Red lips are are a bold statement not to be worn by the faint of heart. Even for the everyday makeup wearer, red lips can seem daunting. It takes precision and steadfastness to create and maintain the look, and confidence and commitment to pull it off. For the retro enthusiast, and anyone looking to make a bold statement, perfectly painted red lips are both a goal and a necessity.
Let’s face it, for all their beauty and pizazz, bright, bold lips are hard to manage and finicky. Here are a few tips and tricks to make a perfect pout that lasts.
Exfoliate! This is especially essential if you want to rock a retro matte finish. Matte finishes have the irritating tendency to show every lip imperfection. Take a damp towel or granulated sugar mixed with water and scrub your lips vigorous for a minute. Both are effective and easy methods.
Prime it up. This is a less essential step, but will aid in the longevity of your color and hinders bleeding, while also moisturizing and improving the quality of your lips. Apply primer to the entirety of your lips. My go to is Benefit’s Lip Plump ($22; Benefit). This is also a great choice because the neutral color of the primer also helps blend out the color of your lips, making it easier to shape with liner. But really, any lip balm or lip conditioning aid will do.
Apply lip liner. There’s a lot of controversy around the usefulness of lip liner, but i think it’s essential. It helps fights bleeding, let’s you define your lip shape, and gives your lipstick something to cling to. Some recommend only lining the outside of your lips, but I’ve found it to be more effective and color cohesive to fill in the entirety of your lips with liner. My go-to liner is MAC pencil in Cherry ($15; MAC). As a budget option, I’ve also had good luck with l’Oreal’s Colour Riche liner in Always Red ($8.95; Drugstore.com).
Choose the right red for your skintone. This is one of those beauty rules that’s meant to be broken, but it’s a good place to start. The classic breakdown is blue-based reds flatter cool skin tones, orange-based and brown-based reds flatter warm skin-tones, and everyone can rock a true red. Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Blue-based: MAC Russian Red ($15; MAC), Lipstick Queen Sinner in Scarlet Red ($20; Lipstick Queen), Revlon Matte Lipstick in Really Red ($7.99; Drugstore.com)
- Orange-based: Besame Red Hot Red ($22; Besame), Illamasqua Liable ($24; Sephora), NARS Heatwave ($26; Sephora)
- Brown-based: Besame Merlot ($22; Besame), Illamasqua Howl ($24; Sephora), Julie Hewett Coco Noir ($24; Julie Hewett)
- True Red: Lipstick Queen Sinner in Red ($20; Lipstick Queen), Lime Crime Retrofuturist ($15.99; Lime Crime), NARS Jungle Red ($26; Sephora)
Apply. Blot. Apply. Blot. No really, this works. Apply lipstick and blot with a tissue. Repeat. This step will seal the lip and hold the color for as long as possible. Also, a light dusting a powder will help “seal the deal.”
Avoid greasy food and be careful how you eat. No matter how good the application, greasy food will still dissolve your lipstick and leave you with the dreaded lipstick ring. If you can’t avoid the grease, you can always wipe off your lipstick and reapply after eating. Another trick is to open your mouth wider while eating so your food doesn’t touch your lips. It seems a bit silly, but it is pretty effective.
Screw all the work and go with a liquid lipstick. Liquid lipsticks are a godsend. With one stroke, a good liquid lipstick will give you the pigmentation you’re looking for. They’re long lasting and “kiss-proof,” so you don’t have to worry about them wearing off. Reapplication is also a synch when needed. You still have to be wary of greasy foods though, so be aware.The one big downside of liquid lipsticks is that they can be drying, so make sure to moisturize before applying. Some of my favorites include Kat Von D Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in Agora ($19; Sephora), Lime Crime Velvetine in Red Velvet ($16.99; Lime Crime), and Stila Long Wear Liquid Lip in Fiery ($22; Stila)
Now, in the words of Elizabeth Taylor, “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”