Basic though it may be, I've always done my make-up with the goal of looking nice. Sometimes it's girlish nice with pinky tones and touches of gloss. Sometimes it's a bit teenage, with glitter and loads of kohl. And sometimes it's grown-up and vampy, all fierce red lips and sharp, angled lines. But it's always 'nice.' Never too edgy. For me, that's the role clothes play - make-up makes me feel pretty and polished, and embracing the newest in fashion makes me feel part of the zeitgeist.
Wearing blue lipstick was therefore always going to be a challenge for me, despite having seen both Gigi Hadid and Nathalie Emmanuel rock it in the past fortnight. I don't want people to look at me like there's something on my face, you see - I want them to see the neatened up, enhanced version of my natural self. And that is categorically not what blue is. Blue is subversive, it makes a statement, and it is just a touch macabre - as husband succinctly put it, ' blue lips make me think of death.' And that's the other thing about blue lipstick; it invites comments.
Unsure though I was, I waded into the blue with abandon. First, deep. Gothic. Matte. I felt this would be a good starting point - almost like a deep purple (which I have historically found to be surprisingly flattering). Throughout the week, I tried the full gamut of blue. Topaz. Azure. Cobalt. And, as I experimented, I kept a diary of my feelings - and how people responded to the new thing going on on my face. Here’s what I found…
Blue Day One. Lipstick: Dior Rouge Dior Visionary Matte in 602.
2pm: Blue and I haven't gotten off on a good footing. Because I have been testing fiery eyeshadows from the Naked Heat palette, I was wearing a load of the stuff when I slicked on this deepest of inky blues. And, quite frankly, the combination made me look rather sickly. And stern. Lesson one learnt: blue lipstick can't just be shoved on with any old accompanying make-up. There are clearly rules. And I've got a week to unearth them.
7pm: I meet my mum to go to a Mulberry sample sale after work. I may well be a bit paranoid, but I felt like I was garnering some odd stares on the tube, so I tried to adjust my attitude a bit to convey a level of coolness I don't possess.
Mum's shock when I see her is palpable and she starts saying words like ‘untoten’ and ‘schrecklich’ (mum is Austrian - loose translation: you look like he undead, and that is very bad). After a daintily-eaten dinner, I go home, wipe the blue lipstick off and heave a sign of relief.
8am: Now this is a different kind of blue altogether. While yesterday's blue made me look saturnine and surly, this one is smurf-level bright. I get on the tube and keep my head down so as not to garner unnecessary looks, but when I look up to navigate the station, a woman tuts, a man frowns in what looks like confusion, and two teenagers double take, which I interpret as a sign that I am BANG ON TREND. This is helpful - going into the office with lips this bright is intimidating.
Not sure on blue? This lipstick quiz will match you to the perfect red lipstick for your skin tone...
11am: Today’s blue is a talking point - three people have come over to me to express interest - note, interest is not praise, interest is another beast altogether - in the shade and to ask why I was wearing it. The latter question slightly irritated me - I like to think myself someone who may wear any kind of make-up should it take my fancy. Why did these people suppose bright sky-blue wasn't my thing? I vow to adopt more fierceness of attitude tomorrow and wear my lip, rather than vice versa.
4pm: Two things. One: dark lipstick looks far, far better on a stationary lip than on a mobile one, and given that I rarely shut up, that doesn't work in my favour. Two, for it to look good, the lip line needs to be PERFECT. Not vaguely neat, or sort of tidy. Perfect. I’ve started to employ a clear lip liner for the job, running it over the edges in small circles once I've coated the centre of my lips to encourage the blue pigment to the edges without it running over my lip line.
6pm: I am sweating through my work out at The Clock Marylebone, puckering my blue lips up in concentration when I notice someone walk past the window staring. I initially think they must be transfixed by my poor squat form, and then follow their eye line to my lips and realise that I’ve all but forgotten that I am wearing blue lipstick. When I catch sight of myself in the changing room after my session, my face is flushed and my hair disheveled, and am surprised to find that the blue looks kind of awesome. Perhaps I could get used to this after all…
Blue Day Four: NYX Professional Makeup Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Jet Set.
12pm: I’ve paired this indigo hue with a black, lacy, Victoriana top, as I now know that the key to pulling this look off is to get the right clothes, hair and complementary make-up. And attitude. Blue lipstick isn’t girlish - it’s confident, tough, unusual. And mastering that takes a bit longer than getting the application just so.
5pm: I post a picture on Instagram, saying I’m a bit unsure about the blue thing, and am inundated with comments and messages. Blogger @talontedlex says she likes it, but has had commuters tell her she looks bad in blue lipsticks so understands my trepidation, make-up artist @lanslondon suggests tweaking the colour slightly to flatter my skin, and also says that adding a gloss may make it easier to wear, while two friends message me to ask why I’ve deviated so wildly from my usual look.
Blue Day Five: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Heroine.
9am. I’m filming a video today, so only wear my blue lipstick into the shoot, then hastily scrape it off in the bathroom before sitting down in front of make-up artist Lisa Valencia. She inspects the blue remnants and we fall into a discussion about the pros and cons. I say that wearing blue is a bit like wearing a punchy red - you have to check it all the time, it becomes the focal point of your face, and it requires some confidence to wear - and she agrees: ‘YES - blue is like red on steroids!’ Thankfully, she restores my lips to my favourite peachy pink, which we both agree is far more flattering.
11pm: When I'm cleansing, I reflect back on the week of blue and realise that though it may not be for me, it has had undoubtably had a positive effect. I feel a little more bolshy, a little less retiring. As I massage in my moisturiser, I muse on what make-up I might apply tomorrow and find that I feel more excited by punchier shades than usual. Red lipstick, I think. Red with some glitter around my eyes. Sure, it may not conform to the usual make-up rules, but after such a departure from pretty, I'm feeling a bit fiercer.