The woman who may be Brazil’s next president has an unusual beauty hack

Here’s a tip.
Here’s a tip.
Image: Reuters/Nacho Doce
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Marina Silva, who will challenge Dilma Rousseff in a run for the Brazilian presidency, is known for many things. She unionized rubber tappers in the Amazon alongside legendary activist Chico Mendes in the 1980s. She became the country’s youngest female senator at 35. She cracked down on illegal deforestation as environment minister under former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva—and then walked out in protest when she was unsatisfied with his policies in the Amazon.

She also introduced many Brazilians to a natural beauty hack known as batom de beterraba—beet lipstick.

Marina Silva uses beet lipstick in Brazil.
Yes, like these beets.
Image: Flickr/Satrina0

In 2010, when Silva ran for the presidency on the Green Party ticket (she is now the Brazilian Socialist Party’s candidate), she became a national symbol for natural strength and beauty. As a child in the Amazon’s interior, Silva survived several bouts of malaria (an epidemic she has linked to the arrival of road builders in the rainforest) as well as hepatitis and mercury poisoning. The latter left Silva prone to allergic reactions and unable to tolerate chemical-heavy cosmetics—make-up is an occupational hazard for politicians, male and female, in the TV age.

Conveniently enough, Guilherme Leal, Silva’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2010 race, is also a co-founder of Natura cosmetics, a Brazilian beauty industry juggernaut. Silva contracted a makeup artist, Isabela Turcato, who used Natura’s gentler, water-based products on the candidate—but she stuck to a favorite trick when it came to her lips: shaved beets, with a drop of olive oil.

“The effect was the same as gloss,” said Turcato. Sometimes they’d make a paste and paint it on—see how in Silva’s handy video above—others, they’d just cut open a beet on the spot and redden Silva’s lips the old-fashioned way: with a kiss (links in Portuguese).