Lipstick can do more than finish off your look; it can change the way others perceive you. It can also teach you a lot about yourself.
Growing up, I was pretty average. I followed trends and blended into the crowd. The only time I really experimented with my look was onstage when I would perform in musicals. I could transform from an insecure teenage girl into a sexy '60s secretary or a wild '20s flapper. I would watch hours of YouTube videos to perfect each era's signature makeup look. The lipstick was always my favorite part — the finishing touch.
During college, after all the performing was done, I decided to bring my bold onstage beauty look into my everyday routine. Just like a costume, makeup can turn you into a different person. For me, lipstick held the power to turn me into whatever character I wanted to play.
When I'm out at brunch with my family or going to the first day of classes, I'll swipe on a bright, peachy lipstick so I look awake and peppy. For those days I'm feeling out of my element and want to look like the coolest girl in the room, you can find me with a deep purple liquid lipstick or a gray-brown creamy lipstick. The cool-girl color makes up for my anxiety.
With my adventurous makeup, I feel more confident. I can express myself in a whole new way with just a few tweaks to my beauty routine.
Last summer, I made my way to New York City to intern at two of my favorite magazines. I wanted to make an impression and to experiment even more with some bold beauty looks, so I challenged myself to try a different lip product every single day and to record it all on social media. Not only did I leave an impression on my Instagram followers, I learned a lot about myself along the way.
On my first day of work, I chose a bright fuchsia, MAC Petals & Peacocks. It was a gift from one of my mentors, and I knew it was the perfect way to gain some major beauty points on my first day without going overboard with a super-crazy lip color.
I went on to try dozens of different products, documenting my journey along the way. Some days were harder than others when I just wanted to wear my trusty favorite colors, but I forced myself to step outside my comfort zone and try something new every day.
There were days when I got dozens of compliments and others when I got weird double glances on the subway. At first, my new friends at work thought I had to be super-edgy, but they quickly came to realize that just because I wore black lipstick that didn't mean I was all doom and gloom. The next day, I'd walk into the office with neon pink and exude a totally different vibe.
Some days, like when I got to go to an Ingrid Michaelson concert in Central Park, I would look like a total hipster.
There were other days when looking bright and poppy was my goal.
I never planned ahead. I would just go with how I felt when I woke up in the morning. And as time went on, I began to realize how versatile my look could be. I can rock any look I want as long as I own it. In the end, I control how people see me. If I decide I want to look like a brooding 21-year-old who loves punk rock, I can. And if I want to seem buttoned-up and conservative another day, I can do that too. I decide how I want to be seen.
As the weeks went on, my coworkers realized that lipstick was my thing. I'd get compliments from some pretty important people there, wanting to know what products I loved most. I also started getting messages from friends and followers about how my lipstick photos on Instagram inspired them to branch out and try something different. Getting those comments was the best and most unexpected part of the whole experiment. I hoped my posts would be entertaining, but I never planned to be inspiring.
By the end of the summer, I had a greater sense of self. I felt more comfortable in my skin because I knew it was up to me how I let people see me. I wasn't afraid of judgment.
I ended my epic NYC summer of lipstick with a customized color that I went and created at the Bite Beauty Lip Lab in SoHo. After trying so many colors, I knew that I wanted yet another berry shade. It's the perfect color for so many occasions.
I spent my last day in the city fielding even more questions about where I got my lipstick and how I managed to pull just about anything off. I love that when I wear it I can shrug and say, "It was made just for me."
Once I opened myself up to new possibilities and learned about how I like to express myself, I felt like I can wear anything and walk around feeling confident and looking totally awesome.