I’ve recently decided to experiment with lipstick.
I’m not quite sure what made this happen; I’ve tried and failed with lipstick many times in the past. But I a bit convinced myself that this failure was largely down to smoking, which always presented some serious lipstick difficulties. It’s hard to make your lipstick stay on your face when you’re busily chaining your way through a packet of Marlboro menthols. Invariably, I’d put some lipstick on and 20 seconds later it would all be in the ashtray. Along with all my money. And some of my lung function.
But it’s over three years since I gave up smoking now, so my time-honored excuse for entirely ignoring a whole chunk of the makeup world is no longer valid. In fact, I told myself, lipstick would now be like a great big bright badge in the middle of my face which declares that I am no longer spending so much time with a cigarette on my lips that there’s no chance of anything else spending any time there.
And not only that; it would also be the marker of my being a Proper Grown Up. Because lipstick is what Proper Grown Up Ladies wear, since they’re the ones who are sensible enough to not accidentally smear it all over their faces or to put it all over their teeth.
But, if I’m totally honest, the thing that appealed most was the fact that if you’ve got some decent lipstick on then you can mostly just ignore the rest of your face and still look properly done-up. Maybe this is why Proper Grown Up Ladies go for it; because they’re the ones who’re old enough and smart enough to realise that by opting for a decent lipstick over a decent eye, they’re getting themselves another 10 minutes in bed.
So yes, I was very, very up for this being my new thing. But so far, it’s not going all that well.
It all started going a bit wonky as soon as I decided to give this lipstick thing a try. Because the tried and tested favourite is the Strong Red Lip, and I am a ginger, and red is not a ginger’s friend. So I have been trying very, very hard to find a suitable colour which doesn’t make me clash with my own face.
I did a bit of googling, and a bit of staring at the makeup in Boots in a panic, and I thought I’d found a really good coral. But then I put it on, and my farthing wood friend asked me if I was feeling well, because I was looking really pale and weird. So it turned out that one was a bit bright. I tried something more “classic” red, but it made me look jaundiced. I found a brown-based red that I bought for a fancy dress party, but it made me look like I’d gnawed at my own lips so badly that they’d started to scab over.
And actually, since then it’s turned out that gnawing on my own lips is a bit of a problem. I never realised til now, but I have a habit of chewing on my bottom lip when I’m nervous. And since I have a good old anxiety disorder, I’m nervous quite a lot of the time. So I end up either scraping chunks of lippy off with my teeth, or going for a stain which just sits on the gnawed bits and gives me dalmatian lip.
Then there’s the tea. I may have given up smoking, but I swapped it wholesale for a whole other (admittedly less lethal) addiction, which is no more lipstick friendly. I spent half the day drinking tea, and the other half reapplying the lipstick that has migrated from my face onto my mug.
So really, I should probably just abandon this experiment since I can’t find a lipstick shade to suit me, and even if I could I wouldn’t be able to make it either stay on my face or not become weirdly polka dotted. But I really, really like my extra ten minutes in bed.
So instead of giving up, I’m just going to resign myself to looking a bit like a clown who’s had a run in with a spaghetti bolognese while I wait for the old faithful “exfoliating your lips with an old toothbrush” trick to kick in and make things more even. And for someone to take pity on me in Boots and wander up with the lipstick that is PERFECT for me, before I end up deciding neon pink is the way to go.