05/28/2011 08:59 EDT | Updated 07/28/2011 05:12 EDT

Giving Anthropology a Little Lip Service

Don't shoot the messenger, but you can thank your lady parts for feeling sexy in red.

Not for the faint of heart, red lipstick is like vibrance and confidence in a tube. But where did its sultry reputation originate? And why doesn't a pale lip or a smoky eye conjure the same mood as only a red mouth can? Here's where apothecary meets anthropology.

Putting on your red lipstick -- whether it's second nature or for a big night out -- is not just a choice. It's a cultural expression and constant evolution. So you're right to relish it.

Don't shoot the messenger, but you can thank your lady parts for feeling sexy in red. Believe it or not, they're thought to be the subconscious reason women want to make their lips even redder with lipstick. Enter the red revolution.

In the 1920s, dark red lipstick was a popular symbol of independence. (So much better than burning a bra or paying a check!) God love Elizabeth Arden for rocking the boat and colouring our worlds with the introduction of new shades.

Then came the fights with mom and dad about lipstick looking too grown-up (but I'm an adult!), too rebellious (I'm old enough to decide!) too brash (I'm not THAT over the top / I can be sexy and successful!) Magazines often implied that lipstick was for girls who acted provocatively with men.

But what about now? Yes, it ramps up the sex appeal, commands respect in a boardroom and rules the bedroom. But a little still goes a long way, ladies. Red lips are back in a big way (not that they ever left) and won't be going away any time soon.

Some luscious lipped ladies we've come to love over the years: Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Courtney Love, Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stefani.

Too many women steer clear of red lips, fearing that it's just too bold. But a blue-red shade, which is more flattering to most complexions than reds with orange tones, makes skin look healthier, and eyes shine and also brightens smiles.

Taking a cue from the past, there are still a few rules when it comes to red. For the most modern look, use a fingertip to apply lip colour, dabbing it on in thin layers to ensure your lip colour lasts... and vive le red revolution!