The fashion and beauty entrepreneur shares how an early encounter with red lipstick helped form her love of red lips.
It all started with a passport photo.
At just six years of age, fashion and beauty entrepreneur Camila Coelho set out to make a bold statement that would be frozen in time on a passport photo. The statement: a red lip. “I have many flashbacks of myself growing up and being such a girly girl, going through my mom’s makeup drawer and stealing her stuff without her knowing. I just loved everything beauty,” Coelho recounts. The light-pink lip gloss that her mother had given her wasn’t daring enough for Coelho; only a red lip would do. Leading up to the passport photo session, she turned to the person she knew would smuggle her that perfect red bullet: her grandmother.
“My grandmother was very into beauty... she was always a beauty inspiration to me.”
“My grandmother was very into beauty—much more than my mom. I never saw my grandmother without her hair done or without makeup. She was always a beauty inspiration to me,” she says. Without question, her grandmother acted as co-conspirator, gifting her a ruby red lipstick, which Coelho hid in a small bag that she clutched the day of the session. “I knew if I showed [the lipstick] to my mom before going to the photographer she wouldn’t let me take it,” she says. Right before the moment was memorialized, Coelho removed the lipstick from her bag and haphazardly applied it—no mirror, no touchup—and her mom fell silent. Thanks to a winding line of people also waiting for their passport photos, her mother knew that any squabble would hold up the group, so she relented.
With red lipstick askew and a look of terror, Coelho sat for the photographer and sealed her fate as a life-long lip lover. “I don’t look happy in that passport photo because I knew my mom was mad at me. But every time I look at this picture now, I think of my grandma giving me that lipstick,” she says. “And, back then I was so happy every time I saw my passport photo. I would think to myself, ‘Yes, I wore red lipstick.’”
Camila's passport photo at six years
After the incident, her mom swiped the lipstick from her, only to return it a few days later for use on special occasions. But that captured moment ignited a new sensation inside Coelho. “Even at six, that red lipstick made me feel powerful,” she shares.
"Even at six, that red lipstick made me feel powerful"
That’s the power of making up lips—a power that Coelho came to grasp throughout her childhood into her fame as a beauty entrepreneur. “Every girl, whether they love makeup or not, will buy and wear lipstick,” she stresses. “I believe that for women in general, lips are their most beautiful feature; they’re the feature that they want to enhance to make them feel confident … Even when I was six years old, I felt something special when I put on my grandmother’s red lipstick. I felt beautiful,” she reminisces, adding, “And it's not only about feeling sexy; it's about feeling your femininity. That’s why I strongly believe that lips are your most transformational—even powerful—feature.”
“I strongly believe that lips are your most transformational even powerful feature.”