Make up is increasingly being celebrated as an art form due to its transformative nature. A 2011 study by Procter & Gamble found that women wearing makeup products such as blusher and lipstick reportedly feel more confident and powerful.

Women’s empowerment was the central theme of last week’s Powermouth event; a female-led art exhibition and exclusive collaboration between the digital media behemoth Refinery29 and cosmetic giant NARS. Female artists including Shae De Tar and Daantje Bons provided stunning photography, light installations and sculptures surrounding themes of power, strength and self-expression. 

I love seeing a woman’s entire mood transform just by applying her favourite lip colour. I don’t believe in boring beauty – personality is the ultimate statement. It’s all about creativity without limits; boldness will never go out of style. Empowerment and creativity is at the heart of everything we do at NARS, and we hope these ideas are embraced by women all over the world.”

– François Nars, Founder and Creative Director of NARS Cosmetics

Me enjoying the video art 'Deep Soap' installation by Natalia Stuyk
In celebration of the launch of NARS’ Powermatte Lip Pigment NARS PRO Makeup Artists were on hand to provide lip make-overs throughout the day. For me, choosing a new shade of lipstick can be as stressful as when my nail technician tells me to ‘pick a colour’. So many choices, so many opportunities to get it wrong.

​Luckily, Powermouth made shade selection fun! We got to pick a lip shade from a hanging installation of swatches which we then brought to one of the MUAs who then expertly applied the corresponding Lip Pigment. 

My POWERMOUTH Polaroids wearing NARS Powermatte Pigment in STARWOMAN
​After consulting with my lovely MUA Anna, we agreed that my swatch was probably a little browner than I expected so she instead graced me with the fiery ‘Starwoman’. 
I was lucky enough to be able to swatch a few shades in the collection and I’m confident that the pretty pink GIVE IT UP pigment will be my next purchase. It’s rare to find a matte lipstick that is both long lasting (it took several scrubs to rid my arm of the swatches) without being too drying. After showing off my new lip look in front of the instant-photo camera, I got a chance to fully explore the exhibition.

​If I had to choose, my favourite pieces would have to be Natalia Stuyk’s hypnotic video art installation (a selfie-enthusiasts dream) and Vanessa Kisuule’s spoken word piece entitled A Personal Malleble Manifesto which includes 16 bold mantras that we should all say every morning whilst carefully applying our lip pigments – ready to take on the day. 

2.    Do not seek to be the best, seek to love it the most”…

4.  Humble yourself. Stop being such a fawning ardent member of the cult of you. When someone gets something you wanted for yourself spit out the glass shards of pride in your throat and be happy for them. They probably worked just as hard as you if not more so, your moment will come soon enough and with that a smattering of battered egos, no victory is wholly sweet.”

– A Personal Malleble Manifesto by Vanessa Kisuule

Check out the full range of the NARS’ new Powermatte Pigment here.


Shakaila Forbes-Bell is a Fashion Psychologist and writer who has been featured in Marie Claire UK, i-D, Who What Wear, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Voice Newspaper, Gal-Dem, Black Matters US and more.

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