Two months ago I found myself with a pretty serious bout of depression (that only a couple people knew about) that was probably a mixture of stress from school, finances and well, school again. I'm an older student, in my mid twenties and that sometimes is super hard because all your other friends have moved on, have grown up lives (kids, houses, degrees, etc.) and you're still like hey, I'm just sitting over here, still working on my bachelors and doing the work/school balancing act. Sometimes life can be tricky and throw A LOT of things your way. Well, that was the months leading up to my depression, as it just seemed like emotional snow balls were being thrown at my face constantly and I couldn't do a thing about it. A couple months went by and I did what I could to try to pull myself out of depression, but those of you who suffer/have suffered from depression know, it's not something that is easily or quickly done.
Well, this isn't a post about my depression, per say, rather it was necessary for you to know that it happened and that it lead to what I'm about to talk about. Things have started to be better for me the last couple weeks, and I can feel myself healing, which is a very good thing. But something curious happened during my rough couple months that I found compelling and interesting and decided to research (I know, ever the psychology major) and subsequently share with whoever is interested.
Those that know me know that I am a makeup addict. I looove makeup. It's an obsession that I just can't shake. I've been this way for the last 10 years and don't see it going away any time soon. But again, those of you who know me, know that my go-to makeup is a strong eye and nude lips. I don't EVER wear lipstick, unless of course, its nude. But even then, my go-to is EOS chapstick and that's it for my pucker. But something happened during that rough period and I became weirdly enticed with lipstick. Enthralled. Dare I say, obsessed. Yes, it became my new obsession. For something that I never liked or wanted my entire life, it struck me as curious to say the least when I found myself at the MAC counter (not so curious, it's my favorite makeup spot) looking at the lipstick (very curious, as I've only owned maybe 2 my whole life). Even more than looking at it, I BOUGHT ONE. And LOVED it. And then returned to buy several more throughout the course of the last couple months. And I wasn't just buying nudes anymore. I was buying deep purple, bubblegum pink, fuscia...all things I would've never dared to put on my lips before. AND IT MADE ME HAPPY. Like, amongst all the sadness I was constantly feeling, I felt good while I was wearing it. It brought me happiness, it brought me confidence, it brought me power. [favorites: MAC in Rebel, Speak Louder, Snob, Syrup, and Modesty]
Yes, lipstick is empowering. The joys one feels when wearing a great shade of lipstick were previously unbeknownst to me, but after experiencing for the first time, so desperately vital. I LOVED IT. Again, as a psych major, my mind is always asking why? Why did it make me feel this way? Why did it give me all these things, it was just a tube of pigment, why was it so powerful?? So I started to do research.
Turns out this isn't something new. Actually, it dates back to the Great Depression when people could hardly afford anything except the essentials yet women were still buying lipstick. Actually, even more than that, the sales were RISING. More women were buying lipstick during the Great Depression than before, when the name of the game was excess and extravagance. Rebecca Adams wrote in The Huffington Post that "essentially, during times of economic hardship, sales of cosmetics increase. Back in the early 1930s, while industrial production was cut in half, makeup sales were on the rise". This phenomena was dubbed "The Lipstick Effect", and is still heavily prominent today. As Amy Wong states in her article "The Psychology Behind The Lipstick Effect", "one thing remains true: the lipstick effect continues to persist throughout the ages, its name founded on a product creation that epitomizes the core of the phenomenon—the seductive attraction of ruby red lips".
Isn't that interesting?! BUT WHY?? Studies have found that economic stress (or stress in general) generates a desire to buy things that are perceived to heighten appearances. Many psychologists suggest that this has to do with "mating purposes", that women look to buy products, like lipstick, that heighten their appearance in order to attract a wealthy mate during times of economic stress; that subconsciously we look to buy these things to increase our attractiveness in hopes of luring in a wealthy and stable mate. I can't say that these things aren't a possibility or part of women's psychology, because up until fairly recently, women have been solely dependent on men for income/survival. There's not doubt that that has been a part of the way women think over the long period of our existence, but what I am suggesting is that it's not the ONLY reason women go for that luscious tube of brilliant red.
In fact, studies show that women who wear make up feel more confident in themselves. I don't think it really has anything to do with attracting men anymore, at least, it's not for me. I wear lipstick because it makes ME feel better, just like I wear makeup because I like to. It has an empowering effect that seems to break all our previous self-consciousness and make us feel unstoppable! Women With Drive posted an article called "The Power of Lipstick" and stated "the color red has forever been associated with confidence and power, and according to style psychologist Kate Nightingale simply wearing the color can induce these feeling in us...By bringing attention to your mouth you are also encouraging people to focus more on what you are saying and really listen effectively." Lipstick also is suggested to help you succeed! "Research has found that wearing makeup emphasizes features that are associated with trustworthiness, likeability and competency- qualities that are often taken into account when hiring or considering someone for a promotion".
SHAPE magazine posted some really interesting data I thought I'd share with you:
"Just as important as the decision to don lipstick, though, is which color to choose. COVERGIRL actually previously partnered with Harvard psychologists to look at how cosmetic combinations impact the way people judge a woman’s attractiveness and personality, even unconsciously. And, along with the new survey results, the brand found each shade determines what kind of woman you’re telling the world you are.
Red rockers are deemed more creative and daring by others. They are also the most likely to be out of the house and at a bar on a Saturday night. They're most likely to exercise at least five times a week. Get it, girls!
Pink lipstick wearers are perceived as more sociable and fun-loving. But pink is also the color of power: Senior executives are more likely to own a shade of pink, whereas more junior ladies wear plums or nudes.
Plum puckers allow women to seem more independent and self-sufficient. Women who wear berry shades scored on the more mellow side of all survey questions, as they stay home on the weekends, rarely post selfies, and own the least number of shoes compared to other shade wearers.
Nude lips help women seem more warm and caring, which is why psychologists recommend trying a nude shade for that first date or a night out with good friends. Plus, you get the perks of the women who wear lipstick most often (like more confidence) while emphasizing your natural coloring."
So while there may be MANY reasons why lipstick makes us feel good, just remember that pink is a scientifically proven mood booster, red bestows confidence, and no matter what, if it makes you happy and feel better about yourself, don't feel bad buying a new one! Out of things you can splurge on, lipstick isn't as economically detrimental as other things (like shoes, purses, watches, etc.). If you don't own any lipstick or haven't tried a new one in a while, swing by your friendly MAC store (I swear I should get $$$ for how many times I've mentioned them in this post!) or Ulta or Sephora and try something new, pick something out that makes your heart beat a little faster, eyes pop a little more and cheeks glow like J-Lo fresh off a Cabo trip. ;) It will be well worth it. Promise.