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making faces :: lips out loud

the idea of using colour to enhance the lips isn't by any means new- cleopatra did it and many of history's most fearless women followed in her footsteps. the bold lip has long been a method of standing out. even today, it's considered a fairly strong statement, something that commands attention. as much as cosmetics may be a woman's domain, a bold lip is almost unladylike- being unnatural, distracting, forceful. it is a subtle but certain fork in the eye of the continued convention that women should be beautiful window dressing.

interestingly enough, bold lips may also represent a sort of economic war paint, a strong, wilfully optimistic statement in the face of financial doldrums. traditionally, strong lip shades have been in vogue during times of economic crisis. that's not a hard-and-fast rule, after all the 1950s saw unprecedented growth in the economy but also the popularity of cherry red lips a la marilyn monroe. but the seventies malaise saw the rise of glam-infused grins, the recession of the early eighties brought colours so bold they were nearly blinding. likewise, the early nineties saw both both day-glo brights and heavier-than-stone matte browns and reds. even the last few years have seen a return of colour, just as economic indicators have done elegant swan dives.

whether it's a woman's way of insisting that dire financial circumstances will not get her down, bracing herself for the economic battles ahead, or putting a brave, fearlessly happy spin on a bad situation, we apparently love to wear these emotions on our lips.

personally, i've always loved a bright pop of colour on the lips, because it's such an easy look to work with. as i've mentioned recently, getting ready in a hurry is sometimes an issue for me and i find that a strong lip colour with very little else is both very quick and very polished. it also helps that lipstick formulas have advanced and made this an easier look to get away with.

sure, you can have bright, shiny shades, but if you want full impact you want a matte colour. since matte lips don't reflect light, all you see is 100% saturated pigment. the problem for years was that matte lipsticks were painfully dry and tended to flake off the lips like painted dandruff. it's comparatively recent that cosmetic companies have figured out how to make shades low on shine, but high on comfort.

SEE SOME OF MY FAVOURITES AFTER THE BREAK...



and in honour of the dreaded "sequester" threatening to wreak havoc with the economy of the united states and all their trading partners [that would be all of us] and the heavy hand of austerity choking growth across europe, i thought i'd bring you some of my favourite ways of flipping off the economic powers that be by giving them some serious lip.

estee lauder :: violet crush

this was a limited edition shade from their fall 2012 makeup collection, one of two matte shades released. both are beautiful, smooth and comfortable, last for hours and make one wonder "why did they make these limited edition?" the formula is very smooth and not at all drying. the colour lasts well and, while it's not completely matte, it definitely has less of a satiny sheen than lauder's regular lipsticks. considering that the company doesn't have a standard matte option, adding these would have been a nice start.

"violet crush" is right on the border between pink and purple and, as if it wasn't irritating enough that it was limited edition, it's a shade that's extremely hard to duplicate. mac "rebel" is a bit darker and has a bit more red to it, which makes it look a little more berry in tone. this one is very 70s-80s eerily unnatural in tone: lips would never be close to this colour in nature. you could go quite costume-y with this one, adding heavy contours to the cheeks and electric colours to the eyes, paired with a short asymmetrical hair cut.

or you could try to wear it without looking like you're playing dress up and just keep the rest of your look simple. in my case, i wore it with anastasia's "my bedford" eye shadow duo and mac "dark diversion" fluidline gel liner.



although the colour is no longer available, do keep an eye peeled at estee lauder counters. after having decided to pass on them, i found both tucked away in plain sight at one of the counters i often pass.

giorgio armani :: the red

i did an informal review of the new [last november] armani lip maestro matte lacquers, but to add to that, i have become quite fascinated with the strange, almost mousse-y texture of these rich liquid lipsticks. they don't ever quite become fully dry, so you always have just a little bit of leeway to correct unevenness. one of the problems with matte lips generally is that the formulas have always been so unforgiving. if the colour is uneven, it tends to stay uneven unless you complete remove it and start from scratch. these are more forgiving, but still give the intense colour and longevity that you expect from a matte formula.

i find these feel less tight on me than a lot of liquid lipsticks, although if i'm in the office where it's as arid as the sahara, my lips do need some help by the end of the day. in places where there's a more humane level of humidity, you're unlikely to have any problem.

this particular shade, #400 or just "the red" is the liquid version of armani's flagship red lip, a shade that they include in every formula they make. intended to be universally flattering, it runs neither warm nor cool, but is always very bold. if i'm being really picky, i'd say it leans just a little blue, but that could also have to do with my cooler undertones.

the shade obviously needs no further embellishment, although i do love a nice bold cheek with a red lip, so i used mac's bright orange [although it looks like a warm red on me] "devil" on the cheeks, topped with a little bit of chanel's "poudre signe". on the eyes, it's nars "vent glace" and yves st. laurent's "gold star" cream liner.



most companies have a red that just leaps out at you and, as a result, this is a shade that reminds me of several others [mac "russian red" for certain], but i have to tip my hat to armani for coming up with perhaps the boldest red ever designed. taking pictures, i felt like it was hurting my camera. you need confidence to pull off this shade, but it's so nice and light on the lips and easy to wear that it can actually help you feel more confident just putting it on.

mac :: candy yum yum

the cult shade with the crazy name that sold out in record time both times it was offered last year took a while to grow on me, i admit. i'm not usually a wearer of bright barbie pinks, but once i tried this on, after it was made permanent this year, i had to admit that it was kind of special. it's pure, sugary, unadulterated fun and i couldn't really see wearing this to work, but it does just scream "happy happy" wherever it goes.

it's a very cool, very bright bubblegum shade that would suit complexions from ghost-pale to blue-black, because it's just going to be itself, whoever is wearing it. it's worth noting that, bold as it is, it doesn't look obnoxiously bright on. at least, it doesn't have to. the fact that it is so cool seems to give it a lightness that very bright shades don't normally have. that said, i think that has something to do with my cooler complexion. in the same way that vibrant shades of warm pink, red or coral show up very hot on me, i think that this would be much more shocking on a woman with an olive-toned complexion.

this is one of mac's new mattes, which are truly wonders to wear. mac went from having some of the driest, stiffest matte formulas on the market to having one of the absolute best. it's light, smooth, wears well and is absolutely not drying in any way. they are a pleasure to wear and outshine several of their more expensive competitors.

as much as i could see going all-out and dolling this up with more shades of pink, i figured that it was probably a better idea to try it out with softer colours on the eye. i used the light, sparkly whie-gold shade from guerlain's "liu calligraphy" palette, along with the limited edition mac shade "ochre style" and "dazzlelight" a nice, neutral highlighter.

i did take a little more time getting the right combination of blush and powder for this one, using a dusting of bobbi brown's "porcelain pearl" highlight powder and guerlain's limited edition "parure de nuit" for an extra light on the cheeks. i also blended guerlain's "serie noire blush g" to bring some colour and just a little bit more warmth, to keep the whole thing from looking too frozen. and because i was feeling particularly ambitious, i also used chanel's "notorious" to contour and give a little added depth.



so is a bold lip something you like to do? or are you more in favour of keeping things natural? feel free to share some of your favourite shades.

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