A classic red lip seems effortless when done right. Yet like all beauty staples, there are some practical steps behind the magic. Ready to learn once and for all how to wear red lipstick? You’ve come to the right place.
It’s simple, really. They key to wearing red lipstick is knowing two things: It looks good, and it stays. The last thing you want is red lipstick smearing across your face.
choose your lipstick
Start out by browsing a makeup department to understand the breadth of colors and styles of lipstick. You can choose matte, cream, shimmer, or even a lip stain. You can also pick from astonishingly diverse shades of red.
Carefully assessing your skin’s undertones will help you find a great fit. If you have warm tones in your skin and eye color you will want to look for a red lipstick that mirrors that. Look for richer reds with brown undertones. If you have a cooler skin tone, think of crisp reds and purple-infused burgundies.
For daytime wear, choose a classic red in your undertone or a more complex red, something deeper and closer to typical natural lip color. For a night out, anything goes. Try shimmer or bolder colors.
As for choosing the formula, each has its perks and downsides. Lipsticks with a bit of sparkle or “illuminating” power can mask lip imperfections and draw attention to your pout, but can also look less natural. Lip stains offer buildable color that stays on your lips no matter what but are much more difficult to correct if you make an application mistake. Matte lipsticks, especially liquid matte, look crisp and are usually long-lasting, but can be drying.
You may want to invest in a few affordable options to get familiar, but nicer brands of lipstick are well worth the price. They go on smoother and last longer.
make it stay
When it comes to how to wear red lipstick, it’s all about prepping.
Wearing lipstick requires ongoing care for your lips. You’ll want to keep your lips hydrated so they are plump and smooth. Swipe on quality lip balm, or try a lip mask in the evening. Use a lip scrub every few days to polish away any old skin. The goal is a smooth canvas for your red lipstick.
When you’re ready to apply, start by swiping on a lip primer. In a pinch, a few dabs of concealer will work too. This sets the stage for your color to pop and stay put. Then line your lips with a lip liner. This will prevent your lipstick from sneaking beyond your lips during the day. Some people choose to color in their lips lightly with the liner, but a good lip primer works best on its own.
The last step cannot be rushed. Put on your lipstick with the precision of a NASA engineer, using the tip of your lipstick on your cupid’s bow and carefully rounding out the bottom lip. If that seems intimidating, try applying your lipstick with a small makeup brush.
If you’d like your lips to pop, apply a slightly darker shade on the outside of the lip and blend the two tones together. If your color is buildable, you can accomplish this by just applying more to the outer part of the lips. The subtle ombre effect will create the illusion of fuller lips. Dabbing some lip gloss in the middle of the lips will further emphasize this optical illusion. You slay, girl!
Ready to use your new knowledge about how to wear red lipstick? Treat yourself to a set of three red NYX velvet matte, liquid suede cream, or plush gel lipsticks and have fun! You can also browse our full collection of red lipsticks from Clinique to Estée Lauder.