Young Filipina wearing red lipstick

In 1953, Marilyn Monroe famously wore a glossy red lip, which eventually became her signature look. Over two decades later, Debbie Harry wore a warmer, heavily lined version that went so well with her rebellious style. In 1990, Madonna wore an iconic matte shade on her Blonde Ambition tour. Anyone who wanted to make a statement or shake things up, or both, turned to red lipstick and never looked back. 

Are you planning to make a bold beauty statement of your own? Here are six ways to make the most of the red lipstick look.

Exfoliate Your Lips

Red is one of the most unforgiving shades of lipstick out there. It’s also difficult to wear — and keep on. The pigment can settle between the lines on your lips or smudge easily. Matte formulas, ideal for reds, can dry the lips because they contain less oil, resulting in a flaky, not-so-sexy look.

Avoid this by exfoliating your lips gently with a sugar scrub (sugar plus olive oil) the night before. Use the pad of your index finger to rub the granules in gentle, small, circular motions. Generously apply a hydrating lip balm before going to bed. It will give your lipstick a smooth base to stick to and keep your lips from looking chapped.

Check Your Undertones

What’s the best red for you? The answer is in your veins!

Your undertone is the color underneath your skin that affects your overall complexion, and it can make or break a makeup look. Skin that has hints of blue, pink, and red has cool undertones, while skin with hints of peach, gold, and yellow has warm undertones.

There are two easy ways to determine your undertones. One way is to check your veins. Bluish veins mean cool and greenish veins mean warm. Another way is to check your jewelry box. If silver jewelry suits you better, you have cool undertones. If gold brings out your glow, you have warm undertones.

Those with cooler tones can go for a raspberry red lipstick or similar shades that have blue tones. If you have a warmer skin tone, choose reds that have more hints of orange or peach. If you want a more versatile red, go for a deep burgundy shade, which is flattering on most skin tones.

Conceal Your Mouth

All lipsticks can “bleed,” but red lipstick makes bleeding obvious. Lipstick bleeds because we are humans and have natural lines and creases around our mouths. Sometimes, the pigment can sink into these lines. You can prevent this from happening by dabbing concealer on your lips before applying lipstick. This makes the color stand out and keeps it from transferring. 

Another way to avoid this is to choose the right formula. Creamy or waxy lipsticks tend to smear easily. If you really want something that’ll stick, try a matte red lipstick or a lip crayon, which has a lot more staying power. To make it even more bleed-proof, apply the lipstick with a lip brush instead of directly swiping it on your lips. 

Avoid Red Lip Liner

Applying lip liner can also prevent bleeding. It also enhances the shape of your lips and gives it that precision that goes so well with red. However, it’s not always easy to find a lip liner and lipstick in the exact shades. Avoid red altogether and choose a lip liner that’s closest to the natural shade of your lips. 

To create a smudge-proof barrier, follow the outline of your lips first. Then, draw diagonal lines to fill it in. The waxes and powders in the liner will keep your lipstick from smudging easily. It also makes your lips fuller and your red lipstick more on-point.

Don’t Get It on Your Teeth

Avoid getting lipstick stains on your teeth by applying it with a lip brush.

Red lipstick is notorious for its ability to find its way to your teeth, which usually occurs when you put on too much of it. A lip brush allows you to control how much product goes on your lips. Applying lip liner also prevents smears since it keeps the color on and saves you from putting on too much. 

Make sure you don’t get it on your teeth later. Take a clean finger and put it in your mouth. Purse your lips, pull your finger out, and watch it remove any excess lipstick. To truly stun with that red lipstick, your teeth have to look their best, too. Use closeup Red Hot Toothpaste, which gives you a brighter smile thanks to Microshine Crystals that remove the yellow film on your teeth after every brush. It also cleans teeth, fights bacteria, and keeps your breath fresh.

Blot, Blot, Blot

Are you going for a matte red or a plump gloss? Blotting is an essential final step regardless of shade and sheen. It removes excess product, locks in the pigment, and keeps it from transferring onto glassware or silverware when eating. Ick! After applying your lipstick, take a soft tissue and pat it on your lips. That should do the trick.

Now you can rock red lipstick with confidence, just like Marilyn, Debbie, and Madge. Welcome to the red lipstick club, now go on and shake things up.