Not to harp too much on how good kids have it these days (because it’s actually going quite shittily for them) but one good thing they do have is an endless selection of affordable, long-wearing NYX liquid lipstick options for all their ’90s cosplay needs. Well gather ‘round the hearth children and let Auntie Em tell you a scary story: When I was your age, there were 12 liquid lipsticks, and two of them were in shades your mom wouldn’t even let you wear.
L’Oreal’s Rouge Pulp slid onto the makeup scene in the late 1990s with a Fifth. Element-inspired commercial starring Milla Jovovich’s enviable bob and selective French accent, directed by her then-husband Luc Besson.
As a great-grandmother of today’s liquid lipstick, Rouge Pulp was sticky enough to smear all over one’s cheeks in a strong wind and pigmented enough to make fathers the country over say, “Wipe that gunk off your face before your grandmother gets here.” But the true glory of Rouge Pulp was the fact that it came in the perfect shades of purple, brown, purplish-brown and cotton candy pink, duping much more high-end colors for the aspiring suburban grunge kid with a nascent boner for Courtney Love who didn’t have access to cooler brands like Urban Decay. Rouge Pulp also, bizarrely for the time, came in a powder blue and sunny yellow that never once failed to inspire my stepmother to express her exasperation at the fact that “Girls these days want to look so ugly on purpose,” despite not a single blue or yellow Rouge Pulp ever having been sold at our nearest Eckerd’s.
Rouge Pulp was at once obtainable and sophisticated but made all the more precious for its limited variety. Its dozen perfect shades liberated middle-school-aged girls in tiny Louisiana towns to begin homeroom with lips the color of strawberry frosting or slip into a sultrier late-afternoon brick shade more appropriate for trying cigarettes (which was what we used to call vapes made of paper) at the boat launch and sexily coughing until she vomited. Children, our options were few and our lipsticks antediluvian, but our time was perhaps just as idyllic for lack of choice as it was crude and primitive.