How to apply red lipstick

One of the beauty trends this fall is red lipstick. For many years I was afraid to wear such a bold color. As a matter of fact, I was afraid to wear anything brighter than medium berry colors.  I started experimenting, though, first with browns and red-browns.  One day I went to my favorite MAC store and asked them how I would best apply red lipstick.  They put red lipstick and red lipgloss on me.  I remember looking in the mirror and saying "I can't wear this!  I work in a law firm, I can't wear this to work, anyhow".  The make-up artist asked me "why not?"  The answer, of course, was that it would draw too much attention to me.  I was also afraid that people would think I looked like a hooker.
So the first step to applying red or any bold color of lipstick is to let go of any stereotypes, and not be afraid to be noticed, in a good way.
The next step is a lip pencil.  It's not absolutely necessary, but I find it helpful with bold color.  First trace the outline of your lips using either a color that matches the lipstick, or one that matches your natural lip color. You can go slightly inside or outside of your natural lip line, but just a little bit if you want to look natural.  A plus of lip pencil is that it's fairly easy to change things like an uneven cupid's bow.
Once you've outlined your lips, color the rest of them with the lip pencil.  This helps you to avoid the "lip outline is a darker color than the inside"  look.  The pencil stays on much longer than just lipstick, too.

The products I used here:
MAC lip liner in Redd
MAC lipstick in MAC Red (or if you want a matte finish use Ruby Woo. It gives you that old time Hollywood glam look)
MAC lip glass in Just Add Color

Go over the pencil with a matching shade of lipstick.

If the color is too much for your comfort, blot it by putting a tissue between your lips and close them, then take it out.  You'll still have color, but not as much.

The last step is optional, depending on whether you want a matte look or a glossy look.  For me it all depends on my mood, where I'm going, and the look I want that day.  You can apply a red gloss like I did here, or use a clear gloss.
To avoid bleeding or messy edges like I have on top here, just dab some gloss in the center of each lip and  rub your lips together to spread it out.

That's it!  Red lipstick looks great with smokey eyeshadow at night.  During the day I usually try to keep the eye shadow light, but ultimately it's a personal preference.  It does help to keep your blush color light to avoid looking too made up.  Here are a few examples:

The same techniques work with any bright lipstick, like the newly popular orange shades

red lips and blue eyeshadow

red lips and peach eyeshadow

I love the dramatic looks, but it looks great with a smile, too

When I wear red lipstick it makes me feel confident and strong, and I don't mind being noticed at all.  For more examples of ways to be noticed in a good way, check out the blog Not Dead Yet Style.  Every Monday the theme is "Visible Monday", featuring bloggers wearing the fashions, make up, and hair styles that make them feel beautifully visible.  Click the link below to check it out.
Visible Monday


  1. Great how-to for the bright lips, Donna - I think the pencil really makes the difference. And your results look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

    1. Thanks, Patti! Red lipstick was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about what mad me feel visible. I hope that I can think of more things so that I can participate again. I enjoy reading everyone's posts.


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