It’s bold, glamorous and the holiday party go-to for a reason. Red lipstick has long been a symbol of confidence and allure, but many women hesitate to try it out, thinking it’s too daring or difficult to pull off. However, with the right approach, anyone can rock a red lipstick makeup look and feel instantly more chic and stylish. The key is to find the right shade of red that complements your skin tone. Whether you prefer a classic matte finish, a sheer formula or a vibrant gloss, there’s a red lipstick makeup look for everyone. So don’t be afraid to embrace your inner bombshell and give red lips a try — you might be surprised at just how much you love it! Here, we tapped top makeup artists for all their tips and tricks when it comes to picking out and wearing the bold lip color.
How red lipstick makeup flatters women over 50
“Red lipstick for women over 50 is a great way to bring a little bit of brightness to the complexion,” says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. This is especially great for those with mature skin since “our skin loses pigment as we age,” notes Jeanine Lobell, makeup artist and founder of Neen. And the brightening benefits aren’t just for skin as the shade can make teeth appear whiter too. To reap the rewards, pick a blue-based red lipstick which counteracts any yellow in teeth.
And contrary to popular belief, red lipstick doesn’t cause thinner lips to look even thinner. Instead, “it gives lips that may be thinning definition, making them appear fuller,” says Lobell. While Marilyn Monore was known to wear a combination of five different shades of red lipstick and gloss to achieve her iconic bold and plump pout, a lip liner and lipstick will do the trick as you’ll read below.
But the best part about red lipstick — and this is true no matter your age — is the confidence boost it can give you, says Lobell. That’s because shades of red are often associated with strength, power and courage.
How to find the best red lipstick makeup shade for you
Lobell says that finding the right red lipstick for you is a combination of two things: The look you’re going for and working with your skin tone. “If you want to go bold, a red with a pinker undertone or an orange undertone will look more vibrant.” And “dirty” red hues that have some brown in them will blend in more if you’re looking for something more neutral, she adds.
When it comes to skin tone, Ciucci says it’s important to identify if you have a warm or cool undertone. “Check the veins on your wrist: if your veins are green, you have a warm undertone and if you have purple or blue veins, you have cool undertones,” she explains. “Once you’ve determined your skin tone, choose your red accordingly — if warm, pick an orange-red, and if cool, select a blue-red.”
For more on how to pick the right red lipstick, watch the video below from makeup artist and YouTuber Ali Andreea.
The most flattering red lipstick makeup looks
1. Wear red lipstick with a lightweight, luminous foundation
For a more modern look when wearing red lipstick, makeup artist Emily Gray says to choose a dewy to natural light coverage foundation. This gives skin a lit-from-within-glow and lets red lipstick stay the star since matte, full-coverage foundation can look too heavy paired with bold lips. Gray says after foundation to spot conceal with concealer where necessary and powder a little under your eyes to prevent any creasing.
2. Wear red lipstick with simple eye makeup
Lobell loves pairing a red lip a full lashes and winged eyeliner. “It keeps the emphasis on the red,” she says. But to play up eyes some more without detracting from red lipstick, Ciucci advises sweeping on a neutral shimmery eyeshadow that adds a subtle touch of sparkle that also brightens eyes. An eyeshadow palette that fits the bill is ColourPop Deja Brew Shadow Palette (Buy from ColourPop, $14).
3. Wear red lipstick with a dust of blush
As far as blush, “a little bit of a rosy cheek is important with this look so you don’t look so harsh,” says Lobell. She advises picking blushes with a touch of pink so it’s complementary to red lips. And apply blush with a light hand will ensure the rouge doesn’t compete with the lip color or make you look clownish.
The best red lipsticks by formula
If you prefer a sheer formula
Violette_FR Bisou Balm in Amour Fou (Buy from Violette_FR, $28)
This is a great starter red for those that want to give the bright shade a test drive. It has a balm formula that makes the color sheer, but it’s buildable if you want a bolder look. And while it has a matte finish that is designed to look like your lips’ true texture, the balm also contains rapeseed oil that keeps lips moisturized.
If you prefer a traditional lipstick formula
MAC Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo (Buy from Ulta, $23)
Ruby Woo is one of the most popular red lip shades of all time for a reason. It’s long-wearing, which is why Ciucci is a fan of this lipstick. And it has a strong blue undertone that works well for those with cool-toned skin.
Catrice Cosmetics Scandalous Matte Lipstick in Blame the Night (Buy from Catrice Cosmetics, $7)
For a stunning red lipstick that looks great on everyone, Gray suggests this one since it has a neutral red undertone. “Plus, it’s affordable, vegan, highly pigmented, and long-lasting!”
Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in So Red (Buy from Sephora, $35)
Gray always keeps this red lipstick in her kit. “The color pay-off is insane and the formula is extremely moisturizing on the lips.” Thanks goes to the lipstick’s orchid extract that hydrates the pout.
Milani Cosmetics Color Statement Lipstick in Red Label (Buy from Milani Cosmetics, $6.99)
Ciucci loves this nourishing formula that will only set you back $7. Infused with nourishing vitamins A and C, this lipstick feels good on your lips and treats them at the same time.
If you prefer a liquid lipstick formula
Neen Going Steady Longwear in Lucky (Buy from Blue Mercury, $29)
Lobell’s latest formula is designed to stay on longer and will not bleed or feather. She says this is the only red lip she wears because it feels ultra comfortable.
Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Pleasure-Seeker (Buy from Ulta, $10.99)
This drugstore pick is affordable and another favorite of Ciucci’s. The formula stays put and this shade is a bright orange-red that complements warm-toned complexions. And while it’s a matte finish, it can be topped with a clear gloss to add some shine.
Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored (Buy from Ulta, $28)
This feather-light yet long-wearing liquid lipstick is one of Ciucci’s go-tos. It offers a soft, matte finish and it’s a neutral red hue that’s universally flattering for all skin tones.
4 tips for wearing a red lipstick makeup look
1. Use a lip brush for a precise application
“The thing about a bold lip is that application and precision means a ton,” says Gray. “You can get away with more with a nude lipstick, but with red, you have to be precise.” She also adds that red lipstick tends to stain skin, so it’s harder to remove if you make a mistake. “For this reason, I recommend grabbing a lip brush to carefully apply red lipstick.” Why? Gray says the brush “will give you more control.”
2. Pick a non-drying lipstick formula
“The downside of a long wear lip formula is sometimes it can be too tight and crusty-looking, so shop wisely,” says Lobell. You’ll want to look for words like “nourishing ” and “hydrating” in the product description to ensure you’ll find a lipstick that won’t dry out your pout.
3. Opt for lip liner
The most classic way to make your lipstick last for the long haul is to use a lip liner in a similar hue, notes Ciucci. That’s because the liner primes lips and gives lipstick something to adhere to. Her tip: “Line all the way up to the lip ridge and fully fill in your lips.” The lip ridge is the edge of your lips that your natural lip color doesn’t extend to but is still part of your lip shape. And emphasizing it with liner helps the pout look fuller to boot. After lips have been lined and filled in, top with a light layer of lipstick.
Also smart: Ciucci recommends using a clear lip liner, like Sephora Collection Beauty Amplifier Clear Universal Waterproof Lip Liner (Buy from Sephora, $10), around the outside of your lips and set it with a loose, translucent powder before swiping on lipstick. This creates an invisible barrier that “helps prevent bleeding,” she says.
4. Apply *this* between layers of lipstick
After applying the first light layer of makeup, Ciucci advises taking a piece of one-ply tissue and “place it over your lips and dust with loose powder.” She says “this really locks in the color” after a second coat of lipstick is applied. The powder gives the lipstick that’s applied on top something to cling to for better longevity.
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