How To... Wear Red Lipstick

Ring in the holidays with some red, red wine lips. Not only are crimson lips super in vogue right now, but they are really fun and perfectly festive. As seen here on celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Rose Byrne, a red lippie can be worn with a vibrant outfit (like a purple satin gown) or with a more subdued look (white shift dress).

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All it takes is finding the right color and having the confidence to pull it off. Which is easier said than done, right? Here are some tips and tricks to ease up on the anxiety when going for this bold look.

First of all, recognize that red lips are a high maintenance look. There is no getting around that, so set the stage with some prep work.

A bold lip look does not go with a chapped, peeling or otherwise unsightly kisser. As the weather is colder and the winds start blowing, it's time to re-double the lip balm routine. If you lips aren't in tip-top shape, skip the red until they are looking better.

Start by treating the lips with a gentle exfoliating agent. I like the lip scrub by Sara Happ. But, on the cheap, use some plain white sugar and a damp washcloth. Gentle exfoliation of any rough areas is the goal, so take care not to be too aggressive.

Next, if your lips are highly pigmented, consider going over them using any leftover foundation. This will tamp down the color somewhat and provide a base for the richer color.

To get a perfectly sculpted pout, trace around the lips with a pale lip liner that matches your skin tone. This helps establish the boundaries of your lips for when applying the color. Take your pinky finger and lightly run it around the edge to soften the line. The goal is to give yourself a useful guideline without creating an obvious lip liner look.

Then, apply the red lipstick of your choice. A satin finish is always nice (e.g. Lipstick Queen Red Sinner, $18) and can be more forgiving than a strictly matte formulation. However, matte is more vintage-y, if that's your preference. Avoid super-glossy formulations as they are prone to wander all over your face and avoid red lipgloss altogether because that's just asking for a mess.

There are lots of ways to apply: from the tube, using a lip brush or tapping it on with your finger. Each of these can work depending on your comfort level. Personally, I'm a straight from the tube or finger kind of gal because I feel I have more control than with the brush. (Maybe this is crazy, but it works for me).

For a longer-lasting effect, start with a lip stain and then go over it with a matching lipstick. My favorite long-wearing formulation at the moment is the Revlon Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato. Follow with a moisturizing red lipstick as drying formulas won't do your lips any favors.

This is key: when applying, take care to apply color only to the outer, visible parts of your lips. You want all visible areas covered, but avoid going too deep as that is just a set up for lipstick on the teeth.

Finish by blotting one time. To further prevent lipstick-teeth, take a piece of tissue, wrap it around a finger, put it in your mouth and close your lips around it. Then, pull it out quickly. This sounds wacky but it works.

If you want to be extra-pouty, apply a tiny, tiny amount of clear gloss to the center of the bottom lip. But do not apply gloss to the entire affair or you will be asking for a hot mess. Gloss will smear perfectly made-up lips faster than seems even possible.

A little time, practice and patience is all it takes to rock this striking look. And once you've perfected it? Get ready to be noticed because there is nothing like a perfectly red pout to attract some attention.



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