Being the 31st of August, today is officially the end of winter according to the calendar. And with winter being the ideal time to rug up and don a red lippy I’ve kind of missed the boat there having not even touched on how to wear a red lip. Bad form Hannah! However, I’ve decided to cover my backside by thinking that Christmas is not really that far away and with the holiday season comes parties, where a red lip is always in fashion.
So reds. There are so very many options when it comes to red lips, and with the multitude of textures (full colour matte or satin finish lipsticks, sheers, shines, glosses, tinted balms, lip pencils) and tones (blue reds, orange reds, brick reds, raspberry reds, burgundies), there has to be one out there that suits you and which you enjoy wearing. Red lips always make me feel a tad more sexpot, a bit flirtier, and a ton more fun. However there are a couple of things to heed, red rules to live by if you will:
1. Wearing a red lip will draw attention to any redness or discolouration in the skin, but also adds extra drama to any look you have got going on already. And by extra drama I mean every bit of makeup you are wearing is going to be exaggerated, and look more ‘makeupy’. So don’t go thinking you need to apply all the extra foundation coverage everywhere to conceal redness and help your skin look flawless. Instead apply your lipstick as the first step in your makeup application after skin care and then have a look in the mirror to see where you need to apply coverage. But use a light hand. And pull out the bronzer, red lips with a beautiful bronzed skin looks pretty incredible.
2. A full colour red won’t work so well on seriously dry, cracked lips. Either do a lip scrub with a bit of brown sugar and olive/coconut oil (I’ll see if I can find a good recipe for you), or find a red tinted lip balm. Guerlain have just launched some pretty amazing Kiss Kiss tinted lip balms and there is a pretty red in amongst the colours. They hydrate and plump and make your lips feel amazing.
3. Red lips can be pretty hard work. They involve upkeep and midday mirror time. If you’re going to be short on time to touch up during the day consider using a longwear texture. Or lip primer, liner then lipstick. Or be like me and apply the lipstick once and then lip balm after that so you have an ever decreasing red lip throughout the day/night.
Not fazed by my caveats above? Let’s continue shall we?
With all those tones of red, what colour should you be looking for? It’s a touch tricky to answer without seeing your eye colour, hair colour, natural lip colour and skin tone in person (they all play a part in colour selection), but generally speaking:
- true reds look great on anyone
- blue reds look great on a fairer complexion
– orange reds look great on a more olive complexion and dark hair
- brick reds look great on blue or green eyes and an olive complexion
- raspberry reds look great on anyone with blue eyes and blonde hair
-burgundies look great on green or brown eyes with any coloured hair

The above is definitely off the top of my head and by no means a conclusive list (in fact I thought about it for all of maybe 5 minutes). Oftentimes it will be more the opacity of colour relative to the depth of skin tone which can make a red lip look good. Fairer skin tone = less opaque lip colour. Deeper, more olive complexion = more opaque lip colour. Something to do with balancing the depth of the lip colour with your features. Try it.
Let’s move on to texture. To choose your texture, you need to decide on how much colour you want/ are comfortable wearing:
- All of the colour
Go for gold lady! Reach for the full colour reds - matte or satin. Grab a red lip liner and apply that all over your lips prior to applying a red gloss. There are some really cool crayons out in the market which make it easy to line and colour in one sweep, Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in ‘Dragon Girl’ is a particular favourite of mine.
- Just a touch of colour
Try a tinted balm, a sheer or a shine, which tend to be less pigmented and thus less intense in the colour stakes.
One trick I love for women who want to wear a red lip but are a bit frighty of it (yes it is a scary thing) is to swipe a full colour lip stick in the shade which will work best with their features gently over the lips, in a way which will won’t deposit a lot of colour. Now blot with a tissue or pat your lip with a finger to take the ‘lipsticky’ texture away. Then add your favourite lip balm on top. You’ll end up with a slightly red stained lip with a nice sheen. A red with training wheels if you will. Over time you’ll get more used to seeing yourself with a red lip and will become more comfortable with less blotting and balm. Red lips ahoy.
If you’re after a more personal tip on what kind of red will look best on you, flick me an email with a photo of you to hello@hannahwiles.co.nz and I’ll come back to you with a recommendation.
Have you guys got any favourite reds that you love? Let me know in the comments below, I’m always up for adding another red to my rather ginormous collection.