The red lipstick may be a classic beauty staple, but it can work for or against you. There’s a fine line that separates women who can pull off a seductive shade of scarlet from those who look like they work in the red light district. That fine line lies in the proper selection and application of your red lippie.

Thanks to makeup artists who have shared with me their trade secrets, here are 8 steps to nailing red lips.

8. Assess

Assess your skin tone by looking at the skin on your forearms. If your veins are green, it means you have a warm tone like most morenas. If your veins are bluish or purplish, you have a cool tone like many mestizas and chinitas. Warm-toned girls should go for orange-red (bright) lipsticks, while cool-toned girls look best with bluish-red (dark) lipsticks.

7. Swatch shop

Visit makeup counters to test the different shades of red on your skin. Don’t apply testers directly on your lips (they’re usually filled with bacteria); just swatch them on your hand or forearm and wait for a few minutes. Girls with acidic skin will notice that the color of makeup goes either lighter or darker on their skin after a while. Purchase makeup based on how the color looks and lasts on your skin and not how it looks on the model, the packaging, or online photos.

6. Study

Visit beauty websites to learn how to keep your lipstick smudge-free. There are many techniques other than the usual tissue-blotting trick. Some makeup artists apply a dab of loose powder on red-stained lips to seal the color. Some celebs use Lipcote, a lipstick sealant to keep it from smudging. See which smudge-free trick works best for you.

5. Invest

When you’ve chosen which lipstick technique you’d like to employ, start shopping for the supporting cast: lip liner, lip brush, and other cosmetics and makeup tools you’ll need.

4. Practice

Before heading out with your va-va-voom lips, master the art of applying lip liner, lipstick, and other cosmetics properly.

3. Exfoliate

In the same way it’s ideal to have a clean face as your canvass for makeup, you also need chap-free lips to seal the deal. Keep your pout healthy and smooth with regular exfoliation—brush your lips with a moist toothbrush, massage it with a sugar scrub, or simply use a strip of tape to gently pick the dead skin off your lips.

2. Go bare

—on the rest of your face, that is. After applying foundation and concealer, keep your cheeks bare and your eyes subtle with just a hint of eyeshadow, lined rims, and two coats of mascara. Your red lips should be the star of your look.

1. Attitude

Call it the placebo effect, but many girls attest to having an instant surge of confidence after seeing their scarlet lips on the mirror. Stand straight and channel that seductive but sophisticated vibe a la Scarlett Johansson and Marilyn Monroe.

Kate Alvarez

A former full-time magazine and newspaper editor, Kate now juggles a career in writing, modeling and acting. She is also an advocate of animal rights and mental health awareness. Check out her blogs, Kate Was Here and Retro Prints, as well as her beauty articles in BDJ Box.


Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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