Tag Archives: Guerlain Rouge Automatique

The Lipstick Renaissance

This is the year of the lipstick. After all, so far this spring we’ve seen new lipsticks being launched by Estee Lauder (Pure Color), No7 (their new Poppy King range), Clarins (Rouge Hydra Nude), Dior Addict and Guerlain (Rouge Automatique). Chanel’s creative director of make-up, Peter Philips, continued on his mission to convert girls to the lipstick cause by launching the glossy Rouge Coco Shine…. Lipstick is having a moment, as they say in fashion-ville; though for many of us it’s never gone out of style.

After all, it’s difficult to resist the way a slick of lipstick can lift the spirits by brightening the smile. Not only that, but lipstick is a shortcut to glamour and can instantly transform the appearance in a way that no other single item can. Gwyneth Paltrow summed up the powerful effect of lipstick when she said: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

For the millions of women who have bought Chanel lipsticks since they were first sold in 1924, owning one of those little black tubes is an affordable way of sharing in the luxury and elegance of the brand – and of keeping up with the latest trends. The same goes for Dior, Tom Ford, Armani and the other beauty brands which belong to fashion houses.

The history of the lipstick as a staple of our beauty routine stretches back to the ancient civilsations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, when both sexes painted their lips using such natural dyes as carmine, which is made from ground-up insects, or sheep’s blood. By the 16th century, women were following Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for prettifying her pout by colouring her lips with cochineal paint (made from beetles), while their great-great-grand-daughters, a hundred years later, favoured creams that were made with black grape juice.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for the early incarnations of lipstick. In the 18th century, it was banned – along with other cosmetics – by Parliament (which associated it with witches), and it was dismissed as “impolite” by Queen Victoria in the 19th.

Of course, back then, lip colour came in little pots or, in the case of Liquid Bloom of Roses, which was imported from England by the founder of the Parisian beauty house Guerlain, in a little bottle. Monsieur Guerlain soon changed its formula and created Liquid Rose Extract “for lip colour with great staying power that lasts through meals”. It continued to sell until 1958.

Guerlain was also responsible for the very first modern-day lipstick, made with a wax base in 1870. Ne m’oubliez pas was its name and it came in a refillable container with a “push-up” mechanism. The first swivel-up tube was patented in 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, and 13 years later Guerlain created the Rouge Automatique – which it has recently revived – a lipstick with no cap, that can be applied using just one hand: perfect for the girl on the go, who can’t take her eyes or fingers off her phone as she does her lippie.

And it’s not just the design of the containers and the formulation of the lipsticks that have changed over the years; the colours have come in and gone out of fashion. The most enduringly popular lipstick colour is undoubtedly red, since it’s a dramatic variation on the natural colour of the lips.

Deep, dark red became popular in the late teens and early 1920s when such sexy silent movie stars as the “It” Girl, Clara Bow  and the vampy seductress Theda Bara (right, as Cleopatra in 1917) wore it – anything lighter wouldn’t have shown up in black and white. Not only did they kick off the fashion for red and scarlet lips, but Clara Bow also ignited the trend for “bee-stung” lips, the style of applying the lipstick so that it exaggerates the centre of the lips.

During the 1940s, lipstick was harder to come by because essential ingredients, such as petroleum were unavailable. In Britain, production of cosmetics almost completely ground to a halt and women swapped tips on how to make their own lip tints using beetroot juice or by melting down the stubs of old lipsticks. No7 lipsticks, many of which hadn’t been available during the war, made a comeback in 1949 with a range that included several variations on red.

Indeed, red remained the lipstick shade of choice for Hollywood stars and would-be glamour pusses well into the 1950s, the decade when Revlon launched its iconic Fire and Ice shade, which returned to shops late last year. As the 1950s went on, the pinks and corals shades introduced by Christian Dior also became popular across the world. But the biggest, most radical change in lipstick fashions took place in the early 1960s – and it was all down to one woman: Elizabeth Taylor, who died last month.

Elizabeth Taylor’s services to lipstick should have earned her an award. Not only did she show, in the famous lipstick-on-the-mirror sequence in her movie Butterfield 8, how handy the cosmetic could be in those moments when you find yourself without pen and paper and have to leave an urgent message for your lover, but she also set a new trend in make-up fashion when she starred in the infamous and extravagant epic Cleopatra, which finally came out in 1963 after being in production for two years.

Liz Taylor’s exotic make-up when she played the Egyptian queen may have borne some resemblance – at least in terms of the elaborate eye decoration – to images of the real Cleopatra, but it was also designed to show off her exquisitely beautiful face, and in particular those famous almond-shaped, violet-coloured eyes. All emphasis was placed on the eyes, and her lips were kept light-coloured – in pale corals and pinks – throughout the film.

The effect of this bold eyed, pale-lipped look was sensational. Revlon picked up on it immediately and launched the Cleopatra collection (including “Sphinx Pink” lipstick), which offered a watered-down version of the Liz-as-Cleo look. Andy Warhol later said that Cleopatra was the single-most influential film in terms of style in the 1960s: it certainly launched the make-up trend which defined the 1960s – and it’s a look which is still popular today.

Of course, these days, anything goes lipstick wise – you can work a 1960s, Cleopatra-inspired look one day; a shiny red 1950s Hollywood pout the next and a vampy dark 1920s one at night – and there are any amount of colours, textures and finishes to choose from.

There is a lipstick for everyone – for those who want a signature colour to see them through the ups and downs of life to those who want to stay bang on trend and are currently replacing nude shades with brights for summer. After all, changing you lipstick is the cheapest way to immediately update your look.. Not for nothing did Max Factor advertise its Color Fast lipsticks, way back in the 1950s, with the strapline: “High fashion for every woman’s lips.”

But the last word on lipstick in the 2010s should really go to the American comic Jerry Seinfeld, who once said: “Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not colour, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end.”

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My Week in Beauty


By far the most intriguing and seductive-looking of the new batch of lipsticks is Guerlain Rouge Automatique (£24.50, available in Selfridges now, and nationwide from May 1). Guerlain certainly knows how to package its products: their Rouge G lipsticks, with their pop-out mirror and bullet-shaped tube, look like they should belong to a Bond girl, if not 007 himself. And the Rouge Automatique is just as impressive and gadget-like in its design; the difference being that it is a reproduction of the original, 1936, Rouge Automatique which was designed without a lid so that the woman applying it could do so with one hand.

Of course, there’s more to it than the flick-knife style tube. I became an instant fan of the Rouge Automatique when I tried a few on Monday – the texture is gorgeous: moisturising, comfortable and rich. And the 25 shades include some real beauties – especially in the corals and reds. I’m looking forward to posing with mine … After all, it’s far too elegant and sexy to be kept hidden in the make-up bag.


Over lunch with my beautician friend Margaret she gave me the low-down on the last new product I asked her to test – Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer SPF15  (£21; currently available exclusively at Selfridges, Brown Thomas and at www.clinique.co.uk just now, and nationwide from April 22). I hadn’t wanted to judge this one all by myself as I’m a bit of a tinted moisturiser virgin – I’ve tended to avoid them because there usually isn’t a shade pale enough for my fair complexion, and also because, having a less than perfect skin, I feel more confident with a full coverage foundation.

Anyway, Margaret was highly impressed. ” I’m really enjoying the Moisture Surge,” she said. “It has a lovely texture and great coverage, but best of all – it lasts! Most tinted moisturisers disappear pretty quickly – but not this  one. It will definitely be in my holiday make-up bag! I would buy this product again.” .


When you write about beauty, your local upmarket department stores becomes your second home – and I paid mine, the historic Glasgow store Frasers, a visit on Wednesday in order to meet with Dafna, the PR for Bobbi Brown. She was in town to brief journalists on the American make-up guru’s latest wonder concealer-corrector, Creamy Concealer Kit (£23.50; www.bobbibrown.co.uk).

Sure enough I was impressed with the results of my mini-makeover using the kit. It contains two products: the corrector which neutralises dark circles and lines, and the concealer which lightens the skin. It undoubtedly brightened the eye area and gave my complexion a much-needed lift. I’ll be interested to see how I get on with it when I try it at home.

In the meantime, I’m delighted with the new mascara that Dafna brought me: Bobbi Brown Lash Glamour Extreme Lengthening Mascara (£18). It certainly lives up to its name thanks to its unusual bristles, which interlock with the lashes like a zipper, coating each hair with colour from root to tip, and the  slightly curved shape of the brush which encourages lashes to stand to attention..


My deputy tester (and head of the anti-ageing cosmetics department) may not have been terribly taken with Clarins’ most recent addition to its Instant Smooth collection – the Instant Smooth Line Correcting Concentrate (£24; www.clarins.co.uk), a pen which is supposed to make wrinkles disappear in one stroke – but my experiments with their latest body lotion has been much more successful.

Clarins Extra-Firming Body Lotion (£39.50) is certainly pricey but I’ve enjoyed using it more than I have enjoyed using most products in this category for a long time. By Thursday, I had been using it (just once a day instead of the recommended twice – who has time in the morning?!) for a couple of weeks, and I became convinced that I was starting to notice a difference. It helps that it smells lovely… It contains lemon thyme extract, which encourages the production of a protein essential in maintaining the skin’s elasticity, and plant extracts which reactivate the production of type 1 collagen, thus improving skin density and firmness. Oh, and it feels gorgeous!

Clarins newsflash: the Clarins Spa at Frasers (0141 221 5760) in Glasgow is offering any 80 minute treatment (including the sublime TriActive facial) for the bargain price of £40, if booked before Thursday April 21.


Every time I use the Chanel Crayon Sourcils  Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil (£18.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836),  which I opened on Friday, I can’t help but think of Bette Davis (left), who wouldn’t have pulled off quite as magnificent a performance as catty Margo Channing in the classic bitch-fest All About Eve had she not had a pair of well-defined eyebrows working in her favour. It’s a cliche but it’s true: eyebrows do frame the face. Their shape can drastically – and dramatically – transform your whole look. Could Bette have been quite as memorable as Margo without those thick, yet well-tamed, eyebrows, which balance out the cruel, full mouth?

The new Chanel pencil is – as most are today – a double-ended affair, with a brush at one end and the pencil at the other. It’s difficult to draw comparisons with other very similar pencils on the market, but what is particularly impressive about this one is the choice of colours available: there are four, including two shades for blondes. Fasten your seatbelts for some serious eyebrow-arching …

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