Sunday, March 24, 2013

This Charming Dame Lesson 4 - The Red Lip

A Kiss can be many things - a greeting or farewell.  A way to comfort.  A sign of love.  A build to passion.

There are many types of kisses - Butterfly Kisses, Eskimo Kisses, Air Kisses, Kisses on the cheek, Kisses on the hand, Kisses blown to one another (that may or may not be caught and put into a pocket for safe-keeping), and the full-fledged Kisses filled with love, passion, and unmistakable 'intent'.

Philematology, the study of kissing, has discovered that while the earliest references to kissing can be found in Indian Vedic Sandskrit texts around 1500 BC, most cultures and civilizations focused on kissing in a non-sexual manner.  Despite the fact that kissing rings or robes to show social rank in the feudal societies or as part of religious practices was prevalent for centuries, public displays of affection were frowned upon or even prohibited - only maternal kisses between mother and child were acceptable.  It was not until Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome that it became commonplace for lovers and married people to kiss on the lips in a non-maternal manner.  The Romans warmed to the idea and identified three types of kisses - osculum (the kiss of friendship, usually on the cheek), basium (kissing on the lips), and savium (a kiss of passion now referred to as a French Kiss).  In the Middle Ages, due to rampant illiteracy, kisses were also used to seal documents in place of a signature, to which the custom of a woman kissing the bottom of a letter can be traced.  And then the London Plague of 1665 put an end to kissing in any form as people were afraid of contracting the disease.  We also see the evolution of the standard social greeting of shaking hands stemming from a kiss on the hand during the Industrial Revolution.  Truly, this is a fascinating subject - even Charles Darwin studied Philematology...give it a good Google.

"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."
                                                                                                                                 -Ingrid Bergman

The power of a woman's kiss has always been undeniable...Echo and the Bunnymen sound like they're fans!

Most kisses are still non-sexual, and a pout made up with Burt's Bees or Blistex is more than appropriate.  Lip balm is the everyday go-to.  Easy and quick to apply.  No fuss, no muss, no big deal.  It's the lip equivalent of wearing yoga pants and flip flops to run errands.

M.A.C. Plum Dandy
There is a little more maintenance involved in a light shade of lipstick.  You are much more put together with even the slightest amount of color, though there is far less precision that goes into its application when compared to a darker or brighter shade.  For years now, my go-to shade has been M.A.C.'s Plum Dandy.  While I would have never picked out this shimmery plum color for myself, it came as part of a holiday package and I fell instantly in love!  It works very well with my olive complexion and green eyes, and I'm constantly amazed at just how beautifully it will pull a whole look together!

The ultimate, however, the ideal - is the Red Lip.  The Red Lip is classic.  It conveys passion and sex and is an integral part of the bombshell persona.  The iconic Femme Fatale would have never come about with a frosted pink lip...only the Red Lip is appropriate.  And because every woman has at least a little Femme Fatale lurking somewhere beneath the surface, it works just as well for Audrey as it does Marilyn.  While this fact should be comforting for most women, the idea of wearing the Red Lip is still very intimidating to many.  It is bold, making a definite statement, but requires finesse and precision.

The key to a really great Red Lip is a lot of upkeep (there are few things less attractive than a faded or feathered red lip) and perhaps even more important is the perfect shade.  Unfortunately, with red lipstick, one shade does most definitely not fit all.  Like the Lost City of Atlantis, or the Fountain of Youth, the perfect Red Lip is what most women find unattainable, yet are continually striving for.  Personally, I have NINE different shades of red lipstick and two red glosses...and these are only the ones that I've held onto with the optimism that one day I will be able to work them into a somewhat regular rotation.  Years ago I had this figured out decently well, but I fell out of practice and (admittedly) became lazy about the whole thing.  But now I've decided to make a change and start incorporating the Red Lip more often as it really is quite glam!

Can you imagine this photo with only lip gloss?  

There are some widely accepted basics when wearing red lipstick:
*Make sure that your lips are exfoliated and moisturized.  There are lip exfoliators on the market or you can use a soft toothbrush to remove dead skin.  A flaky lip ruins every look you could ever possibly attempt.
*Use a good makeup primer (I use this one and it's fabulous) to keep your face makeup flawless.  The entire look should be very precise.
*Use a lip primer (such as this one that I just purchased) or concealer on your lips to cancel out your natural lip pigment and allow your lipstick color remain true.  Also, concealer around your lips will further prevent feathering of your lipstick.
*Line your lips with lip liner.  Makeup artists seem to be divided into two camps - one that believes you should match your liner to your lipstick and the other that believes it should be a neutral shade.  Those that favor the red liner also recommend that you fill your entire lip in with your liner to make your color last longer.
*Another key to making your lipstick last longer is multiple applications - apply one coat of lipstick.  Blot with a tissue.  Apply a second coat.
*Apply a dab of gloss in the center of your bottom lip.
*You want to make sure you don't end up with lipstick on your teeth, so when you've finished, insert your finger into your mouth, purse your lips around it, then pull it out to remove excess color.

Lastly, let's talk about the different shades for the different skin tones.  Here are some generally accepted principles:
*All Skin Types - Creamy true reds will work for most people
*Fair Skin - Berry or blue based reds to compliment cool undertones
*Olive Skin - True reds for yellow undertones
*Medium/Tan - Orange based reds to bring out warm undertones
*Ethnic - Coral tinted reds to compliment caramel skin
*Dark - Bright orange based reds for warm undertones or burgundy based reds for cool undertones.

Or you can throw all these rules out the window and experiment.  Do what feels right and have some fun trying out different shades and layering them to get your perfect red.  Here are some of the shades I own that I will be revisiting:

M.A.C. Russian Red
M.A.C. Ruby Woo
M.A.C. Red
M.A.C. Dubonnet
M.A.C. New York Apple
While these may look similar to one another, I assure you they are all quite different.  And I'm going to have a lot of fun playing around with them!  All this talk of kisses and the Red Lip and I didn't even mention one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of a Red Lip - the iconic image of a lipstick mark on the collar of a man's shirt.  This wouldn't be nearly as dramatic or scandalous with a neutral lipstick shade (and I do appreciate the visual drama)!  I've never personally seen a man with lipstick on his collar and I feel like this just doesn't happen much part because most women don't regularly wear a bold shade of lipstick.  It reminds me of the episode of Mad Men where they are trying to come up with slogans for Belle Jolie lipstick, one being 'Mark your man' though they ended up going with the 'Basket full of kisses' campaign which is also brilliant.  PS - SO excited for Mad Men to come back in a few weeks!!

Do you regularly wear a Red Lip, Kittens?  Have you marked a man as your own in this way?  While I'm sure it's the Kiss of Death (see what I did there) for a white shirt, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to do this at least once in my life.  Just seems to retro!

To see my inspiration for the 'This Charming Dame' series, please visit Quite Continental Charm School.

Kisses!  Besos!  Küsse!

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