December 1, 2010

Health and Beauty

Lip Service
by Charlotte Jones

I’d rather be caught naked than without lipstick. Yes, my particular eccentricity involves an absolute addiction to ruby red lips. It’s not so much devotion to style as the feel. I can’t stand chapped lips and my lips feel chapped if they aren’t smeared with lipstick. Some might wonder why a $1 tube of chapstick won’t do the trick, but somehow I feel I need the color. I’ll go out of the house with dirty hair and no eye makeup, provided I have on lipstick. I got that idea from Cher who once said, while batting her fake eyelashes, that she would go without eye makeup but never without lipstick. Try to imagine her with pouty lips and little squinty eyes.

Someone recently gave me a lipstick personality quiz. Apparently, the shape of your lipstick reveals what kind of person you are. If it wears to a flat top, you have high moral standards. Sharp-angled, but curved means you fall in love easily (implied is that you have loose morals.) A round, smooth tip means you’re even-tempered, but a sharp-angled slant means you’re a real bitch. This news upset me because I clearly have multiple-personality disorder. Every single tube of lipstick goes through all of these personalities with me, sometimes all on the same day. Each of the three faces of Eve, --I mean me--are wearing a different color of lipstick.

Like an addiction to drugs, I’m sorry I ever got started and I rue the day, back in 1968, when I was entering 7th grade and I bought my first lipstick. My mother was against makeup in general, but since I had just gotten braces and was already taller than all the boys in my school, she acquiesced on the lipstick. I remember it came in a green case, Revlon I believe, and it was some color called Moonlight Glow, or Moonlight Death, or Death Warmed Over, something like that. It was a ghostly shade of shimmering, well, moonlight, that, even though the rest of me looked alive and well, gave my lips that pasty-gray dead look that morticians try so hard to cover up. This was “in” when I was a teen, so that’s what I wore. Thank God I came along before the shades got really inventive, like blue.

One time I tried to calculate how many tubes of lipstick I’ve purchased and how much money I’ve spent on it. Judging from the number of lipstick cases in my drawer—some are so worn down, they can’t be used in public, but I can still eke a little more color out of them; some are color mistakes that I won’t wear in public, but I wear downstairs in the morning to read the paper and have coffee with my husband—I’d guess I’ve spent approximately a million dollars on lipstick.

Which is why I recently decided I needed to learn how to buy things on eBay. Why pay $22 for an Estée Lauder lipstick at Neiman’s, when I can buy the same exact lipstick on eBay for $8.50? Especially when Estée Lauder discontinued my favorite color, Watermelon Fizz, which I’ve worn continuously (even while asleep) for the last five years.

I was careful in my eBay research to make sure I was buying the right thing. For example, an Estée Lauder lipstick BOX was up to $9.95 in the bidding process, but I was too smart for that. Who would pay $9.95 for an empty box? They can trick you like that.

But then I found it. There it was, a full color photo of Watermelon Fizz fully extended (so I could see it had not been used) – that perfect shade of red with a slight shimmery peach cast. It was propped up on a little white block to better display it. I placed my bid and waited expectantly for the results of the bidding. I won! In fact, mine was the only bid, and $8.50 was charged to my PayPal account. Three days later, it arrived and yes, it was the right color. Yes, it was unused. It just didn’t have a lid!

Who sells lipsticks without a lid? I got my purse and quickly took the lid off my very last complete tube of Watermelon Fizz and chiseled it down to a severe angled bitch-point while I contemplated the question. Probably someone whose own lipstick is sculpted to a sharp point centered in the middle. The lipstick personality profile says those people are prone to exaggeration.

Lesson learned, I’m headed back to Neiman’s in search of a new color. Does anybody know a good shade of red?


Charlotte Jones promised herself she would do something more creative with her life after a twenty year career as a computer scientist and management consultant, and began writing and taking pictures. Her work has appeared in over 70 literary and commercial magazines, most recently in an anthology devoted to Chopin–Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse. She is currently at work on her first novel about a teen accused of arson. You can reach Charlotte via e-mail.