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June 23, 2010


Margaret Maron


Anybody here remember Tangee?  It was the first lipstick Southern mothers would let their 12- and 13-year old daughters wear.  It came in a white plastic push-up tube instead of a grown-up’s metal swivel.  It was tinted pale orange (or tangerine?  Is that where it got the name?) and was so nearly transparent that you had to put on about three coats before you could notice a difference.  Think Chapstick with a tiny tinge of color. From Tangee, you graduated to a pale pink that kept getting darker and darker until your mother got tired of fighting a losing battle and let you wear anything from plum black to fire engine red.   At that point you probably settled into the shades and brands you would wear for the next twenty years, right?

So I get invited to join The Lipstick Chronicles.   Although I’d been checking by to read the posts for some time, I had never paid much attention to the comments section where the rest of the TLC community bring their views to the party.   It was like dropping in at someone’s family reunion.  Everybody seemed to know each other and there was the equivalent of  “Remember when Bertha, bless her heart, dropped the Jell-o fruit salad on Aunt Maybelle’s shoes and Uncle Herman slipped on the peaches and speaking of peaches, DelMonte’s a good brand, but . . .”

The actual posting might have begun the discussion, but the comments seemed to go off on far different tangents.  In one, there was a passing comment about long-lasting lip paint, which I had never heard of.  Karen of Ohio kindly explained that it could last for up to 18 hours,  so I went right out and bought one.

And it worked! 

Goodbye tubes of waxy cream that wear off in two kisses, hello Revlon ColorStay Overtime®!

There’s just one drawback, though.  The tip of the paint wands are little swab that will maintain their shape till the little cylinder’s empty.  No individuality possible.

I have long toyed with the idea of writing a short story centered around the way different women wear down their lipsticks.  Above are the lipsticks currently in my makeup bag.  You will notice that they all come to a distinct point.  Here’s a random sampling from my book club the other day:

100_1073One One friend wears hers down flat, another exaggerates the original slant, still another has achieved something very close to an S-curve.  Unfortunately, I am missing the friend who wears hers down to a long flexible strip reminiscent of a frog’s tongue.   Those of us who do eccentric things with our lipstick could never leave a tube at the scene of the crime and hope to get away with murder.

What about you?   Did you have to fight your parents to wear your first lipstick?  Do you have a lipstick story to add to our chronicles?



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Margaret -- just the picture at the top of your post brought me right back to being 6 or 7 and rummaging through my mom's jewelry/make-up drawer. I still remember uncapping those mysterious metallic tubes and the waxy odor of the pigment inside. I suspect that the usual little kid Indian face painting ensued, but really all I remember is the tubes and the smell. Since I don't wear make-up much (the closest thing I have to lipstick these days is some bronze-tinted Bert's Bees gloss), that odor still has the power to evoke "Mom." Thanks for calling up the memory! -Megan

I remember being fascinated by my mom's cake mascara! Her lipstick, not so much. I don't think I wanted to wear makeup much as a teenager, had big thick glasses and got braces in grade 12, guess I didn't think adding makeup to the mix was a good idea. And when I did first wear makeup, from the few pictures, I did a poor job of it.

I do own lipgloss from MAC, but that is only because my next door neighbour is a makeup artist and brings it home to me. Don't know if he is hinting I need makeup but I own it again.

I do like the lip shimmers from Burt's Bees but only remember to wear it when leaving the house, never remember to reapply. I have Champagne Shimmer and Coffee Shimmer. Ooooh how fancy of me.

When I was a teen back in the late 70s I read an article in Glamour Magazine -- what your lipstick wear pattern says about you. A personality/horoscope thing based on whether you wear your lipstick to a point or a flat plane or a right angle or whatever. If you wear your lipstick to a point you're controlling, if you wear it flat you're unforgiving. Somebody at Glamour Magazine must've been having a grumpy day when she wrote that article!
The lipstick of choice among teen girls when I was in school? Lip Smackers roller-ball lip gloss -- a thick, goopy, shiny lacquer that made you feel as though you'd dipped your face in Aunt Jemima syrup. I bet it was full of petroleum-distillate toxins.
Speaking of which: the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com) is a good reference when you're looking for safe cosmetics. Be really careful with lipstick -- you end up ingesting a lot of it over a lifetime, and you don't want to be sucking down lots of petroleum and lead and neurotoxins and stuff. You'd be surprised, the FDA doesn't regulate the cosmetics industry like they do the food industry. Just a suggestion.

Margaret, what a great story idea. A person's shade choice certain tells something about them, I think, but now *how* they wear lipstick adds a whole new dimension. Hmmm. Very interesting.

As I'm from the Deep South and wear lipstick all day, every day, I'm a big fan of the long-wearing kind but have also embraced the joy of the ex-foliators. I love the tingle.

Margaret, so glad you have found success with the ColorStay! But I know what you mean about that smell--it's so powerful, and says "grownup" to me, as well. My mother worked, so she was always made up, and my grandmother didn't leave the house without her red lipstick. Their purses always smelt of lipstick and Juicy Fruit gum, a heady combination.

It's a genetic thing with me; like Ramona, I wear it always. Partly because, without it, I'm pretty darned colorless. But it feels dressy, and as long as I'm wearing my lipstick I feel as though I'm most of the way ready to go.

Your first picture cracks me up. A friend who lives in BC, on a dairy farm, makes her lipsticks point almost the same way, except that the tip of yours would be the "waist" of hers. When she has used a lipstick for a while it ends up with a small sort of heart at the top, somehow. It's mysterious to me how she manages this, and I've never seen anyone else accomplish that feat.

My grandmother, my mother and I developed different wear patterns for our lipsticks, so I guess it's nature, not nurture.

My mother selected Revlon (I think it was either Cherries in the Snow or Fire and Ice) and never deviated. Me, I usually forget to put it on, but I carry a Chanel lipstick that I bought about fifteen years ago because it's the most perfect color I ever found (and it's still usable--quality shows).

I started out using a dab of vaseline, then progressed to strawberry lip smacker--for far too many years. I'm picky about lipsticks--not so much the color but the feel of it. I hate the waxy feel of long-lasting ones, but the creamy ones never stay. I have to give Karen from Ohio's colorstay a try. My current fallback is Burt's Bee's lip shimmer in raisin--I buy them 3 or 4 at a time when they're on sale--so I always have one in my purse, one in my makeup drawer, one in a little bowl by the kitchen sink . . . it's a great color and moisturizes.

Revlon's "Tangerine Sherbet." And that was the only makeup permitted. Let's not talk about being the last kid allowed to shave her legs... I tend to wear lipsticks down flat, but now I'm predominantly a tinted lip gloss person. It's dry here in the Colorado Mountains.

Margaret! Me too! In Nebraska, at Walgreen's (the same one I might've bought my first actual lipstick in) I bought one Revlon and two CoverGirl lip stains. A seminal moment. A product that actually lives up to its hype. I have one in my car, one in my purse, one near my makeup mirror. I am in heaven. (I had to exchange two colors because they were too dark and hard to tone down, but Walgreens will take back ANYTHING.) Karen in Ohio, you have changed my life.

My mother somehow obliterated that nice lipstick point so that all her (50's, reddish) lipsticks had flat-tops. I like mine pointy. Or at least, I did. Lip Stain has made them all obsolete.

I may give my old lipsticks to my daughters, ages 10 and 8, who are always stealing them anyway.

Does St. Louis count as the South? Because my friend Sue and I wore Tangee and lightened our hair with Summer Blonde. I'm afraid I use a lip wand now. No individuality, but it keeps the lipstick off my teeth.

Lip Stain! What a clever idea! I'm not going home today without a lip stain. for real. I am the worst at remembering to put on lipstick and this is always driven home whenever I see a picture of myself. I'm captured forever looking like death. Yep. Lip stain. Gotta have some.
Thanks much!

Harley, it's my pleasure to help a single mom whose work I've admired for a long time. So happy I could return the favor!

My first lipstick was also a Cover Girl, sent away for, via a free offer in Ingenue Magazine, back in maybe 1966 or '67. It was sort of a peach or coral, and was a full-sized lipstick for 25 cents handling. Not a bad deal. I can still smell it in my mind, too.

Eek! How do you get those points? My lipsticks are all a slant close to the original. Wonder what that tells me about myself. I do remember Tangee. It made my teeth look yellowish. I put on lipstick after I got to school, so I would be allowed to leave the house.

Tangee - it certainly brings back memories. I grew up in New York but it was also the first lipstick anyone had here too. Loved wearing lipstick as a kid and still wear it all of the time. A friend told me about the all day lipsticks but she also told me about getting the stuff on wrong and also on her teeth and it is not easy to get off. Figure I'm better off keeping the lipstick manufacturers in business by having to replace my lipstick more often.
Love the blog.

I remember Tangee but didn't wear makeup until I left High School. I spent most of my babysitting money on drugstore items and sheet music. If there was a choice I loaded up on piano music.
When I worked purchasing makeup and clothes became a treat after getting out my school uniform.
Girls who wore deep pink lipstick in school were suspended as were girls who wore hoop earrings.
Nail polishes and lipsticks of every shade became an obsession as even my girls can attest to. I loved the deep colors, the pale colors..you name it I bought it.
One of my relatives was married to a Revlon representative in New York. When I saw her vanity table with all the cosmetics I drooled for a month.
Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Tangee is still available at the Vermont Country Store:
Count me among Karen of OH's converts; I love the Colorstay. Of course I bought too intense colors, but I make the lighter one work by scraping the wand almost dry before applying.

Tangee girl here too......but it was a SOB to get off for school. By 14 I was selling Avon and the rest is a history of drugstore makeup until MAC. Sadly, their website is maddening so I am back to AVON.

Coty! The was my first lipstick. AndI still remember how it smelled--so perfumey! At first, I wasn't allowed to wear lipstick even though EVERY OTHER GIRL else in my class (imagine whining here) did...because Mom said I couldn't until my braces were off.

I remember that first moment of swiping my tongue across braces-free teeth. My first thought was: LIPSTICK.

SO I got Coty, bright pink, lipstick in a holder that attaced to the end of a compact.

I soon changed over to MAry Quant/Carnaby Street essentially white lipstick. To go with the blue eyeshadow and elaborate TWiggy eyeliner.

And my lipsticks eventually get flat on the top. (You remember my tale about coralling every single tube of Trish McEvoy RIO in the country as they were being discontinued.)

And it's still a little pleasure for me to start a new lipstick.

ANd oh, there was an article in Glamour recently-ish that said if you haven't changed your lipstick in the past five years, you're in a fashion rut. Raising my hand: rut.

I bought some of the ColorStay also, and the young saleswoman at Walgreens helped me find it and pick out a shade, Infinite Raspberry. My friends think I'm "all dressed up" when I wear it. My usual lipsticks were more neutral, less obvious when half would come off . . .
The new shorter haircut that Holly suggested is a hit also! Guess I'm getting ready for L.A. July 30!

I have never been a lipstick person. I'm a Chapstick addict, though. I think it's because I grew up in a town with only one drugstore, and it was supervised by the lady who chaperoned the Presbysteryian youth choir. Talk about No Lipstick!

Okay, now I get Fleming's classic line: "She had the most desirable, kissable lips in the world."

NOW I get it....

Omigosh, Hank, the Twiggy look! She looked so cute in Seventeen Magazine photos, and hey!, she was skinny, too!

So I bought a tube of white lipstick. Which apparently did not look so hot with my blue cat-eye glasses. As my mother said, "Stop wearing that; you look like you're dead".

Way to deflate the ego, Mother.

Also: Thank you, Mother.

Holly, thanks for the Vermont Country Store link. You gotta love a place that advertises Yankee Bargains.

So now my question is: Has anyone tried the Wrinkies and Frownies patches? Do they work?

I ask solely in interest of science, of course.

White lipstick is still out there ladies. I bought some for my moaning Myrtle costume (complete with new toilet seat around my neck) for one of our Harry Potter parties. I will get after Steve to put the pix up on Mystery LOVERS FACEBOOK PAGE JUST FOR KICKS AND GIGGLES.

I wonder why none of our men of the blog have commented on whether they like to kiss the female of choice with or without her having lipstick on? Maybe they thought they could all take the day off of commenting!

Ramona, Rose Kennedy wore Frownies to bed every night of her long life.

Boy, Karen, your comment could be interpreted a number of ways, couldn't it?

Thanks, too, to Karen, I am currently wearing my Revlon Colorstay Overtime in Berry Reliable. Before jumping on this bandwagon, I was a big fan of the Burts Bees Lip Shimmers, specifically the Fig. I like the less intense color, and the lip balmy feel.

I don't seem to get as much wear out of the Colorstays as others are describing. Maybe I chew my lips too much.

I bought my first lipstick when I got a trendy new short haircut when I was about 14 - I rode my bike to the drug store and got a brownish color. I thought I was all that.

To get the most mileage out of the ColorStay:

On dry lips, draw with the color stain. Allow to dry for at least 30 seconds. Then use the clear gloss.

I find that not allowing the stain to dry reduces the length of time that it stays on. Also, reapply the gloss at least one more time during the day.

Hope that helps!

No one has mentioned my favorite teen years cosmetics—Cutex and Bonne Belle. Cutex was great about having lipstick and fingernail polish in matching colors. In those days we matched everything…lips and nails, shoes and purse, and so on.

I recently had the joy of teaching my just turned 15 yr. old granddaughter how to put on make-up (I don’t think her mom hasn’t worn more than mascara since her wedding). We did her ‘colors’ then went out and bought a gazillion shades of eye shadow and lipstick and eye-liner, the whole bit, then we went home and practiced, practiced, practiced. I never was the cookie-baking kind of grandma.

Welcome, Margaret, to the Tartly fray, “The Circus That Never Ends,” as William calls it

My lipstick disappears as fast as any other makeup I put on; somehow I burn it off. I'll have to try Colorstay, but I've learned to extend my lipstick life with lipliner.

I didn't start wearing it until late in high school because my Mom wore such bright red, I just couldn't imagine. Then in theater I had a makeup person for the first time, and realized there are more colors in heaven and earth, Horatio...

Oh, Karen! See what you've started? If you want to see one interpretation of different wear patterns, check out: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hYRmHFnkK24/SXBL7xfj0YI/AAAAAAAAByU/Y49iSZr_Vhs/s1600-h/Lipstickprofiles.jpg
And we haven't even touched on our mother's perfume. Evening in Paris, anyone?

I've been using Cover Girl Outlast since it came out. Which is long enough for them to discontinue my favorite color already. grrrr! I hate the design of the 'tube' too, you can't get all of it out! (I'm cheap so that pisses me off!)
I WILL figure out a way to get that thing open & get the rest!!!!!

Cover Girl Outlast was the first one I used, but they changed the formula, and it no longer lasts. That irritated me even more than not being able to get all the color out, Rita!

Yikes......gotta love a Grandma who does the make-up!

I did the temp tatoos on my last visit and D-I-L lost it and made the girls clean-up b/4 we went to the American Girl store........and I thought Barbie was the problem!!

Mary Alice, don't get me started about American Girl! I've nearly alienated two dear friends by ranting about that outfit . . . .

Anyway, Tangee, Coty, white lipstick, the sticky-wanded lip smackers . . . waving madly here: me,too, me, too!! I remember feeling so proud of my first Tangee (much prouder than of my first bra), and lipstick was the only bit of make-up that I was never chastised for wearing. My mom thought it was silly to spend much time on make-up other than lipstick, but my grandmother thought it was just plain foolish . . . except for lipstick.

I never quite knew what color to wear until I 'had my colors done' (Color Me Beautiful) and bought the recommended shade from Carole whatsit . . . which I then proceeded to wear for about a decade.

I have several ooooooooollllddd lipsticks I've been trying to get rid of (sadly, I don't have any of Mom's old gorgeous metal tubes), but then I make the mistake of opening them and that unforgettable waxy fragrance sends me to nostalgia land . . . .

Oh, yeah...buying my DGD enough make-up to last her through college, including make-up brushes and lighted mirror, BTW, cost about a third of what I dropped during our last trek to the American Girl store. Of course, we did lunch on that trip at the AG Cafe.

Lest you think I'm indulgent, I don't see them very often, once or twice a year, so we splurge when together. I figure I still spend far less than if they lived closer and I saw them frequently.

My big take-away from this blog/back blog is how important our early experiences with make-up can be. I had a blast and think it will be one of her enduring memories...it's a Mastercard 'Priceless" moment.

Remember the candy lipsticks? Oh, so much fun! We thought we were grown up!

Jumping in a day late and a lipstick short to say, wow, Margaret, that's pretty damned interesting about the different shapes. How DO those women do it who wear it flat? I'm wondering if part of it has to do with the shapes of lips. Some lips are more like a single line across, but others go up in peaks. . .And you are so right about the possibility of this as a clue in a murder mystery.

I remember how nervous I was about asking my mom for permission to wear lipstick and how surprised I was when she said an easy "yes."

I haven't had a chance to read the comments, so I apologize if I'm repeating what everybody else already said!

Good Grief, Southern mothers, huh-uh, try Central Illinois mothers. Yep remember it well, however, the taste lingers, ewww. Finally found lipstick w/o the parabens in it, so safe to back to lipstick (Neutrogena). Thanks for the memories. Blessings, Janet

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