What does your lipstick shade say about you?

Gone are the days when we were compelled to play matchy-matchy with our clothes and lipstick. Choosing the latter is now far more intuitive and we are more likely to pick a lip colour based on who we are… or what we want to be.

Bold red? Demure pink? Femme fatale brown? Or maybe an ironical shade of blue? What secrets are your lips spilling?

Here’s the scoop from the colour psychology geniuses over at Pantone, who decode what your choice of lipstick says about you. And conversely, which lipstick to reach for when you want to make a certain impression.

lipstick shadesRed lipstick

Red is bold, sensual and look-at-me… a confident big city girl who doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet. But you’re not really quite as badass as you’d like to be… after all, it’s the signature colour of all those ultra-chic French women for a reason. Classic red would not look out of place in a country club or a silk-and-pearls restaurant. It’s a colour that you can wear from the ballrooms of the Ritz to the bohemian seediness of Paris’ Montmartre. In short, it’s the colour of a woman who is fun loving, passionate, energetic, independent and extremely adaptable. With a hefty side of lady-like chic thrown in for good measure.

Baby pink lipstick

You are feminine and girly, love dressing up, are impeccably groomed and much prefer the candy floss world of dreams and cotton clouds more than the harsh realities of modern-day living.

Hot pink lipstick

More adventurous than classic red, hot pink lips are the domain of a woman who’s fun, flirt, bold and outgoing. You enjoy spending time with your girl gang and are not easily cowed down. And you keep an eye out for trends, transitioning from vintage chic to bohemian funkiness with equal élan.

Rosy lipstick

In between the baby soft pinks and the hot fuchsia versions, lies a rosy pout, which is primarily owned by she who loves nature and the outdoors. It’s the rosiness of glowing good health and fits the personality of a woman who is cool, calm, down to earth and confident in her own skin.

Orange lipstick

Even though orange looks fun and bouncy, it’s not really an easy colour to pull off for everyone. If you gravitate towards this palette, you’re likely to be carefree, wild, vivacious, whimsical, energetic and adventurous. You don’t mind standing out in a crowd and easily throw caution to the winds.

lipstick shades3Berry or wine-stained lipstick

You shy away from being pastel pretty and revel in the power of your sensuality. You also like drama and are an all-or-nothing kind of person… doing things halfway has never appealed to you.

Nude lipstick

Nude is simply not a look-at-me colour and hence it’s perfect for women who marry comfort with discreet chic. Yet, they are also very très fashion and keep an eye out for the latest trends while playing it safe with investment pieces, rather than one season wonders. This one is unlikely to rock the boat or loudly demand to be the centre of attention!

Burgundy or purple lipstick

It’s edgy with a hefty dose of badass, making purple perfect for women who women who are edgy and appreciate a good challenge. You don’t suffer fools too gladly and like to temper trends with your own individual flourish.

Purple lipstick

More layered than red, more mysterious than a bright pink, a purple lip is usually worn by a woman who revels in her power and femininity. She’s strong, confident, sexy, individualistic and a bit unapproachable… not someone who suffers fools gladly.

Brown or plum lipstick

Forget the image of racy reds and striking fuchsias, the true femme fatale wears brown. Or plum. Women who love these deep and moody shades are most likely to have a seriously adventurous streak. They’d rather play risky than safe, love challenges, are ambitious, driven and independent.

Blue or black lipstick

While many of us may push the envelope and experiment with black nail polish once in a while, black or blue lipstick is for the seriously daring. You don’t give a hoot about society and will, in fact, go out of your way to flout traditional norms. You are powerful, like to remain mysterious and unapproachable, and run as far away from “pretty” as possible. Your fashion statement is more ironic than trendy, and remain young at heart always.

No lipstick (or maybe just a clear lip gloss)!

You look like you don’t care… because you really don’t. You are fuss free, low maintenance and are cool without caring to be cool. You are a leader rather than a follower, and just want to get on with life!

Which is your favourite go-to lipstick shade?

Also read: What does your nail polish say about you?

Who owns what in the beauty industry (prepare to be surprised… very, very surprised!)

Bobbi Brown leaves Bobbi Brown. Jennifer Anniston exits Living Proof. Revlon purchases Elizabeth Arden for US$870 million. L’Oréal acquires IT Cosmetics for $1.2 billion. In cash. Coty merges with P&G Specialty Beauty Business, taking on 43 big league brands, including Wella and Max Factor. Estée Lauder brings Becca on board. And then picks up Too Faced for $1.4 billion, making it the company’s largest acquisition ever.

And that’s not even close to counting all the mergers and acquisitions that rocked the cosmetics world in the last year. A year that will go down in beauty history as the epitome of shakeups.

Yes, the beauty industry’s scorecard of mergers and acquisitions seems more laden with intrigue than even the NBA basket ball teams or the Football League. It might surprise you to know that the entire world of makeup, skincare, haircare and perfumes is dominated by a few key players – all multi-billion dollar corporations with ownership over multiple major brands.

Here’s how it breaks down at the beginning of 2017.

L’Oréal Group

The almost-100-year-old L’Oréal group is headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris. It began with the hair colour business, under French-German chemist Eugène Paul Louis Schueller, and employs almost 20,000 chemists today. Nestle holds a 23.29% stake in the group.

loreal-brandsEstée Lauder Companies

The family-run company that began with just four products – Skin Lotion, Cleansing Oil, Creme Pack and Super Rich All purpose Creme – in 1946, is one of the world’s leading cosmetic conglomerates 70 years later.

estee-brandsShiseido Group

Established in 1872 by Arinobu Fukuhar in Ginza, Tokyo, Shiseido was not only Japan’s first “western style” pharmacy, it was also the one that launched ice cream in the country. The Shiseido Ice Cream Parlour branched off in 1928 and is still in business today.

shiseidoLVMH

What to say: Seems Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy has a finger in every pie, including Sephora, our favourite beauty playground.

lvmhKendo

Kendo, owned by LVMH, is an incubator company that singularly focusses on developing niche brands that end up being retailed by the group-owned Sephora. Next project: Fenty Beauty, a makeup brand created by Rihanna.

brandskendoUnilever

The world’s third largest consumer goods company has a robust beauty arm, with standouts like Kate Somerville, Murad and Vaseline. It’s of British-Dutch origin and is co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London.

brandsunileverProctor & Gamble

The US-based multinational just divested itself of around 100 brands, many of those in the beauty segment going to the Coty Group. The logic was to streamline the company and concentrate on the approximately 65 brands that contribute 95% of the group’s profits.

brandspgJohnson & Johnson

The 130-year-old consumer goods company is a model of sustainable development. It was ranked third among the United States’s largest companies in Newsweek’s “Green Rankings”, based on its constantly-evolving environment friendly policies.

brandsjjBeiersdorf

This German company runs the gamut from mass beauty like Nivea to a prestige brand like La Prairie.

brandsbeiserdorfCoty

Coty’s $12.5 billion merger with Proctor & Gamble’s Specialty Beauty Business last year has made it the world’s third largest beauty company.

cotyKao

This Japanese company is going truly multinational, in the way it’s picking up British classics like Molton Brown and John Frieda.

brandskao

If you want to see the evolution of the beauty industry, here is my older post containing the stack-ups in 2015. It’s interesting to see how things have moved around, much like the NFL tables!

Which of these surprised you the most? Is there anything I have left out? Tell me in the comments section below!

17 beauty products that have been around for more than 100 years!

Which brand would you trust more? One that’s been around for just a few years? Or one that’s been around for a few centuries? Of course, the lure of the new, the shiny, the technologically state of art is massive but remember that brands that have stood the time have done so for a reason: They are already so perfect that nobody felt the need to tinker with their formula at all. And they still continue to sell… often, outpacing their younger rivals by acres of competence, efficacy and well proven results.

These then, right here, are the world’s oldest beauty products. And don’t be fooled by appearances… they may have donned new robes on the outside but inside are the same classic formulas that have been around for a 100 years or more!

Each one is a cult formula that everyone should try at least once.

Santa Maria Novella Acqua della Regina, 1533

Literally the world’s oldest continuously existing pharmacy, Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is now well into its eighth century.

Yes, eighth century.

Like. 800. Years.

The Florentine institution was constituted by Dominican friars in the early 1200s to make medications, balms and pomades from herbs grown in the monastery’s gardens. As its reputation spread, Santa Maria Novella caught the attention of Catherine de’ Medici. Acqua della Regina, the signature scent created in 1533 for her marriage to Henry II, the future king of France, remains one of the best selling products for the pharmacy till date.

santa-mariaOther ancient notables that go back centuries include Acqua di Rose (rosewater), Alkermes liqueur and Elisir di China (post-dinner digestif). Most of the flowers and herbs are still sourced from the monastic garden. And you can still browse the shelves of the old pharmacy in Florence – part of which is one of the most gorgeous beauty boutiques in the world.

Farina Eau de Cologne, 1709

Farina didn’t just invent a single fragrance, it invented an entire category that continues to rule the shelves and our hearts till today. It was the Italian born and bred Giovanni Maria Farina who first created Eau de Cologne, as an attempt to recapture the sensory soul of his hometown while living in Germany. His exact words, in a letter to his brother: “I have found a fragrance that reminds me of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils and orange blossoms after the rain.”

The fragrance was composed with the essential oils of lemon, bergamot, tangerine, orange, neroli and grapefruit married with dashes of tobacco, petit grain, lavender, jasmine, thyme and rosemary. It immediately caught the fancy of a populace that was desperately trying to subdue the not-so-pleasant aroma of unwashed bodies and wanted something crisp and fresh, rather than the heavy, musky fragrances of the time. Farina named the composition after Cologne, the city of his residence, and was soon supplying to every royal family across the world. And it was worth a pretty penny: one vial cost the equivalent of half the year’s wage of a civil servant!

Yardley London Lavender Soap, 1770

Yardley may be innocuous today but it’s the oldest registered beauty brand in the world. In fact, records show that even though the company was officially founded in 1770, its story actually began in the 1600s, when King Charles I granted a young man the concession to supply all the soap for the City of London.

Sadly, the particulars were lost in the Great Fire of 1666. Only one detail remained: the key ingredient in Yardley London’s soaps was lavender, known for its soothing properties. Till today, there is a special species of lavender – Lavandula augustifolia – that is exclusively grown for Yardley London in the South of England. No wonder the brand continues to enjoy royal patronage, with Kate Middleton being the latest purveyor.

Bonus fact: In 1971, Yardley sponsored the British Racing Motors team in the Formula 1 Grand Prix. In 1972 the company moved on to McLaren, which it sponsored till 1974.

Pears Soap, 1807

Founded by Andrew Pears in 1789 as a barber’s studio in SoHo, London, Pears was originally reserved for a very exclusive set of peers and nobles. In 1807 (that’s almost 210 years back, people!) came the world’s first transparent soap bar, which was initially billed as an ‘English Complexion Soap’, due to its ultra-gentle formula comprising of glycerin and other natural products. It took three months to make (still does!) and won the prize for soap at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

pears-soap-historyThayers Original Witch Hazel, 1847

Thayers has been a household name ever since Dr. Henry Thayer created his proprietary witch hazel extract. What set it apart from a slew of businesses that were capitalising on the multifarious benefits of this shrub was that Thayer’s extract was made from non-distilled witch hazel, thereby maintaining the highest quality of therapeutic tannins. Till today, more than 150 years later, few facial toners can compete with the skin boosting properties of this non-alcoholic astringent.

thayers-historyBourjois Little Round Pot Blush, 1863

In 1863, Parisian actor Joseph-Albert Ponsin created the world’s first powder blush based on a complex recipe: carefully combine a measured amount of of powder, water and mother-of-pearl, mix delicately, pour into rounded moulds and put in the oven to bake. Now, 150 years later, the little round pot of Bourjois blusher has gone beyond stage makeup to become one of the brand’s bestselling lines. And for collectors who just can’t resist those original iconic Little Round Pots, Bourjois regularly launches limited edition vintage series.

bourjois-historyPenhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet, 1872

As a brand that has not one but four of its original blends on the shelves more than a century later, it’s not a surprise that Penhaligon’s has received a number of royal warrants over the years. The perfumery was founded by William Henry Penhaligon, a Cornish barber who moved to London and set up shop on Jermyn Street in the late 1860s. His first fragrance was Hammam Bouquet, inspired by the heady aromas emanating from the Turkish bath next door.

Hammam Bouquet remains a customer favourite till date, along with Blenheim Bouquet (crafted in 1902 as a bespoke fragrance for the Duke of Malborough), English Fern and Douro (both 1911). Happily for lovers of history, even William Penhaligon’s bottle design remains largely unchanged, with the flash of ribbon taking us back down memory lane to the England of Queen Victoria.

penhaligons-historyVaseline, 1872

Would you believe that oil wells can be fashionable? In the hands of Robert Chesebrough, that’s a resounding yes. Cheseborough founded Vaseline when he was prospecting for oil at Titusville, Pennsylvania. The observation that oil rig workers used “rod wax” – the drill residue – to heal cuts and minor burns caught the chemist’s imagination. He then spent the better part of a decade refining the rod wax to the clear, white petroleum jelly that became Vaseline. The name came from a combination of the German wasser (water) and Greek oleon (oil).

However, drugstore owners were unimpressed and so Cheseborough took to the road, advertising the wares himself. The modus operandi? He would inflict wounds on his own body and spread Vaseline on the affected areas to show its efficacy (don’t try this at home!).

Soon, Vaseline was selling at the rate of a jar a minute and Queen Victoria knighted Chesebrough in 1883, telling the inventor that she used it every single day!

vaseline-historyBonus fact: Cheseborough ate a spoonful of Vaseline every day. Though I seriously wouldn’t recommend this, the inventor lived to be 96 years old.

Another bonus fact: In 1886, Manufacture and Builder reported: “French bakers are making large use of vaseline in cake and other pastry. Its advantage over lard or butter lies in the fact that, however stale the pastry may be, it will not become rancid.”

Listerine, 1879

Developed by Missouri chemist Joseph Lawrence as a surgical antiseptic, Listerine was named after Baron Joseph Lister, a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. Over the years, this combination of menthol, thymol (thyme), eucalyptol (eucalyptus) and methyl salicylate (wintergreen) has been used for purposes ranging from gonorrhoea and bathing surgical wounds to treating sore throats, soothing insect bites and cleaning the floor.

However, Listerine truly hit its stride in 1895, when it caught the attention of dentists. In fact, the word ‘halitosis’ (Latin for ‘bad breath’) was coined by Listerine staff and this became the first over the counter mouthwash to be sold without a prescription. At one point, they were even manufacturing Listerine cigarettes!

Today, the 138-year-old liquid remains the oldest product in the Johnson & Johnson portfolio.

listerine-historyIvory Soap, 1879

When chemist James Gamble, of Procter & Gamble, whipped extra air into a batch of Ivory soap bars, he not only created the world’s first floating soap (advantage: it wouldn’t get lost while bathing!) but also one that was 99.44% pure. Going strong for 138 years now, Ivory soap also has another well documented use: the soap flakes have been a staple to create “snow” for Christmas trees since the 1920s.

Bonus fact: The name ‘Ivory’ was adopted by Harley Procter after he heard the 45th Psalm at a Bible reading.

WTF fact: Researchers asked children to do a soap taste test in 1994 and Ivory soap tasted the least disgusting. Ummm… !!??

ivory-soap-historySmith’s Rosebud Salve, 1892

Invented by Dr. GF Smith as an all-purpose salve to help with issues such as chapped lips, razor burn, haemorrhoids and diaper rash, Smith’s Rosebud Salve is still one of the most multipurpose products out there. I personally use it for everything from dry skin to makeup (every single makeup artist backstage will tell you it makes for the best highlighter!).

And while the salve now comes in more efficient tubes as well, nothing can drag me away from the cool, vintage, pharmacy-type tins. Little wonder that 3,500 tins of Smith’s Rosebud Salve continue to be sold somewhere in the world every day!

Shiseido Eudermine, 1897

Established in 1872 by Arinobu Fukuhar in Ginza, Tokyo, Shiseido was not only Japan’s first “western style” pharmacy, it was also the one that launched ice cream in the country. The Shiseido Ice Cream Parlour branched off in 1928 and is still in business today.

The brand’s first beauty product – a softening lotion called Eudermine – was launched in 1897. This lotion can still be found on the Shiseido counters 120 years later and in the original packaging style if you look hard enough.

Another cult product – the Shiseido Rainbow Face Powder – is being launched as a limited edition just in time for its centenary. This was one of the world’s first color correcting and mood lighting face powders!

eudermine-shiseido-historyPond’s Cold Cream, 1907

Pond’s Cold Cream goes back to 1907 but as if that’s not old enough, it’s origins date back even further – to 1846, when pharmacist Theron T. Pond extracted a healing tea from witch hazel that was perfect for healing small cuts, rashes, minor burns and other skin ailments. This ‘Pond’s Extract’ became the origin for what we, our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers and great, great grandmothers came to know as Ponds Cold Cream, used for everything from moisturising to removing makeup.

Why “cold”? Because this was the world’s first moisturiser that did not require refrigeration.

ponds-cold-cream-historyLabello Lip Salve, 1909

The precursor to Nivea Lip Care, Labello introduced the slider mechanism to the world of lip balms in 1911. Till then, lip care products were sold as a wedge wrapped up in a bit of paper, to be applied by hands. Later, in 1963, the brand evolved this into today’s twist mechanism. The brand is owned by German Beiserdorf and its name is a combination of labium (lips) and bellus (beautiful).

Nivea Crème, 1911

It all started with a butter churner. The butter churner that German pharmacist Dr. Oscar Troplowitz and dermatologist Prof. Paul Gerson Unna used to combine water and oil with Eucerit (ancient Greek word for ‘beautiful wax’), a new emulsifying agent, to create the world’s first stable water-in-oil skin emulsion. Water-in-oil emulsions are the best way to tackle dry complexions as they moisturise while simultaneously creating a skin barrier.

The word ‘Nivea’ was derived from the Latin nix, nivis, which means ‘snow white’, as an ode to the cream’s pure white colour. And that little blue aluminium pot, which made it’s entry in 1925 (before that Nivea came in a yellow pot), has it’s own ticket to history: It’s distinctive blue is one of the very rare colour marks protected worldwide.

Noxzema, 1914

The ubiquitous cobalt blue jar, which has been a staple of every family home since the last century, was launched in the same year that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, leading to the beginning of the first World War. Invented by Dr. Francis J Townsend in Ocean City, Maryland, this greaseless cold cream, which soothes skin and acts as a mild pain reliever, was originally called Townsend R22 and was prescribed to resort-goers for soothing their sunburn.

Soon, it was being called upon for everything from chapped and irritated skin to remove makeup and deep cleanse, keep wrinkles at bay and treat acne. It has had a near religious following amongst generations of devotees and a famous consumer quip that, “It knocked my eczema”, led to the name Noxzema (“no eczema”). Many women left it on overnight, making it the original sleeping mask.

noxzema-historyAcqua di Parma Colonia, 1916

When Italian aristocrat Carlo Magnani commissioned a crisp, fresh and citrusy fragrance from a small perfumery in Parma, little did he know that his legacy would go on to last more than a century. Today, Acqua di Parma Colonia remains unchanged from the original 100-year-old composition. In fact, it is still made by hand in small Italian factories, its signature yellow packaging paying homage to the colour that’s graced the facades of Parma’s most elegant buildings since the 18th century.

Bonus fact: That logo? It’s the coat of arms of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma (1816-1847), who helped develop the perfume and glass industry of Parma.

Am I missing out anything here?

Beauty recipe: The Queen of Hungary’s Water (the world’s first cure-all skin tonic!)

You know the best part about travelling? About being a “gypsy” – beauty or otherwise? The friendships you develop with people from across the world. Unshakable, everlasting friendships. Because midnight conversations deep in the lush rainforests of Amazon and bone chilling treks up the fjords of Alaska have a way of forging bonds that withstand geographies and calendars.

And they pay the most beautiful dividends. Like the time Anna Csaszar, my pálinka-drinking-soul-baring-limbs-freezing buddy from Hungary introduced me to her country’s cult Queen of Hungary’s Water. I’ve often seen this beauty tonic in various forms on the shelves, from brands as varied as Omorovicza, Caudalie and Lush. But somehow, despite the “gypsy” antecedents, had never really investigated it. My bad.

Turns out Queen of Hungary’s Water (or Hungary water, as it’s known in short) was the world’s first distillable perfume – predating Eau de Cologne by almost five centuries.

And it wasn’t just a perfume either. Nope! Rather, it was a cure-all beauty tonic, bestowed with near-magical properties: the early recipes advise the user to drink the tonic, rub it on skin, bathe in it and inhale it in order to receive the most benefit. In fact, according to legend, it was so effective at reversing the old queen’s appearance that 25-year-old Grand Duke of Lithuania asked for her hand in marriage when she was 70!

Whether that’s true or not, fact is that the herbal composition of Hungary water is a wonderful astringent for all skin types. It gently tones, tightens pores, soothes itchy or acne-prone skin, normalizes the skin’s pH, smoothens the skin texture and protects it from bacteria and other infections.

The potent blend of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, also make it a superb hair rinse.

But Hungary water may also be one of the most controversial beauty products in history. Claims about its origins range from the perfume-tonic having been given to Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1305-1380), either by a monk, a court alchemist, or a band of roaming gypsies.

It’s believed that the recipe for Hungary water remains written by the queen’s own hand, in golden alphabet, in the Imperial Library at Vienna. And that’s what the people of Hungary, who call upon this tonic water for everything from acne and eczema to headaches and indigestion, base this easy home brew upon. Anna gave me my first bottle and since then, I’ve always had one sitting on my side table.

Thankfully, given the number of bottles I go through (it’s addictive in what it does to your skin!) Hungary water is easy to make and you can get the ingredients just about everywhere.

And even if you can’t find everything in this list, just use what you have (except for rosemary – that’s crucial). Also, you can opt for either dry or fresh herbs. Though I’ve found that the fresh ones tend to make the mixture a little more cloudy. Personally, I stick to dry herbs – making sure they are organic, though.

You will need

  • 6 tablespoons lemon balm
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons rose petals
  • 3 tablespoons calendula or marigold
  • 3 tablespoons mint
  • 1 tablespoon lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 4 tablespoons chamomile (optional)
  • Cider vinegar to cover (preferably organic)
  • Rose water or witch hazel
  • Essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)

How to make Queen of Hungary’s Water

1. Pour all the herbs into a widemouthed glass jar

2. Add enough vinegar that it rises about two inches above the herbs; close the jar tight and let it sit in a warm or sunny spot for 2-3 weeks

3. Strain out the herbs with a fine mesh – try and get all the bits out as any fragments may turn rancid over time

4. Add either rose water or witch hazel in a ratio of 1:1 to the remaining liquid

5. Add the essential oils, if you so desire

6. Rebottle the mixture and store in a cool, dry place

Have you ever come across the Queen of Hungary’s Water? Tried it? Liked it?