Lipstick under siege

Impacting our lives in many ways: From the profound to the mere,
the pandemic has changed our ways.




By Jill Lowe



In the olden days (is that BCE-before current era, or BTP-before the pandemic?- it is all getting blurred), might you have been one among us to have any of the reactions below, when discovering the disaster of leaving one’s lipstick at home?

Photo: Shutterstock license

Lipstick wearing, wherever masks are required, now means we must either tolerate lipstick smeared all over the mask, or all over the face, or both. One such remedy has been to use mask “cages” or “brackets” to be inserted between mask and face, initially for the purpose of easier breathing or to prevent eyeglasses fogging, but it serves beautifully to prevent lipstick smear.

Mask cage or bracket

Too, the makeup industry has marketed increased use of eye makeup, more eyebrow treatments, plus there is an increased demand for eye-catching eyeglasses.

A permanent tattoo of the lips has emerged as a remedy, but can be risky, with me having heard at least one error resulting in Pepto-bismal colored lips.

Long-lasting lip stains hold some promise.

And then there is the option to abandon lipstick in favor of the natural. Hmmm…

Of all makeup items, lipstick can be the most inexpensive item with such power to change one’s outlook. Some of us wear lipstick for others and some for ourselves. Mothers have said “just put on a bit of lipstick” or writers have said, “as long as I have lipstick on, I can write.”

Meaningful quotes include Ruth G. Haskell whose motto was “As long as I have lipstick, I can face anything” – an army nurse in WW2, her memoir “Helmets and Lipstick” was first published in 1944.

or in the words of Joan Rivers “Would it kill you to put on some lipstick?
Who can forget Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s “Hand me my purse, will you, darling? A girl can’t read that sort of thing without her lipstick.

Citing the power of lipstick, people have advised in a cautionary tone that before a major hair color change or style change, to try a new lipstick first. Being so affordable, mistakes are not risks, and if the colors of coquelicot, amaranth, or puce are determined to do you no favor, it is a low-cost endeavor and furthermore, it could be sufficient to rethink other procedures.

As Iris Apfel, that centenarian maven of style said “My Dear- When the lipstick color doesn’t work, you tweak the color, not the face!

Revlon creme lipstick colors

If one needed more evidence that lipstick helps one feel dressed, one need only to turn to Zoom options to see that Zoom provides a lipstick filter. By going to Studio Effects you can add a filter with your choice of color so that you can turn up to a zoom meeting without the need to apply actual lipstick. (Go to settings, background, and filters, studio effects). A cautionary note though – if one then shares a zoom screen with another, be aware that the filter is applied to all people in the zoomed picture, and some husbands may object to the lipstick.

Lip coloring dates back to prehistoric periods with stains of fruit and plant juices used, but more recent history with the likes of Helena Rubinstein (commencing her fledgling empire in Melbourne, Australia after moving from Kraków), and Elizabeth Arden as “ambitious queens of cosmetics” is all described in Lindy Woodhead’s book “War Paint” – a delicious read.

Cosmetic companies include wonderful packaging especially lipsticks and it was and is often elaborate.

General make-up history is highlighted at the Make-up Museum – as yet not a physical public space but can be visited online 24/7

The history of lipstick and bejeweled and decorated lipstick containers are featured in the Lipstick Museum in Berlin, Germany.

Photos courtesy of lippenstiftmuseum: Rene Koch Berlin Germany

Lipstick and lips paraphernalia abound even today

a “lipstick” pen

xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx a lip brooch xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx

mirrored lipstick holders from stalls opposite the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

Photo: Shutterstock license

Will we ever get back to freely wearing lipstick again.? I mean we don’t want to look natural, we want to look GOOD!


Photo of Jill: Joe Mazza Bravelux inc.
Photos not attributed- copyright © 2022 Jill Lowe. All rights reserved
Make-up Museum (no physical space as yet: connect through Facebook)
Lipstick Museum Berlin, Germany (Check status during covid times)
A celebration of the world’s favorite cosmetic LIPSTICK : Jessica Pallingston
War Paint : Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein: Lindy Woodhead
Helena Rubinstein Beauty is Power: Mason Klein. The Jewish Museum, New York
Helmets and Lipstick: Ruth Haskell