Thanks to an undeniable resurgence of red lipstick on the runway and the red carpet, a crimson kisser has all the makings of a holiday blockbuster this year. With ebony fringed lashes and scarlet lips, you'll have no trouble stopping traffic, but the simple matter of finding your best red lipstick isn't, well, as simple as you'd think. To help make the process a total snap, we've put together an easy step-by-step guide that proves red can be anyone's color—no excuses.
First, figure out the hue for you...
All reds are not created equal. Each shade has varying levels of orange, pink, and blue (just think back to your Crayola crayon super box days), so we tracked down makeup artist Sam Fine, who works with stars like Halle Berry to give us the scoop on picking a shade to go with your skin-tone:
" A red lip means different things to different people. If you have lighter skin-tones, a more coral or orange-based red is your best option," she says. "Women with more medium tones can usually sport a true red, while my darker-skinned clients tend to prefer deeper, burgundy red tones. "
Orangey Red Lipsticks
True Red Lipsticks
From left: Outside the tents at Bryant Park, photo by Lianna Tarantin; Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Hot, $7.99, available at CVS; Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in #45, $19, available at Sephora; Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Cherry Lush, $45, available at Neiman Marcus.
Deep Red Lipsticks
From left: Givenchy Fall 2010 runway look; Yves Saint Laurent Spring 2011 backstage beauty; Givenchy Rogue Interdit Lipstick in Vintage Carmine, $28, available at Sephora; Guerlain KissKiss Strass in Rouge Imperial, $31, available at Neiman Marcus; Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Terre De Feu, $25, available at Nars Cosmetics.
Now, get your red on...
Step 1: Prep School!—Flaky, dry lips won't fly with serious reds, so make sure to exfoliate your lips, then follow with a light balm or moisturizer.
Step 2: Get In Line—Always use a lip liner to keep your lipstick in place. Gina Brooke, Madonna's makeup artist and Hourglass Cosmetics Artistic Director recommends a neutral liner for day: "Don't just fill in the lines. Use the liner over the entire lips to create a base for your lipstick." You can also dab on some concealer or powder at the edge of the lips prevent your lipstick from bleeding. If you want a more dramatic look, say for night, Sam Fine recommends using a liner that's two shades darker than your natural color.
Step 3: The Application Process—Using a lip brush, apply the lipstick from the outer corner to the inner corner, and repeat from the other side," says Brooke. To get the stained look, dab the lipstick on with your finger.
Step 4: Mix Master—Channel your inner makeup artist and blend your own customized shade of red using a lip palette, or ease into red with a liquid lipstick or intense pigmented gloss.
From left: Estee Lauder Pure Color Five Color Lip Palette in Extravagant, $42, available at Estee Lauder; Dolce & Gabbana Lip Jewels Compact, $60, available at Saks Fifth Avenue; Korres Raspberry Antioxidant Liquid Lipstick in Red 56, $22, available at Sephora; Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait De Gloss in Exces, $32, available at Chanel.
Step 5: Putting It All Together—If you're feeling daring, feel free to pair red lips with a black smoky eye but if we're being honest, your red lips should be the main focus of the look. Keep the rest of your makeup mellow with black mascara, a neutral eyeshadow, and a light, natural blush.
From left: Marc by Marc Jacobs backstage beauty; a model outside Bryant Park, photo by Lianna Tarantin.