Tara and I got lost in the wonderland of Harrods’ beauty counters, I have been planning to write about my luxury lippie epiphany, and so here finally is that post. It did cross my mind though, that at the rate things are going, there may come a point when my Wikio (aka ebuzzing) ranking is so embarrassingly low that I might as well take the badge off my blog. Or conversely brazen it out and leave it up there for its not inconsiderable comedy value. And if I do on occasions put up a cosmetics-themed post right after my ranking has plummeted again, it is more in the spirit of patting a toad to see how far – or indeed if - it will hop, rather than any serious belief that I could climb up the greasy pole (greasy because it is of course well moisturised) to a top 20 or even a top 40 Beauty Blog ranking.
But back to our muttons - or muttons made up as lamb - which is of course an ever present risk when you get to my age.
In a post last year, talking about her favourite sensory discoveries of the autumn across a variety of product categories, Katie Puckrik posed herself the question:
When I discovered the world of fragrance in my late 40s, I felt I had stumbled through a wormhole into a new sensory dimension which had more or less passed me by up till that point. I wondered at the time – and still do - if perfume was acting as some kind of HRT, evening out my moods through its ad hoc style of aromatherapy, and bolstering my femininity as I stood on the cusp between what it pleased me to think of as my “late youth” and the slow descent towards old age and invisibility.
For a long time I pursued my ideal of a Holy Grail Scent, and thought I had found it in Guerlain Plus Que Jamais until the “dark actors” at IFRA chopped its legs off. I still nurse the fantasy that one day I may smell the scent that is quintessentially me – or the me I would like to be, even – but for now I content myself with some near misses and my remaining stocks of PQJ.
And meanwhile I have recently discovered high end makeup...! Like Katie, I do consider it to be another type of sensory discovery - one that has the potential to be as good for my morale as it could be disastrous to my wallet.
Then I have got it into my head that somewhere out there are my Holy Grail pink and peach lipsticks – maybe even a subdued orangey red, though anything else might be pushing it, "true reds" being a notoriously difficult shade range to pull off. That way lies a look which, on the wrong person, one beauty blogger tellingly likened to “the business end of a chicken”. Yes, I am proceeding with caution, keenly aware that for most of my adult life – for even longer than I went scentless – I probably wore lipsticks that were not especially flattering, some of them even featuring the derided characteristics to which Katie Puckrik also refers in her post of “yack-attack glitter, sparkle, or other gleamy crud”.
These klutzy choices I put down to a number of factors: misguided yet persuasive sales assistants - like the one in Boston who sold me the frosty orange MAC Jist and some super tacky clear gloss to go on top when I was well into my 40s - compounded by my own slavish belief in a matching look: “Oh look, there’s a neon coral red in a matt finish that goes exactly with my red Sloppy Joe sweatshirt!” Never mind that the occasion for wearing such a vivid red (even were I much younger and blessed with the appropriate skin tones to work the look) was never going to be a jogging outfit...
Beyond that, there were the many free lipsticks that came in those little cosmetics bags you get given when you buy two items of skin care or make up of a certain value from a high end brand. The GWP fosters a certain defiance in the purchaser: “Look, this Highland Heather Diamond Sparkle Shimmer lipstick was free, so I am damn well going to wear it.” And the catch-all reason for my other bad acquisitions is simply my general nerdiness and lack of fashion sense. Down the years I have displayed an unerring knack of wearing styles that a) do not suit my body shape in the first place – especially not in those ice cream pastel colourways and b) have come and gone and not yet come back again. I think the word for this may be “counter-cyclical” – when speaking of the economy certainly – but I do know that in fashion terms it is Not A Good Look.
an earlier post in reference to make up generally.
Yes, it was time to pull the pillar box reds, bin the bolder browns, nuke the nudes, lose the lilacs, and give the hot pinks the old heave-ho.
Katie Puckrik herself urged me to be ruthless:
“Lipsticks: I beseech you to turn in any arms older than 5 years of age, and that's pushing it.”
In all, I chucked out 18 of my 27-strong lipstick collection, some of them dating back to the mid-80s. It wasn’t too much of a wrench once I got going, because when I put all the wrong ones together, they somehow managed to look wronger still en masse.
And even the ones I allowed myself to keep – partly on the grounds of their relative youth, but also my perception that they may suit me – I am not wholly sure about at this point, especially not the darker, slightly magenta-y end of the pink spectrum that narrowly escaped the cosmetics cull.
Red and pink pariahs
Peach and brown baddies
Peach and brown probationers - note that brown on the far right doesn't come up nearly as dark as it looks, and was a personal recommendation by Wordbird, so trust me on this...
Going forward, the problem I have is that my skin is naturally yellow/sallow in tone, while my lips are quite pigmented with an almost mauve tint to them. The bottom line is that my complexion doesn’t go with my lips, so the deal is either to find something that will cover the pigment of my lips and work with my skin, or let my natural lip colour take precedence and match my lipstick to that, thereby running the risk that my mouth will clash horribly with the rest of me.
I have found a few new shades I like such as Burberry Beauty Lip Mist in Feather Pink, and have also earmarked A TON for future investigation: the Chantecaille Lip Chic and NARS Lip Gloss ranges, plus other untested shades in the Burberry Lip Mist and Lip Cover ranges, but for now the HGLs continue to elude me.
And then just yesterday, Mrs Bonkers Senior gave me a freebie Clinique lip gloss she had no use for – Clinique Superbalm Moisturising Gloss - in Ginger. Mrs Bonkers Senior is more of a Vaseline person when it comes to lip care. So I put it on today and it was very moisturising – a bit sticky and a bit too glossy maybe - but most of all what struck me was the colour: it was YLBTS – "Your Lips But The Same".
So now at least I know that if anyone asks me what exact colour my lips are naturally, I can truthfully say "ginger"...
UPDATE: I hope that if I do get around to buying one of those ultra-slinky bullet shaped Burberries, I don’t literally bite it, as the title suggests. For I have just watched a Lisa Eldridge make-up tutorial on YouTube about five different ways to wear the same lipstick (Tom Ford Black Orchid). There was in fact one understated look that Lisa demonstrated which she referred to as a “stain”, but grape-coloured stains on your teeth wasn’t it.
And I realise we have been talking about lipstick, but I have now watched a bunch of other videos by Lisa and it has been a revelation! I feel I am being mesmerically sucked into a vortex where magical transformations happen, and that I am poised to make a slew of purchases of tools and make up items in other categories. Brow care! Eyelash curling! Armouries of brushes! Yes, it has been a real eye-opener – or it would be if I put a white dot in each inside corner.
PS Thanks to the Get Lippie blog for inspiring the title of this post. : - )
PPS Any lipstick recommendations for my challenging sallow skin-and-mauve lip combo gratefully received!!
Photo of girl with red lips from re_ via Flickr CC, photo of tree from tubbus via Flickr CC, photo of Shiseido office from DaraKero_F via Flickr CC, photo of Clinique Superbalm Moisturiser in Ginger from harlowstar.co.uk, photo of Burberry Lip Mists from Burberry's website, photo of Lisa Eldridge from sweethealthnut.com, other photos my own