Lipstick's Surprising Emotional Benefits
By Genevieve Smith
Lipstick may seem like a fun but unnecessary accessory. But what if the color and application held a little more weight? Lipstick has a long, nearly 5000-year history and has held many meanings over time. Could it benefit more than just your appearance in the present? Let’s take a look at some of the fuller stories on the handy little tube.
Lipstick in History
A little punch of color has taken on various interpretations over the centuries. Lipstick played the role of protector in the Elizabethan era as women slicked it on following a belief it could ward off death. Lipstick played the role of rebel when suffragettes lacquered on red, a symbol of loose women at the time, in a show of protest. And these days, lipstick is playing possibly one of its most interesting roles yet: the role of healer.
Lipstick has taken on a symbol of vibrancy, health, and normalcy for those undergoing trauma. Cancer patients can feel there is a tomorrow by treating today as special and deserving of effort and color. "Lipstick helps restore a normal sense of self," says Bobbie Rimel, MD, in reference to patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. New mothers also may feel "asexualized and unglamorous in their new mother role," but have reconnected with their femininity post-pregnancy through lipstick, explains Madeleine Ogilvie, PhD, associate professor at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia; she recently studied the relationship between women and makeup. But if you’re not going through trauma, can lipstick affect your mood, too?
Can a Tube of Color Make You Feel Better?
Various colors are associated with different emotional responses, as found by Victoria Fraser, PhD, director of scientific communication and consumer beauty at CoverGirl, while researching women's reactions to lip color. Nudes and neutrals evoke calm; red, power; brights, daring. Even application can awaken emotions and memories. Ogilvie’s research found that the weight of a tube, the unclicking of the cap, and the waxy smell invokes nostalgia by reminding one of their mother.
The psyche-affecting effects of lipstick have lived across centuries. These pigments have been used to inspire vibrancy, rebellion, and resilience. Whether you wish to evoke femininity or empowerment, the color is a tool scientifically available, not for the benefit of others, but for the benefit of you.
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