I’m going to use the word “cool” rather a lot in this post. As you can probably tell if you’ve seen previews of this look on Instagram or have scrolled down to the photos already, the products I’ve used would definitely be described as “cool-toned” – muted lilacs and blue greys, soft purples and cold browns. I have also been thinking about the concept of being “cool” (and, conversely, “uncool”) for a while now and my musings pair up perfectly with the photos which follow.
When I started watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, I found myself drawn towards sultry, gothic looks featuring dull pinks, cool purples and greys. I became obsessed with the idea of emulating what I was seeing, and the hunt for the perfect grey lipstick began. I became better at applying makeup and found out about more cruelty-free brands which offered beautiful products which fit the aesthetic I’d grown to love.
But during my research, I started to lose hope and momentum. I wanted to wear cool-toned makeup, but would it suit my complexion? Would purple-grey lips drain my pale skin? Would lilac shadow mute my brown eyes? In every sense, I began to wonder: was I cool enough to try this look?
I was never known for being quiet in style as a teen. After watching Amelie, I had my hair cut off, and started experimenting with box dyes in cosmic purples, electric blues, darkest blacks, and red (my only hair regret). Spending weekends in Camden Town, I added kooky vintage pieces to my wardrobe and had a growing collection of garish accessories, from tights and bags to band pins and shoelaces. For the first time I felt confident in how I looked; with the image of myself I presented to the world. It was the age of MySpace and selfies taken on digital cameras in mirrors; Instagram nothing but a flicker in the future, the idea of online acceptance as we know it today in its infancy.
As I grew older, the self-assurance I’d been lucky enough to possess in my late teenage years started to falter. I fumbled my way into the world of work, each role expecting something different from my appearance: fashionable, professional, ethical, uniform. Somewhere along the way I lost sight of my sense of style, and started questioning if the person I am is allowed to present herself in objectively “cool” ways. Doubts I’ve had in recent years include:
Am I cool enough to cut my fringe short?
Am I cool enough to wear black and grey almost exclusively?
Am I cool enough to get my septum pierced?
Am I cool enough to wear grey lipstick?
It is exhausting and confusing to ask yourself these questions, because they prompt more questions than answers. What is my definition of cool? Who controls how I choose to represent myself, and why am I letting them? Why am I putting these restraints on myself?
When I found OCC’s Lip Tar in “Sebastian,” I ordered it straight away. It was the perfect purply-grey and it was ideal for the new aesthetic ideal I had in my mind. On the day it arrived, I didn’t hesitate in trying it out. Despite not really prepping my lips as much as I normally would before wearing a liquid lipstick (not to mention the fact that my makeup had been through a day at work and wasn’t looking it’s best) I was thrilled with the witchy, gothic look of my lips.
It is a very pale colour and, as with many liquid lipsticks, is not easy to apply unless you’re experienced. The consistency and formula is pleasant and comfortable (and smells good, too!). However, Sebastian takes a while to dry, and longer still before there is no transfer. It takes patience and requires a little layering to reach the desired opacity. In spite of these initial difficulties, I was just so happy with the shade and wore it blissfully for the evening at home.
When it came to wearing this look out, though, I found myself looking for permission yet again. What social group would I feel comfortable wearing this around? Would my family or friends react badly towards it? Would people think I’d changed? The lipstick I’d been so excited to own seemed destined to languish in my drawer for eternity.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I reached the right level of IDGAF and came up with a solution. If Sebastian was, on its own, a little pale for me to stomach, I’d mix it with another, darker lipstick to concoct the perfect shade. Rebel, from Makeup Revolution’s Salvation Velvet Lacquer collection, had initially disappointed me. The consistency was patchy and cheap, flaking off in no time and providing little colour payoff. But, for the purpose of adding darkness to Sebastian, it was ideal.
To mix the shades, I tried a few techniques. First, I dabbed each lipstick onto the back of my hand before blending them with a lip brush and applying them to my lips. The mixture on my hand was drying so quickly I almost didn’t have time to transfer it to my mouth. In the end, I used each lipstick’s doe foot applicator to dab alternating spots onto my lips which I then mixed together with the lip brush. It is important not to cross-contaminate the products during this process, as this can ruin both shades.
Today, I am giving myself permission to present myself however I want to. I am banishing questions of being cool enough from my mind. Is this look out of season? Is it too cliched? Does it fit with my personality or clothes? Who the hell cares, cos I certainly don’t.
P R O D U C T S U S E D
F A C E • Illamasqua Hydra Veil Primer | e.l.f. Undereye Primer | e.l.f. Maximum Coverage Concealer in Sand | Arbonne CC Cream in Light* | Illamasqua Skin Base foundation in 3.5 | Barry M Flawless Light Reflecting Concealer in Beige | Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Dixie | e.l.f. High Definition Powder in Sheer
Thank you to the lovely Dori at The Rabbit Hole Vegan Hair Salon in London for the Amelie-esque haircut of my dreams!
*I was sent this product to review, and have given nothing but my honest opinion!