This last weekend I took some time and purged my lipstick collection. When I sat down on Sunday to do the work I had over 250 different lipsticks. By the time I finished I had whittled myself down to about 20. I also took the big and slightly anxiety-inducing step of deleting my master spreadsheet on which I kept track of my lipsticks. For the first time in over a decade I don’t own all the lips and I don’t have an organization system. I have a small box of colors I love and I’m trying not to freak out about this. I’m half successful.
No one woman really needs 250 lipsticks so stripping down to the basics makes sense, but going back to basics when you have that damn many lippies doesn’t just happen. There has to be a reason, something to prompt such a massive change. A shift, if you will. For me that shift is coming from a desire to have lipsticks that are not on beautiful on, but of high quality and in beautiful packaging. Lipstick, I feel, should be a special experience, a powerful bit of luxury that is personal even as it is public.
What prompted this? Oh, just a $90 Christian Louboutin lipstick.
This is not my lipstick. To date the most I have ever spent on a lipstick is $50 and that was for my beloved Tom Ford “Flamingo” and even when handing over the money for that I felt ridiculous. I had seen the Louboutin online, but decided that while I was crazy I wasn’t insane. Then someone returned one to my store and I did what any self-respecting lipstick queen would do when in the presence of greatness: I touched it and tried it on.
The very first big-girl lipstick I ever wore was Clarion Cosmetics’ Carnation Pink. I found it in a clearance bin at the Rexall Drugs and somehow convinced my mother to buy it for me. I couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 and in retrospect it was probably a really bright color for my fair skin, but it changed my life. I can remember how it tasted, how it smelled, the click of the lid, the smoothness of the gray tube it came in. The thing I remember the most, though, was how it made me feel. Everything could be chaos in my little preteen life, but the second I slicked that lipstick on I felt like I had it together. A few years later when I would buy my next real lipstick, Max Factor’s “Rosewood”, that feeling of having it together would only amplify in the presence of finer packaging. I felt special and strong pulling the tube out of my purse and an addiction was born.
I have since gone on to buy a lot of lipsticks, cheap and not, just because I liked the color and wanted to look nice, but as I held that heavy, graceful, regal gold spike of a tube in my hand I realized that I had gotten away from why I love lipstick so much to start with. It isn’t just about the color or having them all. It’s about feeling like you have the world at your feet.
So I parted ways with a lot of my lipsticks. They’re getting good homes with friends. A few ended up in my professional kit. Two are AWOL as I can’t find them in my things. That’s okay. And I parted ways with my insane spreadsheet to keep track. When you stick with what makes you feel beautiful you don’t need an inventory. Your heart knows it. You feel it in your bones. It’s a wonderful thing.
But so is that Louboutin and I’m absolutely going to need that lipstick.