Why do women wear red lipstick?

Red lipstick is saturated with sexual connotations. Hardly surprising, given that its primary function is to make lips look like a female’s privates.

Crude, but apparently true. According to Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of the Senses, anthropologists believe that red lips serve as a reminder of the labia, which “flush red and swell when they’re aroused.” (Too much information?)

Ackerman also points out how, in more recent years, lips are almost always decorated in shades of pink or red and then topped off with a finishing layer of gloss “to make them look shiny and moist.” No need to clarify what Ackerman’s getting at there.

In which case, when you apply either red lipstick or lip gloss (and especially if you apply both) what you’re actually subconsciously trying to do is emulate your own physical state of sexual arousal. Goodness me.

So basically the purpose of wearing red lipstick and/or lipgloss is to increase sex appeal. Hard to deny that one. Take a look at the following pictures, and you’ll see that a strong element of each woman’s sexual allure is, indeed, a result of the bright lipstick she’s wearing.

Scarlett Johansson sexy red lips
Scarlett Johansson won the lips category of the 14th Annual America's Most Wanted Celebrity Body Parts (image: colorfulwallpaper.net)
Monica Bellucci Dior red lipstick
Monica Bellucci is the muse for Dior’s lipstick, Rouge Dior (image: makeup4all.com)
Jessica Rabbit has repeatedly been voted Sexiest Cartoon Character - those red lips must have something to do with it. (Image: telegraph.co.uk)

Having said that, lipstick hasn’t always been used purely for sexual purposes. As mentioned in Yesterface’s post It’s all in the lips… the cultural significance of lipstick has varied over the centuries according to societal trends.

To find out more about lipstick’s timeline, visit Yesterface’s post The History of Lipstick. 

Lipstick on a shirt - the infamous image of adultery (image: thedailygreen.com)


Add yours →

  1. I remember this conversation! …and am now referencing you in my lit review xx

  2. Beauty Revenge Motto January 23, 2012 — 1:02 am

    I totally love this blog! I love red lipstick I believe it gives women their sexual and seductive side. the dior lipstick is amazing…

  3. “Why do women wear red lipstick? Yesterface” ended up being a very nice blog, .

    I hope you keep composing and I’m going to continue reading through! Thanks ,Freya

  4. I see absolutely no reason why a woman or girl would want to make themselves look like thy are dead.
    That is all lipstick does.
    In fact most “cosmetics” only make a woman look less alive and more like some sort of half or mostly dead thing.
    I love a woman for what she is, not for some garish misrepresentation the cosmetics make her into.
    I think it would be a fine thing if cosmetics were taxed at about $1,000 an ounce.
    There is no need for ANYONE using them if they are healthy.
    What is more is that many cosmetics are down right toxic.

    Join me guys, just refuse to “go out” with the gal if she is wearing lipstick or other cosmetics to make her look ugly.

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