Perfecting the red lip

December 11, 2008


I received the Stila Paint Your Pout Red talking lipstick palette last month and just tried it today. The talking palettes are great for someone who doesn’t know much about the art of makeup or needs a little help perfecting a red lip or smokey eye. The palette features a great range of colors, including cool red, true red, and warm red. An added bonus is the lip smoother. What’s the point in trying to perfect the red lip if you have chapped, dry, flaky lips?

Some of my favorite red lip tips that the palette doesn’t cover are:

  • Prep: Exfoliate lips with an exfoliant designed for the lip area (Philosophy, Benefit, and Tarte all make lip exfoliating treatments and Sephora makes a lip peel mask). On a budget? Mix a bit of sugar with olive oil and voila! Exfoliation and hydration in one.
  • Prime: For added insurance against fading and feathering, try a lip primer (I love Shiseido Benefiance Full Correction Lip Treatment.)
  • Define: I am a strong believer that every red lip needs a lip pencil. Try Makeup Forever Aqua Lip. They’re rich, creamy and glide right on with the added bonus of being drink proof and smudge proof.  Need something long lasting and a little more budget friendly? Sephora makes a long wearing liner that features a blending brush on the end. Whatever liner you use, be sure to blend the line so it’s not harsh and blend onto the entire lip. I’d also personally throw in a reverse liner (I like Duwop and Cargo) to ensure your beautiful red lip doesn’t feather.
  • Choosing your red: There are several different types and hues of red lipstick to pick from. I love the selection that Nars, Sephora, and Clinique have because they offer great color ranges in multiple finishes (matte, simi-matte, cream, shimmer,etc). I’m not one of those makeup artists who swear that those with cool undertones should stick with cool toned reds and warm should stick with warm. If you’re cool and like warm shades, go for it! Wear what you like and what looks good. That said, there are several sites that can direct you to the “proper” hue, just do a google search if you need more direction. That said, I do like blue-reds on almost everyone because they help to brighten teeth.
  • Fill: Using a lip brush will give you even coverage and allows you to control the color placement and depth. Make sure to blot (I love coffee filters for blotting since they don’t leave behind any fibers) and reapply another layer. Don’t want lipstick on your teeth? Try this trick to catch any left over lipstick: Make an “O” shape with your mouth, insert a clean finger, press lips to finger (still in the “O” shape) and pull finger out.
  • Complexion:  If you are bit on the naturally rosy side, please be sure to wear a good coverage foundation so as to not bring attention to any redness in the complexion. And please, please, please don’t skip foundation on your upper lip.
  • Remember: Red lips can be high maintenance. You’ll want to catch glimpses of yourself in mirrors from time to time to make sure your color hasn’t faded.
  • The easy way out: If you don’t have time for the steps above, a simple and long lasting red lip can be achieved by filling the entire lip in with Makeup Forever Aqua Lip pencil and slicking some balm over it. In my experience, it’s quick and touch-ups are minimal. Do also exfoliate your lips.

If you like the red look and want to be less fussy or want it to be a sheer “I just ate a Popsicle” red, why not try a lip stain paired with a sheer red gloss. Personal faves of mine include TheBalm Stainiac in Prom Queen, Benefit Benetint lip and cheek stain (FYI: you need to work quickly blending it in), Nars Lip Gloss in Bloodwork (lightly blotting or using a balm underneath will sheer out the color a bit),  Urban Decay XXX Shine gloss in Guys Heart Betsy (added bonus: it’s minty), and Nars Lip Lacquer in Diablo.

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