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27th June 2022
Think you can’t wear red lipstick? Think again. Whether you’re into bold brights or rich berries, there’s a red to suit absolutely everyone.
There’s a reason why people describe wearing your best red lipstick as a statement. A red lip speaks for you before you’ve even opened your mouth. It’s confident, it’s glamorous, it’s seductive, it’s shouty, it’s attention-grabbing. It can be just one of these, or an empowering amalgamation of all.
Yet, despite its potential, many of us shy away from red lipstick. It has an unfair reputation for being difficult and demanding, with application, maintenance and shade matching to master. But what if we told you that there are formulas that let you enjoy a drink without fears of a smeared pout, and a shade to suit everyone?
A red lipstick has long been considered a beauty staple. Done right, it’s as failsafe as a brilliantly fitting pair of jeans or a trusted trench coat. The key to finding a keeper is down to the shade you choose, as what gives one person’s face life and vibrancy can quickly leave another looking sallow and lacklustre. A good red lipstick will enhance your complexion, as well as features like your eyes and hair.
When searching for a shade, considering your skin’s undertones is a sensible place to start. Complexions sit within three categories: warm, cool and neutral. As a general rule, those with warm undertones tend to have more yellowness to their skin, and those with cool tend to have more of a pink hue. Not sure which one you are? This is where an old styling trick comes in handy: the jewellery test.
Hold a piece of silver jewellery against your skin, followed by a piece of gold jewellery. One should make your skin look more vibrant than the other, complementing your colouring. If it’s silver, then your skin is cool toned, and if it’s gold, then your skin is warm toned. Can’t choose between the two? You’re lucky enough to have a neutral complexion, meaning you can wear pretty much any shade of red.
Of course, skin tone only serves as a guide, and the best red is one that makes you feel amazing. If you’re nervous about trialling a red lip for the first time, start with a subtle wash of colour, working up to something more pigmented as your confidence grows.
The best place to find the right red lip for you? Match2Me, Trinny London’s personalised cheatsheet of personalised shades. Simply input your eye colour, hair colour and skin tone and it does the hard work for you, showing you exactly which shades work for you.
For red lips at a glance, we’ve broken it down by skin tone below:
Intense reds will really pop against a darker skin tone, allowing your lipstick to take centre stage. True, vibrant and pillarbox reds fit the brief. Deeper skin tones also suit more sultry shades of red, especially those with a hint of berry to them.
Sitting in the middle, medium skin is able to pull off hues that suit both deep and lighter skin tones. The only real caveat comes if you have olive skin, which skews on the warmer side of things. In this case opt for a red with an orange base. Fiery shades and coral hues are your friends here.
Spanning from alabaster to fair tan, lighter skin generally suits reds with a blue base, which is win-win, as these shades tend to make your teeth look brighter and whiter too. If you’re very fair, or have cool, rosy undertones, then plump for a red with a hint of pink.
Ready to give a red lip a go? Here’s how to apply:
To create the best possible base for your red lipstick, prep your lips to make sure they are smooth, soft and free from any flakes. A great way to persuade any dead skin away from your lips is to rub a muslin cloth over them in soft, circular motions. If needed, you can always apply a very light layer of lip balm too. Just be careful not to apply too much, as this can cause your lip colour to slide about.
If you have lines on your lips, smooth on a layer of Miracle Blur, our lip + line filler to fill them in. It will also help your red lip to stay put for longer, preventing the colour from bleeding or feathering at the edges.
For a precise red lip, use the narrowest brush in your T-Kit to line your bottom lip, followed by the top. If you’re using your fingers, or going for a more low-key wash of red, you can skip this step.
Using the same brush, or your finger, carefully fill in the colour on the rest of your lips. If you want to build the colour intensity, apply more layers.
If needed, neaten and sharpen up the edges of your red lip by using a little base on a tapered brush to trace their outline.
In our opinion, there’s almost no occasion where a red lip is off limits. It’s more about whether you can commit the time to application and the kind of look you’re going for. For some people, a red lip is their signature, and they’ll wear it every single day with confidence. For others, it’s purely a special occasion product, and one they only reach for a few times a year.
If you’re a red lipstick novice and are nervous about wearing it during the day, start with a lighter product first. A gloss or stain with just a hint of colour will ease you in, and you won’t require as precise an application as more pigmented products. Keeping the rest of your makeup simple (think a dewy base, groomed brows and fluffy lashes) will make your red lip look fresh and modern.
For a special occasion for evening wear, it’s time to dial up the pigment. A punchy red lip will make a real statement, and looks just as good with neutrals like black and white as it does with brights like yellow or blue. To avoid a look that feels overdone, go easy on the eye makeup and focus on making your skin look gorgeous and glowy. If you do want to wear colour on your eyes, make it something low-key and glamorous, like a shimmering gold, copper or bronze.