the psychology behind red lipstick.

Dec 8, 2015

Recently, in the New York Times Style Magazine, a columnist deconstructed the cultural connotations of red lipstick. Titled "The Eternal Drama of the Red Lip", the piece describes everything from protests on Yale University's campus to a large range of movies, all of which have one thing in common: red lipstick. "It's more of a concept than a technique," writes Christine Smallwood on the actual application of this lipstick. This alludes to the simple makeup idea of applying red lipstick and nothing else. Red lipstick alludes to power, the article suggests, and this is something most of us can agree with. The psychology behind red is perhaps the most interesting thing; why is it that this color is synonymous with strength? I started reading more about the phenomenon and discovered that people are aware of the power of red. For example, The Red Lips Project, a Tumblr "dedicated to reminding women why they are beautiful", was started by a Swarthmore College student, who believes that red is a mechanism to display your power and identity. In the project, women are photographed in their everyday clothing, with the standout accessory being sleek red lipstick. The project was given significant attention by Buzzfeed, in an article that emphasized women already have the power – red is just a way to show it. The idea that red is a form of empowerment is further fueled by the fashion industry, where red is an everlasting beauty fix.

In the Spring 2016 collections, red lipstick made a comeback on the runway, after a long reign of natural and modest makeup in the past few seasons. Red lipstick is a constant favorite of celebrities, but comes and goes in terms of designer choice. Kendall Jenner has made red lipstick her signature beauty staple, as covered by many a magazine. The cultural connotations of red lipstick are universally known – and it has been labelled as a color which is universally flattering. No matter what skin tone or outfit color scheme you have, a pop of red lipstick is an instant enhancement. For lighter skin tones, cherry-red is a stunning and eye-catching option; for skin tones which are on the darker side, berry shades and more muted forms of red are just as appealing. The amazing thing about red lipstick is the image it evokes – though not formidable, the color is a symbol of brilliance and power, and can give off this impression with a simple application of lipstick. 

– M

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