Many things happen to our faces as we age. Some we accept, some we ignore, some we address. Let’s have a show of hands, please, under the cloak of invisibility. How many have woken up one day, looked into the mirror, and wondered, “Since when are my lips the same color as my face? And who, might I ask, decided this was acceptable?”
As a young woman, mascara was de rigueur, lipstick optional. Lipstick I wore for flirting, for seduction. Lipstick took me to the next level of polish, something a Sturdy Gal always finds elusive. Things change. It is a somewhat curious fact that our lips and skin converge, over time, as though the effort of maintaining a separate existence is too much. Lipstick, in this era, takes on a new role.
Recently I realized I needed a pink one. I did. Please do not question me on this. We’re friends, aren’t we?
How does one arrive at this sort of conclusion? One stands in front of the mirror one day, dressed in navy and white, and realizes that red lips may look too jingoistic, nude too pale. In stead, for those who look best in blue, better pink than all those cool, louche-on-the-Italian-Riviera, shades of peach, coral, or tan.
As it turns out, the best way to choose a lipstick is to take your cue from the color that casts you in your most beautiful light. For me, it’s blue. Leading to the inevitable conclusion that my lips are going to look best in blue tones. Bluish-red, bluish-pink, bluish-nude. And yes, there is such a thing as bluish-nude. Let us review.
Here, as you know, is my red lipstick. Lipstick Queen, in “Medieval.” Very sheer. Sturdy Gals can’t wear opaque red lipstick unless they are completely intoxicated, by one thing or another.
Here is the nude. NARS, “Cruising.” Also sheer, to avoid the dreaded “ghost lip syndrome.”
And here is their new friend, Giorgio Armani Pink #500. Not sheer. Matte, long-wearing. Multi-dimensional color that manages to include both pink and, um, tan? Brown? Sand? In the tube, looks very much like the nude NARS. On the lips, quite different.
This lipstick reminds one of frescos on stucco, the way the pigment takes to your mouth, the way the color appears to layer in multiple shades. I kept sneaking peeks at myself in the mirror, and feeling pretty. It’s a good thing, feeling pretty at 54, when one’s mouth is fading. fading.
I had never tried the Armani colors, but a woman at the Laura Mercier counter told me that while Laura, a brunette, didn’t do blue tones very well, Giorgio, perhaps under the influence of Jodie Foster, was a maestro. I also listened to Donna Artz, that genius of cosmetic application, who has been talking about the Armani pigments in a hushed, worshipful tone (there is also talk of frittatas, in this video). Good guidance.
Just to round out the the story, here are two lip pencils I use. The Chanel works with both red and pink. Ironically, it’s called “Nude.” Women of color have dealt with the Nude Irony for years, so I cannot complain. Chanel makes a great, smooth lip pencil, with a built-in lipstick brush on the other end. The NARS pencil is for a nude lip, and it’s called “Tonga.” What the universe wants me to understand, by naming my nude lip pencil “Tonga,” I simply cannot say.
I anticipate your lipstick wisdom, happily.