Why We Love Lip Color: The Lipstick Effect

lipstick finalized A friend recently told me she bought Mac's Ruby Woo lip color a year ago but never wore it. She said  it was "too much" on her, but she loved the color so much she couldn't let it go. That's when I started thinking about the impact  lip color has had on women.

History shows that lipstick can be traced back to early civilizations when women used gems and dust to beautify their lips. According to studies, there is  a strong relationship between male's perception of female attractiveness and red lipstick. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean women wear lipstick purely to be attractive to men, although advertising over the last 50 years seems to suggest otherwise. Even more surprising, the connection between lipstick and mating has been supported by research.

A study entitled, Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect (2012) has shown that women are more likely to buy products, including lipstick, that enhance their attractiveness to men during economic recessions when mate preferences are perceived to be low. It's known as the lipstick-effect, and is based on life history theory which holds that when ecological resources are scarce, humans are more likely to focus their energy on seeking a quality mate that ensures reproduction, and essentially self-preservation.

Keep in mind that the lip-stick effect is one theory of why women are drawn to lip color. It does not address why women still seem to love lip color when there is no economic recession, and reproduction is not the only thing driving our behavior. Another less ecological explanation of what may drive women's love of lip color is their perception of how they look in lipstick, or better yet, what lipstick represents in our culture (not rocket science, right!). If advertising makes lipstick look desirable and men find lipstick attractive in our culture, then of course we women would be impacted by the same culturally-mediated beliefs as men. I personally enjoy being able to express my moods with different color lipsticks. I love red when I want to be bold and "legendary" or a really good neutral when I want to look understated, yet chic and pulled together.

In honor of our culture's love affair with lipstick, I've compiled a number of must have lip colors and related products. Check it out.

lipstick layout final_edited-16

 Bobbi Brown WineMac Spice Prestige AmoreLip PrimerMac Ruby WooMac Fresh BrewDr. Pepper Lip SmackerRevlon Fuchsia Fusion

These are all my go-to colors. I always need a red, nude, and pink. What are your favorite lipstick colors,brands, or related products? And what do you think about the lipstick effect— sound or just plain silly?