Foxy Face Beauty

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Mission Possible: Red Lips


photo-17On of the most popular questions I get asked is, “How do I find a red lipstick that works for me?” This is not an easy question to answer as many people are really asking me to make them change their perception about red lipstick and who should be wearing it, and to make them see themselves in a different light in which they are glamorous and bold.

First and foremost, anyone can pull off a red lipstick. Part of it is choosing the right shade and applying it well, and then another part is pulling a whole ‘look’ together around the lips. Like you probably wouldn’t wear a pair of glamorous high heeled shoes with sweat pants, you will want to put a wee bit of simple effort into prepping the rest of your face to embrace the red lips. And then a really huge component is confidence – you must feel it to rock it!

Choosing the Red

I’m not gonna lie, there are so many options out there! There are many brands, formulations, and coverages out there. Lipstick wise you find mattes, creamy formulas, stains, full coverage, sheer coverage. Then there are glosses that offer full coverage or are more sheer, with sparkles, without sparkles…. Options for days (or daze?).

Rather than go over every single option, I’d rather focus on a few go-to shades that tend to work well for most. This means they are a truer red rather than orange based or cooler tones of red. These are the more “neutral” reds which will look better on more people. I personally love an orangey red, but realize that most people would find it too over the top.

When you go out on your mission, go prepared with well- moisturized lips free of any colour. You want to hit up a place that allows you to test products, but also one which has good hygienic practices in place. If trying a lipstick on your lips in a store is not for you, then you can try it on your finger tip and hold it up to your face for an idea of how it will look. Ask the salesperson to help you. He or she should listen to what you are asking for and offer a few suggestions. Take your time trying the lipsticks and consider applying it lightly –  build the intensity slowly so you can see what it looks like to have a little bit on and what it looks like to wear it on full blast.

I’ve read many articles and blogs on red lipstick and there was a shade that was mentioned time after time after time. I was actually surprised that:  A) I did not already own this shade, and B) I actually had never heard of it. You have to understand this was a shock to me as I love lipstick and reds so I couldn’t believe this one was so popular and I was clueless!

MAC - Ruby Woo

MAC – Ruby Woo

The shade is “Ruby Woo” from MAC. I marched my butt to the closest MAC counter to try it on for myself. Touted as the perfect red that suits all skin tones, hair colours and even ages, I was so excited to get this hot commodity on my lips. At the counter I opted to line my lips with a liner that matched my natural lip tone. Upon applying the lipstick I noticed that it is very matte. This is a good thing with a red because anything too creamy or glossy can migrate and look a little sloppy. Once I had applied it, I decide to use a tiny amount of MAC Lipglass (lip gloss) over top to add a bit of moisture and shine. This lipstick was FAB-U-LOUS (and very noticeable)! I was in the mall and as I walked around several people complimented me on the colour. I had already eaten lunch, but it stayed on even after I ate supper much later that day. Although the intensity had faded, it was still very on. I will be returning to purchase this little gem soon!

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge

Another red I love and wear often is from Shiseido. Their Lacquer Rouge line is a rich liquid lipstick with a wonderful applicator that makes it easy to fit to your lips. This formula goes on like a lipgloss, but with a lipstick finish. I own several shades from this line but wear Lacquer Rouge Nocturne (RD607) lots. I love this red. It’s less bright than Ruby Woo, and it’s moisturizing yet stays where I put it.

Quo Luminous Gloss Stick Flare

Quo Luminous Gloss Stick Flare

If you are a little more conservative, run out and try the Quo Luminous Gloss Stick in Flare. This red is delivered by means of a jumbo pencil, and glides on effortlessly. The beauty of this one is that you can apply just a little and then spread over your entire lips with a finger, providing you with a sheer glossy red lip that doesn’t jump out.  I actually use this one quite often as it moisturizes my lips when I wear it and I can really adjust the strength of colour depending on how I apply it. The one downside to this is that it is not terribly long – wearing, but it is so easy to apply that touch ups are a breeze. Don’t forget to buy a big pencil sharpener for this one!

Application is Crucial With Red

Applying red onto your lips becomes a bit of a science to get the effect you really want. It starts with preparation- you want your lips to be smooth and moisturized without flakes. See my lip care post for some moisturizing tips. The day you are wearing red, you may want to start off in the morning by gently brushing your lips with your toothbrush after you brush your teeth. Then, apply a lip moisturizer right after and do other stuff giving it a chance to soak in.

When you’ve done the rest of your makeup and maybe even your hair and it’s time to put on the red, gently blot off any excess moisture on your lips with a tissue. I would then highly recommend lining your lips with a lip liner. Liner acts like a barrier that will help keep the lipstick in place, and it will provide definition to your lips. With reds, this is a very good idea since you don’t want it feathering around the lip line and looking like a hot mess. My preference is to line lips with a liner that is the same shade as your lips or even clear rather than a red liner. This way if your lipstick wears off you aren’t left with a red ring all around your lips. If you choose a red lip liner that matches your lipstick, fill in the entire lip with it after you make the line. This will help keep your lipstick on longer, and you also won’t be left with that weird red ring around your lips should your lipstick wear off. Keep in mind that using a red liner underneath your lipstick will probably also intensify it.

Once liner is applied, it’s time to put on the lipstick. There are several application methods – direct from the tube, applying with your finger, applying with a lip brush. Direct from the tube is fastest, but for ultimate precision a lip brush will allow you best control. You can either use the brush to get lipstick from the tube and then out onto your lips, or put some on directly from the tube and then use the brush to precisely fill in the countours. If you would like a hint of the colour rather than wearing it full blast, smudge a tiny amount onto centre of your lips and then spread out over rest of your lips with your finger.

When applying a red lipstick, keep in mind this is not a time to race, you want to ensure application is tidy and clean. I like to keep a cotton swab handy with some eye makeup remover. I will dip the swab into a tiny amount of the remover and then trace around the outside of my lips to clean up the line perfectly and erase anything that went over. Finally, I like to take a little of my face powder on a wedge sponge and precisely trace around the outside of my lips to give it a perfect finish.

The Rest of Your Face

As mentioned earlier, to achieve the best result wearing the red lipstick you should put some attention into the rest of your face makeup too. A little foundation or powder to even out complexion and cover any redness (redness in skin will be amplified when wearing red lips), a little eye makeup and some bronzer and/or blush. This will set the scene for you to embrace those red lips a lot more. See my blog on a Classic Holiday Look for further tips.

Reds to Check Out

Here are a few red lipsticks for you to check out on your next shopping trip:

  • MAC – Ruby Woo
  • Shiseido Lacquer Rouge – Nocturne RD607
  • Quo Luminous Gloss Stick  – Flare
  • MAC Lip Glass –  Russian Red
  • Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Lipstick Perfect – Brick
  • Urban Decay Super Saturated High Gloss Lip Color- F Bomb
  • Revlon Colorburst Lipstick – Crimson
  • Duwop Private Lipstick – Private Red


Alright Foxes, I am dying to hear from you on this one. Did any of these tips help or were they new to you? If you decide to rock a red this season PLEASE post a picture on my Facebook page “Foxy Face Beauty” or tag me on twitter @foxyfacebeauty. I want to see red!!!!

Author: foxyfacebeauty

A whiz in the beauty biz for nearly two decades.... I love beauty products and have had the opportunity to use/ try thousands of them over the years. From the tried and true favourites to the newest and upcoming beauty items, they all have a place in my cabinet (really it's more like a room!).

6 thoughts on “Mission Possible: Red Lips

  1. Hi Glenda! Love reading your blog 🙂 I remember coming to you in the old SDM shop and asking your help in finding a good red lip gloss. Finding a good red lip shade has always been tricky for me! But I have found 2 from MAC that work well with my skin tone (medium-darm complexion). I like Russian Red for a really bold red lip, but I also use Party Line which is actually a red-toned plum. Party Line shows up as a nice darker subdued red on my lips, which I like for more everyday wear. Can’t wait to hear your next blog!


    • Thanks Jas for the feedback! I think you might like the Quo Luminous Gloss Stick too…. Especially for wintet. I am working on the cold weather face post next and keeping your previous question in mind….


  2. Great article and tips on “Reds”! I will try all kinds of reds but find the reds with an orange undertone doesn’t go very well with my complexion since I have a yellow undertone. I love the fuschia reds and plums reds. It takes a little bit of attitude to rock a bold red but once the confidence kicks in, I’m all for showing it off bold and in your face! I wore a fuschia undertone red recently for a wedding I attended. Not a great picture but will try and post it on your facebook page. Love your blogs and looking forward to reading more!


  3. Wow as usual just what I needed to read! 🙂 I love that shiseido one- going to grab one today!! It looks fab on you.
    Nice to know one skin tone can wear different shades and textures of red, your blogs are realistic and useful.
    Thanks keep up the amazing blogs.


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