When you stand on a retail sales floor, pre COVID of course, for almost eight years, you meet an incredible amount of people. The beauty of the retail makeup artists, aka the glorified sales associate is that you are molded by these experiences to think fast. You have about 30 seconds to analyze someone’s features, skin tone, coloring/undertone, and personality vibes to recommend a product to them. It’s a lot of pressure, but I found it exhilarating. This isn’t about me though, this is everything I learned and want to share with you.
The question I heard daily, “What is the best shade of lipstick for me.” It’s as if every customer was going out on this crusade, the hunt for the perfect shade had been almost gamified. In the early 2000’s Allure magazine’s best of, was usually in the hands of said customers, or a shabby piece of paper with the famous, “my friend told me about X shade” and it was the one that every magazine had written about endlessly. Youtube exploded on the scene, to the point that the client’s friend was almost always their favorite influencer. I had never had the inclination to ask a makeup artists what my one perfect shade was, because I had way too much fun wearing them all. Or probably because I as a makeup artist knew this was never supposed to be a monogamous marriage.
I didn’t understand how media happened back then, but I do now, and suffice to say, that while these magazines were seemingly well intentioned, they were wildly misleading. No youtuber, makeup artist, color expert, magazine, instagrammer, or even tiktoker can tell you that there is only ONE perfect shade for you.
After about a year, of playing along with the “perfect shade” question, I finally had to inject myself and my point of view into the transaction. I decided to become the client’s friend, even if they didn't ask me to be---”What if I told you, that there was in fact more than one perfect shade, and that this elusive perfection you are seeking is an illusion.” I would almost always follow up with, do you really want to be limited to just wearing one color?”
I felt like Morpheus in the Matrix, as ultimately I was asking, if they wanted the red pill or the blue. Do you want to keep listening to other people and follow magazine and influencer marching orders, or do you want to build your own identity based on your own values and beliefs. The results were quite alarming at first. So many people wanted me to just “tell them what to wear.” Ie Blue pill, safety in the known and tried and true. They didn’t want to have an experience that revealed what they might actually want outside of the rules they were being taught. It’s as if the task was too daunting or they were too afraid of getting something wrong. Consider me your beauty bestie, there is no wrong answer in this game of self-expression. Sure there will be tones and shades that you feel your best in, and others that suit perhaps only a handful of times per year.
Consider this blog an invitation to think differently about the way you experience makeup. I want you to focus primarily on how colors make you feel. How the textures lay on your skin. What you say to yourself when the color explodes on your lips and when the light reflects off the waxes. Think of that lipstick as an energetic force field that can transform the way you talk and think about yourself. But also, think about how it feels on your skin all day, the intention that was put in to making it. Something else to understand that is paramount in this conversation. Every human has their own unique natural lip color, that will in fact effect the way a particular shade looks on them. There is no shade recognition technology that can accurately reflect that.
For all you liberators out there, that want to choose the red pill, head to https://fempowerbeauty.com/pages/quiz to take a fun lipstick quiz fueled by emotion and values. Be the cultural shifts you want to see in the world.