Some days, I need a little confidence boost – and the first thing I reach for is a red lipstick. In a funny way, it gives me courage, makes me walk a little taller and even feel sexier.
That might sound like a strong emotion to attach to something so superficial, but it’s much deeper than that. Lipstick can have a profound effect on how you look and feel. It can alter the way you see yourself, and the way others see you. In midlife, that’s important for all of us.
Society can make us feel invisible as we age. A slash of red lipstick will counter that. It’s one of life’s small but significant pleasures, and we need those more than ever at the moment. But red represents confidence, too – and that’s what my new lipstick is all about.
It’s partly about visibility. I know some women say they’re afraid to rock a red lip because it will attract too much attention – but surely that’s the point? We deserve to be seen, and admired, at every stage of our life, particularly this one.
I don’t want to disappear as I grow older. Why should I? It’s vital that we fight against the invisibility that’s one of the most brutal parts of ageing for many of us. Why should we start ‘acting our age’, or dressing in ‘appropriate’ clothes, just because the world is afraid of a midlife woman who steps out of line?
Society demands that we know our place – but it’s a place I don’t ever want to be. There’s no red lipstick there, for a start.
In the field of colour psychology, red is the shade most closely associated with passion, as you’d expect, but for many it’s also about action, energy, and even in some cultures, luck. But red represents confidence, too – and that’s what my new lipstick is all about.
Getting out of our comfort zone can be scary. Sometimes it’s all too easy to lean into the idea of invisibility and even allow yourself to disappear on days when everything seems a bit much. But use a red lip as you would armour – not to hide behind, but to add to your power. It’s a bold statement.
You’ll get compliments, which will boost your self-esteem. And nothing, for me, is more empowering than when someone, particularly another woman, stops me in the street to tell me she loves my red lipstick.
Red lips can give you an edge in your working life too. A Procter & Gamble study on women in the workplace found that wearing makeup can increase perceptions of a woman’s “likeability, trustworthiness and competence”.
When researchers at the Université de Bretagne-Sud studied seven waitresses who served 447 customers in three restaurants in France, they discovered that those who wore red lipstick earned up to 50% more in tips than those who wore pink or none at all. And another weird bit of economics: Leonard Lauder, who coined the term “Lipstick Index” during the recession of the early 2000s, noted that lipstick sales can soar when the financial outlook is uncertain.
The history of red lipstick is a tale of power and influence. It was a shade made for queens. The first women to come up with the idea were the ancient Mesopotamians, who crushed stones to create a very early version of red lip colour. The Ancient Egyptians followed suit, perfecting the formula by combining wax and carmine to create a bright red paste. It was worn by Cleopatra, queen of the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt from 51BC to 30BC, and a woman who owned her look, if the representations we have of her are anything to go by.
Strong women have been rocking a red lip ever since. It’s a colour that will never not be in vogue. Its sociopolitics can be complex, but it’s a shade that’s undeniably cool. Think of Helen Mirren, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Campbell, Iris Apfel – all over 50, and all wearing red lipstick with ineffable style.
A red lip can be your superpower, filling you with confidence or courage, and may even make you walk a bit taller. And that’s what we at Studio10 are all about and why launched our ultra wearable, looks good on everyone empoweRED red lipstick.