Life & Culture

How glamming up with lip oil can help Jewish women feel seen and heard

Forget lipsticks and lip balm, in the colder months we should all be sporting a lip oil


Lip augmentation. Beautiful girl touching her lips over gray background, copy space

Some of us express our Jewishness through food and music, for others being Jewish is about the books we read and our love for Israel.

But for me, it’s my passion for beauty.

I have a few non-Jewish friends who don’t quite get my obsession with beauty.

They will roll their eyes whenever I witter on about perfume and make-up as if they’ve evolved past such frivolities, have ventured out of Plato’s allegorical cave and discovered some deeper meaning in life.

In fact, I have observed that it is really only other Jews who get why beauty is important.

I am not surprised by the number of major Jewish figures such as Estée Lauder (aka Josephine Esther Mentzer from Queens) in the industry.

I read philosophy at university (not to blow my own shofar, but I have two degrees in the subject) and when it comes to beauty, I can tell you that Plato had plenty to say on the matter.

He believed in a universal realm of perfect Forms: the things we encounter on Earth are just reflections, or shadows of these Forms.

If you’ve read Plato, you’ll know that most of his dialogues consist of Socrates, his teacher, yakking away, with some other bloke murmuring in agreement.

It reminds me of listening to my mum and nan gossiping in the kitchen, the former animatedly putting the world to rights, with the latter silently smoking and nodding along.

In the Phaedrus, Plato outlines how beauty is something that easily strikes us and sparks curiosity, unlike something like justice, which requires a degree of moral development in order to be recognised. (The notion of “inner beauty” hadn’t landed in ancient Greece).

So how does this link to Jewishness?

Well, it’s fair to say our community likes to be seen, to be heard, and to command attention in the best sense: beauty is a great way of achieving these things.

And for Jewish women, beauty and glamour are also, of course, forms of armour and self-respect, cultivated over centuries when we had none.

Is there a Platonic Form of perfect lips?

I’ll certainly be trying my best to achieve it this season. Forget lipsticks and lip balm, in the colder months we should all be sporting a lip oil.

Wear one alone or on top of lipstick, and you have the perfect antidote for chapped lips while delivering a dash of colour in the bargain.

Try Milk Makeup’s new Odyssey Lip Oil Gloss (£24) and Delilah’s Colour Enhancing Lip Oil (£29).

And if you are slightly lacking in the lip department, The Inkey List’s new Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm (£10.99) is, according to the brand, “clinically proven to plump lips by up to 40 per cent in four weeks”.

For just over a tenner, I may just give this a try.

Viola Levy has been a freelance beauty journalist for more than ten years, being inspired to make it her chosen career after being told: “No one’s going to pay you to write about makeup.” In 2019 she won the Fragrance Foundation Jasmine Award for Best Short Piece, reporting on how urban life is damaging our sense of smell.

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