Still Searching for your Perfect Red Power Lip?
Red lipstick is one of the easiest ways to add a bit of festive colour to your look but, as anyone who has tried and failed to find that perfect red will tell you, working out which red works for you can be trickier than trying to explain Santa getting down your non-existent chimney to a five-year-old. Actually, that example is rubbish as we all know how Santa does it – magic. Sadly, there’s no magic involved when it comes to red lippy, only trial and error.
Me in one of fave blue/reds, Shock and Awe from Estee Lauder
The most popular theory in cracking the crimson code is to use your skin tone as a guide. So if you have a warm skin tone, go for reds with warm undertones such as orange, cool skin tones should seek out cool reds such as blue or pink reds and deep skin tones such go for deep undertones such as brick or purple. Now, that works to an extent but it’s not the whole story and can be a bit restrictive if you take it as gospel because you may actually find that – like me – your skin tone works well with a number of different reds. So how do you know which one really suits you? Well, that’s where tip number one below helps you see, if not the wood from the trees, certainly the right shade of red to showcase your smile.
Forget the duck lips and pouting when trying on a new red lippy and simply smile. A red lip is a bold statement and throws focus on your mouth so it’s important to check the red you’ve chosen works with your tooth colour and not against it. Like skin, all teeth have an undertone with the most common being yellow or grey, and even blue in cases were teeth have been bleached, as some reds will heighten those undertones. I’ll use myself as an example. I have a slightly warm skin tone, which means I should suit the warm orange based reds but I also have a yellow undertone to my teeth and when I wear an orange red lipstick it amplifies the yellow in my teeth. But if I were a blue red –usually best suited to a cooler skin tone – the opposite happens and my teeth actually look whiter. So, don’t be afraid to cross the skin tone lanes but always, always check how your red reacts with your teeth.
Think about the outfit you’re planning on wearing as that can help you narrow down which texture or finish you should go for. For example, if you’re going for a full on sequin number, you’ll probably either want to mimic that sparkle with a gloss or go for the juxtaposition and go with a contrasting finish such as a velvet matte lipstick. Mattes are huge this season with the newer formulations not in any way drying and using the colour straight from the bullet, then gently smudging with your finger is a great modern way to do a classic red lip.
Ordinarily I would suggest putting your lipstick on last but not if you want your red lips to do the talking. Unless it’s a look you’ve done time and time again (and please, share your tips below if that’s the case), I’d apply at least one coat of red straight after applying my base. Why? Well great make-up is all about balance and depending on the depth of red you’re using and the texture you’re going for, applying it before eyeshadow and blush means you’re unlikely to go too heavy handed with either. More often than not, a red lip should be the statement and while I don’t think you have to go with a neutral eye, you don’t want your lips and eyes to be fighting each other for attention. Likewise your blush. Go lightly here and build slowly to avoid going all Aunt Sally (youngers readers will no doubt have to Google that). Even if you do want to wear a dark heavy eye, strong lip and contour altogether, I’d still recommend applying that lippy first as it really will help anchor your look and keep a focus on your wonderful seasonal smile (which now looks whiter and brighter than ever if you followed tip 1).
Photography by Susie Cormack Bruce