The 14 Carat Ruby That Wouldn’t Go Away

17 02 2010

A little over five years ago I stopped wearing lipstick.  It wasn’t anything I did in protest or even consciously really.  My husband hates lipstick, which is why I stopped wearing it.  He never asked me to, but I felt compelled after watching him back away when my wax stained lips would move in for a kiss; or his quick check in the mirror for remnants of the substance after a make out session.  He complained that it not only tasted funny, but he hated walking back in to work with leftover Iced Mocha on his cheek.  So outside of tinted lip balm on rare occasions, I have left my lips naked for over five years.

It wasn’t until this past week that I even remembered that I used to wear it regularly, as I cleaned out my makeup drawer and noticed all of the tubes lying like corpses under pufts and sponges and rice papers.  It was like finding some artifact of some era gone by as I lifted them one by one, twisting up the waxy red hues from their plastic and metal tubes.  And I found myself testing out each, blotting and smacking, smiling and smooching – like some six year old girl who just found mommy’s treasure trove.  I spent two days trying out my old methods, powdering and moisturizing, outlining and sealing, all in a vain effort to keep the lipstick on my lips, not bleeding down onto my pale skin or fading onto cups and skin.  What I quickly found was it didn’t seem to matter – within hours it was sitting in crumbled globs on my lips or had completely faded leaving only a strange tint to my lips.

So I went shopping and spent about twenty dollars on two lipsticks, each claiming to be long wearing with a guarantee of eight hours.   One lipstick is a cherry red number, called 14 carat Ruby, running ten dollars.  One end of the tube has a paint applicator to apply the colour, which is quick drying and hard (think of the crackly feeling of your skin when a mud mask dries and you’ll be in the ball park of texture this creates).  The other end is a very thick, gummy gloss, to add the shine.  On the plus side, it doesn’t come off.  On the downside, it doesn’t come off.  The next day I found myself using my toothbrush to scrub the paint off of my lips and I wondered why it didn’t come with an acetone applicator to strip this crap from my skin.  And even after I got the paint off, my lips continue to have a bright reddish hue.  My husband liked the fact it didn’t taste funny, but that was about the extent of wow factor he offered.

The next number is the standard tube style lipstick, called Crimson Joy and also running about ten dollars.  It promised to be enduring but I want my money back.  It’s very thick and does rub off, the one aspect I was trying to avoid occuring.  But not only that, it creates this silly dark outline, I’m still not sure how, which feathers out around my lips, like I tried to go hog wild with a lip liner.  After about two hours, all that remained was the outline and the remnants of the lipstick on my cup.  And, per my hubby, it tastes bad (plus he has a nice little strawberry on his lips from a simple kiss).

All this fuss and money for the goal of colouring lips which already are a darker pigment than my skin anyhow.  Plus I leave little bits of my presence on everything I touch, from coffee mugs to napkins to my kids’ foreheads to my husband’s lips.  Which made me wonder, why?  Why bother going out of my way to work so hard to give colour to my already coloured lips when my husband likes them as they are?

But also, why are there easily fifty different lipsticks in each brand line in one store if men prefer women without lipstick – 47% of men prefer nothing on lips at all and 26% prefer a gloss or balm with only shine. (1) Are we as women that unconcerned with men’s opinions; do we know better and men are just in denial?  And at a cost of $5 – $15 a tube, why the investment in something that men say they don’t even like?

(1) Source – Softlips Poll, April 2009

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