How to Apply Red Lipstick

A fantastic way to spice up your everyday look and add oodles of glamour to a nighttime ensemble, wearing red lipstick is guaranteed to turn heads.

But the flawless red lip requires a bit of expertise: with thousands of different shades and brands of red lip products available, picking the best one for you can be daunting. Get noticed for all the right reasons by following these simple tips to get a perfectly painted red pout.


Many women avoid red lip color because they’re afraid of it looking too brash or bold. The faint of heart can keep up with the red lip trend with a sheer stain of rouge, and adventurous red lip ladies can pucker up with a more intense application of a thicker product such as lipstick or gloss.

The wetter the product, the dewier, more transparent your finished result will be:
  • Balms or liquid stains deliver a sheer red finish.
  • Thicker glosses and moist crème lipsticks offer soft, fuller coverage.
  • Matte lipsticks give a drier, bolder look.
As a general rule, moister finishes are more appropriate for causal, everyday wear, whereas matte finishes are best suited for more dramatic evening affairs. Beware: because matte products are more drying and severe, they can accentuate wrinkles around the mouth and make you look older.


Choosing the correct red is crucial; it’s the difference between looking like a sexy siren and Ronald McDonald. 

Here are some helpful tips for selecting the right shade of red for your skin tone:

  • Fair skinned ladies should opt for a red with blue or cool undertones.
  • Ruddy skin (with reddish undertones) looks best with pinkish reds that have tinges of violet or fuchsia.
  • Olive and darker skin colors look great in warm reds with orange, golden, or brown bases.
  • Dark brown skin looks stunning in brighter fuchsia reds.
No-fail selection: keep in mind that a blue-based red is flattering on most skin tones and will set off a sparkle in your eye, make your teeth appear whiter, and give your skin a luminous glow.


Prep every application by exfoliating lips lightly with a toothbrush, moisturizing with balm, and blotting well for a clean palette.

If you’re color-shy, ease into red by applying the product with your finger tip, patting lightly from the center of your lips and outward for a flushed stain that’s subtly sexy and appropriate for any occasion, day or night.
For fuller coverage that lasts:

Line lips with a lip pencil that matches your natural lip color.

Smudge this lining with a Q-tip or your finger to soften the outline for a more natural look.

Set down a base layer by lightly applying the lip color (lipstick or gloss) with a professional grade lip brush, spreading color from the center of your lips and moving out. Since a little red goes a long way, using a brush helps you apply just the right amount of product.
  • Blot lips with tissue. Carefully apply a second coat.
  • For extra dimension and the appearance of a fuller, more sensual pout, finish with a tiny dollop of pearlized gloss in the middle of the bottom lip.
  • Pucker up.
As with everything to do with beauty, balance is essential. If you’ve applied a red lip, the rest of your makeup and hair should be clean and simple. Keep it classic with just a little bit of neutral eye shadow, a few sweeps of mascara, a little liquid liner, well-groomed eyebrows, and just a hint of rosy blush.


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