Monday, May 19, 2008

How To - Wear Red Lipstick

In response to the requests of my delightful readers, I have decided to post a series of 'How to' articles. To start the ball rolling, today I am covering a topic near and dear to me; "How to Wear Red Lipstick". While there have been a plethora of magazine articles covering this topic over the years, my advice comes from personal experience. Red lips, in their varying shades, have been my trade mark since I was about 15 years old or so, and I have had all manner of nightmares and successes.

Before we begin, let me say that I am in no way paid to endorse any products mentioned here, I only mention them if I have personally tried them and found them to be successful.


Preparing your mouth.
While I have read articles touting the colour correcting benefits of certain red shades on stained teeth, I do not believe this is the case. If your teeth are stained, then using a particular shade of red to balance the colour, may trick the eye when in comes to the teeth; but if it is wrong for your skin tone, it is WRONG.

I suggest using whichever teeth whitening method is within your budget. Whether that is as simple as a whitening toothpaste, having bleach trays made by your dentist, or going the whole hog and having the laser smile thing done. Just don't over do it, you don't want to cause cornea damage every time you smile at someone.

Check your upper lip. If it is seen to be wanting, get thee to a beautician. When you draw all that attention to your mouth, you don't want a soup-strainer getting in the way of your new found glamour.
Give your lips a gentle exfoliation with a soft tooth brush to remove any dead skin cells.
Apply a good quality lip balm morning and night. I like to use one by L'Occitane, as I find the preparation works well alone or under the lipstick without getting sticky or causing the lipstick to 'melt'.

Small lips? Most advice will tell you to steer clear of red lipstick. While I don't advocate drawing in oversized lip lines and then filling them in, I do think there is still a place for red on the less well endowed lip. Two things are your friend. Lip plumpers (the Avon Beyond Colour lip plumper is a great cheap fix) and sheer reds, not gloss mind you, but sheer red lipstick. It is less intense and doesn't require a hard lip line.

Choosing a colour.
This is the hardest part for most people. Simply, you need to know whether you skin is a blue based or yellow based skin. I suggest using the old colour consultant trick and holding up a piece of fabric under your chin. Using a true yellow and a true blue fabric, hold each one alternately under your chin. Then see which colour makes you look more rested, more awake and your skin more alive. You will know straight away. Then which ever colour was best, is the base colour in the red that is right for you.

When shopping, if you are having trouble determining which is a blue red and which is a yellow red, rather than relying on the consultant, keep a little swatch of your fabric in your bag and hold the lipstick against it. Blue based reds will just look 'right' against the blue and visa versa. I test the colour on the inside of my arm as I find this is the closest skin colour match to my face.

Chosing a formula.
There is every kind of stay-on red lipstick out there, but I am yet to find one that truly does stay on, without making my lips feel like the Gobi desert by the end of the day. They are either sticky, drying, bleed or make my lips peel. Even the much touted 'lip seal' that Marilyn Monroe allegedly wore, doesn't work for me in the rigors of my day. So here is what I do. Chose a formula that is moisturising, creme not pear,l and with a good pigment. Getting a lipstick with good pigment is the key to a longer lasting look. They can all look red, but varying degrees of pigment is added in manufacturing and you need something with a higher pigment to wax ratio. When you are testing the colour on your skin, see which one leaves the most red stain on your hand after a quick wipe off with the tissue.

Choosing a Liner.
You'd be surprised just how important this is. I spend more money on my liners than on my lipstick. Many of the cheaper liners are either too hard (impossible to draw with) or too soft (melt and bleed into all the lines on your lips). I find almost all of the twist up liners to be too soft and have a low melting temperature. My best lip liner is by YSL, not too expensive, and always works a treat.

You have research, shopped and prepared your lips; now you want to add your perfect red lipstick. Apply your lip balm, then using a good quality liner, outline you lips, starting from the outside of the lip and working in towards the bow. This helps prevent you from creating a super sharp point on the top of the bow.
Use the lip liner to colour in the lip about 2/3's of the way. It will give the colour more staying power. Fill in your colour. You can use a lip brush to apply the colour, but I find this really makes no difference to its staying power and takes longer to apply. (Some say it gives better control, but if you aren't controlled enough to use a tube without getting it all over your face, then red lipstick really isn't for you!) Blot on a tissue and apply a little more. To avoid getting any on your teeth, pop one finger in your mouth allowing the lips to blot around the finger. It saves any embarrassing moments later on.

Take a stunning compact and your lipstick out with you to reapply after lunch. Learn to eat without your lips touching your fork, and avoid greasy food and hamburgers. That's all you have to do for a sirens red lips for the day.

While this may all sound like a lot, the process only takes one minute. It is all in choosing the right products. And while I could have given you a long list of choices, I hope I have rather given you the information to find the right products to suit you budget.

So now you know how I do it, if you haven't already, give it a try. Your inner Vamp is just waiting for her moment.


WendyB said...

I live for red lips.

katie said...

Ooh I'll have to try the YSL Liners. Red lips are amazing and the maintenance is worth it!

I added you to my links!

Imelda Matt said...

Fabulous, fabulous post...when I come home I'll sign up for a one-on-one...hahaha

saray said...

i love Red Lipstick!
but i look bad with it..

Cait said...

I LOVE red lips and I admire how you can wear them all the time. At 16 I don't think my dad would much appreciate it if I did yet though! Oh well, that's what parties are for!
I've been lurking your blog for awhile and it's entertaining and helpful to read.

- Cait
(In Company With Sparkles is my non-personal blog)

katie said...

Saray~ You CAN wear red, it's just a matter of finding a shade and texture that you feel comfortable in. A "classic red" can be wine, berry, brick, cherry, raspberry... Textures make a HUGE difference. You can pull off a bloder color if it's more sheer, or even glossy. Try a soft red in a matte for a more classic look. You just have to go to a makeup counter and try them all on. Good luck!

K.Line said...

I think dark red lips are perfect. Especially in the winter. Lately, I've been doing a dark pink, but until maybe 6 months ago, I was in Bobby Brown cassis constantly.

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Saray - I'm sure you can wear red lipstick. I had a look at your photo on your blog and I think a sheer, orangey red would work very well for you.
Katie - Thanks for the link, I know you are an EXPERT in red lips.
Imelda: I would love to see that. ;)
Wendy and K.Line: You both look great in dark lips. It can become such a part of your personality.
Cait:I just asked my mum what she thought of me wearing lipstick at 15. Her answer is that I didn't wear it all the time, (school was a big no) but if I was going to wear lipstick anyway, what did it matter what colour it was. Besides, I think that was probably the least of her worries about me at the time!

Times of Glory said...

What a beautiful blog and what a beautiful post! Your quirky & retro style is just elegant and sweet! I love red lips - I cannot imagine a better and simpler post to show every useful technique and little detail :)

enc said...

I am just plain not brave enough. But if I ever was, this would be the primer for me! Great job!

Betsy said...

Great post! I love red lips. I'm going to try using a liner maybe that will help me get the look just right! Thanks for the tips.

Love, Betsy.

Nicole Jenkins said...

Fabulous post! I love red lips - who doesn't it?

Whenever I'm in the shop you'll find me suitably attired, although I must admit that I'm not nearly as careful in my application. I'd also be lost without lipcote, which protects my lipstick from the rigours of life. I concur, too, on the importance of colour and a suitable (and suitably sharp) lip liner.

Great blog! Thank you for sending me here *blows kiss*

Anonymous said...

I, too, love red lips. You rarely see me without them, and when you do, you can be pretty sure that I am either sick or tired. Or sick and tired! Even when I am at home I have my reds lips on, and I havepeople aske me why. My answer is not only do I feel naked without, but also, I like to look nice for myself and my love, not just when we are going out, but also at home.

Candy AKA working wife&mom

Laura said...

Yes, true , who doesn't love red lips are perfect. Especially in this time of year... love it!