Making Up For The Lost Lipstick Years

— by Nilgin Yusuf


Photo of Sandria Plummer by Claire Pepper. Hair & makeup: Louise Heywood


Spring into summer always feels epic. First come modest white snowdrops followed by the more strident daffodils. Pink and purple crocuses, irises and pansies pop out of grass verges and trees become encircled by billowing clouds of cherry or almond blossom. Last week, I spotted my first Red Admiral and a furry bee flew past my kitchen window. Summer really is on the way.

I never tire of these miraculous blasts of post-winter colour but this spring, they’re more welcome than ever. On Sunday, the clocks went forward an hour, gifting us sixty more minutes of daylight. And the sighs of relief that accompany this simple act of adjusting timepieces were deeper than usual because for the first time in two years, we were officially mask-free. It was on Jan 27th that face coverings were decreed no longer obligatory in indoor settings, in England (I’m still wearing mine on public transport and in shops and confined spaces). Although Covid 19 is still with us and we all have to learn to live with the virus, the fact we can now make an informed choice about protective coverings makes this British summertime feel like something of a homecoming and celebration. And what better way to mark not having to wear a mask than by applying one’s most defiant lipstick?

As nature reveals her dazzling rainbow, we humans seek out lighter, more colourful clothing to replace winter woollens. With make-up, too, we’re more inclined to turn up the volume to reflect the sunshine. We might dab on some blusher or twirl a mascara wand that isn’t black or brown. Instead of merging with the autumn shadows, we are drawn to the light.

For two summers, lipsticks have been relegated to the bottom of make-up bags. Well, what was the point in putting it on to have it smeared off by a mask? But this year, we can bloom with the blossoms. It was Audrey Hepburn who said, “On a bad day, there’s always lipstick,” and I know exactly what she means. Sometimes, it feels like wish fulfilment, a determination to have a good time. Or perhaps it’s the colour that ramps up our dopamine levels and lets the sunshine in.

Some research out there insists that brightly coloured lips are all about attracting a mate; that when we apply something called Calypso, Coral, Fiesta or Fire, all we secretly aim to imitate a baboon’s backside and send out some primitive sexual signal. No. The combination of wax, oil & pigment applied to our laughing gear does so, so much more. It makes us feel more positive and in control, lifts our spirits and reconnects us with our feminine selves.


2022 is time to make up for the lost lipstick years.


Nilgin Yusuf is a freelance writer. You can find her on Twitter @Nilgin and Instagram @nilgin_yusuf



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    Spring into summer always feels epic. First come modest white snowdrops followed by the more strident daffodils.