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a touch of rouge

September 18, 2011

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.’ – Gwyneth Paltrow

Although the advice of this B-list-actress turned ‘so-called’ lifestyle guru is understandably questionable – it is undisputed in the fashion world that the good ol’ red lippie is a truly timeless classic. Women throughout history have been painting their lips red; trends come and go – plums, pastels – but, feminine and sexy, red’s the showstopping hue that always gets a second glance.

A Brief History

Even in ancient times, Egyptian Queens stained their lips with colour made from henna and crushed beetles. Ladies of the Elizabethan era painted theirs red with poisonous mercuric sulphide (yikes!); and those of the Queen Victoria’s time stained their pouts with red crêpe paper.

It was not until the 1870’s that the first wax-based lipstick in a refillable tube (the bullet lipstick we know today, in it’s primitive form) was released by Guerlain – catapulting the trend into the mainstream, where it has stayed for centuries.

The Perfect Shade

 The elusive ‘perfect’ red for you is said to do a whole host of magical things:

1. Brighten your complexion, giving a radiant glow to your skin

2. Blue-toned reds are said to make your chompers appear pearly white.

3. Make your peepers pop – especially for blue and green-eyed gals.

So how do you find yours? Reds are generally divided into ‘warm reds’ (firetruck, orangey-reds) and ‘cool reds’ (‘blue-toned’ reds). If you have warm skintone – with golden, yellow undertones, warm reds will suit you better. If you have pink undertones, you have cool skintone and cool reds are the way to go. Lancôme’s online make-up artist Michelle Phan (of Youtube fame) demonstrated this in one of her videos:

So how do you know if you’re warm or cool toned? One method is the ‘Jewellery Test’. If you look better in gold, rather than silver, you are warm toned. And if silver suits, you’re cool toned.

You could also try the ‘White Clothes Test’ – get an item of clothing that is off-white, and one that is true-white. If you look better in true-white then your skin has a cool tone. If you look better in off-white, you’re warm toned.

Another method is to go out into the sun (must be observed under natural light) and look at the veins on your wrist. If they appear blue, you’re cool toned. If they’re green-ish; you’re warm – because the yellow undertone of your skin mixes with the blue of your veins so that they appear green from your perspective.

HOWEVER: if you can’t tell, and you tend you look good in both silver and gold jewellery – it means you’re neutral toned, and you can wear both cool and warm reds. Lucky ey?

My Advice

I can honestly say that I have tried each of these methods – and I was still left in the dark. It’s possible that I might be neutral toned, but I think if you’re unsure, the best way is just to try it out.

Head to your nearest department store or drugstore even, and just go nuts with the testers! Whether you go to a Chanel, MAC, Revlon or Maybelline counter, a make-up artist or even just sales rep can give you advice and an opinion. But really, the important thing is that you love it – and trust me, you can tell when you’ve found the right one. It truly is instant confidence, Hollywood glamour and beauty in a tube.

Quick Application Tips

1. If you use a lip liner that is similar to your natural lip colour, and use it not only to line your lips, but to colour them in completely before you wear your lipstick, it’ll make the colour last longer.

2. In my opinion, with any lipstick, but especially those with bright hues (like red), you should always apply it with a lip brush to keep it neat.

3. After the first coat of lipstick, blot the excess with a piece of tissue, before reapplying a second coat. This makes the lipstick last longer.

4. If you aren’t blessed with an Angelina Jolie pout, you can dab a little of your favourite gloss in the centre of your lips – both top and bottom. This creates the illusion of fuller lips.

Fun Fact

Madonna’s favourite shade back in her Material Girl days was ‘Russian Red’ by MAC, still one of their top sellers. It’s also my best friend’s shade of choice. Mine is ‘Ladybug’ by MAC. What’s yours? 🙂 Leave a comment telling me below!



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