Lipstick with a difference

Move over mundane nudes and the usual spring suspects. These new hues for lips take bold to the next frontier

When Mary Katrantzou sent her models down the catwalk in a liquid sky blue lip during her spring/summer 2012 show this year, it was the one time the huddled throng of hawk-eyed beauty journalists looked away. They did the same at Vivienne Westwood Gold Label, as the models poured down the catwalk with a smattering of violet-blue lipstick. The reason for their disinterest? A statement lip is neither marketable, or, really, publishable. It lacks a certain allure. Blue lips neither mimic a youthful pink flush, nor conjure smoky images of Hollywood siren’s pouting through the camera lens. In fact, blue, isn’t a colour that says much at all (bar Smurfs and that horrific Eiffel 65 song) – and what it certainly doesn’t say is beautiful.

But beautiful on whose terms? The glossy magazines that have served our multicultural society so poorly to date, or the advertisers whose idealised beauty sits within such small, immovable margins? Fortunately, it seems the tide is beginning a gradual turn on what’s deemed acceptable or beautiful in society, and it’s filtering down into the colours we’re choosing.

David Horne, Illamasqua’s director of new product development has been in the industry for over 20 years and has seen the change evolve. “We’ve seen people wearing our new matte teal lipstick Apocalips on the street and it’s becoming a bestseller. Women like Nicki Minaj and Jessie J are setting a new standard for beauty that’s borne of experimentation. There’s a zeitgeist moment happening now – people are ready for change. It’s the idea of turning yourself inside out and expressing how you feel on the outside with makeup.”

Now the stakes have been raised, and it’s all in the way you wear it. But don’t fear the onslaught of clown-like rainbow shades. The way to wear a statement lip is with nude eyes, a feathering of mascara, perfectly concealed skin with a neat slick of midnight-blue Disciple (£15.50), for example. Paired with a clear gloss it takes on a new shadowy-luxe entity of glassy petrol shine. Barry M’s Green 149 (£4.49) is surprisingly pretty with a peachy eye, whilst Morgana Cryptoria’s Absinthe (£8) adds a little turquoise into the mix, with an utterly on trend metallic finish that can be taken to the next level with a little Sleek Molten Metal in Gold Leaf & Pewter (£7) daubed in the centre.

If this all seems like too much effort, too great a risk, or perhaps you’re happy with your current hues, you could consider changing the way in which you apply colour. The ‘orchid lip’ at Prabal Gurung this season was two shades working in contrast, an inner blackberry flourish in the centre of the lips was beautifully offset by a pink shade around the edges. Or perhaps try an ombre lip, using two similar shades – like red and hot pink or orange) for subtle effect. But the simplest way to push a colour to the next level is to apply your lip colour, and then pat on a similar shade of pigment like MakeUp Forever’s Pure Pigment in Carmine (£11.50, preciousaboutmakeup.com) – I use this on top of M.A.C’s Ruby Woo (£13.50, maccosmetics.co.uk) for a pop art red to beat all other reds.

So finally, my call to arms is this: when we’re being sold ideals of perfection, or told what colours we should be wearing this season, look beyond and find the trends not placed at centre stage. While blue lipstick isn’t for everyone, a little trial and error with a deeper purple, or a more hi-gloss blackberry is worth the danger.

Anita Bhagwandas
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