My Lipstick Journey by Funmi Fetto

Posted by Kay

I first came across Funmi when I read my favourite post ever on ‘black hair’ which she proudly called ‘I am not my hair’ (it’s in my old blog here) which was published in perhaps the most unexpected of places-within the pages of British Vogue.  She has over 13 years experience as a journalist writing across fashion, beauty and travel for many other publications such as Stylist, Stella Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, Instyle, Marie Claire & more recently an Acting Beauty Director at Tatler Magazine. Married with two children. Likes African, Jewish and Indian literature… and Keeping up with the Kardashians. She is currently working on a short story collection. Welcome to ThandieKay Funmi!”



Beauty Journalist Funmi Fetto

There are many fallacies about beauty journalists. One is that we try every product that lands on our desk but the truth is if I tried absolutely everything, my face would have fallen off by now. Another myth is that we’ll happily adorn every trend but to be honest,  many of them fill me with terror.

This includes anything involving eyeshadows (I’m too cack-handed to apply it without looking like a transvestite), silver (too space-age), yellow (need I explain?)…

Up until recently, lipstick, bright lipstick to be exact, would have also featured on this list. Why? Like many women of colour, I have very full lips and while this is now acceptable and fashionable,  back in the 80’s  and 90’s when I was growing up, it was not. Instead they were the bane of my life. Red, pink and orange shades were only going to emphasise the hugeness of my mouth. And so I ran a mile.

Best Black Beauty Blogs. Best beauty Blog for WOC
I was born in London and went off to live in Nigeria age 5.  On my return to England 5 years later, I was stunned to discover that my lips, which in Nigeria were simply lips, had now become, at best the core of a whispered conversation and at worst a source of ridicule.

Both black and white children made fun of my lips calling me ‘blubber’ or rubber lips, joking that I wouldn’t need a float to swim as my lips would do all the work.

As a teen, though self conscious, I developed a love of make up. I perused beauty counters enviously eyeing up the range of colours,  sad  and embarrassed that the pigments and undertones I could see were definitely not created with women of colour in mind.

And then one day at the local chemist, I discovered Rimmel’s Black Cherry. This lipstick was a game changer. The dark hue (yay!) played down the size of my lips while the hint of berry added a touch of glamour to stop me looking like a goth.  _8158825


Photo Guy Bourdin

Years later it was discontinued and I wept ( A more grown up, uber chic version of this is Tom Ford’s Bruised Plum). This led to ‘The Gloss  Years’.  At this point I was so irritated with the fact that browns,  plums and dark shades seemed to be the only lipsticks available to non Caucasian women, I ended up falling  so deeply in love with gloss I would have happily drunk it. After years of my hair sticking to my lips, I’d had enough.

By now I was much more confident about the size of my lips (Naomi Campbell gracing the pages of Vogue helped) so since I kept hearing everyone had a perfect red, I set out to find mine.  1_Vogue-U.K.-first-cover-December-1987

The beauty counter ladies had no idea what to do with me. I remember one gave my mouth enough high-voltage, light-reflecting lipstick to make Ronald Macdonald appear chic-even understated-in comparison.

Why was every lipstick I tried so shiny, so creamy, so ageing, so ashy, so… wrong? Where was my perfect lipstick?

I had just about given up when I found the answer. In fact, I found three, all by MAC;  Ruby Woo, Russian Red and Lady Danger.  I am obsessed with these ultra-matte non-drying lipsticks. They give off the kind of super charged colour you expect to see in a Guy Bourdin photograph. And now you can see it on me. My search is over. Well almost. I am now looking for the perfect pink… To think my accusers almost stopped me from experiencing such joy.

If I saw them now, I’d tell them to kiss my pout.

Funmi Fetto Red Lips.800

Funmi wears Ruby Woo by Mac




Follow Funmi on twitter here


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