Red lips are hot for autumn but can you make them part of your everyday makeup? Rachel Marie Walsh thinks so.
Red lips stood out light exclamation points among the dewy faces, full brows and eyeliner spears on autumn’s catwalks. “Code Red! Trend Alert!,” said the lips at Louis Vuitton, Paco Rabanne and Helmut Lang and sometimes it is nice to see a new look so clearly defined.
Classic reds like Maybelline’s Colour Sensational Matte Lipstick in Siren in Scarlet, €9.99, are always solid buys but there’s also an arsenal of new reds available this season to help fans get the look.
Red lips look confident, glamorous and romantic. They’ve inspired more Taylor Swift lyrics that John Meyer and Harry Style put together and are the signature of the kind of Hollywood icons other actresses want to be.
But let’s get real here, they also grab attention in a way that can make you feel self-conscious.
As New York Times journalist Rachel Felder notes in Red Lipstick: An Ode To A Beauty Icon, the red lips of royalty — fairytale, celebrity and the real deal — have historically been prized beyond rubies.
The shade can highlight casual application mercilessly and doesn’t always feel like something you can throw on in the morning with your mascara and concealer.
Red lips emphasise feminine power, drama and a certain vampish beauty. They can’t be practical. Can they?
As with so many makeup trends, they can become your everyday look when you find the right shade and formula.
Unless you wear a full face of makeup (blush, contour, mascara, etc) that requires a strong lip colour for balance, it is best to choose reds a shade or two darker than your natural colour.
You will know from researching your perfect bronzer that this kind of depth makes you glow while the dramatic contrast of deeper shades can overpower your look. Test new reds on clean, balm-free lips, applying colour to the upper lip only so you can compare it with the lower.
Fair skin tends to have a naturally pink undertones and if this is your natural complexion you’ve probably learned to use cool-toned red lipsticks with hints of blue and purple instead of warm-toned ones with orange hues, which can make you look flushed. Cool shades make fair skin look brighter and teeth look whiter. Reds with ‘rose’ or ‘cherry’ in their shade names are ones to hone in on.
New autumn shades that suit you include Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro Nature Liquid Lip Colour in 206, €35, a gel matte formula that creates a rich, velvety stain.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture The Slim Matte in ‘Rouge Libre,’ €35.50, has an angled bullet that allows for neat application of a semi-sheer, super-flattering shade.
Skin tone is a more important factor in choosing the right red than hair colour but in general, if you’ve got brown or black hair and a warm complexion your natural glow is enhanced by shades with a brown base, such as NARS Must-Have Matte Lipstick, €26, in ‘Ravishing Red,’ which has conditioning moringa oil to keep the matte pigment from drying the skin.
Lipsticks with shade descriptions like deep orange, golden red and coral are all in your range. Cool brunettes look great in the cherry reds mentioned above.
Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Fusion in 818 True Red, €36, is a super-light liquid formula that sheathes skin with matte colour. Non-volatile plant oils make it extremely comfortable.
Blondes with a warm complexion can pull off coral red, orange-red and coppers. Cool blondes look best the same blue-reds and roses as their brunette and raven-haired sisters.
Lancôme Absolu Rouge Ruby Cream in Pigeon Blood, €32, sound kind of gross but is an ideal shade for this complexion. The bullet has an interesting multi-faceted cut to aid application and comfort lips with hydrating plant oils.
Dark complexions look best in deep, bright matte reds. Look for vivid, candy-apple shades. MAC’s Lipstick in Ruby Woo, €20, is also a classic for this skin tone.
None of these have a white base, which can look chalky or ashy. Bobbi Brown’s Luxe Liquid Velvet Matte, €32.50, in Starlet Scarlet conditions lips with plant butters and somehow managing to make them look bigger.
Chocolate and deep wine reds work well, too, if the brights feel a bit too bold for daytime. They mimic the richness and depth of deeper complexions.
If you still think the look is too strong or needs to be properly lined and “done” in the morning, you can always dab some on with a fingertip for a more diffuse touch of colour.
At the beginning of the day, the best matte red is the one that makes you feel good.