I love you, Lipstick.
I hate you, Lipstick.
I'm addicted to you. Without you I am much the same as when my computer crashes--stuck in a dry wasteland of lack. My junkie lips crave the moisture only you can provide. Bare lips no longer feel natural, but desperately in need of a lick instead. How did I get here?
Oh, right. God gave me blah, gray-ish, uninspiring lips; the upper lip is darker than the lower lip. There is a natural lip-liner thing going on--which sounds good but doesn't look so great in real life. When I wear you, Lipstick, I feel better. I look better. Prettier, livelier, not so blah. I may be imagining this but I think people react to me in a different way too.
All other forms of makeup pale in comparison to you; you're all I care about. I don't know what happened. In my twenties and thirties I used to wear plenty of makeup--eye shadow, mascara, the whole deal--but now I feel like a clown with that stuff. Especially when I try powdered blushes and eyeliner; it's downright scary. So, I am dependent on you, Lipstick, and that's very annoying. Want to know why else?
Because you lie.
Buy the color that looks so promising on that round sticker so jauntily affixed to the top of your tube, and it's a sure bet that by the time I get home, you will perform like your evil twin. Or better yet, your evil relative, who is hardly related to you at all. And what of your deceptive name games? Why does "Raisin" look more like "Pomegranate?" They have nothing in common except that they're fruits! And why does "Mocha" turn out to be more like "Vanilla?" Just 'cause both can be described as coffee flavors? Come on, isn't that a stretch? To be fair, it's not entirely your fault, Lipstick. I know the way you look on the mouth is based on the coloring of each individual pair of lips. The truth is, banking on that round sticker's promise is simply hit or miss. Yet, still I blame you. In the vain hope that you will somehow deliver that elusive shade, I spend money on you. Lots of it.
As a result, I am an expert on you, Lipstick; but you still manage to trick me. I have experimented on you in so many of your guises-- lip glosses and balms; lip stains; the mattes, pencils and liners; and all--and I mean all--the "super moisturizing" cremes, not to mention all those deliberately misleading "non-drying" and "long-lasting" numbers. So many, in fact, that my husband once bought me a lipstick-themed painting; and my artist friend Laura Ambrosio recently created a work of art with all those unused tricksters floundering like lost souls in the drawer I should call The Lipstick Cemetery. I hate you for your betrayals, yet I can't stay away. Damn. I swore off being a doormat in my twenties! Okay, my early thirties.
But, wait. I may have found a way to triumph over your nasty ways, Lipstick. Without meaning to, my temporary tattoo and body art business provided a solution to my love/hate dilemma with you. In searching for new impermanent ways to stain the skin, I came upon two very satisfying lip dyes--natural products that actually last a full day; that don't leave marks on glasses, that look good and feel good too. Since I now have a reason to buy in bulk and in a multitude of shades, I get to play with mixing all those colors (!) to achieve the perfect hue. I think I'm in heaven.
Recently my husband said, "You're such a lipstick freak, you should write about it!"
So here I am, crowing over my victory. But don't think I'm not aware that it comes with a price, Lipstick. Because if I had to pay retail for all those colors, I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. It's just that I think I'm in heaven.
Painting: Three Lipsticks on a Roadtrip by Christine Hodgins, Sacramento, CA