Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ask OutInAPout:
Which Red Lipstick is Right For Me?

I swear, I didn't write this question myself, though my expertise on the issue goes way beyond being a makeup artist. I still fondly remember my first tube of red lipstick- it was a rosewater scented, fire engine red (OK...not exactly what we called it then...but much more polite!) It came in a classy, vintage-inspired gold tube, printed with the signature Coty white flower motif. I was 14, and I'm pretty sure I bought it to wear whilst portraying a street urchin in the musical Little Shop of Horrors. Ever since, red lips have been my signature look. When I started working as a makeup artist, I loved nothing more than to hear the phrase "I wish I could wear red..." Not because it showed how uniquely fabulous I was for looking good in red lipstick, but because it always provided the opportunity to show someone that, YES, they too could wear red lipstick. Which leads us to...

The question:
I have very pale skin (yellow undertones), very dark hair and eyes, and my teeth are quite yellow. I want to buy a red lipstick. Which one would you recommend, or should I stick to neutrals?

My Answer:
Are you kidding me? Red is neutral- and perfect for your coloring. Hey, Snow White had pale skin & black hair, and what color were her lips? Granted, I don't recall Snow White having a Starbucks addiction, so the yellow teeth probably weren't an issue for her.

I actually have very similar coloring (and, unfortunately, me likey the Starbucks!) Personally, I love red, and wear many shades regardless of the fact that they may make my teeth look less-than-gleaming. I can tell you that reds with a blue base (like MAC Ruby Woo) will make your teeth appear whiter, while those with a yellow undertone (MAC Lady Danger) will emphasize the yellow. Oh, BTW: Crest White Strips= your best friend!

Since you have yellow undertones in your skin, you'll have to find a happy medium; a lipstick blue enough that it enhances your smile, but not so blue that it clashes with your skin. I try to stay as close to true (neutral) red as I can- once a red strays toward "cherry" or "berry" I always feel like its too blue on me. Keep in mind, this is truly just personal preference, really there are no rules in makeup and you should always feel free to experiment.

One other quick tip to help you wear any red you can think of is to line your lips underneath the lipstick with a brown lip pencil. This can be tricky at first; you have to line, then fill almost to the center of your lip. Blend the line with your finger before applying the red lipstick, and then blend the red in with a brush after you've applied. The brown is meant to neutralize the red- you shouldn't be able to see any of the brown liner underneath or around the red. For other tricks on how to ease into red lips, check out this blog post.

Finally, one last bit of advice. Red isn't just a color, it's an attitude. Wear it with confidence (even if you have to fake it at first.) I promise, before long, people will be saying to you "I wish I could wear red like that..."


Musing on Beauty said...

I love love love red lipstick, and since I'm more neutral than really warm, blue tones look great on me. So I love Mac Dubonnet, but Mac Red is great as well, and although I haven't worn it yet, I got my hands on Beauté Masochist :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I tried to come up with more than the two MAC ones, but upon perusing my stash I found that most of the reds that I love are discontinued! Ah, the fickle world of color cosmetics!

Anonymous said...

I would compare my skin tone to a Latte, and I'm dying to wear red on my lips. Unfortunately I haven't managed to find a shade of red that doesn't make me look like a.. well, I'm just going to say it.. $2 hooker, and I'd LOVE some advice on shades I might try.

My skin tone is an NC35-ish, yellow undertone. I've got dark brown eyes, and dark brown hair.

Any advice is welcome! :) Thanks.

Unknown said...


Knowing that you want to wear red means you're half way there!

Doing so without looking or, perhaps, more aptly feeling like a fifty-cent ho takes a bit more finesse- but just a bit.

When you start to wear red, there's a tendency to feel like everyone is staring at you. It's because they are, and that's a good thing! That's the power of red. The first step in wearing red is to realize this and embrace it!

As far as actual product application tips, you'd be a prime candidate to try the dark chocolate liner underneath, though I actually love brighter red lips on medium and deep skin tones. You could also start out with a red gloss or stain, rather than full-on opaque red. If you haven't already, check out the link in this post that talks about summerizing winter lip shades- that should give you some ideas.

I'd also suggest keeping the shine to a minimum- matte reds always look sophisticated and classic. Glossy red lips make me cringe- they veer into streetwalker territory all too easily. Also make sure you're keeping the rest of your makeup pretty minimal- a flush of blush or even just some bronzer under the cheekbones. A light wash of mocha on the lids with bit of liquid liner, or even just a few coats of mascara is all you need- your lips are the focus and you don't want the rest of your features cat-fighting for attention!

Hope this helps, and feel free to comment & ask questions any time!

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