I’m 51 and I still haven’t found the right lip color


I was having brunch with a half dozen, mostly women friends from high school I hadn’t seen in at least a decade when I made that confession.

There was stunned silence. And then someone said, her voice tinged with disbelief, “You haven’t?”

It was the sort of reaction kind of like when one of your girlfriends has a run in her pantyhose and you want to say something but it’s not like there’s an easy solution, so you don’t.

I might as well have stood up at a mic and said, “My name is Jewel Allen and I am still searching for the right lip color.”

Admitting it sounded like the most shallow thing in the world because I was sure it gave them the impression I obsess about this daily.

Sheesh. Of course not. I only think about it every other day.

I want a lip color, preferably red, that looks great with my complexion, makes me look kissable, goes with whatever outfit I have on that day, and doesn’t rub off as soon as I leave the bathroom. Is that too much to ask?

It wouldn’t be such a sore spot between me, myself and I if I didn’t already own half the lipstick merchandise available to women. Believe me, I have looked.

I’ve tried the cheap, single-use drugstore brand. I’ve even gone to expensive department stores, sat in their klieg lights, bought not just lipstick but also their moisturizing balm, lip primer, and anti-aging eye cream, just to come home to realize it is still the “wrong” color on me.

In a pinch, I’ve combined lipsticks, but that is an exhausting and unreliable way of getting the right color, especially since I tend to forget what the combinations are.

Isabella Rosellini, an actress who was popular in the 1980s with lush Italian looks and the most amazing red lips, ruined me for life. I always thought she was the epitome of beauty, with that effortless way of carrying red, red lips.

When I got older with more disposable income, I made a run for that smoky Isabella look. When you are wearing jeans and a shirt and going to Walmart for a milk run somehow red lips look cringe.

To play it safe, I have gotten pink-hued lipstick. Which looks like that dewy, just-kissed look for a few minutes until you realize someone snookered you into paying for lip color that looks just like your natural lips.

What have I done with all those wrong lipsticks, you say? That’s the weird thing. I can’t seem to part with them. Deep down I hope one of these days I will win the lipstick lottery and connect with a color and declare that it does look good on me after all.

Oh, and if you think I should try online shopping, well, don’t you think that’s a bad idea? If I can’t get it right by trying it on in person, how much more wrong would it be if I didn’t?

I’ve also learned not to go by what looks good on others, though it has taken me years to learn this lesson.

One time, my hairstylist who admittedly would look hot even with car wax on her lips was sporting a certain red color. After I gushed over how good she looked, she told me it was her go-to. She buys two at a time.

Sold on the idea I could be like her, I bought the very same lip color and tried to convince myself that I was like my stylist friend, glamorous and chic, only for the magic to poof like Cinderella at midnight once confronted with my bathroom mirror reflection.

Maybe it’s my bathroom mirror that needs to be replaced, you think?