Why you need to start wearing red lipstick to work

Upwork Client

American client requested an article on self-development and confidence with the sole purpose of empowering women

November 2017

Why you need to start wearing red lipstick to work

You’re getting ready for work, just about to leave. Can I just add, you’re having a pretty damn good hair day girl! Purse – check, keys, check. One last look in the mirror before you head out, maybe a flush of colour won’t hurt. Hey, what about that Ruby Woo you bought from the store over the weekend? Ahhh, but you’re not sure. A bold, red lip for work? Really? You decide to pass.

If you question the professionalism of red lipstick or make up in general, you’re not alone. A study published in October last year examined how wearing make up to work projects success, but can also lead to objectification.

In the first of two experiments, 40 female college students were photographed with and without make up, and their photos were presented to another group of 128 (mostly straight) male and female undergraduates. Observers had to rate the pictures on ‘attractiveness’ and two components of social status – ‘dominance’ and ‘prestige’, although the words were left undefined.

The study revealed that women wearing make up were seen by men as more prestigious and by women as more dominant. Researchers felt that this was because men have a tendency to not see us ladies as physically threatening (they obviously haven’t seen me on a bad day); therefore our make up doesn’t affect how dominant we appear. Our fellow woman may see us as sexually competitive, and as a result, socially dominant. Previous studies have shown that attractive people are assumed to be competent, hence the prestigious label (my appearance has correlations with my brain power? Err I beg to differ…). To top it all off, there were also assumptions that women were more attractive, more promiscuous, and also garnered jealousy (Insane right? Getting the claws out because of a little Beauty Blender and lipstick action).

As crazy as it does sound, I do get it. We’re almost conditioned to think that way. You only have to do a Google search on the connotations of red and you get adjectives like “passion, desire, lust, romance, danger, and wrath”.

Personally, I don’t wear red lipstick, not because of its connotations, or because of what I’m worried about its professionalism, but because I’ve yet to find a shade that perfectly matches my skin tone (triracial problems). But I love seeing other women rocking a bold red lip, I think it’s empowering, unapologetic and an effortless addition to ANY ensemble.

Andddd I’m not the only one that thinks so. Make up artist Victoria Barnes told The Debrief “it’s a great tool in the boardroom, or for public speaking, because it makes your mouth such a focal point. Red lipstick works if you really wanted to be listened to.” Non-verbal communication as it’s best, at work, or elsewhere… (you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t be coy now, get it girl!).

The icing on the cake comes courtesy of Fashion industry veteran Aliza Licht. She found that from a pool of 460 people, including lawyers, bankers and government work professionals, over 90% of women saw red lipstick as totally appropriate for the office, but nearly 80% felt it also projected confidence at work. Opinions were split about whether it was appropriate for work.

Tomorrow morning, when you’re applying the last finishing touches to your visage – don’t rule out red lipstick, or any other colour for that matter, as an option. You can wear whatever the hell you like, wherever you like, and you don’t have to answer to anyone. P.S, don’t forget a good lip liner too, lipstick bleeding is the worst.