During a meeting recently, talk turned to the resurgence of bright, bold ‘give a damn’ lipstick, recently spotted on streets, dancefloors and public transport across the land. I realised that, growing up, it would never have occurred to me to reach for a lipstick bullet - lashings of Rimmel kohl, spidery lashes and slick, Juicy Tube-d lips were the look du jour. With the dawn of TOWIE et al, we didn’t stray far from this aesthetic, except that fake tan and false lashes came to the fore (not to mention swollen, collagen-filled lips and frozen foreheads). Lipstick was something my mother and grandmother wore, thus about as far from cool and cutting edge as you could get.
What I failed to realise, and have since come to appreciate, is that lipstick largely eschews the hocus pocus and ‘problem solving’ promises of other cosmetics. It doesn’t correct, it enhances, and there’s something to be said for a product that has over time been employed to build war morale, been worn by Roman emperors and doted upon by powerful, gutsy icons such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe . It can also be swiped on in two seconds flat.
Yet if lipstick is such a gamechanger, why the lull? And why are we seeing a comeback? I put these questions to the Lipstick Queen herself, Poppy King .
“Lipstick is coming back because women want to return to a sophisticated idea of glamour rather than the reality television vision of glamour, which has become so extreme.” Poppy explains. “The desire to wear lipstick is a desire to reconnect dignity with glamour.”
MORE GLOSS: Glossip Girl - The red lipstick revamp
If the link between refined, worldly-wise glamour and a killer lipstick is growing ever stronger then the proof was surely on this week’s Met Gala red carpet . From Suki Waterhouse’s hypnotic matte scarlet to Amber Heard’s brick-hued red, not to mention Joan Smalls’ daring violet, the world’s most striking women embraced lipstick in every colour and finish. Poppy’s personal favourite look of the night was that of a fellow Queen:
“Beyoncé’s deep wine lips with pared back eye makeup combined with the netting of her cocktail hat was a chic combination.”
This modern and flattering take on lipstick isn’t just for the likes of superstars and catwalk models, however. Poppy’s main mantra is that lipstick if for everyone. Age and colouring are irrelevant, there’s just one small matter holding women back from playing up their lips:
“You can never be too old or too young, only too shy. The biggest misconception is that you need confidence to wear lipstick when actually it’s the other way round, once you wear it, it gives you confidence!”
Whether in the workplace or the pub, confidence is something that doesn’t always come easily to women, but Poppy firmly believes that lipstick can give you a lift that slippery gloss and Scouse brows simply can’t. It’s a little touch that ups the ante and brightens even the greyest of days.
“Lipstick makes you feel powerful because it transforms what you think is possible for yourself,” she explains. “It connects you with an inner strength in a way that no other cosmetic can. It’s like a superhero cape - you feel able and capable of doing anything when you have lipstick on!”
Leonard Lauder’s famed lipstick index established a correlation between lipstick and keeping your spirits up: from Estee Lauder’s lipstick sales he deduced that women purchased more lipsticks during economic downturns. This correlation has since been contested, but I’m still convinced that my gran is onto something. Lipstick won’t make you look like Kim Kardashian (do we actually want that?) or iron out your crows feet, but it will make you feel more sorted, playful or professional. Basically, it can make you feel however you want to feel without masking or morphing your features. My colour-focused column a few weeks back discussed the emerging orange lip trend, but just one glance at the empowered female Met Gala attendees confirms that anything goes.
MORE GLOSS: The bargain lipstick that packs a punch
If you’re tempted by the satisfying swivel of a good lippie but don’t know where to start, Poppy has a few tips for newbies:
“Start with sheer colour. Sheer formulations are a great way to get into wearing it. You get that pop of colour but because the formula is sheer you can still see your natural lip underneath so it doesn’t feel too painted on. Also when wearing sheer lipsticks you can simply apply straight from the tube, so it’s easy”
Whether you’re a seasoned lipstick lover or need a few pointers from Poppy, lipstick is not something that should be dismissed as frivolous, tricky to wear or passé. It’s more modern and cheering than ever, we just sometimes need a little push to realise it. Even A-listers such as Chloe Sevigny need encouragement sometimes:
“If I’m feeling down in the dumps, or like I need a pop of colour, I’ll put on MAC’s Lipstick in Lady Danger ,” she confesses. “ I discovered red lipstick when I did the Oscar season: Chanel sent me one and I realised how classic and glamorous it can be.”
Red, pink, orange or blue - if it does it for you, be bold. Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth and the Lipstick Queen herself would approve.
Is lipstick part of your daily makeup kit or for special occasions only? Are you yet to be converted? Tell me below or tweet @AnnaMaryHunter.
Instagram.com, Getty Images