Mom Says, “Just Put on a Little Lipstick.”

My mom doesn’t wear a lot of make-up, nor do I, but if faced with selecting just one cosmetic product, we would both choose lipstick. We each have our one main color we wear most days, and there’s a primary long-wear brand we both like. From the time I started wearing makeup, my mom often said to me, “Just put on a little lipstick.” Isn’t that what all moms say to their daughters?!

Often I’d hear that phrase when headed out to a chorus concert or a softball game or a church activity. Sometimes Mom would say it as I left for my summer job or a quick trip to the library. It became expected, and I knew to just put on a little lipstick.

From the time I started wearing makeup, my mom often said to me, “Just put on a little lipstick.”

Why Lipstick?

But seriously, what was the deal with my mom and lipstick?

Was my mom being critical of me? Was she urging me to focus on my appearance? Maybe it sounds a little like that, but no; it was nothing of the sort. It was her way of encouraging me to put my best foot forward. Her point was this: if I put on some lipstick, I’d be more pulled together, feel better about myself, and be more confident.

Now, I hear some of you thinking, “You really shouldn’t get your self-worth from your appearance.” And I concur. But to me, the lipstick is just the outward sign of an inner attitude–a symbol of what is happening in my head. It’s the, “I’ve got this” attitude. If you feel good about yourself, you will project that confidence. If you feel pulled together, others will sense that about you.

The Icing on the Cake

I sort of think of putting on lipstick as the icing on the cake. In my life today, if I have something big going on, an interview, a performance, an important meeting, putting on lipstick will often be the last thing I do before I head out the door. It’s my final pull-it-all-together act that gets me in the right mindset. Actually, even if I’ve got an important phone call or meeting via phone, I still put on lipstick! I know no one is goint to see me, but it’s just that confidence-boosting action that sets the stage for a good call.

Even though I’m “all grown up,” Mom and I will still ask each other if we’re wearing lipstick or suggest putting some on if we’ve got something big, or important, or stressful going on. Or sometimes if one of us is just headed to the grocery store or the park. 🙂

“Just put on a little lipstick” has kind of taken on a life of its own in our family over the years. Often Mom and I will joke: Got the stomach flu? Just put on a little lipstick. Fall down the stairs and break your leg? Just put on a little lipstick. Car broken down? Just put on a little lipstick.

Confidence Embodied 

While lipstick can’t make everything better (e.g., the flu, a broken bone, a flat tire), it can serve to consciously remind you to be confident and embody that in your interactions. So the next time you want to project your inner confidence and put your best self forward, my mom would tell you to, “Just put on a little lipstick.” And you know what? She would be right!


Sara C
Sara is a NW Iowa native who moved across the state to become a Hawkeye! After her time at the U of I, she left for optometry school and residency before coming home to Iowa to start her “adult” life in Coralville. She was in clinical practice for 5 years before trying her hand at the research side of eye care, working on clinical trials in the pharma/biotech industry. Sara is a wife, mom to a 5-year-old boy, and step-mom to four teenagers! Because her son was born at 25 weeks and had a lengthy NICU stay, Sara is passionate about all things related to prematurity, especially parent support in the NICU. She loves connecting with fellow NICU moms, both online and in person. Sara also enjoys spending time with friends and extended family, reading, scrapbooking, organizing, knitting, travel, keeping up with tech trends, finding new wines to enjoy, honing her photography skills, and serving on the Family Advisory Council for UI Children’s Hospital. She’s a consultant for Jamberry Nails, too, which lets her dabble in her creative side.


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