I actually didn’t think I had that many reds in my collection but when I pulled them all together in one place to do this blog post I realised quite how many I have and quite how many different shades are technically ‘red’. There’s not just bright blood red, there’s pink red, and wine red, orangey red and brownish red. Some reds are warm while others are cool.
Even though a slash of red lipstick is the LBD of make-up, many women are afraid to wear a bright pop of red. They often feel self concious – thinking everyone is looking at their red pout. I assure you if anyone actually is looking it will be in appreciation – appreciation of your boldness and timeless fashion sense!
One of the reasons women can feel self concious is that they worry the lipstick doesn’t suit them – many so-called beauty experts have touted rules for how to wear red lips or choose your perfect shade over the years. “Wear this red with that skin tone” or “don’t ever wear red lips with x” and often the opinions of different gurus clash leaving people totally bewildered.
I have a cool pinkish skin tone which if I followed the rules would mean I should steer clear of warm, orangey reds – yet I look great in plenty of them. A deep warm brown is a step too far for me but a brownish red can work very well. I can also rock loads of blue toned reds and bright pinks just as you would expect. So that ‘rule’ appears to be mostly nonsense when it comes to my own personal experience. Take the ‘rule’ as advice – but if you love a shade that’s not in the tone selection that’s “meant” to match your skin tone do try it on, you just never know until you try it on. It’s ultimately the only way to know, you must always at least do a good swatch of a lipstick as often just looking at the bullet does not give a good indication of how it is going to look in a thin layer on the skin. Even if you have to leave the shop with a hand and arm covered in swatches in order to find something you like – do it!
If you’re not used to it, bright red will frighten you at first. It’s the way it is – we’ve all been there myself included. When I bought my first bright red I was convinced for ages that I just couldn’t wear it, I didn’t suit it. I thought it was horrible on me, I wondered whether maybe the shade wasn’t right me and I should find another?
I now know I was half right. There was nothing wrong with the lipstick its self – I’m wearing it as I type! But it was too much too soon, starting with something less bold and working up to it was a better plan for me personally. If you’re having issues, this might work for you too. A less saturated red or a sheer red is a good place to break in rather than right at the top with full on highly saturated bright pillar box red. Good shades to start out with if you want to build up to wearing a bright red like MAC’s ‘Ruby Woo’ or Illamasqua’s ‘Sangers’ are in the pink red (like those shown here) and brown red ends of the spectrum . Soap & Glory’s ‘Guavarama’ was a great starter shade for me in particular, it’s not strictly a pink but I’ve included it with the pinks for this photograph.
For a clean bold look start by lining your lips with a lip liner that matches your shade of choice – not a darker shade or you’ll look like you either fell out of the 90’s or had botched surgery, it’s a fine line! Softly fill in the whole lip with the liner to help lock in your colour. Next, apply your bold red lipstick. Using a lip brush will enhance your precision and help prevent putting on too much product but is not entirely essential as the next step is to blot with a tissue. To blot just fold a facial in half and press it between your lips, don’t wipe or anything like that just press your lips together with it in between and then remove it. This removes any excess product, helps prevent it escaping across your face and keeps the colour on for longer. If desired you can repeat the application or both the application and blotting again to give your lips the desired finish or intensity.
If you have a slightly thin upper lip it can be helpful to use a highlighter of some sort on your cupids bow to give the effect of a fuller lip. You can use a shimmery powder highlighter, a soft white eye liner pencil, a matte highlighter… whatever suits your look.
For a softer look leave out the lip liner and dot your colour in the middle of the lips then use your fingers to blend it outwards. This gives a much softer look, great for casual day time looks or when you’re still getting used to reds. With no liner to help lock in your colour you may find yourself touching up more frequently so be sure to pack a hand mirror.
My Collection of Reds
I’ve taken some photos to share my collection of red lipsticks with you, I’ve broken them down into tone families to make it a bit easier!
I had honestly never considered quite how many shades are technically red, I’m sure I’ve likely missed a few as a result but I think this is plenty! I haven’t included any tinted balms such as Bene-Balm (I refuse to buy Benefit’s lipsticks as long as they have that hideous packaging that looks like childrens’ toy make-up but that’s a whole other rant #sorrynotsorry) or liquid lipsticks in this post but I have included some new additions to my collection by the way of investigating dupe claims which I’ll go into in another post.
Orange red is something I’ve only quite recently ventured into myself having been convinced for ages that it couldn’t possibly work on my skin tone. I discovered that it worked quite by accident – I ordered a shade from the internet (always risky!) and on my monitor it looked much more red than the product that arrived. Being a person who will try anything once I gave it a go, and was pleasantly surprised by the result. Lesson – if you like it or aren’t sure, always always try it on because you just never know! Even in my own photo these orange-reds don’t look anywhere near as orange as they appear in real life and certainly nowhere near as orange as they swatch.
Are you afraid of red, a red newbie or a red-lip veteran? Let me know in the comments and share your favourite shades.
Do let me know if you want to know any of the names of the lipsticks pictured here, I would have listed them but that would have taken up half of the post by its self!