How to look at blue lipstick

As the beauty industry and fashion icons scrounge for new looks to sell the seduction and mystery of “punk”, we find ourselves looking into its latest trend: blue lips.

Rebellion is one of the sexiest looks to sell to an audience itching for self expression– dark, bold colours read as empowering and ultra cool in a fuck you kind of way. And with the right provocative contrast, reminiscent of icy storms and hints of deep space, blue proves to stand up to her gothy predecessor black in ways never imagined.

The blue lip is a fairly modern phenomenon, tracing its debut only as far back as Louis Vuitton’s 2008 runway show or Marilyn Manson in ‘99. Still at the time the colour was reserved for couture, theatrics and angsty teens in the underground.

Until now.

As pop culture icons like Kylie Jenner and Rihanna begin to discover the unique statement of a bold blue, niche colour brands like MAC, NYX and Maybelline have already hopped on trend. Blue lips offer just enough shock value in 2017, a time where many consumers have already seen it all.

A conversation that often comes up when choosing a proper lipstick colour is how to match your undertone. Typically there are two types of undertones: a warm and a cool. Warm undertones have hints of pink or rich chocolate and cool tones features olive and golden complexions. But what colour creators realized was that the right blue could actually look good on every undertone.

Makeup acts a lot like a traditional paint medium would. Every colour you see in a lipstick or coverup foundation always features a combination of at least two of the three primary pigments: Red, Yellow and Blue.

To solve the mystery of how a blue could even look right on any skin tone at all we must look underneath the flesh itself for the answer. Let’s get back to painters for a second.

To an untrained eye, one might only be able to decipher merely two colours mixed together to create a flesh tone colour. Usually the only colours that can be distinguished are a red, white or yellow. But a skilled painter would tell you that adding hint of blue adds the right amount of depth to create an authentic skin tone.

Now that blue doesn’t seem so far fetched, another trick colour scientists use to create the perfect blue actually lies within its impurities. In the colour mixing process, each pigment has something called a colour bias. Theoretically the only pure colours we can produce are from techniques using light and optics. Any other man made pigment always skews either to a warm or cool side. Almost like the skin! In blue for example, there is a cool blue like cerulean which is ideal for producing/mixing into greens. There is also a warm blue like Prussian blue which is the most popular in lipstick shades because it contributes to making rich purples or berry tones. We’ve also heard of the classic “blue-red” lipstick that features a bright, true red achieved by contrasting blue tones beneath the mixing. This red also happen to look good on all skin tones.

As companies find more creative ways to diversify punk’s image in the mainstream, we should all give blue a chance to compliment our look. Could blue really be the new black?

Jazmina Daniel. Mermaid Blue. Instagram, 2015


Works Cited

Elkins, James. How to use your eyes. New York: Routledge, 2000. PDF.
Shirley, Rachel. “Color Bias of Artist Pigments – science of colour.” The Science of Colour. N.p., 25 May 2011. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.