How to Look Fabulous in Red Lipstick

Posted 03/01/11 at 05:27PM by Rebekah George

Do you just love red lips (a la Anne Hathaway at the Oscars) but worry you can't pull them off? You can. I promise. You just have to follow these tips to get it right.

Slough it: Because red lipstick tends to reveal dead flaky skin more than pink and nude tones, be sure to exfoliate your lips first with a washcloth, a toothbrush or, if you want to be fancy, a lip exfoliator. (Try Philosophy Kiss Me Exfoliating Lip Scrub, $15.)

Do a shade test: Looking (and feeling) good in a red lipstick is all about finding a shade that works with your skin's undertones. (Not sure how to do that? Consult The Best Red Lip Makeup For Your Skin Tone for more help.) It's not rocket science but takes a little thought. For example, if you are more on the pink side, go with a cherry red; olive skin, a fire-engine red; and darker complexions, a deep red.

Avoid being matchy-matchy: Unless you're a celebrity on the red carpet, do not (I repeat) do not wear red lipstick if you're wearing a red outfit. A red lip should be the "statement" of your look -- so matching it with a red dress is just overkill. Similarly, when you're wearing a bold red lip, keep the rest of your makeup simple -- you want the focus to be on your mouth.

Choose your formula: A good general rule of thumb is that glossy red lips tend to be more casual while a matte mouth is decidedly classic and better suited for a dramatic evening look. If you're looking for a sheer finish, seek out a liquid stain (try Vincent Longo Lip & Cheek Gel Stain in Cupid's Breath, $22.50), if you want a more classic look, go for a hydrating cream lipstick (like CoverGirl Continuous Color Lipstick in Classic Red, $4.99), and if you want a bolder look, a matte lipstick is what you need (try Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Vesuvio, $25).

Apply with precision: You can't just swipe red lipstick on at the end of the meal and be on your merry way -- it takes some effort. Follow these steps for the perfect red mouth every time:

Step 1 : Because red lipstick has a tendency to bleed, use a primer (try Origins Underwear for Lips, The Perfecting Lip Primer $15) and then, though you might be tempted to use a red one, line your lips using a pencil that matches your natural lip color -- it will help to keep the look prettier as the color fades. And, be sure to blend any harsh lines around the edges of your mouth to soften the outline.

Step 2: Unless you want to look like the Joker from "Batman," it's a good idea to apply your red lipstick using a brush -- especially while you're getting used to the process. Paint the lipstick onto your brush -- remembering that a little red goes a long way -- and then, starting in the middle your lips, blend the color outward toward the edges until lips are completely coated. Blot your lips with a tissue and be sure to do the finger trick (suck on your pointer finger and pull it out) to prevent the dreaded "lipstick on your teeth" syndrome we all fear.

Follow these simple steps and you'll be rocking a red lip like nobody's business. Oh, but please be sure to adhere to these new lipstick laws so that you don't offend anyone. And, listen, if you're scared of red lipstick, it's OK, you're not alone, you can always rock a nude lip instead!
And the survey says...
1-6 of 17 Comments

  • Posted by EricaF123 on 04/13/13 at 03:01pm

    No red

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  • Posted by powerwoman033 on 03/14/12 at 03:56pm

    I will stick with my nude lip! I have had nightmares over red lipstick!

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by anna_davis on 11/28/11 at 01:50pm

    i wish i would look with red lips

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by taryn.romero on 10/06/11 at 12:55pm

    I don't look good in lipstick, just a light glossing of color.

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  • Posted by LipglossandSpandex on 07/21/11 at 10:44pm

    BTW, a good shade of red lipstick to try is MAC's Viva Glam Cyndi. It's buildable, so you can have a sheer bit of red on your lips, or REALLY red lips. I don't love lipstick, especially not red, but this one is great.

    Report Abuse

  • Posted by MissPurple on 04/29/11 at 04:12pm

    I just can't pull lipstick off period!

    Report Abuse

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