(*An aside - the title of this post is a reference to a fave London label, Red or Dead, that I used to wear when living there in the late 90's - it just popped into my head).
I love a red lipstick. Perhaps not like the application in the pic of Kate above, but a red lip is such a striking, sexy, iconic lip. However I but apply it with trepidation, as it is quite the task to get it on properly, especially anything with a gloss or shine. Infact, yesterday I wore my new Kate Moss Rimmel red lippie (thank you to my lovely friend Krissy for that fabulous gift) and my colleague said "Look at the state of you!". I had smears of red all over my hands where I'd touched my lips. Oops. Messy! As Kate says of her red shade, "It's the ultimate shade. I wouldn't wear it during the day, but at night, or if it's a do, then it's good. Lipstick is the classic, iconic make-up, isn't it? You think of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly, and it's always about the lips."
I asked my make up maestro friend Fox about best tips for applying disaster-free red lippie. She says to simply slough the lips to ensure they are not dry or flaky, then apply with a brush for more control. A darker centre lip with a dab of strong red gives you a fuller, pouty look. Then you can blot for a matte look or dab gloss on top for shiny. A lip prime like MAC Prep & Prime will stop lipstick bleeding, as does a dust of powder with a fat brush- just shake your powder brush well before dusting! Fox has a great tip for lippie on the run and emergencies - mix a little blusher or lip liner with a gloss or chapstick to colour your lips. (Conversely, I used a dab of lippie on cheeks if caught sans blusher and looking wan/hungover). Makeup artist Pat McGrath has used Blistex & lip liners for years). I use a red lip liner to get into the corners of the mouth when wearing bright reds - one area I never seem to be able to get to without the aid of a brush or a lip pencil. Nothing looks worse than a patchy red lip with nude un-filled corners.
Striking red lips are trademarks of beauties such as Gwen Stefani, Dita von Teese and Marilyn Monroe. Gwen & Dita love Mac's Russian Red. Dita also recommends matte reds such Mac's Ruby Woo, Face Stockholm Matte Clare and Guerlain's Kiss Kiss Excess de Rouge. Marilyn Monroe wore Max Factor's Ruby Red.
When choosing a red to suit your complexion and colouring, the rules to stick by are:
* Pale skin tends to suit blue-based reds
* Olive or dark skin -tends to suit orange-based reds
* A satiny, medium-tone red tends to suit most skins
* Poppy King's Medieval or Kevyn Aucoin's Sheer Red are good sheer reds for first-timers. A red lip stain like The Balm's Stainiac or Benefit's Benetint are other good options I like for a more natural 'berry-stained' look
* If your teeth are yellow, choose a red lipstick with blue undertones to make them look whiter
* If going for red lips during the day, keep eye makeup minimal
My fave reds ever are Estee Lauder's Extravagant Red and Mac's Cockney. I bought Extravagant Red years ago in Sydney and I see it was released as a special holiday colour in 2010. I hope I can still get it! It is a true red, 'orange' base, totally opaque with a slight sheen - not matte but not too shiny. It is SUBLIME! Cockney is a fabulous sheer lustre 'yellow' red. I also love MAC's Russian Red and Brave Red.
MAC Brave Red
MAC Russian Red
Here are some of the most popular tried and true products. For more on how to apply red lip-stick, check out this brilliant MAC video, The Art of the Red lip.