The red and the red

If there’s a makeup product about which people have a lot of opinions, it’s red lipstick. At least once a year a bored journalist somewhere in the world will publish something about confidence or break-ups which invoked the power of red lipstick. Endless pages of the internet are dedicated to the search for the perfect red, from the apparently endless array of blue-red, orange-red, pink-red, purple-red and any other rainbow shade -red.

The on the other side there are people like my mother who make disapproving noises through their teeth at the sight of red lipstick in the day. Much like a plumber at the sight of some piping that’s “gonna cost”. There are dress codes that ban it (I worked in such a place), and then dress codes that demand it.

To some it screams confidence, freedom and liberation. While to others it demonstrates you don’t understand the unwritten rules of social etiquette.


ruby woo
Image of MAC’s Ruby Woo from Amazon

For a long time I eschewed red, as the proverbial wallflower I didn’t want to stand out. Red would make me stand out. There’s a whole discussion about confidence, makeup and mental health . That’s for another time, but it’s enough to say it took a long build up to my first reds.

My first red was something cheap, I can’t remember what it was, but it was a gateway to half of the MAC counter. I researched all the types of red and collected them endlessly; Ruby Woo and all her friends came to live with me. They were followed by a little box of reds from Bobbi Brown, which taught me that lipstick with a brush might be more accurate, but was considerably more tedious.

I wore my reds at any possible occasion. It didn’t matter how ‘appropriate’ they came out.

And then I stopped. My self consciousness came back, my confidence waned and the reds gradually went in the bin.

They’ve started to come back. I have two red lipsticks (three if you count that I have two of one of those) and a lipgloss. For me part of the confidence, or lack of, is around my ability to keep the colour on my lips only. No matter the tricks of liner, blotting and coating it seems to wander of my mouth onto my philtrum.

I am persevering though, and want to expand my reds past just two. What are your favourite reds?

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