The Modern Red Lip

A red lip adds instant impact. See my picks for bold red lipstick at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve always loved the look of red lipstick. It’s iconic, and adds instant impact. For many years, I shied away from wearing a red lip myself, fearing that it was “too much” or that I would look clownish.

Red Lipstick For Spring

Bright red lipstick is very much on-trend this Spring. And last year when I was in Paris, I noticed more women of all ages wearing red lipstick than in previous years.

I’ve come to realize that the right shade of red brightens up my face like nothing else. While a red lip is classic, it’s important to not only pick a shade that works with one’s skin tone, but that also harmonizes with the season. Last fall I fell in love with Bite Beauty lipstick in “Maple” which is a wonderful brick-red. But for spring it feels just a bit too heavy, so I’ve switched back to a brighter, more orangey-coral red.

Above, I’m wearing Bobbi Brown Art Stick in “Sunset Orange.” (One thing I’ve learned is that most reds tend to go pink on me. If I want a true red look, I need to stick with shades on the more orange end of the spectrum.) I like this formula because it stays put without bleeding, and isn’t drying. NARS “Red Square” is another one that goes on matte, bold and bright, stays put and doesn’t dry out.

But sometimes I want a more moisturizing formula, and will go with a tube lipstick. Chantecaille “Amaryllis” is a little more pink, but still “red-adjacent” enough and wears well. It’s a little more glossy, so I’ll usually add a liner with it. I really like Makeover Workshop’s Longwear Gel liners; they are easy to apply and really keep your lipstick in place. “Maraschino” really amps it up, and if I want to tone down the color a bit I’ll use “Neapolitan,” which is a nice neutral shade. Another Spring favorite from my lipstick stash is Chanel Rouge Coco “Arthur.”

A few tips for wearing red lipstick:

  • Exfoliate. If your lips are chapped or peeling, it will show much more with a bright or saturated color. At home, you can use a little bit of salt and scrub gently with your finger. I love this product when I’m traveling or on the go. Totally portable and no mess!
  • Condition. I’ve used this lip treatment for a couple of years now and love it. It not only moisturizes but smooths and improves the texture of my lips. Sunscreen is important for lips too, and when I’m going to be outdoors I like this balm with SPF 30.
  • Prep. I always give a balm or treatment a few minutes to absorb before applying my lip-liner and lip color. Some people will use foundation and/or powder on their lips prior to applying color, but I can’t do it, just too drying for me.
  • Balance. When I wear a red lip, I keep the rest of my makeup really minimal. Maybe a sheer foundation, brows and mascara, at most.

Favorite Formulas For Bold Lip Color

Bite Beauty | Chantecaille | Chanel | NARS | Bobbi Brown | Makeover Workshop (Lipstick / Liner)

Do you wear a red lip or do you stick with a more natural look?

On Another Note…

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Photo by Tannaz Telikany Photography. Instagram here

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23 Comments

  1. April 17, 2018 / 4:12 am

    Good morning. I have updated my lip colour choice to a bright fuschia. I’ve tried red, red/orange, but it exagerates my aging teeth colour, looking more yellowed. I’ve learned that a lip colour with a blue base doesn’t do this. I’ve received so many conmpliments on the new brighter look.

    • Margaret Maley
      April 17, 2018 / 7:52 am

      I agree completely about reds accentuating teeth. I wish i could whiten my teeth more but my teeth are exceedingly sensitive. If anyone has suggestions about dealing with that …

      • Jeanne
        April 17, 2018 / 10:18 am

        I was going to bring up the same point. It is a totally different experience looking for the right red with aging teeth. Wish I were blessed with bright white teeth or the veneers everyone seems to have these days. I will still shop for the suggestions given, so thank you Susan. Just found your blog and I love it.

        • valletta
          April 18, 2018 / 6:27 pm

          Correction to auto-correct: Should be GLO Whitening System!

  2. Meg
    April 17, 2018 / 5:54 am

    I was smiling to read your comment that ‘most reds go pink on me” because I have been saying for years that most reds go ‘orange’ on me!! I can Swatch the back of my hand and friends are amazed at the change in color. So shopping for a good red lipstick is a very intense exercise! Lots of makeup remover involved. But I did find a lovely sheer red from YSL that I love. The funny thing is the best red lipstick I have ( never failing to get complements) is a Nivea tinted lip balm! Even smells like cherries. Totally like being in Jr Hi again.. but it looks good!

  3. Margot
    April 17, 2018 / 6:27 am

    I’ve worn Clinique’s Black Honey almost lipstick for 35-ish years. I first got it right out of college in a “pot o’ gloss”. It has an almost chameleon-like quality of changing its hue to your skin and clothing – it’s always right. I’m a very casual “girl” and love it’s sheer, light look and feel.

    • Jeanne
      April 17, 2018 / 10:32 am

      I just looked up Black Honey and plan to check it out–great reviews from older ladies and seems to go with everything.

    • Maryann
      April 17, 2018 / 2:16 pm

      Yes Black Honey is fabulous. I have been wearing it for years too. I never feel comfortable in red lipstick.

      • Jannie
        April 18, 2018 / 2:47 pm

        Thanks! Think I will check out Black Honey too!

  4. sophia
    April 17, 2018 / 8:25 am

    I was born wearing red lipstick. If not used to wearing it find your right shade, mine is true or blue red and wear it daily for a eeek. By the end of the week you and family and friends will be used to it!.And compliments will abound.
    Fresh cosmetics line “oh sugar ” lipstick is a balm that deposits enough color but isn’t glossy.

  5. P T
    April 17, 2018 / 8:56 am

    I love red lipstick and have an assortment. For conditioning it’s Carmex when not wearing lipstick. For lip liner, which is essential with any lip color for me, it’s Lipstick Queen’s invisible or nude (can’t remember name, but it’s clear) and I apply it outside the lip line. Lipstick never bleeds.

    Love your posts, by the way. So calming and relaxing.

    • April 17, 2018 / 10:32 am

      Duh! Why did I never think to apply nude lip liner outside the lip line?! Why has no one told me this before?! It’s brilliant. Thank you!

  6. Daniella Karo
    April 17, 2018 / 10:50 am

    The really bright red lipstick is mostly better suited for younger women. I have always felt that American women use too much make up even though they, unlike other nationals, need it least!!

  7. April 17, 2018 / 11:32 am

    That color looks marvelous on you.

    I’ve spent too much time and money trying to find a bright red that would go with my coloring. I have pale but not porcelain skin, with neutral undertones, dark, nearly black brows that are going gray much faster than my hair, light brown eyes and light brown hair with very little gray. So far, so good, right? But my own lip color is still quite saturated so I have to compensate for that, plus I have permanent crowns on all six of my top front teeth so their color can’t be changed. Mostly I wear a medium pink lipstick that is just a shade or two darker than my own lips: Dolly by Buxom is my go-to color, but it was a limited edition. Anna by Nars is a close second but it costs twice as much money. My lipstick on a stick is Bound, also by Nars, also more expensive than I wish it was. For evening I wear Pink Chocolate by Clinique, which on me turns brick red. Anything darker, brighter, or more orange and I swear I look like a circus clown.

  8. April 17, 2018 / 12:57 pm

    I use Bobbi Brown’s Sunset Orange as well! It is a gorgeous cheerful orangey red; I love it. I first saw it on Laura Brown (on Instagram). She has similar colouring to you and I, so I figured if it looked good on her it would look good on me. Now I’m off to investigate the rest of your recommendations. It is a splurgy item for me, but if you like Sunset Orange, you’d probably also like Christian Louboutin’s lipstick in Diva. That’s another fave of mine. xx

  9. April 17, 2018 / 12:59 pm

    I am thin-lipped and have those “aging teeth” mentioned above, so red is extremely tricky for me! Even when I was younger, I had to go with a definite pinky red; I am very fair and very cool-toned. At the moment, when I feel like a red lip, I am going with Be Dior; quite pinky and with some shine. (My think lips need that gloss!)

    I have not had any luck with the line, but most of my friends (as well as my younger nieces) swear by a brand called Besame. They have tons of reds to play with.

  10. M
    April 18, 2018 / 9:18 am

    My long lasting matte go-to is Lady Danger by MAC; it’s quite orange but currently sold in a set with a lip pencil in Redd, which tones down the orange a bit; the effect is warm and lights up my face

  11. valletta
    April 18, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    Red looks horrible on me, not just lipstick but red clothes, everything! And I don’t like red 🙂 I’m blonde + blue eyes so I find a nice plum is the darkest I can go. Revlon Plum Baby seems to be perfect shade on me and on the lower price end too!

  12. April 20, 2018 / 9:14 am

    Oh gosh, you must think I overdo it. A lot. And I think you are right. I am going to check, whether a little less will suit me. Or whether the loud make-up suits my loud personality haha.
    Greetje

    • Susan B
      April 20, 2018 / 9:17 am

      No, I don’t think you overdo it! Because you wear bolder styles and bright colors, it works.

  13. April 20, 2018 / 6:26 pm

    This lipstick looks great on you! I need an orange or browned red as well, as my colouring is warm and I find that the right colour isn’t red but reads as red on me.

  14. Mardel
    April 21, 2018 / 3:12 pm

    That lipstick looks great on you. I’ve always struggled with reds as they are often too intense and overpower my face. I have very pale skin, medium green/gray eyes and pale eyebrows, medium brown hair. I finally found a winter red I love, Afghan Red by Nars, but I always just went soft in the warm weather with muted pinks. This year I fell in love with a deep rose lipstick from Chanel. When I put it on, I felt it was so bright that I might look silly, but instead everywhere I went people commented on how pretty I looked! Big shocker. Now it is my favorite and I want to brighten up my lipsticks choices a little more.

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