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Stained Love

Beauty 15.02.24

Photographer Ashton Hugh Writer Freya Insoll Make Up Artist Kite

No matter how beauty trends have ebbed and flowed over the years, there has always been a steadfast presence of the classic red stain. For thousands of millennia, people have created beauty products from natural resources – intending to enhance or modify their looks in accordance with the prevailing taste of the time, much as we do today.

While we can purchase pre-made stains from any number of brands, women before us manufactured their own cosmetics from animal, mineral, and plant-based derivatives. Some of the most popular sources throughout history were chalk, red ochre, copper ore, and dried cochineal insects – which produce carmine when crushed.

As the colour red has always had strong associations with concepts of love, passion, and youth, women would use these natural products to rouge their cheeks and lips, emulating the flush of youth or a passionate embrace. The level at which they would visibly colour their faces was closely tied with the politics of the time, with increased periods of female emancipation reflecting increased makeup usage. It’s thus unsurprising that our enduring love for cosmetic stains has manifested in many diverse and bold trends, reflecting many different aspects of contemporary society and womanhood.

Two thoroughly modern and snack-inspired trends that have emerged over the past couple of years are the ‘Cherry Cola’ and ‘Popsicle’ lip looks. Cherry cola lips are achieved with the layering of a bright cherry red stain and a shiny gloss – creating the image of juicy red lips,freshly stained by a cherry cola soda. It’s a vibrant, fun, and decidedly youthful look that puts a modern spin on a classic red lip.

Popsicle lips are an inversion of the typical liner to lipstick ratio, with a bright smudge of colour radiating out from the centre of the lips. The look is aptly named to reflect the stain that is left after enjoying an ice lolly or popsicle, again injecting a sense of whimsy into the way in which we wear our makeup.

However, stains aren’t solely confined to the cherry red spectrum, and a resurgence in 90s-style makeup means dark stains have made a comeback. By using a black or deep red stain to line the edge of the lips with a slight inwards bleeding of colour, makeup-wearers can create a vampy yet grungy 90s-inspired look.

The beauty of stains though, is that they’re not limited to trending looks. They can be used to create abstract artworks, enduring beauty classics, or subtle glimpses of colour. They’re much like the medium of paint, and can be washed or delicately applied across the face. In continuing to stain our lips and cheeks with a bold rouge or delicate rose, we write a love letter to the innovative women who came before us, echoing generations of love for the art of beauty.

Photographer Ashton Hugh Writer Freya Insoll Make Up Artist Kite Model Aidana Allen @ Titanium Models Casting Director Emma Somper Retouch Colorworkz
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