Saturday, January 20, 2001

When lips speak louder than words
By Jyoti Menon

SO times are changing. From lipsticks and lip balms to lip gloss, lip creams and lip pencils, we have now moved to lip inks ó the kind you use for "writing" on your lips or even applying with your fingers. The effect is supposed to be smooth and soothing, with incredible staying power.

But what signals do you send with your lip colour?

Cupidís arrows are not what get men flocking at the feet of femme fatales ó itís the colour. Turn out in soft shell pink that goes well with browns, blues and mauves and youíll be the nice girl for your guy to take home to his mother.

If you wear a neutral skin tone beige or brown, he will take you to be a practical, professional sort of person. Show up in burgundy or maroon and you are telling him that you are mature, reticent, even stylish ó but a little old-fashioned perhaps.


Try red and you move into a different league. A fire engine red slashed across a faintly quizzical smile and thereís a bad girl. And as every man knows, bad girls are so much more fun. Itís the entire business of being out with a woman who is confident of her sexuality and enjoys the attention she gets.

Is it any wonder that hearts and roses and other things red are all ingrained into the collective male psyche as emblems of the eternal seduction game? As Marilyn Monroe once said: "Red is a woman, pink is a girl!"

So if you want to get into the good girl territory, try pink. Think pink and you have the baby pink of infants and the shy half-smile of Lolita. Pink is perfect wife material ó the stuff that trousseaus and bridal showers are made of. It is the colour untouched by cosmetic lips.

But then, pink is not a colour that really suits Indian skin tones. As Bangalore-based make-up expert Mickey Contractor points out: "Fair skins with pink undertones can carry off pink shades. But since most Indian complexions have yellow undertones, wearing pink on the face will only make it look sallow."

Adds Samir Manchanda, a well-known designer: "A woman with soft pink lipstick on tells me that she wants to be wooed with candlelight and roses, the old fashioned way. In contrast, a woman with dark red lipstick tells me that if I canít give her what she wants, she goes and gets someone else."

Is it a parallel with the old maxim about gentlemen preferring blondes, but marrying brunettes? After all, every woman wants to be noticed in her entirety and not just for the screaming slash of colour on the face. Hereís a ready reckoner on what your lip colour says about you:

* Red: Sensual, aggressive and anxious to be the centre of attraction.

* Pink: Romantic, sensitive and dependant.

* Brown: Practical, efficient and reliable.

* Orange: Whimsical, childish and a bit of a dreamer.

* Purple: Iconoclastic, rebellious and a bit of a tease.

* Burgundy/Maroons: Stylish and mature.

* Blues/Greens: Trendy, youthful and given to experimentation.

Of these, brown is the most tricky colour. "Its understated charm really hits you," Contractor points out. "A woman who wears brown lipstick is very often sophisticated, well-read, travelled and someone who knows her mind. Itís a very alluring mix."

But too dark a brown would make you look a tobacco addict. And too light could look leucodermic. So the safest way out is applying a nude brown. But be sure to line your lips with a pencil, a couple of shades darker to give them a definition. Or else, the lips would blend with the skin and look really strange.

Brown comes in many shades ó coffee, mocha, cappuccino, expresso, coffee, bean, sandstone, dune, toast, cinnamon and caramel. But ultimately, it is nude that may be regarded as the most trustworthy, loyal and friendly. There are no deception games here ó what you see is what you get.

"Women who go in for nude brown are the most mature," observes Manchanda. "They are the ones you can turn to in a crisis, they are the ones who have their heads firmly on their shoulders when all others around break into hysterics...."

ó MF