Our Guide to Wearing Red Lipstick Like a Pro

Our Guide to Wearing Red Lipstick Like a Pro

Why does red lipstick look bad on me? How to find your right shade of red lipstick

If you've ever tried red lipstick and thought, "OMG I look like a grandma," you've probably had the wrong shade on. Even our founder Bonnie, the QUEEN of red lipstick, avoided it for years because she tried the one every magazine recommends (Russian Red by MAC) and it made her look like a Golden Girl (and not in a good way). 

The trick to your red lipstick is knowing if blue tones or orange tones suit you. We've found that blue tones in a red lipstick are the ones that read more old-fashioned/grandma for us and the orange ones read more bold and flattering. For someone else, it might be the opposite - so you'll need to experiment!

If you have no idea how to tell the difference, go to an Ulta or Sephora and ask to be pointed in the direction of a bluish red lipstick and an orangeish red lipstick. 

Some people think that your best lipstick tone/shade depends on your skin tone (like, pale people can only wear X tone of red), but people with all skin tones look good in all different tones of red lipstick. We've found that it depends more on your skin's undertones than your actual skin color. 

A bluish red lipstick

A more orangey lipstick

A bluish red - you see how it's more purpley? 

A more orangey red

How to wear red lipstick

So, our entire makeup routine revolves around red lipstick. On a casual day (especially in the summer), we'll do just red lipstick with mascara for a kinda bare-faced look with a pop of color, like this. 

Then, when we wanna dress it up, we'll add a cat eye in liquid eyeliner with mascara. Add fake lashes to really dress it up. Define your eyebrow with a little pencil. Add as much tinted moisturizer or foundation or concealer as you want. The lips really do the heavy lifting for you. 

The "rule" is heavy eyes OR heavy lips, and we kinda follow this rule. Like, we wouldn't do a super heavy, smoky eye with bright red lips - but we do like a clean, defined cat eye. Make it thicker for more drama if you're going out. 

How to apply red lipstick so it won't smear

So, we used to have a whole dang routine. Yes... red lipstick can smear or get on your teeth. You want to get it to stay in place as much as possible, so application is key. Our tried-and-true daily routine if you're using a regular lipstick (not a gloss or lip stain) is as follows:

  1. Make sure your lips aren't super chapped or covered in dead skin. Use your toothbrush to lightly exfoliate them. Then, a teensy bit of Burt's Bees chapstick so they're not too dry, but not so much that the lipstick won't stick.
  2. Line your lips with lipliner, then fill them in with the lipliner (get one the same brand/color as your lipstick. 
  3. Using a translucent setting powder, set the lipliner into your lips by dabbing it with a sponge or just your fingers. 
  4. Now, fill your lips in with the lipstick.
  5. Set it a second time with the setting powder.
  6. Fill it in again with the lipstick, and using just a teensy bit of setting powder and your finger, lightly dab powder on it (you just wanna kind of "dry" it). 
  7. Make an "o" shape and place your (clean) index finger in your mouth to clean off the very edges of the inside of your lips to avoid lipstick on the teeth.
  8. This should stay even when you eat. Bring a little powder compact and your lipstick with you for touchups - when you do a fresh coat of lipstick, do a finger dab with the powder to set it.

How to apply red lipstick the easy way

So, we did that eight step process almost every day for years. And then we found this stuff from Maybelline and it kinda changed our life. It won't BUDGE for anything. You need one good coat and you're done - it even dries right away, but doesn't make your lips dry and weird. It comes in 40 colors, but Heroine is our go-to perfect orange red. If you want a less bright orange red, go with Individualist.

And you won't be able to scrub it off no matter what you do unless you get a special remover - we use this stuff from Mario Badescu. 

Shop our lipstick art print


So, there's our guide to red lipstick, from the experts - while you're here, why don't you shop our Glamour Girl collection? You can get $5 off your first order by signing up in our footer (just scroll down a little, you'll see a button for it!).