What Makes Lipstick Such a Powerful Tool of Expression

Five women speak to The Word. about their most treasured lipstick and what makes this modern-day symbol of strength a must-have in their make-up bag.

Acrylic handmade portrait of Frida Kahlo by Alina Dalinina, via Saatchi Art

Lipstick is, perhaps, the first make-up product most women are introduced to… And this small but significant tube of pigment is armed with many powers. A single swipe is known to make women feel confident, attractive, and in control. Your favourite shade can not only bring a smile to your face, but could also turn around a bad day. 

Five women speak to The Word. about their favourite shade and what makes each such a treasured possession.

Rachel Bayros

“My earliest memory of lipstick dates back to when I was a little girl. I remember watching my mother get ready for work…she would drape her sari and then apply the lipstick right at the end. She always wore shades of brown…and I still remember how it smelled, like it was yesterday.

I gravitate towards red and burgundy hues, and I spotted this shade while shopping for body butters at The Body Shop. I prefer lip tints over lipsticks, and I rarely wear a solid colour. But this formula—Matte Lip Liquid in Mauve Mauritius Dahlia—has a beautiful cream-like consistency, and the intensity is buildable. I usually only need this one product to add colour to my lips, lids, and cheeks—I like that this lipstick gives me a hint of flush while keeping my skin dewy. And I wear this product when I want a quick pick-me-up after a long day…

Having said that, I am of the belief that if the person underneath the make-up is a confident person, then whatever they wear only enhances their personality. Sometimes a face stands out because of a person’s eyes, and you are curious about their make-up because of how it looks on them.”

The Body Shop, Matte Liquid Lip Color in Mauve Mauritius Dahlia



Tisca Chopra

“There is something about a dark shade of lipstick that makes me feel empowered. I am wearing Chanel Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lipstick in 470 Marthe, which I discovered at a duty-free counter. I love that it is neither glossy nor matte, and that it offers a subtle sheen. This shade is dark but not intimidating, and it works with most looks. That’s why I always carry it with me.

I believe that lipsticks can instantly enhance one’s mood. My mum had a magnificent collection of lipsticks, too—she loved collecting limited-edition pieces, housed in exotic packaging. She still has some old lipstick containers from YSL and even a Schiaparelli compact and lipstick set.”

Chanel, Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour in 470 Marthe

Price on request

Madhulika Sharma

“I absolutely love Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored—I was first introduced to it by a lovely sales rep at Sephora. This formula is perfect for me as it doesn’t transfer and stays put for hours. A single swipe of this shade is all I need to feel confident…and how I feel internally after wearing this lip product radiates on the outside, too. I love sporting a bold red lip when I go to parties and events… When you meet new people, you want to make a good first impression—it is a blend of outer appearance and inner confidence, and red lipstick certainly helps with that.”

Fenty Beauty, Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored

Price on request

Mehek Malhotra
Designer and Visual Artist

“Back when I was in college, I was part of a theatrical performance for which I was asked to wear lipstick. This lip product was provided to each of us for the show…and as soon as I saw the difference it made to my appearance, I fell head over heels in love with the bright-red hue.

The Givenchy Le Rouge Deep Velvet Lipstick is my favourite product, not just because the colour is stunning, but also how it makes me feel. As soon as I wear this lipstick, I feel a surge of self-assurance. It is almost as if this vibrant, fiery red colour frees up my creative energy and allows me to pour my enthusiasm into the world.

When I wear this lipstick, I frequently get compliments on how lively and energised my appearance is, and I attribute such praises to the shade itself. The fact that some of my close friends and co-workers have even referred to it as ‘The Mehek Shade’ never fails to make me smile.

I have been fascinated with lipsticks ever since I was a child. I remember going into my mother’s bathroom and wearing her lipstick… I find it so interesting that something as basic as a bottle of paint can completely transform a person’s appearance as well as how they feel about themselves.”

Givenchy, Le Rouge Deep Velvet Lipstick in N36 L'Interdit


Pallavi Singh
Founder, Moda Ninja

“Like many of us, I, too, am drawn to everything that is beautiful and pretty. But lately, I have been trying to make conscious choices. I was on the hunt for a cruelty-free, clean beauty brand with a low plastic footprint, and my ‘The One’ lipstick shade turned out to be Blush Actress from Disguise Cosmetics.

I was introduced to the brand by Vanity Wagon—India’s first clean beauty portal. This lipstick is 100 percent vegan, contains no nasties (read: no toxins, alcohol, sulphates, and paraben), and is packaged in a recyclable tube.

This striking pink shade makes me feel beautiful, confident…and happy about my conscious choice that doesn’t harm the environment or my skin. I feel Blush Actress is subtle yet powerful, and I reach out for it on days when I don’t feel like applying make-up, but I still want to look good.”

Disguise Cosmetics, Ultra Comfortable Satin Matte Lipstick in Blush Actress