Perfume is a lie.
We wear fragrances to help control the way people perceive us. On our worst days, we can trick others into thinking we’re confident, assertive, vulnerable, or sensual, all by choosing the right scent. But as much we’re lying to others, we’re also lying to ourselves because one scent is never the full story.
Just as body chemistry changes the way a fragrance smells on each person, so does everything else we put on, from the thought out to the thoughtless — the way we live our lives, what we do in the dark. We put so much thought into choosing the perfect fragrance without realizing that it's the scents we don’t think about that really take hold of people.
The powdery floral scent of dry shampoo in her hair, a sign of too many late nights in a row. Your boyfriend’s freshly applied moisturizer as he kisses you goodbye in the morning. The intermingling of cigarettes and Scope on your lover’s breath as they try to hide their vices just before kissing you.
The scent of her lipstick as she puts her mouth on yours.
These are the scents that we never realize we love...
Until we lose them.
The power of lipstick, both its sight and scent, is no secret to the companies making these products for us. Three fragrances in particular are made to harness the specific scent of lipstick on your mouth or your collar, taking hold of the nostalgic ache in your gut, that you can only get from the scent of a product on a person you once knew.
Each time you wear Lipstick Rose, it’s like going on a first date that goes really, really well. The kind where you go in wearing your game face, but by the end of the night, you let down your guard and your cheeks are flushed with infatuation.
The beginning is like uncapping a brand new tube of lipstick. Violet and rose mingle with a little bit of musk. It’s floral and soft, and smells exactly like the lipsticks in shiny gold bullets that your grandmother might have kept on her vanity. Familiar, yes, but what happens next is unexpected, and completely transforms the fragrance.
After an hour or two of wear — the exact time it takes for the lines of your lipstick to soften and your fragrance to heat up — a grapefruit note emerges and adds an unexpected juicy tang that makes Lipstick Rose a flirty, buoyant scent that’s more approachable than it first let on. Vanilla and amber lend a soft sweetness that prevents the grapefruit from getting carried away, and balances the heavy floral top, for a gorgeous experience that loosens up throughout wear.
It’s incredible, the power we have to communicate our message to the world simply by changing the color of our lips. Many brands are finally branching out to darker, more dramatic lip colors, a movement that has at last made its way to the drugstores. Never to be outdone, Maybelline is introducing The Loaded Bolds, a permanent collection of 20 eye-catching lip colors that won’t break the bank ranging from classic reds...
... to nudes, browns, blues, and black.
People will tell you that beauty is brainless, vapid, while at the same time, having a visceral reaction to the sight of you in a black lip. But their reaction tells the real truth that they acknowledge and fear the transformative power of a good beauty product.
Sometimes it's just a lipstick. Sometimes, it's more than that.
Beauty can do all the talking for you, but some people are afraid to say anything at all, and want you to be, too. It can be as intimidating as a beautiful woman, a strong jaw, a fast car.
Sometimes, the one thing that makes you feel more comfortable in your own skin is the same thing that makes you stand out in a crowd. As someone who has spent a lot of his life altering the his appearance while simultaneously not wanting to be seen at all, I know that getting ready in the morning can be a balancing act. How badly do I want to wear this? And how much does it mean to me? What's it going to cost?
For me personally, beauty has always gone inward. I don't change my hair for attention and I certainly don't wear makeup because I think guys like it (they don't). I do it because that's how I'm feeling on any given day. It's that simple. It's not always a statement. But it's made me hyperaware of a second glance, a lingering stare. They're not always bad, don't get me wrong, but the feeling of someone's eyes boring into you is by no means a comfortable feeling, either.
It's something you never get used to. Whether or not you're wearing these things for a reaction, there will always be a reaction.
Good or bad, wearing the color you feel is right for you will always feel better than letting anyone's opinion stop you. People freak out about everything, things they're not familiar with. Even the sight of a their girlfriend in a an orange lip when they're used to seeing her in a red will throw them sideways.
Beauty has the power liberate you again and again, so let it. It becomes so routine that we forget its weight. So many times, beauty routines are only wholly considered on landmark occasions like wedding days, big haircuts, first tattoos, or things as simple as quick changes in motel rooms right before you skip town.
Poppy Rouge is inspired by someone excitedly applying lipstick and powder, getting ready for a night out away from their lover with the possibility, almost longing, of ending their night with someone else.
Cumin and neroli open the scent and give way to orange flower and violet. Narcissus, musk, and vanilla make for the perfect anchor to blend everything together.
Poppy Rouge hits you all at once. It's heady, surrounding you from the moment you first spray it. Herbaceous, green, and wet, it smells like a humid August night. It feels like a fever dream. There's an urgency to it. It's like kissing someone knowing you could be found out, and doing it again, knowing you might already have been.
The Replica collection is lauded for evoking the scent of a specific time and place almost exactly. If the aforementioned scents were inspired by lipstick, this one takes it a step further with the most literal interpretation of the three.
Being as complex as it is, it's a wonder that the scent so strongly calls to mind lipstick so precisely. The top notes are made up of bergamot oil, neroli oil, and heliotrope. The heart of the scent boasts orange flower, iris, and galbanum, with tonka bean, vanilla bourbon, and patchouli at the base.
Lipstick On smells like lipstick, plain and simple. It wears well and doesn't get stale, like some lipsticks after they wear down to a drying stain. The bergamot or vanilla bourbon will sometimes flare up throughout the night, making their presence noticed for a split second, but for the most part, all of the notes work in tandem to bring to mind lipstick and blush, vanity bulbs casting a glow that floats through a light fog of beauty products in a powder room.
There are countless metaphors of what beauty means to each individual person, and that's the point, it's different for everyone. I've heard that it can be your armor, it can be your escape.
But beauty has never been my way of running from anything. Quite the opposite, actually.
It has always been my way of bringing about what I want. I've always been told to take off my nail polish and dye my hair back to brown, but all of that is exactly what makes me who I am right now, and I've found success in all of it. Beauty has been a big part in manifesting what I've always wanted: being comfortable in my own skin and building a life exactly the way I've always envisioned it.
So when they tell you to take off the blue lipstick, tell them to calm down, because it's just a lipstick. Even though you and I know that, sometimes, it's more than that.
Tynan is probably wearing lipstick on Twitter @TynanBuck.