Red lipstick is a classic look that has truly stood the test of time. Marilyn Monroe enticed an era with her ruby-red pout, and mega-stars such as Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera have made it a signature look that is elegant yet modern. We see it grace the red carpet, year after year and it's not going anywhere. This look makes a statement, and is surprisingly wearable by any skin tone or hair color although many women are apprehensive to give it a try. Of course, there are some tricks to make this look glam and not garish.
First off, choose the right shade. If you have pink undertones, avoid deep brick or burgundy hues and opt for a bright red with a blue base. A personal favorite is Ladybug by MAC. Another MAC must-have for a blue base is Russian Red, which was designed for Madonna on her Blonde Ambition tour! Also consider Benefit's Silky Finish Lipstick in Frenched, which I love because of it's silky application and luscious color payoff. The blue-reds also work great for those who's teeth are slightly yellow, as these will make them appear whiter.
If your skin is warm, with yellow undertones you will fare best with brown or yellow based reds. Clinique's Different Lipstick in Angel Red delivers smooth application and surprisingly doesn't stain your lips. This was the shade donned by Nicole Kidman in the film Moulin Rouge! NARS lipstick in Fire Down Below is a deeper, semi-matte finish and is highly pigmented. Since we don't have a NARS counter, you can pick this one up at Sephora.com.
Of course, if you're not sure which category your skin tones fall under, you can opt for a true red which tend to be more universally flattering. Ones to try: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Certainly Red, Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Red, Max Factor Colour Perfection Lipstick in Flame, and if you're looking to splurge- Dior Rouge Replenishing Lipcolor in Red Premiere is stunning.
Now, keep in mind red lips aren't the type of thing to apply in the rear view mirror when you're late for work. It takes a little more effort, but the payoff is well worth it. I was horrified when I looked in the mirror about two hours after applying red lips for the first time, only to see that it had feathered into the microscopic cracks around my lips. This is normal, and can be easily prevented with a primer. Try Laura Geller's Lip Spackle or MAC's Prep and Prime Lip.
After priming, apply a lip liner either in a shade matching your lipstick or a nude color similar to your lips. Lip liner is another layer of defense against feathering and helps give a clean, finished look. Apply your lipstick shade of choice with a lip brush, rather than directly from the tube. This allows you to control your application, and start out with a sheer wash and build up to a darker intensity. You don't need to splurge on one of these, one you find at the beauty aisle in Fred Meyer will work just fine, and retractable ones are great to toss in your purse for touch-ups.
The rest of your look should be clean, allowing the focus to be on your beautiful, crimson pout. Keep your brows groomed, and your mascara clump-free. A nice wing of black eyeliner on the top lid is a glamorous addition, and keep your blush to a minimum- stick with a peach or bronze hue applied with a light hand. Pink blush can end up looking clown-like (anyone remember Cameron Diaz making this mistake at the 2007 Golden Globes? I sure do!).
This look does need some baby-sitting, so glance in a pocket mirror from time to time to make sure you haven't smudged. Avoid the dreaded red teeth by putting your index finger in your mouth, pursing your lips around it and pulling out slowly. This will remove any lipstick on the inner sides of your lips that would have hit your teeth, keeping your choppers pearly white.