THE POWER OF RED
Bold, fresh, pretty or playful. No other hue is as versatile or emphatic. Biased, us?
There’s no one item of make-up that says quite so much as a red lip. Let’s count the ways: sex in a stick, fire in your pocket, red says come hither but also hands off.
A red lip is for the brave but also for the wavering, pulsing its energy into the world when you’re all out of juice. But wait, what about the days when all you want from your make-up is to look pretty? No sex, no drama, just clear eyes, glowing skin and everything pulled together. A red lip can do that, too.
Red is clear-as-a-bell Coca-cola, but also a chic and muted brick. It can be cartoonperfect at the corners (cheat’s technique: finesse with lip pencil afterwards) or dreamily kissed off around the edges (press on with a finger or soften with a cotton bud). Red is the step change of the beauty world, taking your make-up, your outfit, even your mood somewhere new. Wear it to elevate a Breton stripe, a top knot or a crisp autumnal Sunday. And because red works symbiotically with whatever you pair it with, a new context will make the red itself look fresher and more playful, taking it away from its powerplay roots.
The right red is spectacularly flattering. You’ll know when you’ve found it, because a skin tone that seemed flat and muddy only minutes before will reorganise itself into something clear and more luminous. You’ll need less blush, less lash, even less base – which suits us perfectly. We love red at Red, but we love it most of all with a sleek brow, minimal mascara and naked (or as good as) skin.
It’s a British fantasy that the French do it better, but this kind of make-up nonchalance is just as much our territory – think Sienna Miller, Laura Bailey, Alexa Chung or Zadie Smith, wearing red with a tea dress, rumpled waves or freshly moisturised face. And by the way, while Laura Bailey loves a bolt of vibrant poppy now, she had to be cajoled into it by make-up artist Tania Grier – who happens to be the Sisley Paris UK make-up ambassador and the skilful hands behind the images you see here. ‘I’ve seen women transformed by their perfect red – it’s a total game-changer,’ she says. When it comes to finding that shade, Tania has few rules – just play the field until you get there, she says (we’d recommend starting with the reds in Sisley’s new Le Phyto Rouge, which are matte enough to look modern but still creamy and comfortable). ‘My one guideline would be that a classic English rose should beware of too much blue, which can make pale skin look sallow – in which case, coral gives an instant lift,’ she adds. So read on, play on… then hold your nerve and leave the house. Red’s got this.
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture The Slim, £29
Dior Rouge Dior Ultra Rouge in Ultra Star, £29
Sisley Le Phyto Rouge in Rouge Capri, £38