I’ve got some tips for perfect red lips. Image by Laura Chouette.
I’ve been wearing some form of red lipstick for about 15 years and it all started because I wanted to look like all the glamorous women I saw around me in magazines like Cosmopolitan, TV shows and old movies. The squeaky voice of Betty Boop, the sultry eyes of Jessica Rabbit and glorious technicolour films filled my childhood years with glamorous inspiration. I started wearing a pale tinted lip with just a hint of colour, rather than going full force from the get-go. This subtle colour kind of blossomed into using a lip liner to obtain ‘perfect’ lip shapes around the outside of the lips, I was always obsessed with cupid bows and overdrawing lips to get the desired shape (I know it’s weird!). Fast-track a decade or so and the art of applying lipstick is still my favourite part of a makeup routine. I can’t blend eyeshadow properly to save myself, but I can do a killer pouty red lip.
I remember my first proper red lipstick was from MAC and that was a tangy shade called Lady Danger. A well known and popular lippy, it’s not your classic red either, it’s a vibrant orange-red, a deep tangerine which I absolutely loved and still do to this day. It also happens to be one of Dita Von Teese’s ‘Red Lipsticks to Kiss and Die By’ which makes it even better! It was like a rite of passage buying this first shade. I think that’s why it sticks with me so much. I just really love orange lipstick. It’s one of my favourite things and I swear it’s a colour that suits any skin shade, making you instantly look bright and fresh.
Learning how to do the perfect red lipstick can be pretty easy if you start with the basics and keep it simple. Don’t worry about running out to buy expensive products either, I don’t think the heftier the price tag, the better the lippy. I’ve got dirt-cheap lipstick and expensive lipstick. My favourites are across a range of prices, and regular brands like Maybelline, Revlon and L’Oréal do some pretty nice shades without crazy price tags.
Everyone will do their lipstick differently and there are a million articles out there on how to apply your lippy. I wanted to share my tried and true tips to help create a show-stopping classic red pout.
It’s All About That Base
Keep your lips hydrated with a heavy-duty lip balm, ensure you’re drinking lots of water, use a lip mask before sleeping and gently exfoliate them with a washcloth or soft toothbrush. If you’ve got chapped or peeling lips, and you’re trying to apply lippy – it’s going to sit differently and the pigment is going to look cakier and textured on your lips. Keep a lip balm handy, and if you’re someone like me who regularly wears lipstick, make sure you’re gently exfoliating your lips too. Also, if you’ve got cracked lips that need a little TLC, stick with a good balm until they’re healed up.
“On a bad day, there is always lipstick.”– Audrey Hepburn
Lining Your Kisser
Get yourself a good quality lip liner because it truly makes all the difference to the finished look. Trust me on this, so many people skip this step during their beauty routine and it blows my mind because it doesn’t have to take long or be difficult. Every single perfect lip and defined cupid’s bow you have ever seen on TV or in magazines? Liner. Don’t skip it. I prefer liners that have a bit of drag, vs. easily slidable versions that way you know it will do the job.
Begin by tracing along the line of your cupid’s bow and down towards your inner corners. Do this for the entire top lip, very carefully drawing outside the lip line if you desire. I tend to slightly overdraw my lips, just because I like a fuller lip on myself. Once you have a nice lined lip around the whole outside, you can gently shade most of the lip with the side of your pencil. You don’t have to fill the entire lip area, but it does help with colour richness and longevity.
A photo series on applying the perfect red lip. Images writer’s own.
Firstly look for a rich, quality pigment. This is what keeps the colour from smudging or feathering. Test a lippy on the back of your hand if you’re unsure. The most pigmented lipsticks on the market are matte shades but if you’re looking for a rich shade that is NZ made, I recommend Karen Murrell’s collection of lipsticks.
If you’re applying your lipstick straight from the tube, then gently swipe it across your lips keeping it within the lines you’ve just created with your lip liner. If you are using a lip brush, you’re going to get a really beautiful colour that is layered and will stay on a lot longer. Once you have your first layer on, gently blot the lipstick with a tissue to remove excess product and make sure it doesn’t end up on your front teeth. Once you’ve removed the excess, it’s almost like you’ve created a layer and then you’ve pressed that layer in. So apply a small second layer to seal the deal.
“When you’re feeling blue, wear red” – Pauline Trigere
Lipstick Longevity Tricks
I’ve got a few tips and tricks to help keep your lippy in place and the first one is keeping a small compact mirror handy. I have a collection and always keep one in my handbag with me. It’s proven time and time again that I will ALWAYS end up smudging a small corner of my lipstick at least once during the day. Don’t even get me started on a night out drinking cocktails…
Keep the same lipstick tube with you in your handbag if you’re going out for easy top-ups during the day or evening. Hopefully, you’re not eating a massive burger (lipstick’s worst nightmare) and if you are then at least you’ve got your lippy handy for re-applying because let’s be honest, burgers are the best!
Grab yourself a lip brush if you haven’t already got one and enjoy the cathartic process of filling in your lips with a beautiful shade of lipstick. It’s a relaxing, glamorous process and makes you feel like a movie star. I can’t really explain this magic, but if you’re also someone who loves applying lippy with a brush please let me know!
Just like a good set of lingerie, you’ve got to take it off eventually. Remove your lipstick with a good makeup remover. My favourites are either Dermalogica’s Precleanse or Glow Lab’s Sensitive Cleansing Oil which both turn into a liquid when water is applied to your face. I have a few friends who also swear by various micellar waters. I find an oil cleanse helps to remove stubborn lipstick stains, especially when a strong lip liner has been applied!