bold, bright, and matte! I loved how the satin lip pencil wore, so I also picked up one in Majella, a garnet red with plenty of shine. This was my absolute favorite to wear, and I wore it faithfully every day. I remember the first time I wore it to the office – I felt so bold!
My current favorite red lip color is Le Marc Lip Creme in So Rouge, which was the gift in the Sephora VIB Rouge 2015 welcome kit. BTW, I hit VIB Rouge at the end of 2015 – yay! I did not expect to love this color so much, but it’s so vibrant and wears so beautifully, you can’t help but love it. It’s so gorgeous that I have to make myself alternate it with the YSL glossy stain and the NARS satin lip pencil.
It’s been a little over a year since I decided to be bold, and finally try a red lip. Verdict? I’m so happy I did it. It’s given my confidence a major boost, and I see now why so many women say that wearing a bold red lip makes them feel powerful. I never thought that a lip color could affect your mood and your confidence level, but I’m now a believer. Since I’ve started wearing red lipstick, I’ve added several to my collection and I wear a red lip almost everyday. How’s that for conquering a fear?
Do you wear red lipstick? What’s your fave?