Nothing makes quite the same dramatic statement as red lips, yet choosing the right shade at the cosmetic counter can be intimidating. If you crave the bold and glamorous appeal of a siren pout, you'll need to learn how to choose a tube of red lipstick that flatters your skin tone and fits your lifestyle.
Choosing Your Shade
With so many shades of red lipstick on the shelves, how's a girl to decide which one makes her look chic, not silly? There are thousands of red shades on the cosmetic market, yet only a handful of tones will work on each individual woman. If you've tried bright red lips, yet have been uncomfortable or less than thrilled with the results, you may have worn a color better suited for a different skin tone. Rather than give up on this empowering shade, seek out colors that are recommended specifically for your skin coloring.
Skin Tones and Undertones
The following guide will help you find a red lip color that will work on your skin tone.
- Fair skin: Fair skinned women look best in blue-based reds. Seek out cool mauve or berry tones such as Yves Saint-Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Rouge in Danger or Marc Jacobs Lovemarc Lip Gel in Neo-Noir Cherry-Red.
- Medium skin: Medium skin tones should seek out true reds or brown-based reds such as MAC Ruby Woo or Clinique Angel Red.
- Olive skin: Olive skinned women look best in fire engine reds. Seek orange or yellow based reds like MAC Lady Danger or Revlon Super Lustrous in Ravish Me Red.
- Dark skin: Beauties with dark complexions will find they look great in almost any shade of red lipstick. Seek out pink fuchsia or orange poppy reds such as Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Catfight or Nars' Heat Wave.
Skin undertones are another thing to take into account when choosing a shade of red. Are they cool or warm?
- Cool undertones: If your skin is on the cooler side with blue or pink undertones, your best choices are those reds that have a blue undertone or look slightly pink because they match the undertones in your skin.
- Warm undertones: If your complexion is warm, or golden, look for reds with a yellow undertone, or those that veer more into the orange-red category.
Of course, almost anyone can wear a neutral red like Really Red from Revlon, which doesn't lean too far blue or yellow (or pink or orange, which may be easier to see). If you're having a hard time deciding what your undertones actually are, they could be neutral. In that case, wear neutral reds or those cool and warm reds that don't fall too far from neutral on either side (for example, a slightly coral red will work as a warm, but you don't want a very orange-toned red).
Choose your intensity. There are a few things to ask yourself before you take the plunge on a red lipstick:
- Do you feel confident enough or want a bold enough lip to rock a completely opaque red?
- Do you want to wear the red every day and have a shade that looks just one step up from natural?
- Do you plan to wear your new lipstick on special occasions when you'll have on a full face of makeup?
- Do you want a shade that falls in between a minimal makeup look and all-out glamour?
Try to match the intensity of your shade to the way you'll be wearing your makeup. A sheer gloss that looks great during the day may get lost against a full face of makeup for an event. A creamy, opaque shade will probably stand out more than you'd like on days the rest of your face has only tinted moisturizer and mascara, but a gloss could do the trick to brighten up your complexion.
Wearing with Confidence
Before you apply a bright lip color, you'll need to prep the surface of your lips for a smooth and flawless application.
- Exfoliate: Always exfoliate the surface of lips prior to applying a bold shade of lipstick. A simple mixture of a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of sugar can be applied in a circular motion on the lips to slough away dry lip skin.
- Hydrate: Prior to lining lips, hydrate the surface with a light application of lip balm.
- Line: Use a lip liner that coordinates with your chosen red lip color. For a basic choice that you can wear with any shade, purchase a nude liner.
Once the lips are prepped, you're ready to apply your bright red shade. Make sure you keep the rest of your makeup simple, as to not compete with the bold statement of your red lips. A simple beige shimmery eye shadow, black mascara, and a rosy blush will compliment your makeup palette, yet keep the focus on your beautiful lips.
Keep in mind that red lipstick has a tendency to bleed, which is why a lip liner is so important. Make sure you check your pout throughout the day to make sure your red lips stay within the lines. In addition, keep red lipstick off your teeth by putting your finger into your mouth and pulling it out right after lipstick application. This will remove any leftover lipstick from the inner lip wall that may otherwise stain the teeth.
Tips to Consider
- Cream or matte lip color is best for a strong red shade.
- A true red is better bought straight from the store instead of trying to mix your own.
- Darker shades are suitable on larger lips as the deep reds have a tendency to make lips look thinner.
- Ultimately red lipstick is optimum for a younger woman, but not too young. The bright red color is too dramatic for teens and tends to make an older women look more aged.
- When mixing your own lip colors, use red as an addition to brighten up your combination. Just add in small amounts.
- If red is your favorite lipstick - but it doesn't work with your skin type, tone it down with a neutral color and create your own personalized lip covering.
- Add a little shimmer to your lips to combat the tendency that red has to make your lips look smaller.
- Even if red is definitely not your shade, keep a small tube around to seal your love notes with a kiss of red.
If you love the look of bright red lips yet can't seem to pull them off with confidence, you may be a better candidate for a lip stain. Lip stains offer diluted washes of color, yet are still available in a variety of red shades. In addition, some women find that applying a bright red liner all over their lips in lieu of lipstick works better for them. With less application woes and increased wear, a lip liner may be a better match for your needs.
With little other makeup or accessories, red lipstick has the power to add instant polish, elude confidence and increase sex appeal. It's no wonder women reach for this vibrant shade more than any other color. Red lips are timeless, chic, and always in fashion. No matter what shade you choose, you're guaranteed to feel glamorous and chic. Wear this color fearlessly! Pretty soon, you'll feel completely comfortable in this bold choice, even for everyday wear.