That would be fine if I were twenty, or even thirty, but I’m not, and here is an honest to god rule for the over-40 female set: do not have your picture taken without lipstick. In fact, don’t go out in the world without lipstick. You will look older than you are, because your lips are leeching color like a balloon left out in the sun.
I was raised by Southern women who would no more appear in public without full dress makeup and pressed blouses than wander naked to the grocery store. My mother can put her lipstick on perfectly without ever looking into a mirror, or even at the shiny end of the tube, and she is never, ever without it. After she eats, she whips out that tube of coral lipstick, swipes it on, blots it with the coral-kissed tissue she always has in her purse, and she’s done. If she’s wandering around the house doing the dishes, she’s wearing lipstick. If you show up at the door and she’s not applied it lately, she’ll excuse herself and go put some on.
I, however, I grew up in the seventies. In Colorado. Makeup was “plastic,” so we didn’t wear any that didn’t keep you looking perfectly natural. You can get away with the natural look at seventeen. Not so much…uh…past 40. And I’m a professional woman. I teach, I travel, I go to book groups and luncheons. I want to look like a grownup when I go, not some refuge from the hippie seventies.
So I started practicing with lipstick. Corals, because that seemed logical. But I have quite olive skin, unlike my Irish mother and grandmother. Coral was not great. I gravitated to pinks, because I read somewhere that soft shiny pinks will make you look dewy.
Not me. Plus they feel sticky.
Berries are supposed to be good for everyone, and I do have several tubes of berry lipsticks, and I like most of them for a day. I keep one in my purse and one in my gym bag because somebody told me once that if you get stuck anywhere, you need at least a lipstick.
What I really love are red lipsticks. Bold reds, not the orangy shades, but the clear, honest crimsons. They look good on me, too, bringing out the blue of my eyes and giving my complexion a nice warmth. I learned to wear red lipstick in Paris with my friend Sonia, and it looks just right there. But red seems awfully blowsy for an outdoorsy town where most people wear performance gear even to the office.
Which brings me back to Carmex. It’s shiny. It’s cheap. I have discovered I can stain my lips with the red, then cover them with Carmex and I look healthy but outdoorsy. It’s not perfect, but it’s what I’ve got.
How about you? Are you adept with lipstick? How did you discover your best shades? Have any tips for me?