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When you think red lipstick, chances are you’ve got your near-and-dear diehard reds that you’ll buy again and again until the day they’re discontinued (and then it’s time to horde). Wearing it—where, when, how, and with what—comes with its own set of potential complications. We’re generally always advocates of wearing whatever makeup makes you feel best about yourself, and a red lip is usually always the landslide victor for the one makeup product with magical pretty powers. That said, what’s the best way to wear red lipstick that a) doesn’t make you look like a politician’s wife, b) won’t slide down your chin the minute you blot your lips together, or c) highlight all your dried crevices and chapped bits? Learning how to apply red lipstick, bold as it is, can be a task. Those crisp lines and perfect sheen from magazine ads look amazing, but if you have the time for a lip primer, lip pencil, foundation, and setting powder… that’s great for an occasion that requires immaculate precise makeup (yearbook photos?). But for when you want to rock a casual red lip any old day, we at Beauty High have a super easy application technique that you can do virtually anywhere.
When choosing your go-to red, you can narrow it down by your skin tone. Warm skin tones can go for orangey red and cool/fair tones look striking with a blue-cast red lippie. Honestly, there’s no set rule as to which is the right red lipstick for you—just go with what you like. Try both cool and warm-toned ones! We always keep a brick red, a classic cherry red, a deep crimson, and a burgundy in our lipstick arsenal– not to mention mattes, creams, and stains (and several of each, if we’re being candid).
For the most effortless red lip (sometimes referred to as the “rough red lip” or possibly “lazy girl lipstick trick”) all you’ll need is your lipstick of choice, lip balm, and a tissue.
Apply your lip balm of choice—something more emollient than waxy. We used ByTerry’s Baume De Rose here because it smells like fresh roses (duh) and moisturizes our pucker for hours.
Now, blot your balm. Seems backwards, but too much balm messes with your lipstick application, often making it a slip-and-slide for application and wear. Now, you’re not trying to remove the balm completely, just take off the excess so your lips are moisturized but not saturated.
Now for the actual lipstick. We are using NARS’ Audacious lipstick in Olivia because the color is divinely in that sweet spot between sophisticated but with a vibrant edge. Also the texture is like silk. Texture is important with lipstick, especially bolder colors. The last thing you want to be doing is constantly smushing your lips together because your lipstick is too dry or chalky and then looking in a mirror to see it all around your mouth and teeth. So, what you’ll do instead is apply lipstick in the center of your lips, taking care in defining the cupid’s bow. You can swipe or blot, that all depends on the formula. A bit of both works best.
Then with your ring finger, the most delicate wimp of all your fingers, blot and spread the color from the center of your lips to the outer edges and sides. This way, the color really gets pressed into your mouth with the heat of your hands so it settles in more nicely than just being rubbed on cold. Keep the edges soft and a bit blurred for a more modern finish. It’s supposed to look effortless, remember?
You don’t HAVE to blot again with a tissue, but if you aren’t satisfied with the color depth, feel free to blot and then repeat those same lipstick steps again. And voila—you have your best “oh this old thing?” red lip, like you’ve been wearing lipstick forever. No one will be the wiser to your three-step process.
All Photos: Tiffany Hagler-Geard