Color that sticks

The lipstick wearing lady knows the dilemma all too well. There is an unspoken and unrelenting confrontation that faces each one of us throughout the day. By 4 p.m. with a glance in the mirror the enemy has somehow gained ground and the evidence in clear — the lipstick carefully applied over coffee and the paper is suddenly missing-in-action. Where did it go? What happened? Was it the mid-morning bagel? Or Caesar salad at lunch? Was it a kiss good-bye? Or the suspiciously pink rimmed water bottle now sitting innocently on the desk?

Lipstick may be inside every modern woman’s purse, but the tradition goes back 4,000 years to ancient Egypt. Take a glance at any preserved papyrus scroll and dark outlined eyes with scarlet lips stare back. For ancient cultures the beautification of both men and women went beyond simple aesthetics and often contributed to religious and medicinal purposes. In many of Egypt’s tombs, mineral powder compacted into intricately designed cases prove that women and men of high social status commonly possessed make-up.

It is difficult to know if these ancient peoples also did the applying and re-applying dance, but considering the hot Nile Valley sun it may be assumed they did. Botanical and mineral essences, pulverized into powder and then mixed with water for application, seems as though the Egyptians, like us, sought the ever illusive and mysterious: Color that sticks.

In the tradition of the Japanese Geisha, the art of “making the face” is taken as seriously as training in music, tea ceremony or conversation. Considerable time is given to this practice and the painting of the lips, over the snow-white face has become an icon of refinement and beauty. The blush tint is traditionally matched to each kimono and the white make-up, once made from leaden clay, is now bought at high-end shops. Long lasting make-up was an integral quality in the Geisha education, red should remain red and smudging would be considered quite shameful.

From Middle Eastern civilizations that use henna to decorate a bride’s hands and feet to the Indian tradition of sindoora where a husband places a red dot in the middle of his bride’s forehead for protection and status, human beings that lack the decorative flair of the peacock and parrot have found their own unique way to accentuate beauty.

Lacking the time to grind us crystals or flower petals to make lips shine, the multi-billion dollar beauty industry has perfected the manufacture of lipstick for us. Recently there has been increased pressure on these beauty labs to produce color that stays. Every major brand has attempted to solve the dilemma and the neighborhood drug store has a plethora of options.

The hip and popular MAC Cosmetics company has also come out with a line of color-lasting lip products. This week the MAC counter at Macy’s in Kukui Grove will launch their new “Barbie loves MAC” line, which includes the pro-wear lipsticks that claims an eight-hour, touch-up-free, enduring color. With names like Lasting Lust, Femme Forever and Perennial Rose, playing with MAC’s library of shades is as fun as dumping out the Crayola super box on the living room floor.

Color that sticks is an age-old problem. There are more products on the market than time to try them all, but if it’s always been a gnawing annoyance, MAC’s pro-wear is something to bite on.

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