A milestone birthday prompted me to update my appearance. A certain color of lipstick was soon to become my signature look. The surprise is in the narrative that accompanies this bright hue.
I’ll Have What You’re Wearing
As I entered Sephora I was completely unaware of the backstory of red lipstick. I had worn Lancome’s “Rendez-Vous” for almost 2 decades. Alas it is not timeless and I knew it was time to retire the color.
I was a blank canvas. A selection of conservative choices were presented and nothing made an impression. I had been enamored from the moment the makeup artist started helping me with her stunning red lips. In what would be a defining moment I was prompted to say, “I’ll have what you’re wearing.” Her reaction was priceless. I’m certain she didn’t think a woman of my vintage could pull off the intensity of color.
“Always Red” Lipstick it is.
I have seen hundreds of shades of lip color but red would be the one for this season of my life! The brand she applied was Sephora’s “Always Red’. It is not a lipstick but a stain. It’s a liquid applied with a wand. Like a grade school child you must stay within the lines- lip line. It has staying power for sure but cannot be applied in a hurry.
I have always appreciated compliments over the years on my choice of clothing, hair styles and jewelry. But the greatest of compliments has been to this shade of lip color. Old Hollywood is the descriptive a dear friend coined my new look. It just works.
Discovering new colors with hair and makeup is all part of the process of aging. The most interesting detail of my upgraded look has been learning about the fascinating history of red lipstick.
Hitler and the Backstory of Red Lipstick
During the years of WW2 “beauty was your duty” was the theme of the day. As women became more and more involved in the war effort, staying attractive was considered an act of patriotism. Red lips evolved to symbolize victory and encouraged morale.
During the early days of war Elizabeth Arden, who founded her namesake cosmetic company in 1910 and a women’s activist, was asked to create a lipstick color for women in service. So in 1941 “Montezuma Red” was introduced. It was a bright, vibrant red, that matched the details on women’s military uniforms. The lipstick was issued to military women along with matching cream rouge and nail polish. Elizabeth Arden also created “Victory Red” for the general public so all women could proudly honor her country with the vibrant red lip color that denoted patriotism. Even the iconic posters of Rosie the Riveter sported her wearing the brilliant hue.
Equally remarkable is the history of red lipstick as it relates to Adolph Hitler. Rachel Felder, author of Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon writes that Hitler “famously hated red lipstick.” It is noted in the book, Compacts and Cosmetics, that, “The Aryan ideal was a pure, un-scrubbed face. [Lady] visitors to Hitler’s country retreat were actually given a little list of things they must not do: Avoid excessive cosmetics, avoid red lipstick, and on no account ever [were] they to color their nails.”
For Allied women to wear red lipstick was in defiance to Hitler’s ideal of a un-scrubbed face. The cultural and social impact of the primary color red was significant in the war years. The act of bearing this color gave women a means to corporately and visibly defy Hitler inspiring confidence and morale.
There is also a great website that provides comparable colors by other cosmetic companies.
Enjoy the season you are in! Evolving, change, maturing is all part your narrative. Your life is a masterpiece being woven into a tapestry of hues with seasons of accomplishments, failings, joys and sorrows. It’s the story of you.
I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’