Red lips are the little black dress of beauty — glamorous, feminine, timeless. So timeless in fact the use of red lipstick dates back to ancient Egypt when Mesopotamian women would decorate their pouts in crushed semi-precious stones.
All that effort makes sense when you consider the facts. Lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone, and even the softest brush against their sensitive nerve endings sends a wave of information to the brain telling us, that feels good.
So, like a good push-up bra, red lipstick only serves to enhance our goods. In fact (despite the rumors), men systematically prefer red lips on women.
All things considered, you’d think red lips would be every woman’s go-to look. But dark skinned girls like myself know it can be really annoying to wear red lipstick. It takes Cleopatra-sized confidence to pull them off.
Here are 10 tips to help you pull off red lipstick
1. Pick the right color
The first and perhaps most important step in mastering the red lip is choosing a shade that’s complementary to your natural skin tone. Experts tend to suggest orange and dark-blue bases for medium to dark tones, while bright, blue-based reds work for fair tones. In my opinion, there really aren’t any rules if you find a shade that you love. And how will you know it’s the right red for you? It will look and feel just right.
2. Focus your look
Now that you’ve taken your natural skin tone into consideration, keep your eyes on the prize by leaving the rest of your beauty look minimal. You can also get away with a cat-eye (great for bright reds), a subtle smokey look (pairs well with deeper or matte hues) or even a carefully concentrated pop of color, like a swipe of cobalt eyeliner (to contrast against orange-red tones). If it’s a daytime look, keep your eye makeup simple. A smoky eye AND red lip is quite a statement, so probably best saved for the evening.
3. Choose a signature shade
A signature shade can be one of the unique little somethings that make you, well, you. It is also safe because you know you can do no wrong when you wear the shade that works for you.
4. Don’t be afraid to mix it up
That said, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only one shade. One of the most alluring things about lipstick — or any makeup for that matter — is the freedom to transform your look to match your mood or the event you’re attending. Just ask Rihanna, who can be seen rocking many a red hue even when she had a limited-edition shade all her own with “RiRi Woo” by MAC.
5. Find your finish
From matte to mega-gloss, cosmetic companies are offering their beloved lip shades in a variety of lustres that are all worth a try. There’s no doubt that bold, matte lip color is classic and impossibly chic — but we can relate if the word “matte” causes hesitation since these products tend to draw attention to dry lips. If you don’t want to wear a matte lipstick, you can wear a creamy or gloss version depending on the look you want to achieve.
6. Use a lip liner
Start by lining your lips with a pencil that matches your color of choice, then continue using your pencil to fill them in. Next, apply a bold, moisturizing red lipstick with a lip brush for enhanced precision.
If it doesn’t match your lipstick perfectly (and odds are it won’t), you’ll end up with a two-tone effect. it’s safer you find a shade that’s close to your natural lip color and use it to outline your lips.
7. Prevent “bleeding”
Apply a little concealer around the border of your mouth. To clean up the edges and make your lips look even more defined, use a concealer brush to dot a light-reflecting concealer onto your Cupid’s bow
8. Avoid getting lipstick on your teeth.
After applying, put your finger in your mouth, purse your lips around it, then slowly pull it out to remove excess color.
9. White teeth
Speaking of teeth, you’ll want to make sure your pearly whites are exactly that when wearing red. A bright lip color will serve as a frame, drawing attention to any discoloration or spotting. If you don’t want to go through with a professional whitening treatment, try an at-home solution.
10. Wear it with confidence
The best accessory for a commanding lip color? Confidence! Now that you have a cheat sheet for selecting and applying your best red yet, show it off with your beautiful smile and have fun.