Women-of-a-certain-age falsely think they can’t pull off a sassy scarlet pout. But red lipstick should never be off-limits; it’s a classic, timeless look that women of all ages can flaunt.
Legendary makeup artist Rose Hill, founder of the Academy of Cosmetic Arts School for Professional Makeup Artist in Los Gatos, Calif., says, “A red lipstick is a ‘must have.’“ Hill, whose grandmother taught her about red lipstick when she was a child, continues, “I remember how she would carefully apply Max Factor Red on her lips and blot with a tissue. Then she would dot some on her cheeks and rub in circular motions with her fingers. I thought how pretty she looked and would mimic her.”
But not all reds are created equal. It’s is all about choosing the right shade and finish. “Choose a red by skin tone,” offers Hill. “If you have very fair skin, a red with more blue tones would be best. And the darker or more yellow tones of skin can wear brighter tones of red.”
Some lipsticks to try with blue or cool tones are MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo, Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon, and Armani Rouge D’Armani in Rouge. Lipsticks with yellow or warm tones are MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger, Nars Lipstick in Heat Wave and Bite Cosmetics in Pomegranate.
In addition to making the proper red selection, Hill offers the following helpful tips to make your foray into the world of red a tasteful and memorable one:
“Don’t ditch it, mix it!” Hill says. If you can’t seem to find a shade that fits your style or skin tone, get creative and blend it with another shade of red to create the perfect color. “Ethnicity should also be considered, not to mention the occasion you are wearing it for.”
“You can come up with your favorite red by toning it up or down,” says Hill. Not only can you blend it with other shades of red, but also applying different intensities can help you ease into the look if you’re not completely ready to take the plunge.
Always Line It
“Use a red lip liner to keep the red lipstick from bleeding,” says Hill. If you don’t have a liner that matches your lipstick, try using a nude lip pencil and line the outside of your lips to keep the red in line. Hill also recommends using a Q-tip or sponge wedge to clean up any uneven edges.
However, you don’t always have to use a lipstick to achieve this look. For older women Hill recommends a moisturizing balm like Almay Liquid Lip Balm in Apple A Day. It will help fill in lines and moisturize dry lips. If lipstick or a balm isn’t your thing, you can try a stain. “If used as a stain, make sure you stay in the inner part of the lips and blend out to the edge.”
The main thing to watch out for when using red lipstick—other than getting it on your teeth—is pairing it with bold eye makeup. You don’t want to look overdone with a bold smokey eye and bright red lip. Some of Hill’s staples in her makeup bag are L’Oreal infallible Le Rouge Red Fatale, Physicians formula Sexy Booster in Red and Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato.
Bottom line? Don’t be afraid to get bold and sassy. A red lip is an elegant, iconic look that any woman can rock with a little practice—and the right attitude.