Red Lipstick – How to Make it Work for You


Red Lipstick - How to Make it Work for You

Red Lipstick can look stunning, but it does come with a few trickier aspects such as bleeding and getting the colour right for you skin tone.  It’s more noticeable than many other colours, so when it’s wrong it creates a mouth focus and makes your lips look more unrelated to the rest of your face. So let’s look at all the aspects of red lippy to help you find the one that will work for you.

how to choose a red lipstick


The age old problem that teds to come as we get closer to old age!  In my 20s I never had the problem, now in my 40s red lipstick is harder to pull off as  lines around my mouth are appearing, creating little creeks for the lipstick to bleed into.   Ways you can tackle this:

Lip Liner

It may help you keep your lipstick in place.  Or alternatively, find a great red lip liner and use it as your lipstick – it’s drier consistency means it won’t bleed.

Matte vs Glossy

Matte lipsticks don’t bleed, again, like lip liner, they are drier, so tend to stay where they are put for longer.  Glossy lipsticks, even though they look gorgeous, are much harder to pull off if you have bleeding.

Lip Primer

Some lip primers and lip bases (or use an eyeshadow base on your lips) can help stop your lips bleeding.  Put it on before your lipstick, let it dry, then apply your lippy.

Lip Stain

If you want a more subtle red, try a lip stain, they are drier than a lipstick and will stay put for longer.

Long Wear Formula

Alternatively, the long wear formulas tend not to bleed as they dry out on your lips more quickly.  I don’t love them for every day as they do tend to dry out your lips, but for a special occasion they are great (and won’t leave nasty lipstick marks on your glass either!).

Choosing a Colour

Undertone – Warm or Cool?

What’s your undertone?  Are you warm or cool?  If you’re warm, look for a orange red (tomato) colour.  If you’re cool, then go for a blue-red (raspberry) shade.

Intensity – Bright or Muted

choosing a red lipstick - bright or muted

If your colouring is bright – and bright coloured clothes suit you, then you’ll want a brighter lipstick shade.  But if you have more subtle, soft colouring, then opt for a more softened shade of red, something that is more related to your natural lip colour rather than a bold red.

Red Lips – Choosing the Right Shade


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  • I love a bright red, but how do you wear it so it doesn’t leach the colour out of your face? I have warm, medium toned skin with dark hair and eyes. The warm reds match my colour well. But sometimes a bright red makes my face seem more sallow and my eyes look dead. Other times it’s fine and I’m not sure what the problem is.

  • Not sure if I’m allowed to post this, but Urban Decay offers a great lip pencil called Ozone – it has no color. I line my lips with this and then add my primer (I use Mac Prep and Prime). The dynamic duo allows me to blot my color on so that I achieve the “just right” level and intensity of the color, and holds things in place for a long time. The Ozone is a boon for me, as I need a liner, but don’t do well with colored liners.

  • There is more to wearing red lippy than just skin tone, IMO. I have a cool skin tone, and have always gone for the cool reds, but I find the colour really emphasises my small mouth. My mouth has a nice shape, I think, with reasonably full lips, but it’s a bit on the narrow side and the red seems to emphasise that. The closest I’ve been able to come was a Cocoa lippy that Revlon made years ago. I do find it problematic, because I wear red clothing quite often, but I’m stuck with various shades of pink lipsticks (softer shades, as bright pink does the same thing as red).

    • It could be that your colouring is best with softer rather than brighter shades of lipstick. This is quite common. There are much softer ‘reddish’ shades of lipstick around that you could try.

  • PS That said, I do love the red lipstick in the bottom right of the picture. It looks like it might even work for me. Could you please tell me the brand and name of the shade?

    • Just click on the picture and it will take you to my Polyvore account where I make the pictures and you can then look at each item individually and find out more about it and where you can get it from.

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