Posted on August 23, 2016
My late mother-in-law would not come downstairs without first applying her lipstick. She always said she did not feel dressed without it. I am far lazier, but I see the difference that the right shade of lipstick makes to my face. And the older I get, the more I seem to need it and the more often I wear it. Soon I may even reach the point where I will not venture downstairs without it!
History lesson first.
Lipsticks, believe it or not, have been around since prehistoric times and were originally made from natural sources like juices from berries and other plants. In some cultures, precious gems were ground down to dust to decorate the lips. Seemingly in Egypt the carmine colour from cochineal insects was used to get that strong red liked by Cleopatra (still used in some red lipsticks today).
With the arrival of Christianity, lipstick fell out of favour as the church associated it with devil worship! It was popular again in the 16 century for a while, but then became associated with prostitutes, so it wasn’t until the rise of photography and film, that it came back into fashion. Screen icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable helped popularise the bright red lip once again.
And today many of us don’t leave the house without some lippy to brighten or protect our lips.
But have you ever looked at the list of ingredients in your lipstick? I have and you would need to have a degree in science to understand exactly what they are. All include waxes such as beeswax or candelilla and oils like castor or lanolin and even shea butter. These all have moisturising properties which is very important for women of a certain age. Obviously it is the pigments used that produces the hundreds of different colours and manufacturers are always trying to produce a new shade to entice the consumer. Preservatives and anti-oxidants are also needed to prolong the shelf life and together with alcohol and fragrance make up the ingredients in nearly every lipstick.
There is still concern that most lipsticks, even some of the organic labels contain lead, which of course is poisonous even in trace amounts because it accumulates in the body over time. I can find no definitive evidence in my research, only conflicting arguments, so I guess if you are concerned about it you should search for a lead-free product. I don’t feel that I ingest a huge amount of my lipstick. I don’t apply it more than twice or three times a day. Most of it ends up on my coffee mug or wine glass and a certain amount on GG (aka Gorgeous Graham) also.
So why do we wear lippy? Well, I use it to protect, to moisturise and to enhance my lips. Together with lip pencil (yes I have started to use one), lipstick gives more definition and by adding a pop of colour can brighten up a complexion. I believe that I look better with lipstick, I don’t understand the science behind it, but I am sure that make-up artists can tell me.
With so many colours and shades out there, how do we find the best shades? Trial and error, I believe. I prefer moisturising lipsticks so stay away from matte shades generally and L’Oreal Colour Riche shades and No 7 are firm favourites. No 7 offers a matching service to help you get the right shade.
I find matte shades emphasise the lines around my mouth which is entirely the opposite of what I want. I have tried some dark shades and they make me look like a witch, so I avoid them.There is one red I think I can wear but only in the evening and that is Lancome l’Absolu Rouge 160 but it can look very bright during the day. Another Lancome product that I have is Rouge in Love which looks purple but has a more pink hue when it is applied, as you can see in the photo below.
My go -to colours that I wear during the day are No 7 Moisture Drench Soft Ruby and Crushed Crimson (below). They are super easy to apply, have SPF 15, so they do protect from the sun and they are super moisturising. The satin finish and shimmery effect is provided by the inclusion of mica. It is the inclusion of mica (a naturally occurring mineral formation) that causes concern as it routinely contains trace elements of lead, manganese, chromium and aluminium. I will continue to wear it until there is more definitive research, but it might be advisable to keep your lippy away from young children.
What are your thoughts (if any) on lipstick? Do you wear it? Do you pay lip-service to it? Do you like kissing lipstick wearers or would you prefer those lips naked and bare and devoid of shimmer? Or is the jury out? Love to hear your thoughts!