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The Archives 2004-2020

How to Wear Red Lipstick

If you’re like most women, you’ve gone gaga for the ravishing reds celebrities have been sporting on their lips lately, from Dita von Teese to Christina Aguilera to Lady Gaga, but don’t know how to bridge the gap between shades that look gorgeous on the counter to those that don’t make your complexion appear grey or sallow. Read on for some tips and suggestions.

First of all, be sure to try the shade on when you’re barefaced. A true color match will make your complexion glow (minimizing the appearance of discoloration, any ruddiness, dark circles under the eye) when you have zero makeup on your face, while a bad match will do the opposite and accentuate complexion flaws. Don’t rely on how the color looks on your hand. For many people, that color is different from the skin on your face, especially those of African or South Asian descent who are prone to pigmentation.

For those looking for the high drama, pull-out-your-shades ultra glam look, I would suggest MAC’s Ruby Woo (no lipliner else you’ll change the color). This, however, is for the very bold and daring, and although it suits all skin tones, it’s a very bright, almost orange red. Layering MAC’s Ruby Woo over Russian Red tones it down just a notch but retains its high drama appeal. If you start with Russian Red as the first layer, the color will be a more muted red. If you want truer red, with more blue undertones, which will look great on you when you’re not tan and rather fair-skinned, layer on the Ruby Woo shade first.

Another great red, a safe one for people who are afraid of red, or for those with darker skin or more olive undertones, is MAC’s Viva Glam I. For added drama, throw some MAC Lipglass in Boundless over and if you’re really creative, mix in a little MAC Siss before adding the gloss, and you’ve got a gorgeous toned down yet bold glossy lip everyone will beg you for the formula for. Trust me!

Dior Addict Plastic Gloss (854) is a glossy version of Ruby Woo + Russian Red. Gorgeous, and lots of pigment.

A very popular bridal look, for the traditional South Asian bride has always been L’Oreal Endless Lipstick in Saucy Sangria, for that perfect creamy blend between true red and maroon (with clear gloss).

Now that you’ve got the tricky part down, here’s the important part. How does one balance red lipstick on the face without looking like you popped out of an eighties dance music video? Some people pair a dramatic, dark eye with bright red lips, but it’s not a good idea unless it’s for print, television, stage, or a very traditional South Asian wedding.

I suggest only lining the top lid with a defined line, and keeping the eyeshadow a very pretty shade of gold (bright, or natural like your natural skin color, e.g., Stila Wheat, MAC Shroom or Nylon, Kat Von D Rock n Roll Eyeshadow Duos in Confessional), which works for all skin tones and is universally flattering (see below). For a lighter, more romantic feel that compliments fairer skin tones, a light pinky/mauve shade (Bare Minerals eyeshadow in Adventure) looks gorgeous and very, very natural, topped with a smudged black eyeshadow line on the top lid (skip the stark eyeliner). For a balance between the two aforementioned looks, wearability by all skin tones yet a brighter eye, a shimmery shade of pinky/mauve is the way to go(Bare Minerals eyeshadow in Grace, but be sure to use a damp eyeshadow brush). If you want a bit more definition, contour with a very subtle shade in a color range similar to what’s on your lid (such as MAC Blackberry when using mauve shades). Use tons of black mascara, and a light pink blush since you won’t need much color to compete with the bright lip; the red lipstick will give your cheeks a natural rosy glow.

If you can’t sacrifice a sexy, dramatic Arabic-style eye (Limelight’s specialty, more on that in future issues), skip the bright red lipstick and swap for either a dark pink/reddish lip stain (Benefit lip & cheek stain) or a red sheer gloss such as MAC’s Boundless.

Steal the Limelight is a beauty column written by Limelight Beauty Artistes founder Ayesha Giliani. Read more about Ayesha’s philosophies on beauty and art.

8 thoughts on “How to Wear Red Lipstick

  1. I tried the red lipstick look and my roomate told me I looked awful…I told her, Tyra rocks it, its so in…and then she told me, well people call Tyra a Trani……I should have read your article first…or maybe gotten a new roommate!! :)

  2. I also bookmarked this article since I will be venturing to break out of the olive skin-toned neutral lipstick shades. There are some reds that look great on pictures, but even the varied shades of asian skin makes a huge difference.

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