What is it about red lipstick?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Insomnia PHT

This morning, after a long walk in the park, Roxy and I sat down on a bench to soak up some sun.

A few minutes later, an elderly woman asked if she could join us.

After petting Roxy, she sat down and started rummaging in her purse.

Roxy, thinking it was treat, sat up and watched her intently.

A minute later, the woman pulled out a small compact mirror and a lipstick.

Roxy, convinced the objects weren’t edible, went back to sleep.

Yet, I sat quietly and watched as she carefully applied red lipstick

“Do you think it’s too loud?” she asked.

Embarrassed that she had caught me watching her, I quickly replied “Of course not. It looks nice on you.”

“My husband doesn’t like it. He thinks it’s, what’s the word he uses? Scandalous! He thinks it’s scandalous.”

“Well, I think it’s perfect.”

The lady looked at me and smiled.

“I do too,” she said. “It makes me feel alive, happy. And it’s such a fun color. Wouldn’t you agree?”


I smiled as she bid us farewell and coaxed Roxy to come out from under the bench.

As I walked home, I thought of the woman’s red lipstick and was flooded with memories.

Red lipstick.

My sister’s favorite.

She always called it her “signature lipstick.”

“Bella,” why would anyone need a signature fragrance when you can have a signature lipstick? After all, people see you before they inhale your scent.”

And she was right.

She was always right.

I remembered how one summer in Spain, my father gave each of us ten thousand “pesetas.”

To a couple of teenagers at the time, this amount was a very generous gift.

Daddy, always the generous soul said, “Girls, spend it on anything you want.”

My sister grabbed my hand and said, “Come, Bella! I know just what I want to buy!”

Ten minutes later, we were walking into a perfume shop called “Fayos” and a half hour later, my sister had spent all her money on Christian Dior make up.

Among her purchases was a red lipstick.

I still remember the name, Christian Dior 846 Sicily.

“You see this lipstick, Bella? It’s going to make me the most popular girl in school. Everyone will come to know me for my beautiful red lipstick.”

And she was right.

Every day, girls would praise her lipstick and ask her where she got it.

One night, I decided to borrow it.

I had a date with a beautiful boy named Bobby and was convinced my sister’s red lipstick would instantly charm him.

As I slicked it on my lips, I knew why she loved it so much.

It was shiny red, smooth, and sexy.

At the end of the night however, I realized my decision to wear the red lipstick, hadn’t been a wise one.

After a prolonged make out session, Bobby, red lipstick smeared all over his face and shirt collar, looked like a vampire after a killing.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I was horrified to see that I hadn’t fared any better.

The red lipstick had extended itself clear out to my cheeks giving me the appearance of a rodeo clown.

Rubbing it off didn’t help and as Bobby furiously tried to wipe his face clean, I was reminded of my sisters words.

“Bella, Dior lipstick is not like ordinary lipstick. It stains your lips and the color lasts forever.”

Forever having red lipstick on his handsome face wasn’t something Bobby looked forward to and he angrily asked, “Why can’t you wear pink lipstick like all the other girls?”

Needless to say, I knew then Bobby wasn’t man enough for a woman in red, so I slammed his car door and walked away, head held high.

Thanking the gods that it was late, I hurried to my room.

There, I found my sister, lipstick in hand, sitting on my bed.

“Oh my God! You look like a clown! I don’t even have to ask you if you used my lipstick.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll never use it again.”

“Good. Cause it’s my signature lipstick. Copycats not allowed,” she said, and flounced out of the room.

Many years have passed since then and now I only wear red lipstick on special occasions; during times when I’m in a playful mood or want to look sexy.

And every time I do, I almost feel guilty about borrowing my sister’s “signature” color.

But then I remember Bobby and think, the world definitely needs more men who can handle a woman in red.

Ladies, do you wear red lipstick?


90 thoughts on “What is it about red lipstick?

    1. Bella and Didi, your mommy must be a very stylish lady with plenty of pep in her step! I think both of you would look stunning in red! And if you add the complimentary red collar–look out! Here come Bella and Didi, the belles of the ball! :)

  1. Never wear lipstick at all, and if i was, I would never chose the red one!!!
    In fact, I’m a No makeup, no nail color, no lipstick, no nothing that might physically make me more visible!
    As usual, I laughed!
    I hope you are getting now emails for my new posts?

    1. Nikki, I am getting your blog post announcements now! Thank you for making that happen! What do you mean, you never wear lipstick? No can do, lady. All woman deserve a little pick me up now and then and what better way than to slick on some lipstick? I think it would lift your spirit and allow you to see another side of your personality! Try it! :)

  2. The dynamic between you and your sister is wonderfully expressed. As are the unexpected consequences of borrowing her lipstick. Thanks for the great story.

    Recently a friend gave me a Red lipliner and my immediate reaction was “That’s not my color”… and then I tried it on. To my surprise I found myself grinning at my reflection and thought “what fun!”.

    It’s certainly not an every day look for me. But like you, I find that it’s good for those days when I have an extra spring in my step.

    1. Eden, how lovely to see you! I think with your coloring, you must look fantastic in red! I agree that it’s a color we may feel a little intimidated wearing in day time but when our spirits are low, when the world seems dim, why not slick on some red and be seen? My sister and I have shared this banter since we were three. (Or so my mother tells me). I love her and to this day, she believes she owns a patent on red lipstick! :)

  3. oh yes!, and one of my favorite shades was given to me by my mom (she’s a huge fan!) and its name is ‘Flamenco'(Clinique), so fabulously Red and Loud!. I like to use it when I wear red clothes and I feel an instantaneous push up!
    (but I think my ‘signature lipstick’ is a more modest ‘Magenta Rose’, sigh!)
    And you always make me laugh, dear lady!
    besos en rojo!

    1. Mrs. Allnut, flamenco is most definitely the best name for red lipstick! I associate it with fire, passion, life! I’m with you–red energizes me in a way no other color does. I think you are both a lady in red and a magenta rose miss! I’m delighted to have provided you with a chuckle! Besos en rojo! Oh, and I should tell you that upon checking with my mother, she told me to modify the amount of the pesetas. It appears that one hundred pesetas at the time was the equivalent of one dollar! I had to change it to ten thousand pesetas to equal roughly one hundred dollars at the time! My madre told me, “¿Qué Christian Dior iba a comprar tu hermana con cien pesetas, niña? jaja! :)

  4. I wear red lipstick infrequently – and I’m not sure why, because I love it and it suits me. I think I need to change that. ;-) xoxo

  5. I often forget lipstick, but get compliments when I do wear it, I should learn! Really. I think red would look too orange on me:) it has to be the perfect red.

    1. Jodi, with your coloring, I think red with blue undertones would look best on you. And I think you would look wonderful in red lipstick! Beautiful! :)

    1. Ethel, hello and welcome! Aw, you’re a red lipstick wearer like my sister! Good for you! I’m tickled pink you liked the post. Thank you!

  6. HECK YES. And I do not associate myself with guys who are not MAN enough to handle the red lip. :) Ok, I’m not THAT intense. I love wearing red lipstick, but don’t get to wear it that often these days since I can’t reapply or retouch as often as I’d like at work. :( But when I get the chance to dress up how I want to dress up then heck yes, red lippie it is.

    LOVE the new blog layout, Bella! I know it’s been a while since I made it to your blog, but I’m trying to be better about managing my time.

    1. Laura, no worries about you not making it sooner. I’m very much behind in my visits to blogs I love but I’ve been a little under the weather. Hence, my lack of posts in the last days. Good for you for working on effective time management! And I must certainly agree, men who can’t handle red lipstick deserve the boot! Okay, that was a little too hard core, methinks. But you know what I mean! Long live red lipstick! ha! And you look fabulous in red lippy! “_

    1. Shary, like always, you bring great wisdom to the table. Most definitely there is a gorgeous red shade for everyone! Sometimes it has pink undertones, or blue, or yellow but everyone can wear red. You must look smashing in red lipstick! :)

  7. It’s so funny that you write this now, I’ve been obsessed lately(last 2 weeks) with finding the perfect red lipstick. I thought it was too scandalous to wear it casually, and i never really wear any makeup. But i’ve been wearing just a quick coat of red lipstick and it really brightens up my day and face. This post made me smile. It’s amazing how much a little tube of lipstick can brighten your day and bring back memories. Well written as always bella. I’ll probably post my lipstick quest, and I’ll post back to you.
    P.S. Thanks for checking in on me, made my day.

    1. Una, I am waiting with anticipation for your lipstick quest post! You most definitely look lovely in red and I’m glad you’re slicking it on to feel to feel more lively! It’s been forever since I bought a new tube of lipstick. The last red one I owned was in fact a Christian Dior and I still have some shreds of it left. They really do last forever! I’m so excited you’re back to posting, by the way! I’ve missed you! :)

  8. LOVE this post, Bella…what a FUN memory and what a glorious reminder of how important red lipstick is to women! I used to wear it all the time…not too bright, but still red…and miss it now and again. I think when I get back to the states I will have to get my favorite one again. YAY! Thanks for reminding me of a simple joy that really puts a smile on my face:) ha!

    1. Brynne, you and red lipstick, even if it’s not too bright, should be best friends. A joyful and optimistic person like you OWNS red lipstick! We must really get ourselves a new lippy and strut through town, pairing it with our phenomenal woman walk! Who do you think is going to stop us? hee hee! :)

    1. Ariana, what do you mean, dearest? With your coloring, I can’t imagine you wearing anything BUT red! Think of how vavavavoom you’d look! ha! I’m delighted you liked the post! :)

  9. I have a passion for lipstick. True, I buy other makeup, but not as much as I buy lipstick. I have at least 25 right now, my favorites being the red’s and purple’s. On weekends, when I’m relaxing or running errands, I wear brown’s. Pink’s and Orange’s on occasion. Oh, yes, I love lipstick. Bright is best on this Latina skin!

    1. Monica, 25 lipsticks? How utterly lovely! Now that’s what I call being passionate about lipstick! hee hee! We Latinas shine in bright colors, hon. Pink, unless it’s a darker shade, is not a color I’m too fond of but I love me some red lippy! I’m also a fan of the nudes, not bright, but very sexy when paired with a smoky eye! :)

  10. Your sister reminds me so much of my sister! I loved this story.
    I wear lipstick every day but never wear red. So bright with my pale Canadian skin :(
    I have a dear friend who feels naked without her red lipstick … “positively NAKED!” she tells me!
    Oh someone – YOU – could write a book about red lipstick ladies through the times!

    1. Astra, when we were younger, my sister used to say the same thing–“I feel naked when I’m not wearing my red lipstick!” I think we should write this book together! Imagine the chuckles! You’re a fair lady but then so are Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani and they’re rocking red lipstick like nobody’s money! And so can you, friend! :)

  11. I have a lipstick wardrobe. Though I ususally wear a pink or peach, I do have a couple of reds. I like a coral red or true red better than a purple-red for my skin tone. But I rarely wear it. It seems costume-like or unnatural somehow. Only with a fabulous dress or to a really special event would I dare to wear it. Love this story though. What a nice memory.

    1. Renee, thank you for your kind words. My mother is a lover of pink lipstick but then, she does have very fair skin and light eyes. I’ve used coral red in the past and it’s also beautiful. I can see you wearing red with a fabulous dress! How stunning you must look! :)

  12. ****Needless to say, I knew then Bobby wasn’t man enough for a woman in red****

    This post was abundanty ‘KICK ASS’, Bella. You are an incredible, flowing, amazing writer.

    One of my fave. “Red Lipstick” stories is about one of the officers who worked on Carnival Cruise Lines w/ me.

    He used to say quite OFTEN, “Kim, when are you going to wear that bitch red lipstick again with those bitch red nails?”

    btw, he was gay & he loved girls who dressed up….

    Mr Liverpool and I… still giggle about this.

    Great Fabulous Post, deaest. Xxxxxx Kisssssssssssssssssssssssssss

    1. Kim, you do my writer’s heart good, lady! Thank you for your sweet words. I think I would have liked your friend from Carnival Cruse Lines. He sounds like my favorite funny sort! I love that you and Mr. Liverpool are “gigglers,” by the way! hee hee! Kisses for you! :)

  13. Oh yes, the world definitely needs more men who can handle a woman in red. I bet you looked terrific wearing your red lipstick. I haven’t worn lipstick (makeup) in a long time (to my mother’s horror) but yes, I’ve worn red lipstick. I like red nail polish.

    1. Paz, why is it that mothers like for their daughters to wear make up? I think my mother is the only exception. Growing up she would tell my sisters and I, “When are you girls going to go bare faced and let your skin breathe?” Daddy, on the other hand, always said, “You look pretty either way, honey.” What a charmer he was! I think one day you should experiment wearing a little make up, if only to see what it feels like. I don’t wear it during the week but come the weekend, my little makeup pots come out of the drawer! :)

    2. Bella, I always thought it was because of my mom’s era? I don’t know — ladies are supposed to always wear makeup, lipstick, etc… even when going to the grocery store… I love your mom and dad’s outlook on it. :D I especially love your dad’s response. Oh, I’ve worn makeup plenty of times… Used to wear it all the time when I was younger. I made all the makeup counters very rich. LOL! I just reached an age when I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. If anything, now, I’ll use the occasional face powder and that’s about it. If I really need to use some makeup, I won’t turn it down but I no longer like to use it. Weird, I know, but that’s just me. :)

    3. Not weird at all, lady. I’m the same way. I used to spend a great deal of my hard earned money on makeup back in the day. However, I can pinpoint exactly when I stopped doing that–when I had kids. Suddenly, all my money was being spent on ballet classes, swim classes, recitals, and so forth, and Christian Dior and YSL had taken a back seat. Sigh. Now that I don’t have to be for extracurricular activities, there isn’t any money left! How’s that for irony? hee hee! :)

  14. I don’t wear a lipstick of any color, I just don’t like having it on my lips. When I was a teenager, I used a brown one a few times, and it looked good on me (pale skin, blue-green eyes, brown hair with some natural red pigment). I do wear some red clothes from time to time, people definitely notice you in that. :)

    1. Ivana, you’re right–red is a show stopper kind of color isn’t it? I love nude shades too. They’re my favorite day color and sometimes at night when I do a smokey eye. I find that when I don’t wear anything on my lips they tend to dry out. With your coloring, you must’ve looked nice in your brown shade of gloss! :)

  15. Love it!! I remember one year going to a dance, and I was going to wear a black dress. My hairdresser told me, “now don’t put on very much makeup – keep it pale – then put on bright red lipstick”. She was right – Looked very sexy! Now I thought I was too old, but after reading your story, I may try it sometime again!

    1. Oh Nina, we’re never too old to be ladies in red! I’m at a stage in my life when I think we have to stop thinking we’re too old to do anything. Except perhaps bungee jumping. But red lipstick? Come on, lady! If those ancient Hollywood starlets can wear it, so can we! And you with your fair complexion and light hair? Stunning! :)

  16. My mother-in -law wears red lipstick, and in her eighties it still looks great against her Hungarian complexion and dark hair. I look better in peach against my peaches and cream English skin, though I wear pink or magenta sometimes, depending on what I am wearing. I do adore red though. Red shoes, red purse. If I wear scarlet red it blends well with peach make up. Here ends the lesson of me and red!

    1. Elizabeth, you always make me chuckle! How lovely you must look in your peaches and cream hues paired with a stunning scarlet shade! Your mother in law is a woman after my own heart! What a diva she must be! I think I want to be just like her when I grow up! :)

  17. Oh, Bella, what a delightful post! I do wish I could be “the red lipstick type,” but alas, it’s not meant to be. My ruddy Irish skin looks awful in that sexy shade! I prefer subtle mauve, deep rose, and shades of pink or purple. But my Italian mama used to wear red when I was a little girl, and on her, it looked fab!

    1. Debbie, no worries since all that really matters is that you slick on your lipstick and feel like a goddess! I am visualizing what your Italian mama must have looked like with her red lippy. What a stunner she must have been! I’m so happy you like the post, lady! :)

  18. I love this story!! I personally don’t wear red, but usually head more towards browns and pinks. Maybe it’ time I branched out. I’m inspired! I’d pay a pretty penny to get hear what happened to Bobby when he got home. ha!

    1. Lori, I never heard from Bobby after that night. I think he may still be pissed I ruined his shirt! hee hee! Hey, as far as I remember, he was the one sucking my face off! ha! I’m tickled “red” you like the story! :)

  19. Bella, that image of Bobby looking like a vampire was great!!! Ha ha. Yes, bright lipsticks are not so good for kissing, nor for going to the dentist. But otherwise love them! I can’t quite wear bright red, so I do more of a maroon hue. (One also has to be careful not to get it on the teeth :()

    1. Jann, if you and I could share a double espresso, I would regale you with tales of just how many times I’ve gone out in public with red lipstick on my teeth! ha! Poor Bobby. He really did look fit to audition for the Twilight Series. Too bad it happened so many years before the Twilight hype. (Which also goes to show you how far ahead of the vampire trend we were! ha!) I love red lipstick, lady! I just have to remember to wipe my teeth before going out! :)

    1. Rachel, I find that there’s nothing better than good lipstick. The cheap kind, while it can provide you with a pop of color, tends to fade, run, and even smear. Argh! Hence, I recommend you pony up for some YSL, Channel, or Dior. After all, you’re worth it! :)

    1. Sulekha, I am ecstatic you liked and found my tale funny! Good riddance to Bobby! He wasn’t man enough for me! hee hee! I love how you mention this could be an effective way from weeding out boys and real men! Love it! :)

    1. Aw, I’m so pleased! I thought that with the start of spring, it was time to brighten things up and bit! Thank you for your kind words, lady! :)

    1. Savira, I love that you have your signature lipstick! I think my sister would want to be your best friend if she knew! hee hee! :)

  20. I hardly wear make up and lipstick is for dress up days…a very muted shade of plum. Red is certainly not my color – but I do admire people who can carry it off!
    And hasn’t Bobby indeed been marked for life – the poor boy/ man!!

    PS: Hope you got my second e-mail.

    1. Corinne, plum must look wonderful on you! I’m afraid I can only pull off a very dark shade of plum. Sigh. Bobby, wherever he may be now, I’m sure will never forget the bad experience with “lip tint,” as my sister called it. hee hee! I did get your email and will reply later on tonight. Thank you so much for thinking of me! :)

  21. I loved this post! I feel like I was right there with you! My mom had a beautiful compact and lipstick case with her own signature red lipstick. She NEVER went anywhere without it. When I was younger, I wore red lipstick all the time. There is just something femme fatale about it! Now days, I search for a more muted red, but red nonetheless! I will check Dior out! Bobby was a boy. It takes a man to handle a woman who wears red lipstick and ALL that implies!

    1. Nan, sing it, sister! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Take that, Bobby! hee hee! I love that your mom has a compact and lipstick place that house her signature red lipstick! How chic! And I’m glad you’re a “red” lady. I knew you would be! And thank goodness for men like Alpha Hubby who know how to appreciate a fearless woman–and all that implies! ha! :)

  22. I love this post, Bella, from your interaction with the elderly lady to your adventure with your sister (she sounds like a gem) and Bobby. I use makeup only on occasion but I remember when plum was my signature lipstick color when I was young. ;p

    1. Hi Adriene! I’m thrilled you like the post! I think you would like my sister if you met her. She’s quite the character and funny! Oh my goodness, she’s funny! I have a plum lipstick I haven’t used in years but now that I’ve heard it mention here a couple of times, I’m inspired to use it! :)

    1. Totsy, I’m happy to have been able to tickle your funny bone! And yes, I don’t think the rodeo seen a better made up clown than me that night! hee hee! :)

  23. I wear dark plum lipstick. There, I said it. Dark. Not bland. Bland makes me look dead.

    I remember those make out sessions where lipstick went places it didn’t belong. I just hoped my parents were in bed in case I couldn’t get it all wiped off 8). I’ll bet Bobby thought the same thing.

    My mother wore no makeup except for red lipstick. Merle Norman, in a gold case.

    I particularly like the spunk of the lady in your story. Good for her!

    Superb post and thanks for the memories!

    1. Eloise, isn’t it funny how red lipstick always holds special memories for all of us one way or another? Either we wore it, or our mother, or our grandmother. The point is somebody wore it! I remember having to slink past my parents’ bedroom, hoping neither of them would be awake to witness the state I was in! hee hee! Those were the days, lady! The lady in the park served to remind me that just because you’re older doesn’t mean you have to be less sassy! Thank you for your kind words, sister. They are much appreciated! :)

    2. And thank you for your upbeat post – it is much appreciated! I want to be that lady in the park, someday. I hope I have the internal drive to get there!

  24. Hi Bella, I loved your story. I love how a chance encounter in the park with a lady applying lipstick brought back your childhood memories. I too have a sister and I used to “borrow” her clothes, make up, etc… so I could relate! Thanks so much for visiting my blog!
    Take care,

    1. Hi Lisa! I’m thrilled you like the post! Aren’t sisters wonderful? I wasn’t too keen on having my sisters borrow my stuff, but I sure loved to borrow theirs! I think it’s a good thing I was the oldest! hee hee! And you’re welcome. It was my pleasure! :)

  25. Oh my, your anecdote is so fun to read! Your sister is a daring one, and so are you. I like how red lipstick looks on others but I don’t think I’ll put on one anytime soon. My sister bought a CD red lipstick last year and used it once for her company dinner. She looked great! But haven’t used it since.

    (I like the natural rose balm. Actually I don’t use lip gloss or lipstick anymore. They stick and smear too much. Or I’m too messy! Lip balm … ah ~)

    1. Claudine, I can’t believe your sister hasn’t used her CD again! I weep at the thought! hee hee! I love lip balm too and use it everyday. I think I’m addicted to my lips being coated in some kind of ointment. I really dislike dry lips! You should see my sister and I in action. Actually, she’s thinking of joining my mom and me this summer and I can hardly wait! Imagine the blog posts I’ll be able to write! hee hee! :)

  26. I love this post! I love seeing old ladies rocking bright red lips and feeling oh so scandalous and I love the description of you and your sister. I would love to be red lipstick wearing woman but I seem to eat off my lipstick as soon as I put it on.

    1. Kristine, I am honored you like the post! Isn’t it fun to imagine what all kind of women look like wearing “scandalous” red lippy? Just today I saw an elderly woman wearing a muted shade of red, accompanied by a pair of “Jackie O” shades. She looked fantastic. All I could think was, I want to look just like her when I grow up! hee hee! What do you mean, you eat off your lipstick? Okay, that one made me laugh! :)

    1. Lady, and that would make two of us! I somehow want to believe that perhaps someday I will be as daring as the older woman when I get to be her age! We can only hope, right? And for the record, I think you would look lovely in red lipstick! :)

  27. I was suddenly inspired by Gwen Stefani to go out and purchase the glossiest, brightest, red lip I could find this week. I’ve never worn it before, but red suits me. I decided to wear it to work. My friends at work likes it and all started saying the wanted to buy a red lippy. I had a spring in my step for moooost of the day but yeah…. I sure got some straaaaange looks from some of the more “senior” women in the office. I then started panicking that I looked like Id raided my mum’s make up bag or it was just a bit too much.

    1. Hi Mimo! I can see why Gwen Stefani inspired you–red lipstick is her signature! I don’t think red is ever too much unless you’re wearing it really early in the morning. And besides, who cares? If you feel good wearing it and it puts pep in your step, I say go for it! Let the senior women look! hee hee! :)

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