Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Seeing Red


Thom Browne Fall 2013
Photograph by James Nord
The colour red has always been a favourite for women to wear as lipstick and nail polish. After fashion week in February and March we saw many designers and makeup artists opt for the colour.

For long women thought that red lipstick was for women with blonde curls. We could blame Marilyn Monroe for that misconception but now more than ever, women are embracing red lipstick.

I started wearing red lipstick at the end of 2011. I never used to wear lipstick at all and the thought of red lipstick was a foreign concept. Now that I have spent 2 years wearing it, I can't seem to buy another colour and probably won't buy another colour anytime soon.

Many people don't like the idea of red lipstick as they think it will make them look like a clown. For many years, red lipstick has symbolised a form of female empowerment. Women who wear red lipstick usually look strong and bold, the same goes for red nail polish.

Today lipstick is used as a form of expression and a way to decorate one's face, but in the past it wasn't always seen as a symbol of power or expression. In Medieval Europe, the church banned lipstick as it was an 'incarnation of satan'. How a bit of lip colour could cause such a ban, I am not sure. It was only reserved for prostitutes. During Queen Elizabeth's reign, only upper class women and male actors wore lipstick and red lips and fair faces were the trend. Funny to learn how red lips moved through the different social classes but still held a form of symbolism.

It was only in 1912 when most women started accepting lipstick as fashion and not as an accessory for prostitutes and actresses. When lipstick became acceptable, there weren't many colours available for women to choose from. Dark red was the favourite in the 1920s and flappers wore lipstick to express their independence.

Once wearing lipstick became mainstream, Elizabeth Arden suggested that other companies start producing lipstick in other colours besides red. Lipstick soon became a symbolism for womanhood, adult sexuality and teenage rebellion.

Red nail polish also has a strong history. 1300 BC, gold and silver were reserved for royalty but it later changed to black and red. Nail polish was used  to symbolise social class so you had to make sure you wore the right colour. Egyptians used henna to stain their nails. At first the henna appears orange and later it turns dark red or brown. Henna is still used today in various parts of the world and South Africa by various religious groups.

With such a strong history and symbolism why wouldn't someone want to wear red nail polish and lipstick. I never knew that wearing red nail polish was a symbol of royalty, now that I know that it is, I plan to wear it everyday.
Marc by Marc Jacbos Fall 2013

If the history lesson still hasn't convinced you to wear the colour red, maybe fashion week will.
Thom Browne, Band of Outsiders, Calvin Klein, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Meadham Kirchhoff all embraced the red lip in their autumn/winter shows. It seemed as if Thom Browne even took a page out of the history books with his collection. Most models had fair faces with minimal blush and red lipstick, quite like how Queen Elizabeth I wore it.

Thom Browne Fall 2013
Photograph by James Nord
The nice thing about red nail polish and lipstick is that it can suit any skin tone. Yes, you need to choose the correct shade for your skin tone. While visiting the Sandton Woolworths, I was told that there are several shades of red lipstick that have different undertones. There are orange and blue undertones. I really don't understand the blue undertone, I'm guessing an ox blood red would have a blue undertone?
Scarlet, the hydro lip colour I use from Woolworths
If you are looking to buy yourself red lip colour, Woolworths is the best place to go shopping for your perfect red hue. In my personal opinion, the more red the better! Woolworths sells several different types of lipsticks and gloss which makes it easier for you to choose the right product.


I use Woolworths' Scarlet Hydro Lipstick. According to the shop assistant, it is the best lipstick you can get as it is the most hydrating, hence the name. I have to agree. I hardly have to reapply the colour or lip balm. One or two swipes before I go out and I am A-okay. If you want something lighter than Scarlet, try Cubana and for something darker you can try Apple Cider.

If you are more into shine, then the Sheer Lipstick is for you. You can also try the Cherry Pulp Tinted Gloss. It might not last as long as the hydro but at least you won't have to apply a gloss over your lipstick.

If you want to buy the Woolworths Longlasting Lipstick, get the True Red. It is a bold red that will make a statement when paired with any outfit and attitude. Woolworths also has their own Chubby Stick. To keep up with the red trend, buy yourself the Cherry Red Chubby Stick.

All product images are from the Woolworths website


Hydro Lipstick: R99.00
Colour above: Scarlet
Alternatives: Apple Cider, Cubana Coral

Sheer Lipstick: R110.0
Colour above: Peachy
Alternatives: Tawny

Longasting Lipstick: R125.00
Colour above: True Red
Alternatives: Misty Rose

Lip Pencil Chubby Crayon: R89.95
Colour above: Red
Alternatives: Coral

Lip Gloss Tinted Shimmer: R55.00
Colour above: Cherry Pulp
Alternatives: Cotton Candy

Longlasting Lipliner: R75.00
Colour above: Cherry Red
Alternatives: Rasberry Crush


For a long time I was under the impression that lipstick needs to be paired with lipliner. Apparently there is no need for such. If you do wish to apply lipliner with your red lipstick, make sure it is red lipliner. If you have thin lips, apply the lipliner above the lip line and apply lipliner inside the lip line if you have bigger lips.

When applying nailpolish, make sure to apply a base and top coat. Top coat ensures that your nailpolish lasts long and prevents chips. Always apply two coats of colour then your top coat. Everyday apply another coat of top coat so your nail colour can last longer. To make your nails brighter, apply a white coat first before the red. A nice thing about red nail polish is that it goes well with all nail shapes.

Matte nails have gained some popularity with the rise of nail art. I prefer red nail polish to be very shiny, the shinier the better. If you are a nail art lover, adding a coat of glitter nail polish will make your nails stand out.

If you don't want a very bright red on your nails, you can always wear an ox blood colour which works well for winter. I always prefer to wear a darker colour on short nails and a brighter colour on longer nails.

Nail Polish: R69.95
Colour above: Red Berry
Alternatives: Zesty Orange, Cherry Glaze

Even though red nail polish and lipstick may be on trend now, it is a trend that will last forever. Red nail polish and lipstick is seen as classic and as long as women of every culture and class are wearing it, it will never lose it's place in the fashion world.

Felix Rey Umbrella Photographed by Phil Oh
Milan Fashion Week Street Style
A big thank you to the staff at the Woolworths Sandton store, Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine and Siphokazi Siningwa for helping me write this post.

Follow Woolworths on Pinterest to keep up with their collections and follow their Beauty Board for inspiration.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

I do not take credit for any images used except those created by myself. Powered by Blogger.