It’s no secret that red lips have made it into makeup’s all-time hall of fame. Seen on the lips of ancient queens, Hollywood’s most classic celebs, and today’s street-style influencers, it’s clear that red lip makeup has withstood the test of time. In fact, finding a complementary red shade is the perfect way to take your makeup look to the next level. While any standout lip can add that certain je ne sais quoi we all so badly crave, there’s no denying the red lip will always be a favorite. Here, learn how to find the best red lipstick, as well as our top dos and don’ts for getting the perfect red lips.
HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT RED LIPSTICK SHADE FOR YOUR SKIN TONE
The thing about red lipstick is that there are about a hundred shades to choose from, all of them ranging in different tones that best suit different skin tones. If you’re struggling to find your shade, we’ll help you make things simple. As a general rule of thumb, true reds that don’t have any hints of orange look best on fair skin, pinkish, orangey-red lipsticks look best on those with medium skin types, and darker, plum and wine-soaked reds look best when paired with dark skin.
Find a few red lip options based on your skin tone, below.
If you have fair skin…swipe on the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Shine Lipstick in Enamel Red or the L’Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain in Adored.
If you have medium skin…swipe on the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 8 HR Le Gloss in Fiery or the L’Oréal Paris Matte Lip Crayon, Lasting Wear, Smudge Resistant in Caramel Rebel.
If you have dark skin…swipe on the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Lip Crayon, Lasting Wear, Smudge Resistant in Spice of Life or the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Shine Lipstick in Glassy Garnet.
THE DOS AND DON’TS OF GETTING THE PERFECT RED LIPS
So, you’ve found your ideal red lipstick—congrats! You’re not quite in the clear yet, though. Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to getting perfect lips than just the color you use. So, be sure to follow our lists of dos and don’ts to help yourself flawlessly rock a gorgeous fiery hue all day long.
DON’T: FORGET TO EXFOLIATE
OK, so you exfoliate your complexion and your body, but aren’t you forgetting something? Your lips, silly! If you’ve ever wondered what’s standing between you and a smoother lipstick application, it could be your lack of exfoliating. Use a lip scrub and gently massage your lips to buff away any dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your lips.
DO: PRIME WITH LIP BALM
Before you get a little too pucker happy and jump straight to colorful glory, grab your favorite lip balm to help prime and hydrate your lips after exfoliation.
DON’T: SKIP THE LIP LINER
Next up on the pretty pucker list: lip liner. Lip liner can help your lipstick stay in place so that it doesn’t bleed outside the lines—AKA it’s certainly a step you shouldn’t skip. Trace the contours of your lips a couple times over to really define your pout. Try the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner.
DO: ACCENTUATE YOUR CUPID’S BOW
Red lips stand out on their own, but when you expertly accentuate your cupid’s bow, you’ll bring all the attention to a seriously pillow-y pout. All you have to do is take your lip liner and draw an X starting at the highest point of your natural lip and extending down from that point. Repeat on the other side of your top lip to create the X.
DON’T: COLOR TOO FAR OUTSIDE THE LINES
Now that you’ve perfectly prepped your pout, it’s time for color. When filling in your lips, don’t go too far outside the lines. While overlined lips are definitely on-trend, you never want to go overboard. Stay just slightly outside the contours of your natural lips and use an angled brush to reach every nook and cranny.
DO: ADD A DAB OF GLOSS
DON’T: RUB YOUR LIPS TOGETHER
If you find that your lips look a little too red or a touch too glossy, grab a tissue, and blot your lips. You should avoid rubbing your lips together because this can smear your well-defined edges.
DO: CHECK YOUR TEETH
Before you walk out of the door with your perfect red lips, make sure that your teeth look perfect as well. Since red lipstick is super-bright, it’s also super-noticeable when it ends up somewhere it shouldn't.
And just like that, you have your prettiest, most classic pucker yet! Next up: 10 Lip Products Everyone Should Have in Their Makeup Bag.
A red-orange lipstick, like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lipstick in Matte-Ly in Love, is super flattering on those with medium to deep skin and warm undertones. If you have cool undertones, try a shade of red lipstick with pink tones, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick in Fresh as a Rose.
Red Lipstick Dos
Follow our lists of things to do to upgrade your red lipstick application and wear.
Do Prime With Lip Balm
Before you reach for your lipstick, grab your favorite hydrating lip balm to help prime and hydrate your lips post-exfoliation. If you plan on wearing matte lipstick, this step is very important because it will help to keep your lips from feeling dry.
Do Accentuate Your Cupid’s Bow
Defining your Cupid’s bow can help to make your lips look extra plump and pouty. Take your lip liner and draw an X starting at the highest point of the center of your top lip, extending down on a diagonal from that point. Repeat on the other side of your top lip to create an X shape. Continue by filling in your lips as usual.
If you don’t have a naturally defined Cupid’s bow, follow your natural lip line, only varying slightly outside of the lines to create natural-looking definition.
Do Try Different Formulas
A matte red lipstick is far from the only choice you have to choose from when it comes to red lipstick. If you’re feeling a sheer wash of red color, try a lip balm-lipstick hybrid, like the L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick with Pomegranate Extract in Ecstatic Mulberry.
If you like vivid color, paired with a formula that has a little more hydration than most matte lipsticks, try a red lippie with a satin formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Reds Of Worth Satin Lipstick With Saturated Color or the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick in Rouge St. Germain.
If you love a velvety lip, but don’t feel the same about the dryness that sometimes accompanies matte formulas, try the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick or the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick. Both formulas are infused with hyaluronic acid for a comfortable finish that doesn’t feel dry or crackly.
Do Add a Dab Of Gloss
If your lips feel dry, dab on a little bit of lip gloss to add some shine and moisture. Opt for a clear shade, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro Plump Gloss in Mirror, or try a red shade, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 8 Hour Pro Lip Gloss, Hydrating Finish in Red Fatale for an extra pop.
Do Check Your Teeth
Before you walk out of the door with your perfect red lips, make sure that your teeth look perfect as well. Since red lipstick is super bright, it’s also super noticeable when it ends up somewhere it shouldn't be, like your teeth.
Editor’s tip: Fold a clean tissue in half and place it between your lips, pursing them together to help remove any lipstick on the inside of your lips.
Red Lipstick Don’ts
Now that you’re aware of all the dos when it comes to red lipstick, here are a few things to steer clear of.
Don’t Forget to Exfoliate
If you’ve ever wondered what’s standing between you and a smoother lipstick application, it could be your lack of exfoliating and this goes for any lipstick, not just shades of red. Use a lip scrub and gently massage your lips to buff away any dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your lips. If you don’t have a lip scrub, wet the corner of a washcloth and lightly rub it across your lips to exfoliate.
Don’t Skip Lip Liner
Lip liner helps your lipstick stay in place so it doesn’t bleed or feather outside the lines. This means it’s a step you never want to skip. Following your natural lip line, trace the contours of your lips to define your pout. A good rule of thumb is to match the finish of your lipstick to your lip liner so if you’re wearing satin lipstick, reach for a satin lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner. If you’re wearing matte lipstick, reach for a matte lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner.
Don’t Color Too Far Outside the Lines
There’s a difference between overlining your lips and going overboard. When you’re overlining your lips, don’t stray too far outside of your natural lip line. Rather, line just slightly outside the contours of your natural lip shape, and use an angled brush to reach every little space for perfect application.
Don’t Rub Your Lips Together
If you find that your lips look a little too red or a touch too glossy, grab a tissue, and blot your lipstick. Avoid rubbing your lips together because this can smear your carefully lined edges.
Photographer: Matthew Kelly, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Creative Producer: Becca Solovay
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