A few years ago, A$AP Rocky broke my heart. Not just because he was dating Chanel Iman, but because he made a really disparaging comment about women like me. "I feel like with the red lipstick thing, it all depends on the... complexion," he told The Coveteur in 2013. "You have to be fair skinned to get away with that." As someone who was still developing my beauty identity at the time, it was hurtful to hear. There were already unspoken rules on what dark-skinned girls with coily hair should and shouldn't do — and to hear A$AP's judgement almost felt direct. These days, I don't care what anyone has to say about what's on my face... and despite that rapper's judgement, I know that blue-based red lipsticks work for me — and I look good in them.
Now, the confidence in my red lip game didn't come easy. Just like the fabled princess had to kiss her fair share of frogs to find her prince, I've tried dozens — if not hundreds — of red lipsticks to find The One. Liquids, sheers, glosses, powders, and tinted balms, all with varying undertones. Before I knew anything about makeup, I foolishly assumed that any red lipstick works for anyone. And honestly, if you feel like going for that brick red or orange-based color, then go for it, girl. However, my friend, editorial makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran, explains why blues always end up being my one true love.
"Blue-based lipsticks are usually considered cooler-toned," she says. "These tones look incredibly flattering on darker skin that can tend to veer on the warmer or olive side. They work because they brighten the smile and help achieve a youthful look." All of that without having to sit in my esthetician's chair? How could I complain?
I'm glad that I didn't let A$AP's comments get in my head a few years ago. Aside from the free FaceTune, wearing red lipstick makes me feel powerful and confident — like I can take on the world. And that's a feeling that women of all skin tones deserve to experience.
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