How To Wear Red Lipstick

Here's how to work a perfect day-to-night red lip.
How To Wear Red Lipstick

It's bold, glamorous and daring, synonymous with confidence and allure. So it's little wonder the colour red has been a make-up favourite for decades. "It's an elemental, visceral colour – a reminder of what's inside us," explains Dick Page, celebrity make-up artist and creative director for Shiseido, of this timeless trend. "I think red lips are symbolic of female strength."

"Red used to be the ultimate in sophistication," says Mai Hua, L'Oréal Paris consultant and Paris-based colour designer. "But the feeling about the colour has changed. Now, it can also be relaxed," she continues, adding that the rules about wearing a scarlet hue have also altered. "You don't need to match your lipstick to your dress anymore – forget about the total look...experiment, be emotional, not rational."


Get The Look

When it comes to wearing bright lipstick, it's all about the application. "Before you start, apply a nourishing and moisturising lip protector, and blot to absorb any excess," suggests Page. "Well-moisturised lips will repay your efforts, as the contours will stay sharply defined and your lipstick will last longer and look more luminous."


If you're using lip liner, apply that first, and be sure to fill in your lips to avoid obvious lines, or simply move straight on to adding colour. "To define your lips, first smile. Then, for a natural look, start [painting] from the centre of your lips and work towards the edges," says Page of the perfect way to apply your lipstick.


When the product is new, you can apply it straight from the bullet, but as soon as that sharp tip wears down, he recommends using a lip brush. "A retractable brush (or one with a cap) is most practical because you can keep it in your purse without getting lipstick on everything," he advises.


Choose Your Hue

While scarlet is a timeless choice, the options don't stop there. From pink-toned crimson to shades of merlot, there's a red to suit everyone. "I advise women to try different colours against their complexion," says Hua. "Hold up various [red-toned] scarves next to your cheek and you'll see if the colour suits you," she continues, adding that most skin tones can wear a range of reds; you just need to match them to your complexion.


Who Can Wear Red Lipstick?

"Anybody can wear red," asserts Hua. "It can be warm or cool, so it can suit any complexion and any hair colour – it's a universal and flattering shade." It's also just the thing if you want a little attention. "It's a physical fact that red has the shortest wavelength, so it's the colour that will catch the eye first," adds Hua.


When selecting your new colour, invest in a highly pigmented shade that offers the depth of colour you're after in just one swipe. This is important, as too many coats can cause your lipstick to "bleed". Also consider a pencil to provide the perfect base. "Using a lip liner is a guaranteed way to increase the lasting power of a lipstick," says Page.


We like Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Rouge, $44. Prefer something more sheer? Top your lip liner with a gloss, like Max Factor Lipfinity in Charming, $30.95, 'instead.