Why? Red lipstick has historically held a certain power. In Roman times women wore red on their lips as a status symbol. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra followed suit. It has also been shown that in periods of recession the number of red lippies sold increases – it’s called, naturally, the ‘lipstick effect’ – and it’s believed to occur because women forgo big ticket items in favour of affordable luxuries such as cosmetics. It seems that in times of economic uncertainty those little tubes have the power to cheer us up. Churchill certainly thought so: during the war he kept lipstick in production as he thought it was good for morale. I decided to test the theory and challenged myself to wear lipstick every day for five days to see if it would have an effect on my state of mind, or anyone else’s.
On day one of my challenge I chose to wear an uber-red shade by Kate Moss for Rimmel. I have always been lazy with make-up (wearing it is not a daily occurrence) and so the first thing I noticed about wearing lipstick was that I had to wear other make-up with it. Without foundation my red, red lips exaggerated any redness and spots.
I also noticed that lipstick required some care. When we went for coffee, Mum helpfully pointed out I had lipstick lines creeping out of either side of my mouth much like a clown. Not the sophisticated look I was after.
The next day while having lunch with a friend, I tried to avoid the clown effect. “What are you doing?” she said, as I attempted to take a bite of my sandwich without letting my lips touch the bread. “I’m trying not to smudge my lipstick on my sandwich,” I replied. “You look like you’re trying to get off with it”. Oh dear. I decided to stop getting off with my food and just re-touched my lippy post-meals thereafter.
Over the next few days I succeeded in not looking like a clown (mostly) and did not get ID’d buying alcohol for the first time since, well, perhaps ever. I tried out a couple of red shades (finding the right one is key I found) and even started to wear lip liner (what a grown-up). A bright pinky-red shade I loved but I’m not sure if it worked with my blonde hair. A dark berry, however, will definitely be making more outings.
Wearing lipstick made me feel more ladylike, too. Even when I was wearing jeans, because I’d dressed up my face I felt ready for something fancy. By that measure, it did make me feel more confident and maybe even a bit more powerful.
Having reached the end of my five-day experiment, I don’t think I’ll be wearing lipstick everyday (or even make-up probably). but when I do, my lips will be dressed in red. A deliciously dark berry red, I have discovered, is my secret self-confidence weapon.