Celia Walden on a lipstick disaster
WHEN I FOUND out that Paul & Joe had discontinued the lipstick I’d been wearing for six years, I lost the power of speech for 48 hours along with my faith in the cosmetic gods. It was partly the way I found out. ‘Oh they’re not making number 12 any more, hun,’ the woman at the Selfridges concession had flung out, midway through negotiations with another customer. Right. Why not just rip my heart out and use it to scrub down your counter while you’re at it?
As with all life’s epic losses, the reverberations kept on coming. There were the immediate practicalities to take care of: calls to customer services, counting out how many I had left in my lipstick drawer at home (I always bulk-buy with Paul & Joe) and crucial timeline calculations (I had an estimated three months to find a coral as fresh and subtle as Petale de Pavot, a shade that couldn’t clash if it tried, and that faded to a glorious Kate-moss-does-bardot-in-those-missoni-ads-from-the-early-noughties nude, minus that saucepan-grime rim so many lipsticks leave). Then there were the emotional costs. Number 12 had been with me longer than my husband. It had seen me through drunken nights and summer romances, job interviews and my wedding day. Now it was gone.
Your friends tell you there will be other, more important shades: lipsticks that endure. As with lost boyfriends and wayward husbands, they downplay the benefits of the old while frenetically pressing upon you all that’s new and exciting. A promiscuous period followed when I had flings with wildly different and inappropriate shades – everything from Chanel’s Rouge Coco in Carmen (bolder than anything I’d tried before but still a favourite) and Burberry’s Rose Blush (a gloriously deep rose with shimmer) to Burt’s Bees complexion-saving Lip Crayon in Hawaiian Smolder (a perfect school-run shade) and Revlon’s sultry Smoked Peach (for the school run when Attractive Dad is on pick-up duty).
Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Lips range, all with a cashmere-like texture and staying power, has been the most re cent revelation, alongside Rouge Dior’s glorious Hypnotic Matte. And I had decided never to commit to one shade again until I saw Paul & Joe had relaunched its lipsticks, tried Flamant Rose, and wondered whether it might be time to settle down again.