Fear No: Summertime Red Lips Friday 25 May, 2012

Yes, red lipstick can be daunting, but it’s time to bite that (red) bullet: If the spring/summer runways are an indicator, red ain’t going nowhere but on your lips, ladies.

Not too long ago, I found myself crammed into a dimly lit elevator just fresh from a bout of cocktails at Catch in the Meatpacking District. Luckily, I was among friends; tight elevators can be grueling when you’re with strangers. And somehow, in that horrible lighting and compact space, my friend Stephanie’s lips seemed to strip away all the drabness. You see, she was wearing cherry red lipstick, which another friend fawned over as we stood there like sardines. Despite being showered with compliments, Stephanie remained rather dubious of her lip color choice. “You like it? Because I never feel like I can pull off red. I think this is the second time I’ve worn red lipstick,” Stephanie demurred. Another friend chimed in, “Yeah, I’m always scared to wear red. I don’t feel like it looks right.”

This conversation most likely happens over and over, from within the confines of elevators to the halls of offices to the streets of Anytown, USA. While I listened to this group of girls count down the reasons why they pass up the red bullet, it became clear to me that their logic boiled down to three variables: maintenance, finding a flattering tone and, well, confidence.

Yes, red lipstick can be daunting, but it’s time to bite that (red) bullet: If the spring/summer runways are an indicator, red ain’t going nowhere but on your lips, ladies.

 Jason Wu Red Lip Spring 2012

Let’s delve into that first deterrent: maintenance. As much as I preach fearless beauty, red lipstick even gives me the sweats—mainly because it’s just so darn hard to keep looking amazing throughout the day. You apply it with a surgeon-steady hand to erase any chance of looking like a clown, and then an hour later, either a stray strand of hair got stuck on your lip and dragged a red line across your cheek (unbeknownst to you), or your Diet Coke can somehow smeared crimson above—and maybe below—your lip outline (use a straw next time). It can be a precarious ordeal, this red-lipstick-wearing.

But, naturally, there are tips to keeping that red from running. Proper prep is definitely key to the longevity of a righteous ruby mouth. No matter the intensity of your red (dark or bright), makeup artist Iris Moreau tells me she always starts out by exfoliating the lips to remove any flaking, dry skin. Not only does this help prevent the red from looking uneven, but also it keeps your crimson pucker from appearing craggy. “I then apply moisturizer for a soft, smooth surface,” Iris says. You can also try a lip primer (I like MAC Prep + Prime Lip), which fills in any crevices for a more seamless application while also helping lock-down color.

 Donna Karan Red Lip Spring 2012

Iris likes to use a creamy lip pencil to fill in the entire lip to “prevent feathering and create a long-lasting base.” And rather than applying the lip hue straight from the bullet, many makeup artists I encounter prefer using a lip brush to push the color into the lip—again, increasing longevity, but also allowing for greater precision (much-needed with bright and dark hues). Then, Iris shares this tip: “Place a tissue over your lips and then dust translucent powder over the tissue; this helps blot and set the lip color.” If this sounds a little odd, it is; but once you get the hang of it, your red lip is, well, golden.

Reapplication throughout the day is a necessary evil, so make sure you have that creamy lip pencil, lip brush and chosen lipstick hue on hand, as well as that translucent powder.

 Yves St Laurent Red Lip Spring 2012

A trend that emerged on the runways also helps with maintaining an intense red lip: Both Pat McGrath and Diane Kendal chose to pat loose pigment over their lipstick hues. For Diane, the technique caused the lip at Jason Wu to brighten as it mattified; for Pat at Yves St. Laurent, it lent a “foiled” metallic appearance. Either way, topping lipstick with loose pigment acts in the same way as dusting on translucent powder: It locks in your design.

For the time being, I’m going to skip to deterrent No. 3: confidence. Which leads me to…

Why You Too Should Have No Fear: Once upon a time, wearing red lipstick made you a whore in society’s eyes. It was like a scarlet letter painted on your face. And perhaps those negative (men-manufactured) connotations still hover around deep within women’s psyches. But, listen: It’s lipstick. It’s fun. And when you master the art of drawing on that perfect crimson lip, you’ll turn heads—positively. It’s about wearing that red while keeping your head up. About looking everyone in the eye and thinking, “Yeah, you see my lips—and they look goooood.” It’s about maintenance; nobody wants to see your red lip migrating in every which direction, nor do they want to see crusty, flaking skin flapping off your painted pucker. It’s about trying the brightest out there, like the Jason Wu creation, or rocking a mocha-red lip like the ladies of the Met Gala did. It’s about knowing what to pair it with: A nude face, a swipe of black mascara, a subtle smoky eye, a beautiful bronzing of the skin (especially this summer!). It’s about finding what fits your personality, or your whim, or your outfit, or your event. But above all, we must circle back to the fact that it’s about confidence, and owning you, and owning your beauty. It is always about owning your beauty. Now go out there, and bite that red bullet.

Karie L. Frost Signature


(Photos via Beauty Launchpad)


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