Vintage Lipstick: I Bought It, I Wore It, I Didn't Die

The packaging was irresistible, but so was one of the colors! I'm going to be OK, right?
Publish date:
May 29, 2013
lipsticks, shopping, health, vintage, Borghese, Germaine Monteil

I have a fascination with the old, the worn, and all things retro; a love for vintage-style clothing. No piece of furniture in my apartment was made after 1980. I like when my clothing and furniture have stories to tell.

However, I realize this is a love that should not transfer to cosmetics. Let me stress should not, because it might have a little.

I was taking a stroll through a new antiques and oddities shoppe that opened in my city. I resisted buying a typewriter from the 1960s that day, but I could not hold back when I came across a bin of lipstick from the same era.

I started rifling through the bin with excitement. The packaging was ornate; the colours were like something taken from Joan Holloway’s makeup bag. I wanted to buy them all! But this store only took cash, so I only bought two.

“I probably shouldn’t wear these, right?” I asked the cashier.

‘’I probably wouldn’t. They're used. And I tried a couple out on my hand and they're pretty chalky,” she explained.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t think of wearing them. That’s sort of gross. I mean, they are probably way past their expiry date,” I said with nervous laughter, then promptly fled the store because I wanted to wear them ASAP.

One I bought mainly for the packaging. The color is Bisque Tortoni, a bronzy brown from the The Princess Marcella Borghese Inc.

Here's some history for you: Princess Marcella Borghese was a real princess who received her title from marrying Paolo Borghese, Duke of Bomarzo and Prince of Sant’Angelo of San Paolo. But Princess Marcella was not content to sit around being a lady of leisure, and in 1956, she met the founder of Revlon, Charles Revson. Revson helped her fulfill her dream of creating a cosmetic line, which she stay involved with until her death in 2002 when she was 90! Homegirl did not even consider retiring.

Now the line is just called Borghese and is manufactured in New York.

This one I did not wear, because the lipstick looked a little gnarly. Even I have limits!

However, it was love at first sight with the other tube of lip colour I picked up, and I knew I would not be able to resist applying it. The shade is Red Carnations from the Germaine Monteil--a bright red with an orange undertone.

The lady behind the eponymous brand was a French fashion Designer that came to the US in the 1930s and expanded her empire into cosmetics. Revlon knows good makeup and acquired the company in the 1980s. Germaine Monteil also had really awesome advertisements in the '50s and '60s.

I wiped the lipstick down with rubbing alcohol to hopefully rid it of germs that could have been growing for four decades. I put on a base of lip liner and applied it, surprised that is was still smooth and went on evenly. The colour is phenomenal!

But seriously, I don’t know if it’s because the colour has had a chance to sit for decades, but that stuff stayed on for HOURS! Even after a Saturday night of excessive wine drinking and snacking, it was still there.

My girlfriends were a little (actually, a lot) disgusted with me when I told them I was wearing probably-used lipstick from the 1960s. But everyone agreed the colour was awesome, and obviously looking good trumps the possibility of contracting a bacterial infection on my face.

So guys, is wearing vintage lipstick really disgusting? Google says lipstick is only good for a maximum of four years, so this is awkward. Are you judging me right now? How old is your oldest tube of lipstick?