Sunday, 20 November 2016

Memories of Aunt Helen's Red Lipstick

Although red lipstick is often considered a sexy look, I don't know any men who like it.  Most of the men I know object to any lipstick on the grounds that there is no way they want to kiss lipstick covered lips.  I'm not sure I can blame them for that attitude as I am not sure I would want to kiss lipstick-covered lips either.  The taste and texture would not appeal to me.  In general, most women are not putting on lipstick intending for it to result in being kissed.  It may even serve as an armour against it.  I wonder if red lipstick is in fact a very big sign saying these lips are not for your pleasure.

I have always loved lipstick best out of all types of makeup and it's what I am most likely to waste spend money on.  I'm always looking for the perfect, signature colour but even if I come close to finding it, I then get a bit bored and want something new.  It's a bit strange because I don't consider my lips my best feature and the usual advice is to accentuate our best.  Makeup trends come and go and I haven't been too inclined to follow them since I was about fourteen when all I wanted was pale mauve eye-shadow.  My attempt at getting some was thwarted by the helpful cosmetic counter lady who steered me towards a bronzed-purple.  The cosmetic counter ladies have always seen that I was warm-toned despite my own inability to.  I envied Jennifer at school, who had heavy-lidded eyes covered in thick pastel lilac.

Today, the bright red flowers on my Zygo cactus made me think about my Great Aunt Helen, the only woman in my family who wore red lips.  She was an aunt by marriage, we shared no blood but she was much loved and more so than the peculiar man she married who was my grandmother's brother.  Aunt Helen always wore her lipstick.  She probably also powdered her nose, as her generation did and so did my grandmother who wore no other makeup at all.  Aunt Helen's colour was a bright coral-red, quite vivid and yet, it was so much part of her it didn't seem out of place at all.  She was not darkly coloured and I only ever knew her as mainly grey-haired.  I can't recall the colour of her eyes but suspect they were grey-blue of some sort.  They twinkled, and that is what you noticed most about them.  If they were brown they were not overly dark.  I don't know what her lipstick brand was, but it was available from a small town drugstore so I can guess.  I don't know what the colour was but memory tells me it was something like this.

                          Revlon Fire and Ice could have been the one she wore though it looks different depending on who wears it.  Whatever she used the colour above is similar to the effect she achieved.                               

 Aunt Helen grew up in Jamaica and had a definite preference for bright and warm colours.  She accumulated plenty of orange and gold coloured home decor pieces in the seventies.

Photos give me the impression she wore brighter colours when she was younger, and I don't know if her tastes changed or if she thought it was fitting to get a bit more muted with age.  Her favourite colours to wear were red, green and brown, a trio I have always loved myself.  She would likely add golden yellows, oranges and sometimes purples in a blouse pattern or scarf.  Her hair was worn in two braids on top of her head until someone gave her an adorable wavy pixie cut when she was in her late seventies.  She often wore a beret and a scarf that could best be described as Hermes type.  She had a sort of old money type of sophistication that I would not have known to call that when I was a child but I could see it was distinct.  There was nothing pretentious about her but she was more put-together looking than her sister-in-law, my grandmother, who had a harder life and little room for glamour. 

I don't know how much my taste is influenced by Aunt Helen or just coincidentally more like hers than any other family member.  It's certainly not genetic.  Her colour preferences were a little bolder than mine and she wore flamboyant patterns I would probably avoid, but I always thought she looked great, distinctly herself, and I relate to her love of warm colours and floriental perfumes.  I have orange things all over my home, as Aunt Helen did  and my current favourite lipsticks are warm with orange undertones,  not as bold as Fire and Ice but  I find myself wanting to wear my orange-red lips  with little other apparent makeup, just as Aunt Helen did.  Whatever a lipstick looks like in the tube or whatever it might be named, different people get a red lip effect from a variety of shades that are not obviously red until worn. A bright coral-red looked just right on my aunt but would look out of place on me, competing with the rest of me.   My version of red is a terra cotta colour and I'm sharing it below.

I should probably question myself over putting this photo out in public but, here goes...

No makeup and unwashed hair but a dap of lipstick helps.  Let's call it my French Girl Look.  This one is a terracotta red in the tube and on my lips.  Wet n Wild Megalast lipstick in Sand Storm, goes on smoothly, is matte, a bit drying, has pretty good staying power and doesn't have a flavour or scent that irritates me.

Seeing the colour on me is not necessarily useful to other people.  I think sometimes the effect of the colour with the overall face can be different from what it looks like close up and of course our own natural lip pigmentation always affects the colour. This is another blogger's close up of Sand Storm It seems to look lighter on her than it does on me, and more orange.  Burnt peach?  Still very pretty but not so much a version of red.  This is closer to the effect I get with Revlon's Abstract Orange.



  1. I love the story of your Aunt Helen! I had an Aunt Ann who had a similar influence on me - she was a very bold and striking woman who wore whatever she liked. I remember bright creamy pink lipstick.

    I like purple-reds (or straight-up purple), bricky-reds and orange-reds in my lipsticks. I think this terra cotta colour looks wonderful on you, Shauna!

    1. Hi Sheila, thanks for visiting. I would expect your lips to be bright so they match your eyes and straight up purple sounds about right. :-) Bright never looks right on me, but oranges and browns seem to work. My face is not meant to have bold lips but it seems okay with brown-oranges and brown-reds. xo

  2. Thanks for sharing the info, keep up the good work going.... I really enjoyed exploring your site. good resource..
    Red lips


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