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The Perfect Hue: We Talk All Things Lipstick with The Lipologist

What if we told you there was a place you could go, at any point in your life to create your own unique shade of lipstick in your chosen finish, complete with luxe packaging and experience for less than you would spend on a lipstick from international makeup brands?

Taking into consideration the issues women face when trying to achieve the exact shade of lipstick they’re looking for and creating a unique experience, Ria Chauhan took her experience within the beauty industry to give women exactly what they want. Shunning factory made products and finding this niche gap in a highly saturated beauty market, she paved the way to make shopping for the perfect shade of lipstick a more personal one and we wanted to find out more.

Tell us a little about your journey, how did The Lipologist come about?
I have been blending lipsticks since 2006, I learnt how to customize color during my work as a cosmetics buyer in London and worked alongside factories to perfect the colors for our brand. The brand I worked for was incredibly clean and therefore it was imperative that all formulations were friendly and produced locally so I spent a lot of time learning about formulations and how to make these clean. I started blending my own at home just to be unique and to create something that no one else had access to – these slowly started becoming gifts for my mum and best friends. This then spiraled into me creating lipsticks for people that extended beyond just friends and family and I had created a micro lab in my house.

Life then became extremely busy for me with moving to Dubai and growing my career in beauty, so the bespoke lipsticks took a back seat until 2017 when I was asked to create a collection for my friend’s wedding for the year after. She was struggling to find the exact shade and finish she wanted for her wedding day and approached me to help. I was in London so had to brush up on my knowledge and blended shades, and we ended up creating three different shades that she wore on the most special week of her life. It felt amazing to see her so happy and feel so confident, It was then I decided that there must be so many people who would be in similar positions and that this could be a great concept back home in Dubai. I had often found myself trying products in stores with the makeup artist telling me I looked great but I wasn’t 100% confident or sure – so blending your own is a surefire way of getting exactly what you want.

It has taken a few years to set up The Lipologist as I was keen to make sure that the formulations were clean, stable in the Dubai heat and also the best I could make. I blend all of the ingredients together myself to make the bases and that way I know the quality is just perfect. I didn’t want anyone to pay for product until I was completely happy paying for it myself. Once we were ready then The Lipologist was officially born!

Creating bespoke lipsticks sounds like a rather exciting job, especially for makeup and beauty enthusiasts, what does a typical day look like for you?
The mornings are usually spent making the lipstick bases for the day or week ahead and then I always leave myself some time to experiment and create new lipsticks, playing with textures, finishes and even colors. Last week I experimented with adding real gold flecks into a lipstick to see what happens, I like to see what we can do when clients come in and sometimes it’s nice to be able to suggest a special extra for them. The afternoon and evenings are usually when I see clients and we have a mix of individuals who want a lipstick for themselves, or sometimes people who want to gift them to others for a special occasion.

What goes into formulating the perfect lipstick shade for anyone and what can clients expect on an appointment with you?
Making a lipstick is a great sense of discovery for both me as the lipstick maker and also the person who it’s made for, it can be something that’s hugely fun or it can also be for something that they are quite nervous or intimidated about such as a lipstick they will wear at big family wedding. You end up learning a lot about people and their lives in the process. I recently had a client who wanted a nude shade that she had seen on a celebrity but when we made it for her we actually felt that she would be better suited with a slightly more peach nude to brighten her up so we twisted it for her and made it perfect. It also ends up teaching people that they need to harness what looks good on them and not always what they see on others.

When people come to you to have bespoke shades created, what colors have been the most popular and why?
By far the most popular shades that I make in the lab are nudes, it makes sense as we all have such varying skin tones. And it’s really hard to trawl though the thousands of lipsticks in shops to see what suits you when you can have someone making it just for you. The wrong nude can really wash you out.

You have experience within the beauty industry, and now have your own brand, what does "beauty" mean to you?
For me, beauty is and has always been the feeling of confidence. The idea of wearing lipsticks is to help you get that feeling for yourself and sometimes we need a boost when we don’t really believe we are 100% confident. I will often wear my brightest lipstick when I am going somewhere new for the first time, it is usually a talking point and also makes me feel more confident. 

Standing in a saturated market where there are many other makeup brands, what sets The Lipologist aside?
Our clients make our brand, they state their beauty and we make it. No two shades are the same unless you’ve asked to make two and the range is created for the customer and that person only.  We are the truest form of collaboration, we are so close to our consumers as we sell direct to them, the truest form of community and most importantly we aren’t made in a factory.

As a beauty entrepreneur, what have been the greatest challenges in your career so far?
For me it has been trying to create a life balance, to develop a brand is exhausting and takes away all of your time. I am happiest when I’m making lipsticks and when I am with people but that’s just part of what having a brand means. I’ll often put comments on my Instagram such as great at making lipsticks, rubbish at taking photos! There are so many things that I am not good at doing and have to ask for help with which when you have your own brand becomes a challenge.

You set up The Lipologist in the UAE earlier this year, how has the market responded to what you do?
We’ve had a great response from the UAE market, a lot of people are intrigued on how we make the lipsticks and also love to create things that are unique for them. The UAE is already very sophisticated in their knowledge of beauty and so the interest level in customizing beauty is already very high. Interestingly there are also a lot of people who bring in old discontinued shades of lipsticks and ask me to re-create them because their brand no longer sells them.

What do you hope to see for the future of The Lipologist in the Middle East?
I would love for it to develop into a place where you can come with a group of friends, especially if they are interested in beauty and want to learn more – they can see how we make the lipsticks and create their own in the process. It would incorporate color and formulation knowledge to teach others on what looks good on them.

How do you feel lipstick empowers you and how do you use your business to empower others?
I wear lipstick daily but choose different shades when I want to feel confident and pulled together, I find that I often embody the color I am wearing as it shapes my mood. The idea behind what we do for our clients is essentially the same – to accentuate the beauty you already have, to make you feel a certain way by using color and if needed, a confidence boost.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a beauty entrepreneur and doesn't know where to start?
Know your market, research, understand exactly what’s behind the beauty label. Most importantly find a strong network of people who will help you to continue to believe in yourself. There are times when you may stop believing in yourself or worse still loose the essence of what you started off doing – you will need them to show you the way and cut you down to size if needed.

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