Red lips have power
“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.” — Gwyneth Paltrow
It’s a holiday classic, the instant fix that says glamour, elegance and confidence. Think Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Scarlett Johansson. Or Rita Hayworth, Taylor Swift and Penelope Cruz.
The red lip is like the high heel, says Neil Young, M.A.C’s senior artist for North America. “It makes a woman look powerful,” he said.
But red lipstick is notoriously difficult to apply and make stick — bleeding red pigment on your face and teeth is the last thing you need at the office party, or worse, a hot date.
As for colour, it has to match your skin: try the wrong red and you can appear garishly made up.
But a funny thing happened on my way to find out what red lipstick suits whom and how to apply it. Every makeup artist I consulted — and they were the top artists for many major brands — recommended a red that they said suited every woman.
The rule of thumb is this: If your skin tone is warm, you go for an orange or coral red; if it’s cool, you look for blue undertones, so the hue leans to fuchsia and raspberry.
A true red has neither orange nor blue pigments, according to Julie Cusson, national makeup artist for Chanel, Lora Spiga, Lancôme’s go-to pro, and Eddie Malter, the L’Oréal makeup maestro.
“True red is the easiest, most versatile red to wear. It’s a classic, timeless. It suits everybody,” Spiga said, recommending Lancôme’s L’Absolu Rouge in Absolute Rouge. And make sure that it is a creamy red without sparkling light reflectors, which mirror light and can pick up other tones like pink and orange, Spiga says. “Pure red is neutral in tone. That is the good news. It suits everybody,” Cusson said, suggesting Chanel’s Velvet Allure in La Précieuse from its holiday limited collection.
And Malter points to L’Oréal’s Colour Riche Red Passion. “It’s the one I use for all complexions. It marries well with warm and cool tones.”
Marilyn Monroe was said to have used at least three shades of lipstick at one time.