Red lipstick is such an iconic color, but it also one of those colors so many women are hesitant to wear, despite the claim that there is a red for everyone.
I am not a person you'd normally think of as rocking reds: I am fair and pink-skinned with blue-grey-green eyes and mousy dark-blonde hair. Nevertheless, I love red; I always have. From my mid 20s through most of my 30, I wore red lipstick often and with very little other other makeup, just a smidge of powder, mascara, and--of course--groomed brows. A similar look worked for Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and as much as I admire her timeless style, I can't say I copied her because I only came to know about her as I was winding down from red.
I discovered my choice in red lipstick had become a problem for me when, one day at work, a male colleague could not stop looking at my lips when we were talking, not in an "I want to eat you up," way, but more in a "Who let Bozo the Clown in here?" As I left the room, it felt like a collective shout rang out, "Here come Zuzu's lips!"
On some, red lipstick works as a dramatic statement, while on others, red is more harmonious with their skin tone and looks very natural. Still on others, the red wears them. One thing seems certain to me: Either we like/wear red or we don't. There doesn't see to be much middle ground.
When I was a little girl, I saw older women wearing red lipstick, and I always thought they looked so elegant, but when I tried my first lipstick on, I felt like a fraud. It was just so .... RED. So, much like anything else I had to grow into, like seeing myself in sunglasses or heels or smoking a cigarette (yes, I did), I wore my red lips around the house until I felt comfortable.
I do believe every woman has a red that suits her, but it all comes down to whether she likes it or not.
I like. And I have a few favorite reds to share:
- Laura Mercer Bing Cherry and Sweet Cherry
- Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Antigone
- Chanel Rouge Coco Rivoli(to be reviewed)
- Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L303
- Cle de Peau Extra Silky 112
- NARS Bad Education
I rarely wear matte reds, certainly not the way I used to. If I choose a pigmented red, I almost always blot it down to a stain, but my strong preference now is a sheer, juicy, cool red. I just like the way it brightens my face and whitens my teeth.
|Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour Sweet Cherry|
Whatever the case, it's best that we wear our reds rather than the the red wear us. As a pale person, here are some things I have discovered along the years:
- Avoid deeply-pigmented dark reds if lips are thin. Dark colors recede, so they can make lips look even thinner. I have found this to be especially true as I have gotten older and the vermilion border is beginning to fade and lie more flat.
- Consider skin undertones. Cool-toned people generally look their best in blue-based reds and warm-toned people tend to have more flexibility, though orange- or yellow-based reds seem to be the most flattering.
- If you look like Snow White, go for it. High-contrast women have all the luck and can get away with wearing more vibrant colors.
- If your teeth have yellowed over time, you probably want to stay away from orange- or yellow-based reds. Blue-based reds are tooth brightening. If you and your orange red will go down together with the ship, apply, smile and be honest with yourself about your chompers.
- Consider the environment/lighting. If you'll be under fluorescent lights or outside, a Gwen Stefani-type red might draw more attention to your lips than you want. Consider something sheer, perhaps even a red-tinted lip balm or gloss. For evening, you can always bring on the more more bold colors.
- We all know this bit of advice but it bears repeating: If you wear red lipstick, keep the rest of your face neutral. Unless, you are going for a dramatic look, don't wear a lot of eye makeup. Red lips look best when eyes aren't competing with them, so a light dusting of powder or soft wash of a single eyeshadow that blends into the existing skin tone, like beige or greige, is ideal.
- If you have a lot of red in your skin around cheeks and nose, you'll want to tone it down first. Use your regular foundation or concealer or powder, as long as the result is natural.
- If you are wearing a super-pigmented red, like lipsticks by Julie Hewett or Besame Cosmetics, you'll need precision. These aren't lipsticks you can apply without a mirror, so use a brush or a lip pencil, either in a color that exactly matches your lips or one that exactly matches the lipstick (Julie Hewett is the only one I know of that makes such a match). Fill in the entire lip with the pencil, and then apply the lipstick straight from the tube, blot, reapply, and blot again. To make double sure you don't get any excess red on your teeth, purse your mouth, like you're about to whistle, stick your index finger in, and draw your finger out through your pursed lips.
- If you have a really dark lipstick that you love and you want to wear it for day, apply it, blot it all the way down to a stain, and apply a glossy balm on top. Instant sheer lipstick!
Is red your thing? If so, what are your favorites?