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How to master the strong red lip

Written by Chelsea Tromans


Every day is a good day to wear red lipstick. Even if you’re trapped at home in lockdown, a bold lip colour will instantly make you feel done and ready to take on the day. That’s the power of lipstick: It can transform your look and mood in an instant.


Red lips are the ultimate classic. While simple, it can take a bit of to nail a strong lip look like red lipstick. There’s nowhere to hide. To help you master the timeless makeup trend, follow these top tips:


Find a red that complements your skin tone

When you find that perfect shade of red, it can make your skin glow and your teeth appear whiter. The trick is to pick a shade that complements your skin tone. As a general rule, cool reds complement fair skin tones, medium skin tones can pull off warm or cool shades of red, olive skin looks lovely in yellow or orange-based reds, and dark reds and reds with blue undertones are a gorgeous match for dark skin tones. But don’t get too overwhelmed with trying to figure out what undertones a lipstick has. At the end of the day the right one for you is the one that brings your complexion to life.


Give your lips a scrub first

Red lipstick commands attention, so the last thing you want is your lippie drawing attention to a flaky pout. You’ll also find your lipstick wears more evenly and for longer when your lips are smooth underneath. Gently use a lip scrub to slough away the top layer of dead skin on your lips to create the perfect canvas for your bold lip look.

Tip: Skip the nourishing lip balm. It can create a slippery surface that may cause your lipstick to smudge. Save your lip balm for the evening and use it as an overnight mask to nurture lips while you sleep.


Prep your lips with foundation

Before you apply your lipstick, dab on a light layer of foundation. This clever hack isn’t necessarily to prime the lips for a longer-lasting application (although it may certainly help), but rather to neutralise the colour of your lips so the true tone of your chosen red shines through.


Pick a budge-proof formula

While worth the effort, there’s no denying that red lipstick is high maintenance. Do yourself a favour and pick a lipstick that has a long-wearing formula that is formulated to be transfer-proof. We love Napoleon Perdis Mattetastic Lipstick’s long-lasting colour. It’s matte (read: high-impact) but it’s also hydrating (which is a hard trait to find in mattifying lipsticks).

If you’ve fallen for a certain shade of red but it doesn’t have the staying power you were hoping for, you can dust a translucent loose powder over the top to help set your lip colour.


Lip liner is optional

You’ve probably read once or twice that you should wear lip liner with your lipstick to stop the colour from bleeding into fine lines around your lips. But if you follow our previous tip and opt for a lipstick that’s super long-lasting and budge-proof, it will stay right where you applied it no matter what you eat or do throughout the day. That’s not to say lip liners are a waste of time though. They can help create a cleaner edge, which can look extra striking and polished.


Consider paring back the rest of your makeup

Red lipstick deserves to take centre stage, so it’s a good idea to keep the rest of your makeup minimal, especially for a day time look. A swipe of mascara and a soft sweep of bronzer across your cheeks look amazing with a bold lip. In the evening, if you want to dial up the drama, a smoky eye pairs well with a red pout.


Prepare for touch-ups

The thing with a strong red lip is it looks it’s best when the colour is vibrant and the application is precise. Unfortunately, no matter how good your lipstick formula is or how much prep work you put in, it’s basically inevitable that your red lipstick will fade to some extent during the day. So make sure you take your lipstick bullet with you and reapply as needed.


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