Backstage at Creatures of the Wind's Spring 2014 show
Like fashion fads, beauty trends can be confoundingly cyclical and contradictory. Just when us Millennials were getting accustomed to the no-makeup makeup of the early Noughties – remember how a slick of nude gloss was all we really needed? – the powers that be are gearing up to sweet talk us into piling on the pigments on our puckers.
Yes, big, bright lips are poised to make a colourful comeback this year. (To muddle things up even more, beguilingly bare faces were de rigueur on the London Spring 2014 runways, but that’s another story for another day.)
Before you roll your falsies at us, stop. The push for eye-popping puckers isn’t some forced marketing ploy – there’s compelling evidence to suggest that ladies who may have once eschewed a bold lip are now wiping the beauty aisles clean.
Consumer market research think-tank The NPD Group says the U.S. prestige lip colour segment racked up double-digit sales gains over the last year. “Throughout Europe, sales of lip products are outperforming relative to units sold, especially in lip colour, so this is a phenomenon across the pond as well,” notes Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst of The NPD Group.
The final nail in the nude lip coffin? Even nail polish manufacturers are throwing up their manicured hands in defeat.
“Lip really is the new nail,” admits Laura Weinstein, vice president of marketing for Sally Hansen and NYC New York Color – and this coming from one of the giants of the vernis business, which itself is an exceedingly lucrative one worth $1.6 billion in 2012 in the U.S. alone.
Lipstick litmus test
What could possibly account for the upswing in lippie-loving among ladies? If indulgence were the only factor, we could easily snap up a Bvlgari Serpenti or Givenchy Nightingale and call it a day. Like poring over the fine print on a beauty leaflet, more details start to emerge … and the mystery deepens.
Enter the so-called Lipstick Effect. Armchair economists will be familiar with the theory propounded by Leonard Lauder himself, chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder Companies. Mr Lauder contends that lipstick sales can be used as a rough business barometer: The more wretched the economy, the more likely women are to shop for a cosmetic treat to lift their spirits (and jowls, for that matter).
This paradoxical swell in beauty purchases during a looming recession offers a fascinating peek into a woman’s psyche. On the surface, it may seem completely irrational to throw money at something as seemingly frivolous as lipstick. But when you think about it, while financially hobbled professionals may postpone blowing their wad on robin-blue boxes, they can afford to pamper themselves with a tube of top-notch lippie.
It may be a smallish indulgence compared to a pair of solitaire earrings, but to be attended to like a princess at a beauty cabin is arguably a whole lot more fun!
Tips for nailing the lip
Ready to put your money where your lips are and get on board the big beauty trend of 2014? Here’s how to give your smackers a New Year overhaul. Consider this your cheat sheet to the makeup product that will quite literally be on everyone’s lips this year!
Bleeding you dry. An informal poll among fellow beauty scribes yielded feathering, or the “bleeding” of colour into mouth creases, as the foremost reason for forgoing lippie. Well, the good news is that most formulations today, like Nars’ Timanfaya Satin Lip Pencil ($38), are hybrid stick-gloss products with gorgeous glide and extreme emollience, properties which chip away at traditional lipstick’s drying tendencies.
Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, $29 for 17g, and Nars Timanfaya Satin Lip Pencil in Mandarin Red, $38
To make doubly sure that your lippie stays put, Nicolas Travis, Singapore skincare entrepreneur and founder of upcoming grooming label Allies of Skin, suggests a good scrub to prime your puckers. Try Fresh Sugar Lip Polish ($29), which is chock full of brown sugar crystals to buff away rough flakes.
If that’s too steep a price to pay, consider doing it yourself. “If your lips are super dry, try coating them with a thin layer of soothing manuka honey for about 15 minutes, then rinse off with warm water,” Nicolas says.
One final tip to prevent feathering, and this is a personal secret: Trace the natural contours of your mouth with a creamy nude liner and blend well. This invisible skin-toned “barrier” will “grab” your lip colour and stop it from transversing into “illegal” territory.
Start small. If you’re newly inducted to the magic of makeup, start by conjuring up modest spells. Go to the nearest cabin of your favourite beauty brand and ask the counter staff for assistance in selecting a beginner’s shade – by which we mean a neutral that’s just one notch above your base lip colour. This “true match” will serve as your go-to hue for any occasion where you need to look polished but not too made-up.
Once you’re comfortable with the idea, dial up the drama by experimenting with different hues, or by going deeper and brighter.
Fun times ahead! Some colour codes to live by this year:
Backstage at Helmut Lang's Spring 2014 show
Plum role. A delicious blackberry hue is the best bet for glazing up an evening ensemble. Yes, a purple pout can veer all too easily into goth territory, so start by going sheer with a creamy chubby stick, which will lend your lips a tasty tint that’s buildable as the night goes on and the bubbly fizzes over.
Tarte LipSurgence in Moody, $36, Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist in Berry, $58, and L'Oréal Paris Color Riche in Rubie Follie, $21.90
We seriously adore New York-based eco-chic brand Tarte’s LipSurgence in Moody ($36) or Sisley’s sumptuously posh Phyto-Lip Twist in Berry ($58), both softly tinted salves which will impart a sexy sheen to your plump plum puckers.
When you’re ready to make the transition to full-on lippie, try L'Oréal Paris’ new Color Riche in Rubie Follie ($21.90), a precious oil-infused, moisture-drenched mauve that’s also a fave of the fabulous Fan Bing Bing.
Runway action at Prabal Gurung's Spring 2014 show; M.A.C Huggable Colour in Fashion Force, $34
Orange may be the new red ... Cowed by the prospect of looking clownish during Chinese New Year? Don’t be afraid of Spring 2014’s It colour. Own the orange lip by opting for a cool coral lippie with skin-flattering undertones – and make it matte for a marvelously modern take. Try the new M.A.C Huggable Colour in Fashion Force (shown above), a lush blue-red hue that will lend the illusion of whiter teeth.
… but red is reliably rad. Gwyneth Paltrow is our imaginary pal in our head. We have this possibly apocryphal quote by the Great Goop herself plastered on our bedroom wall: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin – that, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”
This Valentine’s, make like People mag’s Most Beautiful Woman and fire up the passion by slicking on a silky scarlet shade on your smackers. We like the jolt of ‘Kolour’ afforded by the new Serum Intense lippie range by K-Beauty brand Laneige ($34 each). Infused with moisture-boosting squalane, the sticks glide on sheer and are buildable for maximum versatility – dial back the drama for day, and pile it on for a daring, date-ready look!
Illamasqua Lipstick in Maneater, $34 and Laneige Serum Intense in Luminous Red, $34
Lest you find all this talk about lipstick too frivolous for your feminist tastes, we’ll close with one of our favourite beauty quotes by American author Naomi Wolf: “The enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; We deserve lipstick, if we want it, and free speech; We deserve to be sexual and serious – or whatever we please.” Have fun giving good face (and lip) this year, ladies!
Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist, 6 shades at $58 each, is available at all Sisley counters from February 2014. For more information, visit www.sisley-cosmetics.com/sg-sg.