The Truth about Red Lipstick!

red lipstick, the truth about red, makeup over 35, yes you can wear red
I’m wearing Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Berlin.

Is Red Lipstick a possibility for you?

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and red images all over Pinterest,  I started to think a little more about women wearing Red Lipstick. It’s bold and classic yet notoriously hard to wear. If it’s done right, it can look great! Even when you aren’t feeling to fabulous, a little red lipstick (or even a lip stain) can perk up your face. Yet most women are afraid of it, because they don’t know which red to pick, or they are unsure of how to make it stay put on their lips. The red bleed into the lip line is not a good look! But the truth about Red Lipstick is that everyone can wear it. Keep reading to find out how!

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The Colour Wheel, highlighting an analogous Red Scheme.

The main thing that scares women about red lipstick is that we don’t know what shade to choose! When looking at reds on a colour wheel, or the analgous side, you can see that red varies from orangey-red to blue-reds.

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Screen shot from the book, Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson

Remember my post a while back about the 1980’s phenomenon, Color Me Beautiful? Well as corny as this system and the images seem now, there is definitely a truth that still rings true about knowing which colours look best on you. There are two things to consider when choosing a red for your lips. First, what is your overall colour reading? Do you have blonde hair and a warmer skin tone? Then you probably can wear oranges and more ‘autumn-colours’. If you have dark brown/black hair like me and more of a pink-toned skin, likely you wear more ‘winter’ based colours (blue-based).

blue-red vs orange red lips, the truth about red lipstick, scarlett musings
My own image, but there is a Color Me Beautiful Makeup Book – albeit dated!

However, the second thing to consider is the colour of your teeth! We all have a naturally occurring yellow-white to our dentin (the hard, bony material beneath the enamel of a tooth) and certain people have more blue-white teeth and others more yellow.  Are your teeth super-white? You can wear both orange reds and blue-reds. If your teeth are more on the yellow side, then definitely orange-based-reds are not going to be as flattering.

So you have chosen a red: now to prep your lips. Generally, I find that if you miss this step, your lip colour won’t last or it will start to bleed into the lip line (which is something that not only ages you, but it looks unattractive, like a drunk-girl-end-of-the-night-look!). Scrub off any dry bits with a damp, course washcloth or a brown sugar and olive oil paste mixture (you only need a teaspoon full). Then I prefer to apply foundation or concealer to the lips – just mattify them by using a makeup sponge or brush and take your foundation right over your lips.

the truth about red lipstick, blue red, orange red
Nars Hardwired Lipstick in Deadly Catch – a beautiful Blue-red shade
Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 10.53.28 AM
Nars Audicious Red Lipstick in Lana – the perfect Orange-Red lipstick.

When you purchase your lipstick of choice, don’t forget to buy a lip liner. While lined lips can look dated and harsh, with a red lip it is a necessary step. It can be hard to get the nicely defined cupid’s bow with a lipstick directly applied to your lips, so the lipliner will help you here. A lip liner will also prevent the dreaded bleeding. There are also reverse lip-liners on the market which is flesh-toned lip liner that you apply outside the lip line. These also work great – but it feels totally awkward lining outside your lip line!!

the truth about red lipstick
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Red Square

Just a little about sheer reds or red glosses. If you have a large lips (lucky girl!) or smaller thin lips and you just can’t do the matte red lip, then a sheer lip product will work for you. The main thing to remember is that your lips should still be moisturized and I still recommend a lipstick or foundation base. That way you won’t get any spreading and the gloss stays put.

Beautycounter by Jen Schultz, scarlett musings, scarlett artist, pretty pinterestingbeautycounter-valentinesdaygiftset-lipsheerscarlet_lipshine_sugarpaper_495x650

*Note: Another product that I totally love, that is wonderful for moisturizing the Face and Lips is because it is more of a dry oil – Lustro Face Oil from BeautyCounter. Right now it is only available in the USA, but if you have a US address, you can order it HERE. They also have a sheer red lip colour in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

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My beautiful friend L, makeup by Scarlett (me!) and photo by Deb Brown Photography. She is wearing Underage Red by Kat Von D, lipliner RED, by Kevyn Aucoin.

Gallery of Terms:

  • Lip Gloss:  There are  many different kinds: full color, sheer, glitter, SPF protection. These are best people with dry lips, because lip gloss tends to be moisturizing. Gloss comes off quicker than lipstick so avoid if you want something more colour fast. It can also be messy/sticky. I can’t wear lip gloss in a windy environment because my hair sticks to it!
  • Lip Balm: A product made of shea butter, and often vitamin E and SPF to soften the lips. Can have some tint to it to provide colour. Avoid if you want long lasting colour  but great for people with chapped lips.
  • Lip Stains: It is exactly that; a product that is designed for long wear so it stains your lips. Generally they are a liquid based product that you paint on, and they last all day. Stains can be drying to the lips, so best to avoid if your lips are dry, but they can be great for all-day wear.
  • Lipstick: Lipstick comes in a variety of sheens; sheer, satin, matte and gloss, (like paint!) but historically lipstick started out as a matte product. Nowadays, lipsticks can be moisturizing. Most lipsticks, whether matte or satin, need to be re-applied during the day.
  • Lip Liner: A wax-type product in a pencil form, designed to create a definitive ‘line’ around the lips and fill in colour. A liner can act like a barrier, so that lipstick, which is generally creamier, doesn’t migrate outside the lip line.

7 comments on “The Truth about Red Lipstick!

  1. I love red lipstick! I tend to wear both orange and blue based colors, even though I should probably only stick to blue based. I like to break the ‘rules’ when it comes to beauty sometimes. I think all women should wear red lipstick, even just once. It’s so empowering!

  2. How do you know if you have pink undertone in your skin? I am very pale with blue eyes and brownish hair (I used to be very blonde). Blues and purples are my best clothing colour and warm browns seem to look best on my eyes…. Any thoughts?

  3. Hmmm…I find as we age we can go from more pinkish to more yellowish. So you could be a bit of both. Regarding reds, I find that in general, more people tend to look better in blue-reds than in orange-reds. So if you are unsure, go with more of a blue-red lip!
    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Hi Scarlett,
    I have naturally dark brown hair and my complexion is medium brown like coffee with milk in it . My eyes are also dark brown, I love red lipsticks , just bought the L’Oreal movie star reds ,all of them , what is the best red for me?

  5. Hi Coryne! Thanks for commenting – with your colouring I would suggest more of a blue red. A colour like Ruby Woo by MAC works for a variety of skins colours, as does, Underage Red from Kat Von D. Good Luck!

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