It’s the time of year when seemingly everyone switches out their vampy fall lipstick and copper eyeshadow for a festive red lipstick and glittery gold eyeshadow. Despite not following seasonal trends, I’ve always been drawn to red this time of year. Until recently, I haven’t felt comfortable in red lipstick – it clashed with my acne, it drew too much attention to my asymmetrical lips, and it just didn’t look like me. Over the past few years, I’ve picked up a few tips on wearing red lipstick, and I’ll share them with you below. Of course, you can wear whatever you want and it doesn’t matter if it’s flattering – this is just what I prefer for myself.
1. Balance the rest of your face. Some people can throw on a red lip with a bare face and look fabulous. I am not one of those people. The red draws attention to my zits and the redness in my skin, and it looks jarring against my light skin, blue eyes, blonde hair, and not-overly-defined features. To feel more comfortable in a red lip, I colour correct the blue under my eyes with a peach/salmon concealer and the redness elsewhere with a green concealer before I apply the rest of my face makeup. I lightly contour, tightline my upper lashline, and wear a bold mascara to add some definition to the rest of my face. I wear blush and eye makeup that are harmonious with the lipstick. These steps aren’t necessary, but they make me look and feel so much better in a bold lip colour!
2. Know your skin tone. Have you ever noticed that certain shades can look totally different on other people? It has a lot to do with the wearer’s skin tone. Skin tone can vary by depth (how light or dark), undertone (there’s more than just warm and cool!), contrast (individuals with higher contrast can typically pull off bolder colours more easily), purity (how saturated or muted). It took a lot of Googling, reading fashion blogs, browsing Reddit posts, and experimentation to figure out that I am light (NC20), a slightly warm yellow (despite having redness in some areas), low contrast (my hair, lips, eyes, and skin are all light and my bone structure isn’t defined), and slightly muted. It’s more complicated than it sounds. I also found it helpful to find pictures of people with similar colouring, and decipher why certain shades were more flattering than others. Check out this guide from Reddit.
3. Get used to seeing yourself in red. Wear bold lipstick around the house until you become more comfortable seeing it on your face. It helps to start with a sheer lipstick, but you can also blot your lipstick. The more you wear it, the less you’ll think about it.
I’ve tried a lot of reds over the years, primarily through point perks, gift with purchase, and makeup sets. I’m still not totally confident in a red lip, but I’ve discovered that I like reds that are muted, slightly warm, and semi-matte. Anything too bright or saturated will look like it’s floating on my lips. Although cool reds make my teeth look whiter, they really clash with my undertones. If I wear a cool red, I need to readjust and perfect the rest of my makeup (e.g., cooler base, contour, colour correcting). Even then, I still don’t feel confident. I don’t like ultra matte or ultra glossy finishes because they’re not as flattering on my and they’re higher maintenance. I don’t want to worry about my lipstick fading unevenly or spreading across my face like a toddler eating spaghetti. As much as I love crimson red lipstick, it just doesn’t look good with low contrast features. Here are some of the red (well, mostly) lipsticks in my collection:
Thanks for reading! What are some of your favourite red lipsticks? Do you have any tips for wearing red?