I bet you have read it by now: Sali Hughes “A love letter to red lipstick”, published in British Vogues August 2018 issue.
“Red is for life, a state of mind, a personality type, a tribe. It’s beauty’s boldest, chicest, most iconic and attention-grabbing badass. And like all the best things, it’s simply not for everyone. But it is always, and forever, for me.“ – Sali Hughes, „A love letter to red lipstick“, British Vogue 08/2018
And in a world full of makeup trends that come and go, I agree. Red lipstick isn´t a trend. It is a state of mind.
10 years ago though, red lipsticks wasn´t something found in my bag. In fact, I was kind of a late bloomer in terms of red, starting to wear it at the no longer tender age of 29.
Makeup, yes, I wore makeup before that. Smokey eyes, heavy layers of foundation, I wasn´t shy in terms of painting my face. But I had read that thin lips don´t suit bold colors, and my insecure self stuck to neutrals and lip balm.
What changed, you ask? I did. Not in terms of lips, they are still as thin as ever (probably thinner now with age). In terms of how I see myself.
You see, being a woman in medicine isn´t always easy. I was always ambitious, and in order to be taken seriously you have to avoid anything indicating you were weak. For the longest part of my working life, I didn´t wear makeup at all. Maybe a touch of mascara (commented upon in the operation theatre), a dab of concealer on a zit – nothing else. My makeup was reserved for the weekends, my guilty pleasure.
And even there, being the center of attention wasn´t something I felt comfortable with. Smokey eyes? Yes. Red lipstick? No.
I think it was reading blogs and realizing how much I loved those powerful red lipstick looks that made me change my mind. One day I set off for my local Douglas and purchased Lancôme Rouge Vibration 104 – my first red lipstick love.
I will always remember the look on my boyfriend’s face when I came back later that day, proudly wearing my red lip, adrenaline rushing through my blood from the challenging walk home through the crowds. I knew there was no going back.
He knew that too, and even though I suspect he didn´t love them half as much as I do (apparently most men don´t) he never complained and even encouraged me to wear red on our Wedding Day three years later. I didn´t, I wanted to be able to carelessly kiss, but even now, years after our divorce, I cherish this memory as proof of what a kind and supportive man he was.
Shortly after I started wearing makeup at work. At this point I had worked in the same hospital for three years and figured if people wouldn´t take me seriously by now because of me wearing eyeshadow, there was no point in trying any longer anyway.
I became senior physician on ICU, despite wearing red lips.
People did take me seriously.
But every so often, a new consultant entering the surgical team would dismiss my opinion with a remark about wasting time on makeup and not being up to date with clinical studies. This kind of sexism is still strong here in Germany. No one made that mistake twice.
So yes, I have been challenged because I wear red lipstick. It is bold and attention-grabbing, you have to be ready to stand your ground when you don it.
But at the same time I have hidden behind it. When I was dealing with above mentioned divorce. When I learned I had been cheated on (another man, not the reason for the divorce). When I was facing challenges that scared me to death. A red lip stops everyone from suspecting you are unwell, while many times exactly the opposite is true.
These days I wear red several times a week. I wear it at home with little else, I wear it to the office with a flawless base, I wear it on nights out with a smokey eye despite the fact that my current husband is very vocal about the fact if I do, there will be no kissing.
Red is, and forever will be, my color.
More “Red lipstick love”? Dorota shares her experiences on Beauty Drama Queen.