Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Anyone Can Wear a Red Lip! Part 1: Choosing the Right Shade and Formula

Hi, everyone! Today's post is a bit different and was totally inspired by a comment my friend made to me a few months ago. She messaged me, saying "I tried red lipstick on yesterday and I looked like a clown. I know you hate clowns. How can I get red lipstick to work?" She touched on two very important points with that comment: 1) Yes, I hate clowns. To a pathological extent. But I won't get into their shifty, demonic ways here ;) and 2) A lot of people, even those well-versed in the realm of beauty, have difficulty and apprehension when it comes to red lipstick.

I think this quandary exists for a few reasons. First, red is undoubtedly bold and many people feel they can't pull it off. "I'll draw too much attention to myself", they might say, or "I'm going to look like a hooker". To those folks (after a brief lol), I would say that it's all about confidence and finding the shade and formula that works best for you. Second, many people may hold the belief that "red just doesn't look good on me!" To this I would retort, you just haven't tried the right red! And third, I think a lot of people get overwhelmed by the undeniably extensive amount of options out there. "There were, like, 200 shades of red lipstick at Sephora. How the heck to I choose?" I would certainly agree with this sentiment, but luckily I've tried more lipsticks than most beauty editors out there, so I can offer a suggestion or two ;)

Me sporting a red lip for my Adele Oscars makeup tutorial

So, regardless of the reason you find rocking a red lip a daunting, confusing, or frightening task, this post will hopefully clarify the ins and outs of red lipstick and help you choose a shade and formula that works with your skin tone and desired effect. And if you're already a red lipstick junkie, hopefully this will further feed your obsession!

I've broken things down into three categories: Undertone, Opacity, and Finish. Really hope you find the breakdown helpful!

My red lipstick collection, standing tall and proud


1) Undertone (Warm vs. Cool Reds)

The first factor to consider when choosing a red lipstick is the undertone. Specifically, is the shade warm or cool?

Warm reds have more yellow in them than blue, so will have slight to strong orange undertones. Examples of warm red shades are brick, scarlet, carmine, terracotta, persimmon, and fire-engine red. Warm reds tend to have a 1940s or 1970s feel and look best on people with warm golden tones in their skin.

Cool reds have more blue in them than yellow, so will have slight to strong purple undertones. Examples of cool red shades are cherry, burgundy, magenta, berry, and ruby. Think 1950s movie stars or Snow White. Cool reds tend to look best on people with cool, pinky tones to their skin.

Swatches of my red lipstick collection (warm shades on left, cool shades on right)

In the swatches above, I've arranged my lipsticks so that the warmer tones are on the left-hand side and the cooler tones are on the right. As you can see, the shades on the left (warmer shades) have a brighter, more orange-toned appearance and the shades on the right (cooler shades) have a more pinky-purple look to them.

And here are some shots of me wearing both warm- and cool-toned reds, to give another visual example.

Warmer reds:



Cooler reds:



So overall, as pretty as you think a certain shade of red lipstick might be, if it clashes with the natural undertones of your skin it is less likely to be flattering. So stick with what works!
 
Here are some recommendations for great red lipsticks from both colour families:
 
Warm Reds: NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Heat Wave, MAC Lustre Lipstick in Ladybug, Lush Emotional Brilliance Liquid Lipstick in Ambition and Power
 
Cool Reds: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella, Hourglass Opaque Rouge in Icon, MAC Matte Lipstick in Russian Red, Lush Emotional Brilliance Liquid Lipstick in Decisive, Chanel Rouge Allure in Lover


2) Sheerness/Opacity

The second factor to consider is how sheer or opaque the formula is. I think many people view all red lipsticks as extremely bold and bright, but there are plenty of red shades out there with sheerer, more subtle finishes.

Sheer lipsticks are the best way to go if you want to wear red lipstick but are feeling timid. They allow you to play with the colour family without fully committing to a bold, full-bodied red. Since they are more subtle and soft, they can be extremely wearable and forgiving. They're also great for those who love red lipstick but want something a bit less conspicuous during the day or at the office.

Opaque reds are highly pigmented, bold, and do not let any of your natural lip colour show through. They're for when you want your lips to make a clear statement! I'd say they're good for any occasion (but then again, I'm highly partial to a bold lip), but opaque red lipsticks are especially lovely for special events or a night on the town.

Here are some shots of me (and some other lovely ladies) wearing both sheer and opaque red lipsticks.

Sheer finishes:






Opaque finishes:




So the lesson with this factor is: if you're scared of red lipstick, start sheer! Once you're comfortable with a sheer formula, work up to something bolder and more opaque when you feel more confident or have a big event! Here are some recommendations:

Sheer Reds: Revlon Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic, MAC Glaze Lipstick in Hot Tahiti, Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Sheer Candy in Luscious Cherry, MAC Lustre Lipstick in Ladybug, Chantecaille Lip Chic in Amaryllis

Opaque Reds: NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Heat Wave, Lush Emotional Brilliance Liquid Lipsticks in Power, Ambition, or Decisive, Hourglass Opaque Rouge in Icon or Raven


3) Finish (Glossy vs. Matte)

The final factor to keep in mind (or at least the final one I'm going to mention here) is the finish of the lipstick. Finishes can range from highly shiny and glossy to completely matte. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Glossy lipsticks tend to be more forgiving and youthful looking. Like sheer lipsticks, glossy (or semi-glossy) is the way to go if you've been afraid to wear a red lip! The downside is that glossy formulas tend to be more moist and less adherent, making them generally more prone to smudging and transferring.

Matte lipsticks have a flat, shine-free finish and tend to be more sophisticated looking and retro-inspired. Matte lipsticks are often more bold and strong than glossy ones (as they also tend to be more pigmented and opaque) and are great for when you want to make a statement. They tend to be longer-wearing and more transfer-resistant, but the trade-off is that they are more likely to dry out the lips.

Here are some shots of me (and others) wearing semi-glossy, glossy, and matte red lips.

Semi-glossy:




Glossy:





Matte:



Overall, if a full-on matte lip seems daunting and impractical, opt for something with a shinier, more forgiving finish (as long as  you don't mind it showing up on your coffee cup or significant other's face)! Here are some recommendations:

Glossy to Semi-Glossy: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic, Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Sheer Candy in Luscious Cherry,  NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Majella, MAC Tinted Lip Glass in Russian Red (not technically a lipstick, but hey, it's shiny!)

Matte (or almost matte): Hourglass Opaque Rouge in Icon or Raven, MAC Matte Lipstick in Russian Red, NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella, NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Heat Wave, Chanel Rouge Allure in Lover


So overall, if you keep in mind a lipstick's undertone (and how it relates to your skin tone), opacity, and finish (given the look you're going for and how confident you're feeling), it should be a lot easier to find a shade and formula that works for you! I hope you found all of the tips and recommendations to be helpful- please let me know below!

Part 2 of the Red Lip series will talk about what to do once you've selected the right shade of red, namely how to apply the lipstick and keep it looking good throughout the day. So look out for that one soon!

Thanks for reading! xo


71 comments:

  1. Oh girl!!! That was too much red!!! Now I want to forget my coral l/s for a moment and go back to red!!! :D Maybe I should try tomorrow :D

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    1. Haha, never too much red! Glad I inspired you :)

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  2. the ultimate redlip guide, thank you for this beautiful

    much love from NYC

    http://dryycleanonly.com

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    1. Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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  3. I say this almost every time you post, but what an awesome post this is! Innovative and just amazing information haha, you go girl :D

    Thank you :)

    Holly Mixtures
    xx

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    1. Aww, thanks so much, Holly! So glad you found it helpful :)

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  4. This is an amazing guide, you look very lovely with red lips, I would love to wear red lips everyday, actually when I was younger the first make up item that was like the "wow" thing was red lipstick! xx

    www.lam-style.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Maricruz! Yeah, I think buying your first red lipstick is always an exciting experience :)

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  5. Great post, Jen! Very informative! It's amazing how you look good with ALL types of red lipstick! Thanks for the tips.

    http://talisbury.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks so much! So glad you liked the tips :)

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  6. Wonderful post, I love your lipstick collection you have some lovely shades x

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  7. Red is stunning on you. I also had an aversion to red the first time. But it was a matter of pushing myself to wear it out. It was all in my head. No one calls me out or treats me differently if I wear a red lip, and if they do, it's to complement it xx

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    1. Aww, thanks, Coco! Glad you found some shades of red that you love! xo

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  8. I'm so jealous of your collection of reds and you suit every single shade! I'm definately not afraid of red but I think this would be extremely helpful to people who are :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing these tips! I love the first photo of the warm red on you. :)

    Abi
    http://thebelatedbloomer.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Abi! Glad you found the tips helpful! xo

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  10. The concept of undertones has always bewildered me, I have no idea which undertone's my skin. I think I'm cool, but that's probably because I hate gold and would never wear it.:) But you definitely look good with both warm and cool reds! It's possible to rock both, right?! If you love the color, you'll probably look good with it if you feel comfortable wearing it. If that makes sense...:)

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    1. Yeah, undertones can be tricky to figure out and they're definitely not the be all and end all, but can be a good guideline! People can definitely rock both! And exactly- being confident can make any lipstick shade look killer! xo

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  11. Fantastic post, I've been getting more and more into red lipstick :-) I personally look best in warmer shades of red.

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm a sucker for warm reds too :)

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  12. Jen, what an amazing post, very informative - thanks :)! I always have trouble choosing the right red shade for my skin tone. And you look absolutely stunning on all those pictures! <3

    xx
    http://gita-oddsandends.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks, Gita! So glad you found this informative! Thanks for the sweet comment, as always! xo

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  13. love your lip color! would you like to follow eachother? xx

    http://scattergirll.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks! Have been following your blog for a while now :)

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  14. Great post, Jen! I'm still blown away by the Adele look that you recreated.

    I'd also recommend Dior's Diorific in "Lady" as a really wearable red that I think would suit a lot of skin tones. Not too warm or cool, a bit of pink, and a great formula. It's my casual red.

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    1. Aww, thanks so much! Will have to check out that Dior shade for sure! Love the name of it! xo

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  15. What a nice style :)

    :) New post on my blog: mix of cartoon top + roses skirt: Tell me if you like it ;)

    www.taimemode-fashionblog.com

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    1. Thanks! Will check out your blog soon!

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  16. hehe so agree, absolutely love love love red lipstick!

    http://wishuponasmile.blogspot.com/

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  17. thanks for your comment.
    shall we follow each other?

    the red tones of lipstick make you look like a doll :D

    and I invite you to check out my DIY video and get inspired for this summer :D
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fClFI2es6qQ

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    1. Thanks, Yara! Will stop by your blog soon :)

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  18. All the reds suit you and you have a beautiful smile to add to that !

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    1. Thanks so much! So sweet of you to say :)

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  19. Sweet and baeutiful in all your photos!

    You know to be so elegant and chic

    Would you like follow each other? I’ll be sooo glad =) Let me know =)
    addictbeiconic.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Marta! Will stop by your blog soon! xo

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  20. I recently wore red lipstick to work and everyone loved it! It looks great on you.

    http://themissore.blogspot.com

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    1. Yay! I love red lipstick success stories :) Thanks so much! xo

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  21. Damnn you pull off red lippy so well! I tend to avoid red lipstick because it just makes your teeth more yellow and it's very unflattering :( But this was such a helpful post

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  22. You look amazing in red! I've actually never owned a red lipstick, which is ridiculous, but this will definitely be very helpful! xx

    www.beautyandwater.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Sara! So glad you found this helpful! xo

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  23. You look great!! LOve your make up skills

    www.viewrama.com

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  24. Love this post, I'm all about the red lip so anything that encourages the spread excited me ;) Also, I hate clowns too.

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    1. Thanks, Roisin! Always happy to hear from other red lipstick enthusiasts! And clown phobics :)

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  25. How do you pull off the reds for both warm and cool undertones? :)

    Also, I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Check it out here: http://ameliorerlavie.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-versatile-blogger-award.html

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    1. Aww, thanks so much for the nomination! And I think I can pull off both because my skin is relatively neutral (balance of warm and cool)- and I really just try to wear every shade confidently, which also helps! xo

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  26. Gorgeous blog! Would you mind following back on blog lovin? thanks x

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    1. Thanks so much, Georgia! Will check out your blog soon :)

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  27. this post made me want to high-tail it to Walgreens and buy any red shade I see! i LOVE red lipstick, and your collection is envious. I definitely did a brief lol at the statement "it'll make me look like a hooker", haha. but it's so glamorous! i love the advice of starting sheer as a baby step into it. It's definitely not as scary then ;)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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    1. Yay! Love when I inspire you to check out new makeup goodies :) Glad you found the post helpful and that you giggled at my hooker line :)

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  28. great tips!! thank you :**

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    1. Thanks! Glad you found the tips helpful! xo

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  29. I'm all about opaque and matte lip red colors, I think they look very sofistcated and suitable for y and night time..

    ps: I'm so jealous of your red lipstikc collection!!

    xx

    http://holaflo.blogspot.com.ar/

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    1. I agree! Can't go wrong with a matte red lip! Glad you like the lipsticks in my collection- it's taken a while to build up my stash! xo

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  30. I love wearing red lipstick for holiday parties. Great post.

    Would appreciate if you checked out my blog
    notanobession.blogspot.com

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    1. Definitely a great choice for a holiday party! Thanks for stopping by- will check out your blog soon :)

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  31. oh my gosh, this post is extremely helpful!
    I must confess you really look beautiful with all the shades of red.
    I'm going to bookmark this post for consulting later ;)

    My favorite red of all times is Ruby Woo by MAC.

    xx, Sandra @ Blasfemmes

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    1. Aww, thanks so much, Sandra! So glad you found it helpful! Will have to get around to trying Ruby Woo someday soon. Such an iconic shade! xo

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  32. Ha, I just saw this post now. Clown indeed. This has inspired me to try a red matte blue-hued lipstick though. Perhaps Mac Russian Red or an Hourglass Opaque shade? I shall overcome the clown!

    ;) Excellent, informative post. Thanks.

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    1. Yay! I meant to email you when I originally posted it- so glad you enjoyed it, since your comment was the inspiration! The Hourglass Opaque Rouges are killer! Expensive, but really nice. And they're cruelty-free :)

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  33. Holy red lipstick collection!!!! LOL! I'm more of a pink/nude girl myself... but, I've been meaning to try reds again - just gotta find the right one and you've given some good options! :)

    thebeautyblahg.blogspot.com

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All of your lovely comments make my day! Thanks for taking the time to share your musings, ideas, and opinions. Feel free to leave a link to your blog- I'd be happy to check it out :)