Two weeks ago on the corner of 2nd Street, I complimented Charlotte’s lip color. It was a distinct hue of bright pink that met the proper dosage of red, specifically for her and seemed as congenital as anyone’s natural lip color might.
“Thanks,” she began explaining, “It’s a weird green henna product.”
“So it dyes your lips?” I was confused.
“Temporarily, yeah,” she told me as she went on to share the tale of her findings:
On a frigid night in a hole-in-the-wall bar in Berlin, I met a magician–and by magician I mean a denizen of Berlin by way of France, who insisted I try her mystical green lipstick.
“It looks different on everyone, it reacts to your body chemistry and turns a pinkish reddish hue. It has henna in it so it stays on evenly, all day. Everyday if you want,” she told me.
I was sold. Who wouldn’t want a part in this bizarre beauty witchcraft? But the selling point quickly became the Mount Everest standing between myself and the lipstick when the friend in question explained to me, just as I was readying to pay whatever it would cost that one could only procure the lip stain in Morocco.
After some frantic internet searching, I discovered that the lip stain is not a native product to Morocco and that color changing lipstick is a relic of the past (see: the 1980s). Back then, it was marketed as “mood lipstick” and changed color according to your mood.
As far as the chemistry goes, it appears that the main ingredient in many of these products is Red 27, which when dissolved in a waterless base, appears colorless. However, when it comes into contact with moisture, it reacts to the pH (pure hydrogen) balance and temperature of your lips which causes the color change. This reaction to the skin’s acidity accounts for the variance in hue from person to person. pH levels can also alter based on diet and stress, which is another variance among different people. The lipstick is a simple reaction to a change in solubility from direct contact with the skin or even the moisture in the air. While this lipstick is magical, technically speaking it does not penetrate the chemistry of your body to customize a perfect hue that works with your coloring.
In searching the U.S. iterations of these products, it does not state anything about them containing henna, however the more ambiguous Moroccan version may still. Henna is a common product there as is utilized for lip coloration. My experience with the product is that it stays on for hours on end without messing up the way a typical lipstick would. It has a matted effect as if it is in fact tattooing or staining the lip.
Naturally, I too became bewilderingly curious to try the green lipstick inconspicuously but successfully masquerading itself as the answer to my red-lip, red-teeth and often red-pillow-next-morning quagmires. Upon first try, I looked into a mirror no more than twenty seconds post-application. I learned that perhaps a rosy pink wasn’t the color for me. Five minutes later, I looked back into the same mirror and observed that the color had grown deeper, darker and far more suitable to augment but simultaneously endorse the state of my lips’ innate color.
I’m still not quite sure how the glorified, semi-permanent lip tattoo knows how to ink me in a way that seems so precisely aware of that which “works” on me.
In the photos above, you will notice that I’d originally smeared the lipstick across my bottom lip to discern the difference between my natural color and the enhanced color. In the subsequent photos, you will see both lips stained. Twenty four hours post documentation, both lips are still distinctly pink. My pillows have yet to witness any color casualties.
Charlotte found the product for us from eBay so if you’re interested in giving it a try for yourself, here’s a link to b-b-buy. Re the outfit and accessories above, my dress is Rochas, the earrings are Delfina Delettrez (left ear, lips) and Pamela Love (right ear, duh). The bracelets are Tiffany & Co and nOir and the rings are by Khai Khai.