Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beauty Squared Beauty Lessons: The Perfect Red Lip

A reader asked us to do a post about red lips - what products and tools to use and the steps to achieving the perfect red lip. 

In this post we'll look at the products you'll need, including the lip colours, and what you'll need to do to wear a red lip. No major sacrifices, we promise, but the red lip is a powerful thing and must not be worn casually (OK, maybe once and a while it can be). This lesson will focus on doing a classic red lip like Marilyn Monroe or Dita von Teese. 

What you'll need:
  • the lipstick (see Step one)
  • a lipliner that matches your lipstick
  • a clean, dry toothbrush
  • Kleenex
  • a rich, moisturizing lip balm
  • a lip brush
Step one: Choose your product. 

You'll want to choose a matte lipstick in a bold true red, like MAC's Ruby Woo (widely known in the beauty world as a universally flattering red). If Ruby Woo is not for you, check out NARS' Dragon Girl or MAC's Russian Red. 

Step two: Prep your lips. 

Wash your face and prep with moisturizer. Using a clean, dry toothbrush gently exfoliate your lips in a circular motion. The skin on your lips is thin so be gentle. This step will remove any dry, dead skin.

After exfoliating, apply a rich, creamy lip balm. It will absorb into your freshly scrubbed lips and provide a smooth surface for your lipstick application later. Moisturizing your lips before applying lipstick will also help to keep your lips from drying out.

Step three: Perfect your skin. 

You'll want to have the most perfect skin you can possibly achieve if you want to pull off this kind of lip look. If your skin is good on its own, lucky you! Otherwise, foundation, concealer and powder need to be applied. Take the photo of Dita above as your inspiration as well as this one of Marilyn Monroe.

You want an even-toned, well powdered (but not powdery) complexion. Keep the rest of your look simple and neutral but polished - a bit of eyeliner, some false lashes (if you like), neutral eyeshadow, some light blush or bronzer, and well-groomed brows.

*My favourite way to wear a red lipstick in this classic style is with a line of liquid eyeliner, flicked out at the end, a neutral matte eyeshadow that matches my skin tone but brightens it (IE. MAC Brule) on the lid, a neutral matte crease colour like MAC Wedge, and a soft highlight on the brow (IE. MAC Shroom).  Maybe a little bit of Wedge underneath the eye. Lots of mascara and maybe some false lashes. I'll use a soft, warm blush to softly contour my cheeks and temples or add a soft pink to my apples, very, very lightly. I'll shape my brows into the classic 50s shape (slightly squared off at the start and gracefully arched and elongated).

Step four

Line your lips. First blot your lips to remove any excess lip balm. Any excess will make your lips slippery and your liner and lipstick will have trouble adhering. Messy! With a sharpened lip liner line the outside of your lips carefully. The best way to do this is is to smile with your lips closed to draw the skin of your lips as taut as possible. Follow your natural lip line and if your lips aren't naturally even, make adjustments as needed with the liner. Check your work in the mirror to ensure that you've drawn an even line all the way around your lips.

Use a Q-tip to erase any mistakes. Sharpen the pencil if you need to. With a Q-tip soften the edges of your lips if they appear too harsh or if you've drawn outside the lines.

Once you've got the shape you want, fill in your entire lip area with the liner. This will ensure that when your lipstick wears off you won't be left with an outline of red around the outside of your lips.

Step five: Apply lipstick. 

Using a lip brush is very important when you're applying a bright, dark or bold colour. It allows you to have a lot of control over where you apply product and where you don't. You want a small, flat lip brush for this.

Take a small amount of lipstick onto the brush. Start with a little because you want to have as much control as possible applying it. You can add as you need to. Where you start applying is up to you - but it may be easier to go along the outside of your lips and work in. In the centre you can be a little less cautious with your application but make sure to go slowly around the edges. 

Step six: Blot and powder. 

When you've got a layer of lipstick on, you'll want to blot. This has the same effect as blotting the excess lip balm off before applying lipliner. It'll remove excess lipstick and leave more of a stain behind which will make your lipstick last longer. 

To do this, separate a piece of Kleenex into two layers. Press one of these layers onto your lips. Using a brush that's been dipped in powder or a powder puff with powder on it, press powder lightly onto the tissue. A small amount of powder will transfer through the tissue onto your lips but not enough to change the texture or colour. This will make your lipstick last longer. 

Step seven: Apply lipstick. 

Apply another layer of lipstick on top of the blotted and powdered layer. 

Step eight: Blot. 

Using the second layer of tissue, blot your lips again by pressing them against the tissue. 
You're done! You should now have your completed, perfect red lip that will last and last. 

*Note: I used a photo of my full face even though I'm only wearing foundation, concealer and powder (no mascara, eyeshadow, brow colour or blush) apart from the red lipstick, to show how I could possibly go out just like this. The red has that much of an impact and it shows how keeping the rest of the face simple (even this simple) is so important. 

There are other ways to wear a red lip, aside from the look detailed in the steps above. You could use the same lipstick and tap it lightly onto your lips using your finger to create a stained effect. You could top it with a gloss to make a high-shine red lip. You could use a sheer red lipstick for an everyday red lip with clean skin.

One of my favourite ways to wear a red lip is with clean skin, a bit of soft gold eyeshadow, a tiny bit of blush, strong brows and lots of mascara. In the photo below, my red lips are NARS Dragon Girl Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. It's a simple, glam look without looking too done.

For some more red lip looks, please check out the posts here and here.

A red lip is not the easiest makeup look to achieve, but it's definitely worth mastering. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the helpful post. I'm looking forward to testing out these tips. I'll be sure to report back with pictures of my own.