How to Wear Red Lipstick

How to Wear Red Lipstick
| Beauty > Make Up

Wearing red lipstick is an art and a ritual to savour. These makeup tips and video tutorial help you wear red lipstick to its fullest vintage or gothic effect.

An artful slick of red lipstick will complete your vintage aesthetic, but devotees will know too well that channeling Dita von Teese takes a lot of upkeep. Red lipstick has a peculiar way of finding its way everywhere: on your kinderwhore white peter pan collar blouse, coffee cups, your partner’s lips… It is quite a commitment to stain your lips in such a way. Here is some practical advice for wearing your lipstick well, and without it creeping into odd places.

Lipstick colours: Choosing the perfect red

When looking at lip colours, your first consideration should be whether you will suit a blue-red or an orange-red, or in other terms, a cool or warm red. If you have a rosy or pale complexion, you will likely suit a blue-red, whilst orange-red is for the more golden, tanned or dark-skinned ladies.


Red lipstick doesn’t work well on dry, cracked lips, so it is therefore necessary to take care of your lips. Ensure that you apply a lip balm frequently when you’re off-duty or sporting natural lips for a day. You can also try lightly exfoliating your lips should they be stubbornly dry – brushing them over with a toothbrush is one way to achieve this end. You could also browse through Mookychick’s winter lip care tips.

Red lipstick naturally draws attention to your teeth, so make sure you keep them as white as possible by brushing frequently and such. No need to be on par with Julia Roberts, but try to avoid channeling Shrek.

Lip Liner

This is an oft-ignored but essential step in applying your lipstick. You should always line your lips before applying colour from the tube as it stops the lipstick bleeding out from your lips and lets you control the shape.

For a classic 1940s lip shape, trace the line of your bottom lip, then for the upper lip, draw out from the centre in both directions in a sort of “bow” shape which will make for perfectly glamourous red lips. Have a look at this vintage lip-shape makeup tutorial to get a visual:

Make sure you fill in your lips once you have traced the outline, else your lipstick may rub off and leave you with awkward, ghostly lip lines.

Applying your red lipstick

Some say that application with a brush lasts longer, but in my experience it makes little to no difference. Applying from the tube is easier, allows for more even coverage, and is more practical for swift reapplications later on in the day.

Lipstick tips:

One of the best tips I’ve ever received regarding re-applications is that halfway through the day it is prudent to remove your lipstick entirely and then apply from scratch. This saves you from sad, flaky lipstick in the afternoons.

The other tip I love will save you from the uncomfortable lipstick-on-teeth experience. Simply pop a finger in your mouth and purse your lips around it so as to blot any excess lipstick from the inside of your mouth.


Any meal is a dangerous obstacle course for a lady with glamorous red lips. Though I’m not suggesting you ought to order only lipstick-friendly meals, it is helpful to know that certain foods will leave you a wreck. Burgers and thick sandwiches are perhaps the most worrying of foods, so if you’d like to preserve your nicely-powdered face from smudges, dab off most of your lipstick before feasting, then reapply post-food. Note that you may actually consume a considerable amount of lipstick along with your vegeburger.

Most of all, I recommend a bit of sass when you wear red lipstick.

Main photo: Angelique Noire

Red lipstick as worn by Dita von Teese

Red lipstick as worn by rockabilly queen Bernie Dexter

Red lipstick as worn by Amy Lee of Evanescence

Red lipstick as worn by Emilie Autumn

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