It’s no secret that confidence is one of the first things that people notice about others. Although studies have shown that good confidence can help you professionally and personally, many struggle with actually feeling this confidence daily. Physical changes, like a new haircut or a wardrobe overhaul, can help evoke this confidence. But for those of us looking for a less drastic change, a statement lip colour can be the perfect answer. Fall is the perfect time for you to try something new, like a strong, bold lip, whether you’re hoping to return to school in fashion, amp up your work look or impress your friends with your new brave and powerful image.

To find the first uses of lipstick, you’d have to travel back 5,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia. Mesopotamian women used crushed jewels to colour their lips and eyes. Later, Egyptian women combined iodine, seaweed and bromine (which is extremely toxic) to dye their lips. Cleopatra preferred crushed bugs to insects her lips, a tactic still used in today’s cosmetics. In the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth I popularized dark lips, achieved by mixing beeswax and plant dye. Although makeup use died in popularity soon after Queen Elizabeth I was succeeded (and was associated with a lack of morals and prostitution), it made a comeback centuries later, and Guerlain began manufacturing lipstick in the late 19th century. This lipstick was composed of deer tallow, castor oil and beeswax and was sold in silk paper. By the early 1920s, acceptance of regular cosmetics use became acceptable in England, especially in East London. In the United States, lipstick was more widely accepted by 1912. Before 1915, American women produced lipstick by combining aluminum or calcium and carminic acid from cochineal insects found in Mexico. In 1923, the first swivel lipstick tube was invented in Tennessee, and the popularity of silent films and celebrities shot lipstick use into complete popularity. Lip gloss was invented in 1930 for silent film actresses, though it soon became popular with the masses.

Trends come and go with lipsticks. Deep red has always been a popular shade with women, influenced by flapper-looks and silent films. However, stronger colours were discouraged for youths as they were believed to indicate promiscuity and loose morals. Elizabeth Arden was one of the first brands to introduce a range of lipstick shades, inspiring other cosmetic producers to do so as well. By the 1950s, “smearproof” lipstick was marketed, and by the next decade lipstick became necessary to appear feminine. The following years brought a wide of range of lipstick looks and colours, from black (found in punk and goth subculture) all the way to neons and even white.

I’m a big fan of statement lips. Just the other day, my roommate and I were planning to head downtown when I asked , “statement shoes or statement lipstick?” It was between a pair of fuchsia wedges or orange-coral lips. It was a perfect example of how makeup and lipstick can make a plain outfit for errands have an extra oomph, and bring the wearer extra confidence. However, I find I’m often asked by women (and men) how to know which colours work on what skin tones. Although the internet has many useful guides (like this one), trial and error are your best start. Head into a Sephora, or a local drug store, and test out a range of colours. Or, pick up an inexpensive palette and try the colours out; it can be fun to mix colours to create your own (plus, photoshoot and red-carpet lips rarely consist of one lipstick colour). Your favourite colours and brands will be based on your preferences and individual skin tone, so experiment! Makeup is supposed to be fun. I’m an auburn/red-haired, pale woman, and I love to rock a bold fuchsia, bright red or deep plum or brown lip – you don’t need to be a certain skin tone or look. Some of my favourites are Vagabond Mauve by L’Oreal Paris (#550), Fuchsia Fusion by Revlon (#657), British Red by L’Oreal Paris (#350) and Coral Queen by Rimmel London (#620).

If you’re looking to be trendy, this fall is definitely the time to try bold lips. Diane Von Furstenburg, Zac Posen and Marc Jacobs were just some of the designers who showcased strong lips. Burgundies, reds, fuchsias, wines, purples and browns are all safe lipcolour bets for fall, but bold lips aren’t about being safe! The good thing about lipstick is: you can always wipe it off at the end of the day.

By the way, I went with the lipstick.


This piece was written by Rebecca MacDonald, Fashion Columnist at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Thursday!