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The Red Lipstick Do's and Dont’s That We Swear By

Perfecting this timeless hue is all about the application.
September 04, 2023

A nice coat of red lipstick is about as timeless as it gets for any makeup look. If you need proof, just take a look at beauty trends season after season — red lipstick always makes an appearance. Once you find a complementary shade of red lipstick, it’s one of the best things you can do to uplevel your makeup look. Even if you don’t sport a red lip often.

The secret to wearing red lipstick and making it look good is application. All the little nuances, like how you line your lips or how you prep your lips, make a huge difference in the results. So, to help you master the artistry of putting on red lipstick, we’re sharing the dos and don’ts of applying red lipstick, plus our favorite red lipstick shades and formulas. 

What Is the Best Shade Of Red Lipstick?

The best shade of red lipstick is the one that you love (essentially, it likely complements your skin tone). That said, a dark shade of red with blue undertones is universally flattering on all skin tones. L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick in Le Rouge Avant Garde or the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick in Le Rouge Paris are just the kind of red shades you want to look for. 

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A red-orange lipstick, like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lipstick in Matte-Ly in Love, is super flattering on those with medium to deep skin and warm undertones. If you have cool undertones, try a shade of red lipstick with pink tones, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick in Fresh as a Rose.

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Red Lipstick Dos

Follow our lists of things to do to upgrade your red lipstick application and wear.

Do Prime With Lip Balm

Before you reach for your lipstick, grab your favorite hydrating lip balm to help prime and hydrate your lips post-exfoliation. If you plan on wearing matte lipstick, this step is very important because it will help to keep your lips from feeling dry.

Do Accentuate Your Cupid’s Bow

Defining your Cupid’s bow can help to make your lips look extra plump and pouty. Take your lip liner and draw an X starting at the highest point of the center of your top lip, extending down on a diagonal from that point. Repeat on the other side of your top lip to create an X shape. Continue by filling in your lips as usual. 

If you don’t have a naturally defined Cupid’s bow, follow your natural lip line, only varying slightly outside of the lines to create natural-looking definition.

Do Try Different Formulas

A matte red lipstick is far from the only choice you have to choose from when it comes to red lipstick. If you’re feeling a sheer wash of red color, try a lip balm-lipstick hybrid, like the L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick with Pomegranate Extract in Ecstatic Mulberry.

If you like vivid color, paired with a formula that has a little more hydration than most matte lipsticks, try a red lippie with a satin formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Reds Of Worth Satin Lipstick With Saturated Color or the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick in Rouge St. Germain.

If you love a velvety lip, but don’t feel the same about the dryness that sometimes accompanies matte formulas, try the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick or the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick. Both formulas are infused with hyaluronic acid for a comfortable finish that doesn’t feel dry or crackly.

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Do Add a Dab Of Gloss

If your lips feel dry, dab on a little bit of lip gloss to add some shine and moisture. Opt for a clear shade, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro Plump Gloss in Mirror, or try a red shade, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 8 Hour Pro Lip Gloss, Hydrating Finish in Red Fatale for an extra pop.

Do Check Your Teeth

Before you walk out of the door with your perfect red lips, make sure that your teeth look perfect as well. Since red lipstick is super bright, it’s also super noticeable when it ends up somewhere it shouldn't be, like your teeth. 

Editor’s tip: Fold a clean tissue in half and place it between your lips, pursing them together to help remove any lipstick on the inside of your lips.

Red Lipstick Don’ts

Now that you’re aware of all the dos when it comes to red lipstick, here are a few things to steer clear of. 

Don’t Forget to Exfoliate

If you’ve ever wondered what’s standing between you and a smoother lipstick application, it could be your lack of exfoliating and this goes for any lipstick, not just shades of red. Use a lip scrub and gently massage your lips to buff away any dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your lips. If you don’t have a lip scrub, wet the corner of a washcloth and lightly rub it across your lips to exfoliate. 

Don’t Skip Lip Liner

Lip liner helps your lipstick stay in place so it doesn’t bleed or feather outside the lines. This means it’s a step you never want to skip. Following your natural lip line, trace the contours of your lips to define your pout. A good rule of thumb is to match the finish of your lipstick to your lip liner so if you’re wearing satin lipstick, reach for a satin lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lip Liner. If you’re wearing matte lipstick, reach for a matte lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner.

Don’t Color Too Far Outside the Lines

There’s a difference between overlining your lips and going overboard. When you’re overlining your lips, don’t stray too far outside of your natural lip line. Rather, line just slightly outside the contours of your natural lip shape, and use an angled brush to reach every little space for perfect application.

Don’t Rub Your Lips Together

If you find that your lips look a little too red or a touch too glossy, grab a tissue, and blot your lipstick. Avoid rubbing your lips together because this can smear your carefully lined edges.

Next: How to Make Purple Lipstick Work for You

Photographer: Matthew Kelly, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Creative Producer: Becca Solovay

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