So, have you tried Apply Magic Sauce? It’s University of Cambridge-developed algorithm that gauges your personality based on your social media activity, a prime example of psychometrics. Agencies that predicted Donald Trump’s ascent last year to President used a similar algorithm to reach their conclusion, basing them on seemingly ridiculous, adjacent-only theories such as “if you like Katy Perry, you’d vote for Trump.” Ridiculous, and yet here we are.
But I’ve always felt that way about beauty products as well. I’m sure that consumer profiles can be derived from even the type of detergent you use, but beauty has always felt especially personal and telling, because they reveal not only your surface likes and dislikes, but how you’d like to be perceived by the rest of the world. And of any beauty product out there, the lipstick is the easiest litmus test for self-confidence. Think about it: only someone as fearless and certifiably insane as Kris Aquino could pull off (or want to pull off) an unapologetic bubblegum pink.
And thankfully, anyone can wear as many faces as their wallet can allow. We can just as easily shift from a skin-color nude to a brick red as we can happy about the debut of Ooma poke bowls to helpless about That Article By The Atlantic.
For me, makeup began with a tube of bright orange MAC lipstick called ‘morange.’ I had fallen ill at an academic conference in Taiwan and convinced one of my friends to skip out a day with me. We were in the middle of Taipei’s business district, without agenda or even curiosity to guide us. I’ll teach you how to wear makeup, my friend said. Okay. We went to a department store, even though we had no idea what we were doing. Just Google ‘morange,’ and you’ll know what I mean.
I eventually realized, as I started to learn how to apply makeup on myself, that I could only take darker shades. My face needed an anchor. And, I wasn’t a sweet girl! No, sir. I was dark and calculating, and I had bigger dreams than my dummy blockmate who wore light pink lipstick all the time, hence my weekend choices of absinthe and NARS Lip Pencils in Train Bleu, Palais Royal, or Golshan.
I suppose it became most clear when I spiraled into a black hole of misery and despair at all the dead ends my career in advertising hit. I switched up to the witchy shades: Make Up For Ever #50, OCC Lip Tar in Rx, Kat Von D Studded Kiss in Plan 9. I got of that job, this city, and I left all my makeup behind for a three-month sojourn in my favourite city. It was like a reset button. And I suppose that’s why, today, I don’t wear lipstick. I was always an amalgamation of things, never an extreme, and I stopped trying make myself fit into easily identifiable roles, just so that people could swallow me more easily.
For better or worse, I still have morange tucked away in my lipstick drawer. I still try out different shades, like the Bite Beauty Multistick in Praline, or the Revlon Ultra HD Gel Lipcolor in Sand. I still have no qualms about wearing blue lipstick to a bar. Those are all still the person I am, because that’s exactly still the kind of person I am.
PRODUCTION DESIGN BY MAGS OCAMPO