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How to Wear Red Lipstick Like a Boss

Nothing makes a statement like a red lip but not everyone feels confident enough to wear a bright, bold lip color. Get a few tips from our experts on how to wear red lisptick and channel your inner siren.
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Feel like a 5 year old who broke into her mother’s makeup bag when you swipe on a bright red lip color? Been there, felt self-conscious about that. That’s why we asked celebrity makeup artists and stylists to give us their best tips for wearing this bold hue.

“Bright red lipstick gives the perfect pop of color to so many looks, but it’s taken me quite some time to master the art of wearing this shade,” says stylist Nicole Pollard, founder and CEO of LaLa Luxe, a high-end personal shopping service in Los Angeles, Calif.

See, even the experts don’t get this shade right on their first try. That’s why we asked them for the tricks they’ve learned over the years that’ll help you rock a red lip with the best of ’em.

Find the right red. If you want to uncover the hue that’s right for you, you have to try on as many shades as you can, says Kim Young, a celebrity makeup artist who works in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. “Every time you go shopping, hit a beauty counter and try on a red,” she says. Then ask an honest friend how it looks. To help you narrow down the endless choices, figure out if you have warm or cool undertones in your skin. (The general rule is that if you have a yellow-ish skin tone, you’re warm; if you have a pink-ish skin tone, you’re cool.) Choose an orange-based red if your skin is warm and go for a blue- or pink-based red if your skin is cool.

Opt for matte or cream reds instead of gloss. Not only does gloss tend to smear, but matte and creamy reds often look more sophisticated, says Pollard.

Apply in natural, bright lighting. Whenever you wear a bold lip color, it’s especially important to make sure that the lines are even and crisp. Good lighting will help you do that, says Young. After you’ve applied the lipstick, step back and really look at yourself. “It’ll help you notice where you have to adjust,” she says. Quick tip: Use a clean, stiff concealer brush to fix any uneven lines. And don’t forget to flash a big smile before you leave the mirror to make sure your lip color hasn’t migrated onto your teeth.

Skip the liner and use a stain. Pollard loves using a red lip stain instead of a liner as her base. “Using a lip stain ensures that when my lipstick is kissed away, I’ve still got a pretty, rosy hue,” she says.

Try this blotting secret. Dip a big, fluffy makeup brush in translucent powder and holding a tissue up to your lips, brush the powder over the tissue. Just the right amount of powder will make its way through, giving your lip color staying power without looking cakey.

Break the “rules.” Despite what your mom says, you can pair a red lip with smoldering, smoky eyes or a bold dress—just leave your hair un-brushed and your accessories understated, says Pollard. “It’s all about creating a balanced look that doesn’t seem like you’re trying too hard,” she says. If you’re really not sure how to style your bright red lip, tone down the rest of your look, says Pollard: “Put your hair in a ponytail, skip the mascara, and trade the party dress for jeans and a cotton tee.”

Rock your red lipstick with confidence. The more you’re able to own how you look when you’re wearing a bright red lipstick, the more compliments you’ll get. 

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