20 Mar 2013

Berber Lipstick

Berber lipstick - no, this *is* actually lipstick!

And now for something completely different...

I recently was given the gift of what seemed like a lid for a tiny pot.  Great, thought I, where's the rest of the pot.  No, I was told, this is Moroccan lipstick.  Intrigued, I took it away and have been using it a little bit since.

The underneath (with flash - picking up gold pigments that are mixed-in with the red pigment)
The underneath (without flash - the red is very evident)
Of course, nerd that I am, I wanted to research it a little.  Berber pharmacies are fascinating (to us Westerners) and have a heavy reliance on natural remedies, herbs and spices.  Berber makeup is no different.  This little "lid" is made of red ochre terracotta, impregnated with a red vegetable dye which varies according to the area in which it is made - it is usually powdered poppy or rose petals mixed with a little wax, but it might also contain henna, or grenadine bark, or pomegranate bark...

Berbers call it Aker and it can be used as a lipstick or a rouge, with the colour usually varying between a deep red and a dark pink.

Berber Aker lipstick - the intense red area is the moistened area (with flash)

But how to use it?  Simply enough, actually - when it's moistened, it releases the red dye - so all you need to do is wet the hollow surface, apply it with your finger, you're done.  I sprayed water on it and tried to use makeup brushes and cotton buds to no avail, it just streaks a bit - the best way of applying it is with your fingers, and you'll wind up with a perfect lip- or cheek- stain.  It does dry in no time, however, so you need to work quickly with it.  Like any stain*, it can dry the lips out a bit, but a dab of some lip balm over it sorted that out.

*And like any stain, it stains the hell out of your finger.  A good eye makeup remover will take that back however.

Glorious red.  I do love a red lippie :-)

In Morocco, they use water or rose water to provide the moisture in the summer, and some honey with the water/rose water in the winter to provide some moisturisation.

Not a bad coverage for one-swipe fingertip application!
It doesn't look patchy or dry or flaky...

It lasted about two hours on me and did definitely fade in areas, but all stains do this.  It's not moisturising in and of itself, but it certainly didn't dry my lips out in the way that a lipstain usually would either.  This was a lovely unusual gift to receive, and as an added bonus it's completely natural, with no chemical preservatives, parabens or other nonsense.  Of course, it's not really going to be something you'll pop into your handbag, but it's nice to use something completely different to the norm.

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