Lipstick Queen makes some of our favorite lip colors — bold but totally wearable, the colors are rich (but not over-the-top) and the texture is just-right matte. Also, the packaging is amazing. The end. To learn more about the story behind the cult favorite brand, we talked with founder Poppy King (who started her first lipstick line when she was just 18!) about her own personal history with lipstick, what goes into developing the perfect shade, and how to squelch "can I pull off red lipstick?" fears.
Instagram images courtesy of Lipstick Queen.
Hi Poppy! Tell us about when you first started wearing lipstick.
I have a very specific memory of trying lipstick for the very first time. I was six years old and I remember the exhilaration of stealing up to my mother’s dressing table and reaching for one of her lipsticks, which she brought back from her regular trips to London. She wore these incredible rich oxblood reds from Biba and to me they were the very essence of glamour and sophistication.
You started your first lipstick line when you were only 18. How did that come about?
Years [after I wore my mother's lipsticks], when I wanted to experience that glamour for myself, I simply couldn’t find lipsticks like the ones my mother had. No deep pigments, no rich, true reds. Everything was a bit weak, slimy, and just plain wrong! That’s why I set about launching my own lipstick brand, as much as anything else it was to satisfy my own craving for proper lipstick!
I wanted matte lipticks in rich wines, chocolate browns…whereas all that was available to me was rather disappointing. Looking back now, it might seem like an audacious thing to have done, at such a young age. But at the time I didn’t think twice, I just approached it like a fun project. Little did I know it would turn into my entire career!
Can you walk us through your own lipstick collection today? Which are favorites?
It’s impossible to say which is my absolute favorite – I love them all! But I am very proud of Hello Sailor, a lipstick I developed last year which on first glance might look a little strange, since it’s navy blue. But on the lips, it turns a gorgeous, flattering sheer pinky mauve that is so pretty and wearable.
What's your signature lipstick for everyday?
I am rather devoted to my Red Sinner.
What about when you want to mix it up?
In the summer, I like to go for a different tone or red. Something with a little more orange in it. And there’s Jungle Queen which I created this year – a juicy papaya shade that looks amazing when you team it with leopard print clothing and accessories.
How do I get over a fear of thinking that red lipstick makes me look like a clown?
Trust me, it doesn’t! Women often say they don’t have the confidence to wear red lipstick. But here’s the thing: you don’t need confidence to wear red lipstick because red lipstick gives you that confidence!
If you’re not used to seeing yourself in lipstick, or you’re not sure it suits you, then ease yourself in gently by trying a sheer shade or just blotting a little color on with your finger.
You've also written a book about the experience of developing your own brand and identifying good entrepreneurial ideas — what's the biggest piece of advice you'd like to offer to your 20-year-old self?
The same thing I would say to anyone: Never be apologetic about turning your passion into your livelihood. If you work on something you really love, the passion and energy you put into it will always pay off in the end.