How to Wear Red Lipstick

If you go to school with me or pay any attention to my selfies, you’ll notice that more often than not I’ve been wearing red lipstick.

There is no reason for this other than vanity and my desire to add more glamour to my day. I put on a full face of makeup almost every day because I like the routine of standing in front of my mirror for an hour in the morning and drinking my coffee while I manufacture my public face. Doing my makeup is a fun creative outlet and sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing I have to feel good about.

Also at this point, I think that if I were to show up anywhere without my face at least partially done I would invite a lot of concern. I’m not bothered by that because I have set a standard for myself and people would be right to assume that when my face isn’t on then something is amiss- whether it was just that I was too tired and woke up late or if I became deeply depressed. Me clarify- this is exclusively about me. No woman should be expected to wear makeup at any point and whether she does or does not is her own business. I’m just saying that I acknowledge that my naked face would cause alarm to those who know me because it would be out of the norm.

With all that being said, I also want you to know that I do like my face whether or not I have smear chemicals over it. I’m reasonably self confident and I don’t have any problem with people seeing my bare face (more like bear-face haha jk that’s off-message.) I don’t use cosmetics as a mask, I use them as tools. My makeup is something I enjoy doing, something I practice a lot, and it’s something I’m good at.

Personal opinions about makeup in general aside, this is what I know about wearing red lipstick*. Red lipstick is a temperamental bitch- it will ruin your whole face if you don’t follow the rules.

  1. USE A GODDAMN LIP LINER. So many women skip this step and it shows because the color bleeds out and gets all over your face and it looks smudgy and terrible. You need crisp, clean lines around your mouth so that it stays put and pretty. Lip liner also gives you more control over the shape of your lips so you can make them look slightly fuller or thinner if you’re into that. IMO your lip liner doesn’t need to perfectly match the shade of your lipstick, it just need to be close enough. I have a red lip liner, a darker purple one, and one that matches my skin color. I’ve also used concealer to clean up my lines after to get the best edge.
  2. Balance your complexion. Having an even skin tone is necessary because the red on your lips is going to bring out all the other reds on your face and make you look blotchy. Sometimes my skin is fine on it’s own but most of the time I’m rocking some greasy pimps in my chin-zone so I use a color correcting cream (CCC) on my whole face and take additional steps to conceal imperfections if needed.
  3. Pick a shade for your skin tone. Reds are not one-size-fits-all. There are red-reds, bluey-reds, orange-y red, browny-reds and pinky-reds. If your skin is cool-toned pick a bluey-red, if you’re warm-toned, orangy-red. You have to go through a lot of trial and error to find the best shade. I also find that blood red looks best on everyone. You can’t clash with your own blood.
  4. Pick the right finish. A classic matte finish is not a modern matte finish is not a satin finish is not a metallic finish. Each of these has their place in your makeup shelf but you should know what you want and when you want it. Classic matte finishes are my forever everyday go-to but I’ll choose a gloss when I’m looking sleek or metallic when I’m trendy. Each one brings their own personality to the table and they aren’t interchangeable.
  5. White (enough) teeth. Red lips bring out the yellow in teeth. Whitening toothpaste.
  6. Strategic highlights. I always use a tiny amount of highlighter in the cupid’s bow of my upper lip and a light touch under my lower lip. It draws attention to your mouth and makes your lips look fuller and pouty. And Marilyn Monroe did it, so…
  7. Balance the rest of your makeup. Red lips are a statement and the rest of your face should complement them. I wouldn’t recommend pairing dramatic eye makeup with red lips because then there’s just too much going on and it looks bad. I pair my red lips with either a classic neutral smoky eye or with simple black winged eyeliner. I also shape and fill in my brows. Your whole face is the package and all the parts of it should tie together neatly.

*or any bold color, but red is the best one.

When you choose the red lip lifestyle, you’ve made a commitment to looking classy. There’s no room for compromise on these rules without sacrificing the overall glam factor. I think of my red lips as a regular part of my face and plan around it, even on hoodie and leggings days. If I am short on time, I just grab a stick, my neutral lip liner, and some mascara and make it work (b/c I also use the neutral liner as a concealer and brow shaper because me nasty bitch.)

Me in my natural state
Me in my other natural state.

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