My mother was and still is not the wash and go type. Even for a quick run to the market, at minimum, her face is powdered and her eyebrows filled in. Her vast collection of cosmetics still includes makeup, nail lacquers, fragrances and hair products along with the accompanying tools, both manual and electrical. And so, this post emerged from a chat I had with my her about products I remembered her using when I was growing up. From the echoes of my childhood, two of the standouts are Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow and Theons Nail Lacquer in No. 5, both in the red family but with intriguing variations. Both items have fascinating and long histories behind them, with Revlon having instant name recognition, while I would wager that Theons may be more familiar to an older generation or those whose mothers, aunts and sisters were devotees of the brand.
But first, some background. Revlon was started by the Revson brothers, Charles and Joseph in 1932 along with chemist Charles Lachman. Thus, the ‘L’ in Revlon is for Mr. Lachman. Revlon has not skipped a beat since its founding, churning out a collection of products that have evolved to match each decade and the feelings associated with each. Revlon Cherries in the Snow Lipstick first emerged around 1953. It should be noted that the Revson brothers are credited with the concept of matching nails to lips, a practice that I’ve only begun adhering to within the past few years. When lipstick and nails match, especially when both are precisely applied, the effect is quite striking. I remember my mother telling me the name of the lipstick when she was applying it one day. Somehow, via the magical way in which the brain works, the name never left my consciousness.
Revlon Cherries in the Snow has remained a best-seller to date. To my eyes, it is a stunning, pink-infused cherry red. Plus as a cream formula, it has proven to be comfortable to wear and easy to apply. My one complaint is that in order to fully cover my lips, I have to layer it on a few times. However, this lipstick scores very well in terms of how it holds up through a meal, including curry dinners, plus beverages.
It fades a bit post-meal, yet still remains true. Also, it keeps my dry lips feeling hydrated and brings life to the face overall. Compared to my pricier lipsticks, it holds its own and is definitely the lipstick to reach for when you want to focus on the lips while keeping the rest of the face clean or low-key. Revlon Cherries in the Snow is a lipstick hoarder must have item. Wearing it, you’re very likely to elicit shocks when you say it’s a Revlon lippy.
Traveling down to the nails now. I do remember seeing numerous bottles of Theons in my mother’s collection throughout the years. If I’m not mistaken, she always had this pearlised red, specifically called Theons #5. As a brand, Theons has been on the scene since 1971 via Granville Cosmetics. The idea was to create high-quality products at accessible prices. After Granville Cosmetics merged with Chelly Cosmetics, production of Theons continues unabated. After looking around online, it appears to me that people either love this shade or find it to not quite be their cup of tea. My feeling is that I love it on my toes, but less so on my finger nails. I’ve worn it with and without top coat and as much as I find that it looks immensely better with a top coat, it will remain relegated to my toes only.
Theons #5 dries to reveal a shade of red that reminds me of the red sweeties (hard candy) of my childhood. This is a perfect cherry-red that would be quite fitting if you’re doing toes out for a big evening or if you just want a red that stands out from many of the creamier formulations. I can only guess at how much pearl is in this formula, but based on the finish, it is surely plenty. Also, the shape of the bottle is definitely a throw-back. The brush is rectangular-shaped but is small enough to get into the contours of the nail for precise application. Without topcoat, I was able to get about three days of wear until the colour began to recede from the tips of my fingernails. Whereas wearing it with a topcoat added another day, but somehow the colour still mysteriously edged away.
Dry time, where you can quickly tap the nail with a fingertip without smudging, happens in under two minutes, but a second or even a third coat is required in order to build up the colour. In my hands the brush handle feels perfect, a testament to the tapered design of the handle. But this formula loses points from me because of the pearl, merely a personal pet peeve that someone else may not be bothered by. With a well-formulated top coat, this may be a nail polish aficionado’s choice du jour. Lastly, despite being toluene, DBP (dibutyl phthalate) and formaldehyde free, this nail polish has quite a strong scent.
Together, Revlon Cherries in the Snow along with Theons #5 are two items that make me remember my mother’s cosmetics heyday, a time when she did all the steps and in retrospect, made her always look very well presented and groomed. Sunday evenings, long after lunch was eaten and the housekeeping squared away, she would set her hair and do her nails for the week ahead. I know for sure that the scent and sight of these items all those years ago, were just one part of the wizardry of destiny, a catalyst for the creation of my interest in and consuming surrender to cosmetics. I believe in not looking like one has just washed up on the shore, despite some of the spin out there. After all, if Gabrielle Chanel and Christian Dior had advocated for that, or if Guerlain never bothered to take the baton from the pioneers of fragrance history to concoct and bottle scent and make it gradually accessible, who knows what we would all look and smell like. This is not to say that we should all be clad in haute couture, however, there is something to be said for making an effort. And so, although my mother has pared back how much makeup she wears, she still advocates for doing a little something. I’m with her on that, and so barring extenuating circumstances, there’s enough research to support the fact that even a tiny bit of effort goes a very long way.