If you follow me on Instagram, you will have noticed a few pictures of me wearing vibrant lipstick, and today was no exception. My love of lipstick and its part in my makeup routine is one that has been that been tried and tested over 20 years of experimentation. My mom gave me my first tube of lipstick, and it was a soft neutral with brown undertones that didn’t suit her but that she had received for free from The Soapberry Shop (at least, I think that’s what it was called – does anyone else from Sudbury/Espanola remember that bath-goods store that was in the Southridge Mall but WASN’T The Body Shop?), so pretty much by default it was good enough for me.
That complimentary lipstick was passed along with the caveats that I apply it lightly and only wear it occasionally. To my 12-year-old self, it was daring to press the pigment a little harder against my lips and perhaps give them more definition and attention than my mom would have approved of at the time. Luckily, however, she turned out to be pretty open to my eventual shift into wearing a full-blown “face” and I was never told to “take that stuff off.” Granted, I normally favoured neutrals that were complements to my pale skin and red hair, but no matter the period (tween with glasses and braces, teen with insecurities about what looked right, adult – kind of – and 30-something with a makeup routine down pat), I can always remember the lipsticks I had (have) going as my favourites.
For at least a couple years between the approximate ages of 13 and 15, I was faithful to a shade called Cinnamon Stick, and it was made by Bonne Bell, which was the first brand of makeup I ever bought with my own money. Mainly, this was for two reasons: Espanola didn’t have a lot of choice and Bonne Bell fell into exactly the right price point for a Sudbury Star after-school newspaper carrier. Cinnamon Stick was the colour I wore to my Grade 8 graduation, and because of that it will always be special to me.
By the end of my years-long Bonne Bell phase, I had a lot of those black containers of makeup on my vanity before I started to branch out into more expensive brands like L’Oreal and, eventually, Clinique (the reason for expansion was because trips to Sudbury – and therefore variety – became more frequent in direct proportion to how often someone in my circle of friends got their driver’s licence). What this meant for me was more access to Walmart’s pharmacy and beauty section and the Sears makeup counter.
From these many trips of giddy, laughing teenage girls came the L’Oreal lipstick I ended up loving for years. It came in a muted gold tube and had a very distinct smell that I would know in an instant if I ever came across it again. During this time that carried me into my early 20s, I also became equally enamoured with a Clinique colour – a perfect berry-pink called Surprise that Susie and I kept in our makeup bags until it literally ran out; the shade was (sadly!) discontinued. Ah, that tell-tale mint-green tube!
Somewhere along the line, as I expanded my (literal) horizons, I delved into the wonderful world that is MAC makeup, and I still wear a red lipstick from their line that is called Amplified and that most definitely lives up to its name. I have a couple other MAC lipstick tubes in my rotation, but my absolute favourite brand of the past two years is – hands-down – L’Oreal’s Infallible lipstick, which is what I have on in the picture above (Forever Fuschia). The staying power of this stuff is amazing (the colour fades slightly but the pigment lasts ALL DAY), and because I use Blistex Lip Conditioner underneath all of my lipstick applications, I also keep a hint of shine that isn’t sticky-looking. Back when Clinique’s Surprise was the lipstick of choice, Susie and I also used to obsessively buy and apply a clear lipstick sealer (Wet ‘N’ Wild, I think…?) to help make the colour last as long as our nights did (and sometimes that was very, very late), but Infallible lipsticks don’t need anything but the magical formulation that lives inside those silver casings. Me likey.
To be honest, I RARELY leave the house without at least a little (or a lot) of lipstick on, and because of this I have come to realize the old adage is true – women do turn into their mothers; I can’t count the amount of times I have heard my mom say, “Wait now, let me get my lipstick on!” before being ushered out of the house, getting out of the car, leaving a restaurant, etc…and now that’s me!
You have to give it to me, though – I have at least improved my technique as the years have gone by…