Why I chose to put on red lipstick, even when home alone

by Irène Schäppi August 05, 2023

Why I chose to put on red lipstick, even when home alone

Since childhood, hardly a day has gone by when I haven't seen my mother with red lips - either in person or via Facetime. Although she will soon be 78 years old and is single, red lipstick is just as much a part of my mother's morning ritual as dressing nicely and choosing the right jewelry to match her outfit. Whether she meets her ladies for coffee, goes to the gym, or spends the whole day alone at home reading a novel is not important to her.

"Red lipstick gives me a boost of energy – only when I'm made up like this can I really start the day." Maria Schäppi

This statement inspires me especially now, when the temptation is great, thanks to flexible working hours and like right now, admits of my PMS, to stay in my pajamas or hang out in my sweatpants from morning to night. Of course, no one is forcing me to stay home. Still, the days before I start menstruating are pretty challenging for me and those around me. Or to describe these mood changes via movie genres: From romantic Disney movies to bloody splatter films, anything goes.

This is why I prescribe myself a #staycation in such exceptional states, the sake of my health and the health of others. Nevertheless, this isolation can also backfire and sometimes let me drift into a self-pity spiral. Well then, there's red lipstick – thanks, Mommy!

Red is the color of security and vitality
For instance, putting on red lipstick this morning instantly improved my mood. So it makes total sense to put on makeup even when you're home alone – especially with red lipstick. Because the color red represents the root chakra in Indian chakra practice (the teaching of the seven energy centers), this stands for grounding and essential trust. It also stands for safety, security, and vitality. And not only I, but all of us, can use much of all this right now.


Too esoteric? No problem. In history, the color red played an equally important role, for example, in the case of the English queen Elizabeth I., who signaled power, influence, and readiness to fight with red lips (by the way, the mixture for red lipstick in the 16th century consisted of gum Arabic, fig milk, egg white, and crushed red cochineal lice).

A symbol of emancipation
The suffragettes, the first women's rights activists also used red lipstick to symbolize self-determination and emancipation. According to author Rachel Felder ("Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon"), women's rights activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman wore bright red lips at the suffragette demonstration in New York in 1912 to demonstrate the right to vote.

Logically, red lipstick was soon considered a "woman's weapon," which cosmetic companies still reinforce today by calling some shades of red "Lady Danger" (Mac Cosmetics' lipstick is my mom's favorite, by the way) or "Killer Queen" (from Nars' Powermatte High Intensity line).

Red lipstick also gives me fighting spirit and power when I smile at myself in the mirror. And gives me the strength to tackle the day – despite all those PMS symptoms – again with full vigor.

From my heart to yours, Irène

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