DO choose a shade that compliments your complexion

Take a look at your foundation; if it’s more of a pink-beige tone, you are after a red that has a hint of pink. If you have a warmer complexion, look for a red with a hint of orange. I think the whole blue undertones concept, can be confusing. You know the red for ‘Youtube’, that is an orangey red. The red for ‘Pinterest’, is more of a pink.

DON’T declare that reds don’t suit you

And while we are at it, do not expect a makeup artist to tell you it won’t. We don’t like to put that much limitation on someone. You most likely, have had a bad experience. Don’t let one red, ruin your entire relationship with the rest – imagine banning chocolate because the first one you tried was a Dime bar. (Yes, I don’t like them).

DO prep your lips

There is an old wives tale: lipstick is easier to apply than eye makeup. This may be true with a nude, but not when it comes to a red!

Exfoliate your lips – either with a toothbrush, lip scrub, or a quick sugar and honey homemade one and follow up with copious amounts of lip balm. Here’s the secret tip: allow your lip balm to sink in. If you apply lipstick immediately after, the product will not stick. You will be left with a wide gap in the middle of your mouth, where colour will not go.

DON’T put red on dry, flaky lips

Once again – just don’t! It will last all of 5 minutes, before it starts to feel dry and you will then want to remove with a tissue, or lick off – don’t pretend that you have never had this thought.

DO use a red lipliner

Lipliner can stop bleeding, as well as define your lips. The only time that I would suggest that you don’t use a lipliner with a red, is if you are going for a stain. Think – I’ve just had an amazing kiss and my lips are a little smudged. You can achieve this look by either mixing your lipstick in with some lip balm, or by dabbing the lipstick on and blotting with a tissue after.

DON’T use a lipliner the same colour as your lips

I know, some magazines and publications actually suggest this. I have yet to see this go right. The easiest way is just to choose a red. You might need two; a brighter one and a more darker. You don’t need a specific lipliner for every red lipstick colour. For staying power, colour your entire lips with lipliner, before adding your lipstick.

DO apply your lipliner with short strokes

Whilst we are on the subject of liner, do not make your life more challenging. Make sure that your elbow is resting on something – your hand can even rest on your chin and apply in the same way that you would apply an eyebrow pencil. Picture doing dot to dot – create short strokes and feel free to actually move your mouth, using your fingers.

It helps to start on the outer edge and work towards the middle.

DON’T go crazy with the pencil

Don’t completely re-draw your lip line and don’t try to trace around your lips, all in one go. This is where mistakes can happen.

DO a Marilyn Monroe

Allan Snyder – more affectionately known as Whitey, was the man behind Monroe’s famous look. He is said to have used numerous shades of red – layering around 5 different shades, to create a fuller pout. Whilst I am not suggesting you buy 5 lipsticks, red is the ideal mixing colour. Try applying red and then blending: orange, coral, plum, pink, or other reds on top.

DON’T apply just one layer

If you love the shade that you have bought and you have no intentions of mixing, simply apply the layer twice. After the first layer, do the famous tissue trick – take one sheet and move it over your lips and then apply again. This technique is really about staying power.

DO use foundation or concealer around your mouth

Not only will this make your lipstick look smoother, it will stop bleeding. Do you really want red hanging around the edges?

DON’T go too light

One shade lighter – two at a push, is enough highlight needed. If you go too white around the mouth, it will potentially look like you have just drank a glass of milk. Also, a tiny amount does the trick. You don’t want too much base product around your mouth area.

DO enhance your lips correctly

For a fuller pout, make the centre of your lips the lightest. A hint of white eyeshadow or gloss, can accentuate them even further. If you prefer to make your lips look smaller, do the opposite and avoid any gloss in the centre. Putting a dark concealer under your bottom lip, can make them appear bigger. Again, do the opposite to decrease their size.

DON’T try to draw new ones

Do I sometimes cheekily go over my natural lip line just a tad – maybe. Unless you are doing some edgy editorial, don’t recreate your natural line. Be proud of the lips you were given, however thin or big.

DO keep tissue on you

Everyone reading this, most-likely knows the trick, to stop lipstick from smearing onto your teeth. Nudes can be forgiven – reds are glaringly obvious. Pucker the tissue to your lips, or else be ready for someone to comment on your teeth.

DON’T use your finger

Ok, if you must use your finger, keep sanitiser on you. If you have gone round touching door handles, tube bars and other public objects, do you really want those germs going into your mouth?


DO experiment with texture

Matte lips – yes we love them. What about Jennifer Lopez’s glossy red lips in “Jenny from the block”? Or a Parisian sheen – perhaps a more satin product that will feel less drying? As I was told by a famous department store – “If the customers do not try, how will they know?”

DON’T complain when you choose the wrong one

Matte is the most drying and the most high-maintenance. If you after something more moisturising, look for the satin/creamy range. Likewise, if you are afraid of wearing a bold red, go for a balm or sheen. Some people actually expect to get the same results from a matte lipstick, using a creamy one.

DO keep tabs on it

Whenever you go to the toilet or decide to eat and drink – check your lipstick. Ever so quickly, you can blend the top layer and add another, or dab on some more lip balm/gloss if they feel dry. If you are about to eat, you might want to dab the colour and avoid anything moisturising until after.

DON’T wait hours

Makeup moves. No matter how much primer and product, it never looks AS good as it did at the very beginning. Don’t let your lipstick move around, before you decide to deal with it. If you wait hours, you will probably have to take it all off and start again. Then you might need to smooth foundation/concealer over the top, to diffuse the colour. Talk about stress!

Additional tips:

  • If you have a strong pigment to your lips, add a hint of coverage to take away the colour, before applying your lip products.
  • Be specific when you head to the cosmetic counters. If there is a sales consultant, tell them if you have never worn it before. Mention your bad experiences. The more information, the more they can pinpoint what you are after. And if you want a plum, please don’t say red. (This has happened so many times!)
  • Read the labels. Most companies keep the lipsticks separated, so you can identify the texture before applying.
  • Red can suck the colour out of your skin. Even if you are after a natural look, apply a good rosy blush or a really glowy bronzer. You need to add the colour back in.
  • Enhance your eyes. Natural or not, the most simplest way, is to use a light colour on your eye base, and a slightly darker colour on your crease. I recommend sticking to matte, with only shimmer straight under the eyebrows, or between your inner eye.
  • YES – you can wear a bold eye and a bold lip. The trick is to match them. If you have a striking dark lip, go for a strong eyeshadow.
  • Be sure to use highlighter above your cupid’s bow, to make your red pout look fuller.

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