Red Lipstick How To: A Full Clutch Tutorial

It’s January. For the northern states, we have at least three more months of snow, grey skies, leaving home for work when it’s dark out…and getting back home when it’s dark out. Do we even have proof that the sun shines during the workday? Winter is a great time to experiment with bright, bold colors, in clothing and makeup. Gives you a little boost to get you through the washed out winter. Recently I’ve been wearing a bright red lip, so here’s a tutorial on how to achieve it.




For this look, you’ll need a lip liner. Because the red lip is so bright against my pale skin, I want to prevent bleeding around the edges of my lips, and a lip liner helps to do that. I use Sephora Retractable Waterproof Lip Liner in Sangria ($12). It’s cheap, it’s self-sharpening, and it really is waterproof. I pair this liner with Sephora Rouge Cream Lipstick in The Red ($12). Definitely NOT a waterproof lipstick, but the color is perfect for my skin tone, so it’s worth it to me to have to touch up frequently. I struggle with achieving a perfect lip line so I also use Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($7.99) paired with a q-tip to clean up the edges (more on that in a bit).


Lip Liner


Any time I use a lip liner, I like to draw the line just outside of my natural lip line, for a fuller pout. You can see in the photo above that my lip liner is partially on my true lip, and partially on the skin just below it.



Here’s my entire mouth outlined and then filled in with the lip pencil. This will help prevent the lipstick from running into any fine lines I have around my mouth, and it also will help set the lipstick so that it stays for longer. In addition to outlining my mouth a bit outside of the natural lip line, I also like to make exaggerated peaks at the top of my lip, so here I’m not just making the mouth bigger, I’m also manipulating the shape of the lip. You’ll notice on the left corner of my mouth, a little smearing is happening…


Clean ups


I rarely apply such a bright lip liner and NOT mess up the line a bit. No worries! I use a Q-tip dipped in makeup remover to clean up the lines and make them more crisp. This is actually a good way to get rid of any makeup remover that doesn’t work well on your eyes. In a pinch, you can dab a bit of lotion on the Q-tip and that will also remove the lip liner.




This is the easy part–once the lip liner is applied and you’ve cleaned up any smearing, simply run your lipstick over your entire lip. I usually don’t take it to the very line of the lip–you don’t need to and you risk smearing the crisp line if you go over it. Though in the photo this red looks shiny, it’s actually more matte than shiny, which I think is a good choice for such a bright color.

Here’s what you need to know about finding the perfect red lipstick for your skin tone–there are warm reds (like NARS’ Heat Wave) and there are cool reds (like NARS’ Jungle Red). I’ve heard that if your skin has warm undertones you should pick a cool red and if you skin has cool undertones you should pick a warm red. But I’ve also heard the exact opposite–that you should match cool undertones with cool lipsticks, etc. Who the hell knows which is correct? Plus, I suspect that skin tone is not the only factor–someone with warm undertones and white-blond hair and icy blue eyes is probably going to need a lipstick that’s different from someone with the same undertones but auburn hair and green eyes. Here’s my suggestion: go to a department store or Sephora with a friend. Between you, your friend, and the salesperson, figure out what color looks best on you. A red lip should make you look healthy and vibrant. When you wear your red lip out, you want to pair with minimal makeup elsewhere. A bright red lip is going to be the focal point of your face, so tone down the eye makeup and blush. I’ve been wearing my red lip with BB cream, very black mascara on curled lashes, and a light dusting of blush across the cheeks…that’s it. Not gonna lie–it kind of makes me feel like a movie star.

Anyone else out there experimenting with bright lip color?


2 Responses to “Red Lipstick How To: A Full Clutch Tutorial”
  1. Amber Dillon says:

    I always have trouble with my lipstick wearing off quickly…then I’m left with a gangster-like lip liner line. Do you have any solutions for that? I noticed that you mention waterproof lipstick, is that the trick?

    • Beth says:

      I think waterproof lipstick would make a significant difference, yes. BUT, I also think there are sort of diminishing returns when it comes to lipstick, since our lips are constantly getting wet or we’re eating or whatever. I’ve resigned myself to frequent touch-ups. I also think a more MATTE lipstick lasts far longer than a shiny one…and matte lipsticks are in right now, so yay!