Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon by Rachel Felder | A Review

Red lipstick is the power suit of cosmetics. Daring and in your face, to wear this bold shade is to say, “Look at me.” You simply can’t hide behind a red lip.

Yet, for all of its moxie, red lipstick is unabashedly romantic and sophisticated. When wearing this forever classic, you’re tapping into the spirit of generations of women who’ve painted their lips red for reasons big and small.

Such are the sentiments of Rachel Felder’s charming book, Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon. It reads as a love letter to rouge. Not surprising, considering the fact that Felder has worn red lipstick almost every day since her teens. That’s commitment. Though I have a soft spot for a red lip myself, I don’t even come near that sort of dedication.

I first heard about this book when listening to Rachel Felder being interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts, Fat Mascara. I was mesmerized by the stories she told of red lipstick and had to learn more.

It only took me three days to finish this book, though I could have done so in one sitting. I forced myself to savor it a little more slowly. It may be short, but it’s packed full of interesting anecdotes, historical facts, and pictures of artwork featuring red lipstick. There’s a randomness to how the information in this book is presented. It follows no strict historical timeline or patterned grouping of subtopics. But, I found this added to the charm. With each turn of the page, I didn’t know what new fact I’d learn about red lipstick, and that made for an exciting read.

So, what types of things does this book cover? Everything from which famous red was made specifically for Madonna and is still sold today (hint, it’s a MAC lippie) to what the first lipsticks were composed of. It explores the significance of red lipstick during the women’s rights movement and WWII, and it even covers the famous rivalry between beauty moguls Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein–which, side note, someone should really make a movie on. Peppered throughout are more mini bios of women through the ages who have loved red, facts on its significance to different cultures, and gorgeous photography. It also includes the 1964 painting, Lipsticks, by one of my favorite artists, Wayne Thiebaud.

Felder ends the book with her best tips for choosing a red lipstick that suits your skin tone and applying it to last all day. She stresses that there is a red for everyone, and that couldn’t be more true.

All in all, this book is a red lipstick lover’s dream. Althouth a quick read, it makes a gorgeous piece to set on a coffee table or makeup vanity to page through on a whim. I’m really happy to have this book, and I think other makeup enthusiasts would too.

xo Kelli

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