Originally published in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Elle

ELLE South Africa Beauty Editor Nicole Newman on the power behind the right bright lipstick

I know the feeling: being afraid to apply bright colour to your lips; no matter how good it looks on someone else, you start applying it and then quickly wipe it off because, according to you, it just doesn’t suit you.

Trust me, I (and many of my friends) have experienced this countless times before. After all, change – be it with your hair, your eyes, or your lips – takes some getting used to. According to Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it takes seven days to break  a habit, and that includes a change  in appearance.

When I first joined ELLE, my nickname was Country Club (think plain and comfy clothes and minimal make-up) and the idea of wearing bright lipstick, or bright anything for that matter, was just an idea. I was content with my neutral separates and the ‘no make-up’ make-up look; I took pride in the fact that I had a signature look (albeit neutral), while also secretly envying the glow I could see on women with carefully applied lipstick; their smile seemed bigger, their confidence seemed more evident, and even the simplest combination of a white Tee paired with jeans was elevated to chic thanks to brightly coloured lips.

Ironically, it was my first event as beauty editor that changed my take on the lip look. I arrived home after work with barely enough time to change for an event. One look in the mirror (tired face, check; dark circles under the eyes, check; messy hair, check) and I knew I needed a little je-ne-sais-quoi to brighten myself up. This time, it came in the shape of the L’Oréal lipstick, Colour Riche Julianne. The transformation was almost instant: I went from looking drained and dull to energised and effortlessly chic. Needless to say, I have become the bright lip’s number one fan, advocating its power.

The thing is, you never forget that first bright; it becomes the go-to lip colour housed in your handbag, the hue that never fails. Be it on an off day, for a last minute event, or a carefully planned dinner, I have my lipstick in hand. I have since grown my collection of brights to include Chanel’s La Romanesque, R505, and, more recently, Dolce&Gabbana Matte Lipstick in Fire, R625.

Just give it a try: find a bright that’s right for you (it’s the same as knowing what colour clothes complement your skin tone) and wear it for one day every month. Offering a new take on your look, it will make you feel bolder and more inspired. And once you get used to your new look, you will be enticed to try bolder and brighter colours, from pink to tangerine…

The options are endless and well worth exploring.