Janetta Mackay: Do dark lips date you?

By Janetta Mackay

Own your lip look whatever colour you choose. Beyonce embraced the dark side at the Met Gala. Picture / AP Images
Own your lip look whatever colour you choose. Beyonce embraced the dark side at the Met Gala. Picture / AP Images

Same day, two different friends told me they thought dark lips were ageing. Being fond of them myself, it got me wondering, especially given that they're a key beauty trend this winter.

Exhibit 1: Lorde. The chart-topping singer-songwriter is known for her dark lip. It's even inspired a makeup range with M.A.C, plus a lot of silly chat about whether she may or may not be a bit goth.

Do dark lips date her? At 17, isn't that precisely the impression many girls are after. But surely it's more a case of the lip look denoting her as someone who would rather not be too easily defined, given the more obvious colour connotation of pink (girly pretty) and red (siren sexy). Choosing purple is more off-beat, yet with the added bonus of being on-trend - au courant alternative - and thus ideal for avoiding pop tart pigeonholing. Redefining pink or red is harder, while orange is trickier to wear.

Exhibit 2: Older woman in a cafe (not, as it happens, me - this time). There's a phenomenon called "stuck dressing," wearing what suited you - or you loved - once long ago.

Same goes for makeup. The other day, I saw a stylishly dressed woman in her 50s and couldn't quite put my finger on what I thought of her overall appearance. Over coffee, a friend whispered that weren't the lips terribly ageing.

I'd been thinking the opposite, that it was nice to see an older woman not be scared to make a statement, but then I realised my friend had a point. The overall impression, of a red knit outfit, dyed dark hair and red-black lips, was altogether a bit much. Not because the look was wrong, but because it was probably rather too similar to the way this woman - and half the female population - looked back in the 1980s.

There's much to be said for having a consistent style, but it needs tweaking along the way to stay fresh. This woman had done a smart job with clothes and as a brunette I understand why she was in no hurry to lighten her hair, but the dried blood lips were ever so slightly off-putting. After discreet over-the-coffee-cups reinspection, I reckoned a tad more brick or berry and all would have been well. As we age our skin and teeth tend to darken, so the shades we have always worn may need adjusting.

But if you like an impactful appearance, don't give up on colour, just keep experimenting to make sure it really conveys the look you are after.


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