From bubblegum pink at Peter Pilotto to hot orange at DKNY and Rag & Bone, bright pouts were seen across the spring/summer catwalks.
Increasingly, such bold shades aren’t reserved for the shows. Mia Collins, of Harrods, says: “Lipstick has seen a resurgence following key catwalk beauty trends that showcase bolder lip choices.”
These statement colours are part of the big summer lipstick story at beauty counters. Last month, when Estée Lauder offered complimentary lipstick application at its Selfridges counter to promote a new line, Pure Color Envy, consultants encouraged customers to try a darker or lighter shade than they would usually choose. Nearly everyone went for bright pinks, reds or corals.
At MAC, which had installed two lipstick stations in Selfridges for two weeks, a bright pink (Flat Out Fabulous) and two bright reds (Ruby Woo and Relentlessly Red, all £15) were three of the five most popular shades. There was not a neutral nude pink in sight.
For a brand driven by high fashion (MAC sponsored more than 100 autumn/winter 2014 shows), this may not come as a surprise. Still, three brights are consistently among its top five most popular lipsticks. Ruby Woo is the brand’s bestselling colour – “way ahead as number one”, says MAC make-up artist Terry Barber, who calls it a “full-volume red”. The two others are Rebel, a “deep fuchsia, which younger women would never have worn in the past”, he says, and Lady Danger, an orange red.
Other brands focusing on bright shades include YSL, whose multipurpose colour Baby Doll Kiss and Blush (£27), which can also be used as blusher, is worn in bright rich pink and orange by models Cara Delevingne and Ondria Hardin in the accompanying campaign. Bobbi Brown adds three arresting pinks and a poppy red to its Rich Lip Color lipstick line this month (£19). Guerlain’s latest collection, Summer Sun Celebration, includes an orange and a pink lipstick (£25). Meanwhile, Chanel’s new summer collection matches upbeat shades of bright pink and orange lip gloss with names such as Happy and Sunny (£22).
Once women (both in the UK and US – we share similar tastes in lipstick) owned, simply, variations on a neutral pink theme. That has changed.
It’s not only the arrival of summer that is encouraging women to experiment with more intense colours to complement a tan – there has been a longer term shift towards younger women wearing strongly coloured lipsticks. “Where they may have owned six pinks all the same shade, I think women are getting a little more adventurous,” says Anne Carullo of Estée Lauder.
The singer Rita Ora is a case in point, with her signature red lipstick, something cosmetics brand Rimmel picked up on when it collaborated with her on a line of bright lipsticks this year. In the US, Taylor Swift is also partial to a slick of scarlet.
“It is seen as very cool for young women,” says Barber. “‘I used to work on the MAC counter at Harvey Nichols and we used to put bright lipstick on someone for something very formal, and it appealed to older women as a classic,” he says. “Now it has been stripped of its classic tag. It seems to belong on a totally bare, polished face rather than formal, with a smoky eye for evening.”
New ways of wearing bright lipstick are also contributing to its popularity. Barber says: “I think all women regardless of age are realising there is a particular way of wearing lipstick. It is less technical and more effortless. I very rarely see a customer now, young or more mature, who wears a lot of lip liner.”
Alessandra Steinherr, beauty director of UK magazine Glamour, agrees. “The way we wear lipstick is much more casual. It is not that 1950s look of using a lip pencil to outline and fill in,” she says.
Accordingly, beauty companies have responded to the new aesthetic with fresh lipstick formulations that are easier to apply. They are also more comfortable to wear and come in various textures, from sheer to opaque. The latest is a kind of hybrid, a cross between lip balm, highly coloured lipstick and lip gloss. One of the best new examples is Liquid Lipstick, by L’Oréal (£8.99).
“What I love about them is that you can put them on without a mirror. I would never have thought of putting on red lipstick without a mirror,” says Steinherr.
Tangerine dreams: Make-up guru Ruby Hammer on the orange lipstick trend
Orange lips are big for this spring and summer, from highly pigmented matte mouths to sheer veils of colour.
The darker your skin tone, the stronger the shade you can use. Having said that, it is also about personal confidence. If you have it, you can carry off this shade easily.
All lips have to be prepared, but with such a rich and bright shade (all eyes will be on you) there is no room for flaky ones. Use lip balm and make sure no dry skin exists.
A matte effect is bolder and better if you have full lips, otherwise a glossy look is easier and more comfortable to wear.
Ensure everything else on your face acts as a perfect foil for the lips, so nicely blended clean skin, soft peachy blush, defined eyebrows, minimal eye make-up and clump-free mascara are a must. Keep it soft and defined but don’t clash with the lips.
My favourites for the orange look are: Christian Dior’s fluid stick (£26) for a shiny effect; and matt lip liquid from Illamasqua (£18.50). Lipsticks straight from the bullet, courtesy of MAC, NARS and Estée Lauder, also have great pigmented orange shades.
The main thing is to wear colour boldly with confidence – it works every time.
Stockists in this article and this week’s other Style articles