Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seeing red (in a good way)

Gwyneth Paltrow once said:

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

Now, while I may not typically choose that manner of language (unless there's a cop pulling me over, or I've just let a softball pass in between my legs instead of getting in my glove) I think she raises a few excellent points.

First, it is important to embrace your whole self and appreciate the unique aspects that make you, you. Even tiny "flaws" like scars or prominent features (take my nose for example) can be used to your advantage. You should own your you-ness. Because why would you want to look like anybody else?

When you're comfortable in your own skin, it shows. It'll give you the confidence to play around with makeup and fashion; to discover the things that you love and that enhance your inimitable qualities. And trust me, people will notice.

Second, never underestimate the power of red lipstick. Seriously. When executed correctly, this simple makeup item can really make a statement... in a good way. Here are some ground rules:

1. Choose the right shade of red

The single most important aspect of wearing red lipstick is choosing the right shade for your skin tone. (If you're not completely certain what your undertones are, you can always go into a department store and consult a professional. Also, I found a good little online quiz that might also be helpful.) If you have yellow or olive undertones (aka warm undertones) to your skin, you're best off with a warmer shade of red that has brown undertones. Like a brick red or a fire engine red. Below are a few of my favorites from MAC. (You can see all of their lip colors in better detail here.)


Spice It Up!


Conversely, if you have pink or red undertones (aka cool undertones) you should stick with reds that have a blue or a pink base. Here are a few suggestions, also from MAC.

Ruby Woo

Lady Danger

Russian Red

2. Minimize the rest of your makeup

Red lipstick makes a pretty bold statement all by itself, so it is absolutely vital to keep the rest of your makeup clean and simple. We're talking no eye shadow (or very subtle eyeshadow in neutral colors) and minimal blush. Personally, I think a thin, soft eye liner and a coat of mascara are all you need to do as far as your eyes go. Feel free to skip the liner too, if you so desire. Blush should be so subtle that your cheeks don't even look like they have any blush on them; rather, that they just look naturally rosy. If you have really creamy, porcelain skin, I would skip the blush all together. Hello classic beauty.

3. Proper application is key

1: Start out with a lip moisturizer or primer to moisturize the lips.
2: Apply a thin layer of foundation and then set it with some loose powder. (This is especially helpful when you're planning on wearing the color all day... it helps set the color in place.)
3: Lightly line your lips with a lip liner that is similar (it should be practically identical) to the shade of lipstick you are applying. (Important Tip: do not line your lips with a shade that is darker than your lip color, better to err on the side of lightness than darkness.) If you don't want to go to the expense of buying a red lip liner, use a lip liner that most closely resembles your own lip color. (This is the route I would most recommend, because it can be difficult to match a lip liner with a lipstick.)
4: Apply a thin coat of lipstick. (Start in the middle of the lips and move outward.) I would strongly suggest using a lip brush to apply the color, because it gives you more control and helps regulate how much you're putting on.
5: After one coat of lipstick has been applied, blot your lips with a tissue.
6: Finish with another light coat of lipstick and you're ready to go.

*In the case of smudges, use a Q-Tip and follow up with a light concealer.*

And always remember to touch up!

Remember, this is meant to be fun and not stressful. If you ever have any questions for me, or if you feel I haven't been clear enough, please feel free to email me at

Now, go get your red on!


Shannon said...

I am very impressed by these instructions. Helpful, detailed, and not intimidating in the slightest. I just may have the gusto to try red lipstick...thanks for the tips.

Liv said...

I don't suck!! Taking a stab in the dark I picked the right shade red for my skintone when I bought some red lipstick recently. Thanks for reaffirming my pick.

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