Add Red to Your Lipstick Repertoire with these 10 Tips

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To

Hi, ladies! Thanks for all your wonderful tips and tricks to wearing red lips. Here’s a list featuring a few of your secrets. 🙂


1. Set Down the Tube and Grab a Brush

My secret to wearing reds like Lancome’s Absolute Rouge is to apply them using a MAC 316 Covered Lip Brush ($19).

With the 316’s firm, pointed tip I can really get in where I need to get, precisely controlling my lines and delivering the right amount of pigment for my look — kinda like drawing with a sharpened pencil versus trying to draw with a stubby crayon. When applying directly from a tube of lipstick, I’ll often end up with uneven color or color breaking outside the lines of the natural shape of my lips. Not cute, ladies!

2. Use a Waxy Lip Liner

Use a very waxy lip liner to keep your color from bleeding; apply very heavily and blot. It helps the color sink in, and, when it begins to fade, your lips will still look pretty and stained.

3. Smooth That Pucker

Bright red looks great on super smooth lips, so consider using a lip exfoliator every other day.

4. Beet Juice, Baby!

Apply beet juice to your lips before you go to sleep. If your lips are darkened from smoking, it’ll correct the problem better than lipstick. It produces a semi-permanent stain that doesn’t rub off. Be careful not to overdo it, though. What you want is a stain very similar to your natural lip color.

5. Line with a Cream Concealer

After you’re done applying a red lipstick, take a cream concealer or foundation and a 266 brush and line just outside your lips; blend any harsh lines into your skin. It cleans up any crooked lip liner you may have, covers red smudges and really makes your lips POP!

6. Ease into Red

To ease your way into wearing red on your lips, don’t jump straight into something bold and bright. Start with cranberry colored lip gloss or a brown based red.

7. Cargo The Reverse Lip Liner

Try using Cargo The Reverse Lip Liner, a flesh colored liner used outside your lip line, and then apply a very thin layer of balm before applying red lipstick.


8. Tone It Down

If you’re unsure about red, consider toning down bright red shades with a darker red like MAC Kirsch Mattene.

9. MAC Russian Red!

Look for MAC Russian Red. It’s the perfect blue-based red for nearly all skin tones, and, instead of going for a full-on red pout, smear on some Chapstick and dab until you’ve got a pretty, stained effect. It lasts all day long and works well if you’re a little shy when it comes to wearing red.

10. Line with a Flesh Toned Pencil

Line and fill in your lips with a flesh toned pencil onto which you apply your red lipstick. The liner helps define and hold the color while helping to prevent blurring and fading around the edges of your lips as your lipstick fades over the course of the day.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 32 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Fie says:

    Red She said looks gorgeous on you. 😀 And thanks for this! I’m looking to wear red sometime soon. Oh does the beet juice make your lips have the red stained look?

  2. Ellery says:

    I love that Red She Said lipstick! I like the Russian Red tip, I’m gonna try it out when I buy a bright red lipstick.

    Does the beet juice thing work with pigmented lips? Because mine are really pigmented. 🙁

  3. Eru says:

    Great Tips 😀 I’m looking forward trying Cargo’s reverse lipliner! But I think my old Cupidon by Guerlain does the job.
    Have you tried these two, Karen?
    I’m very happy Tabs is back. I’m sure he was missing you! 😀
    Hugs :3

    Eru´s last blog post..Pink turns green~~ EOTD and FOTD! ^-^

  4. Marisol says:

    Great tips Karen!

    Marisol´s last blog post..I heart Oprah

  5. Heidi says:

    Yeah, you look amazing in red lips. I don’t see too many women in red. It makes me sad because it’s such a great look. Anyway, have you tried MAC’s “Ladybug” lustre lipstick? If you’re looking for an alternative to the matte lippies, I highly recommend this one. Like russian red, it’s a blue-based red and goes on really smooth. It’s incredibly moisturizng and there’s no use for chapstick here.

  6. cloudburst says:

    Red She Said is a great colour!

  7. Almira says:

    Yeee! ^_______________^’; I think that no. 4 was me! -pats self on the back-

    Almira´s last blog post..4 Fun Movies For Halloween

  8. Almira says:


    Are your lips pigmented ethnically, you mean?

    Almira´s last blog post..4 Fun Movies For Halloween

  9. Karen,

    These tips are simply brilliant!

    It took me a very long time to warm up again to red lipstick and I’ll be honest I still don’t wear the super-saturated shades, but I LOVE the sheer reds because they add so much luminosity to the face and they make your teeth look super-white.

    Red is THE colour on the runway and in all magazines and it’s also the HOT-HOT-HOT shade for Holiday 2008!

    I think every woman should find her own shade of red lipstick and these tips are going to make that quest even easier!

    Miss Gisele B.

    Miss Gisele B.´s last blog post..Free Rachael Ray Chef Package Promotion

  10. lexi says:

    Hey Ms. K!
    Is my contribution number 6? That’s cool – I helped! =)

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Fie,

    Thanks! You gotta try this shade — it’s pretty and a totally not scary red. 🙂

    I was planning on trying the beet juice stain trick this weekend! I wanted to do it last weekend, but I have to be in the mood for beets, LOL. It has a distinct smell and taste that sometimes makes my tummy churn, eek.

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Ellery,

    Russian Red is a MAC classic!

    Lucky you that your lips are so pigmented! I’m guessing it would for you, because beet juice is pretty dark!

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Eru,

    I haven’t yet. I was so excited about these tips that I wanted to share them first! 🙂 I am on a red lip mission so I am planning to check out the Cargo one (gotta wait till the Sephora Friends and Family sale in November).

    How have you been? Tabs sends hugs!

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Marisol,

    🙂 Yay, you guys are the best. I love that we can share tips and tricks with each other.

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Oh sweet! I haven’t tried that one. I love the Lustre formulas so that’s definitely on my list. I have a few Back to Mac items I’ve been saving up so hopefully it’ll look nice when I try it on. Do you wear it by itself, or pair it up with a lip liner?

  16. Karen says:

    Hi Cloudburst,

    I know! I’m crazy for the reds right now. Have you tried it yet?

  17. Karen says:

    Hi Almira,

    🙂 Thanks for sharing your tip, hon!

  18. Karen says:

    Hi Miss Gisele B.,

    Totally agree with you on red being the shade for lips this holiday season. Do you have a favorite?

  19. Karen says:

    Hi Lexi,

    Yup, yup! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your tip! Now we can all rock the reds and look great.

    Hope you had a good Monday. I’m so ready to watch some cheesy TV!

  20. lexi says:

    Yes, had a great Monday – not looking forward to going back to work next Wednesday but it gives me an excuse to buy (post pregnancy) work clothes since I’m still working on getting back to pre-prego weight. I’m getting ready to watch Jon and Kate and right now I’m looking at the Red, She Said collection on the MAC site to get excited about new colors.

    Right now I am loving the Date Night Dazzlegloss! I’m thinking about getting one of the mineralize trio – Persuasive is looking real good to me!

  21. Karen says:

    Hi Lexi,

    Red She Said didn’t initially do anything for me, but it’s growing on me. I played with a few things this weekend, but now I’m kinda jonsing for Date Night, Crazee lipstick Threesome eyeshadow and Stark Naked blush. 🙂

    Oh! Your time to go back to work is coming up so soon. Are you okay? I bet you’re still feeling anxious about leaving her…

  22. lindsay says:

    I really love the ring, especially the size! Lately I’ve been developing a fetish for big cocktail rings.

    Do you have any suggestions for a great smudgeproof eyeliner that you can put on your waterline (pencil or gel)? My Anna Sui one smudges too much 🙁

  23. lindsay says:

    Oops, I meant to put that comment into your review of the new mac ring lipgloss computer has been acting up lately 🙁

  24. Karen says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    The best long lasting liner I’ve used is MAC Fluidline. I have a bunch and I lurve them:

    MAC Fluidline

    Seriously, this stuff won’t budge for nothing! You have to get yourself a good brush to use with it, though. The MAC 212 flat brush is pretty good, but I prefer Laura Mercier’s Flat Eye Liner Brush.

  25. Heidi says:

    Hey Karen!

    I wore ‘ladybug’ on its own but it’s probably better to pair it with a liner because the texture is creamier. It looks good as a stain too (just blot!). I think this lipstick is more wearable because russian red gets REALLY drying. lol.

  26. Ellery says:

    @Almira: Nope, they’re just really deep pink. 🙁

    @Karen: I’ll have to try it! I hate having pigmented lips though, I wish they were just totally skin toned, lol!

  27. Karen says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I know! If I wear Russian Red is pretty high maintenance. I can’t have any flakes on my lips at all!

    Okay, it’s definitely on the list of things to try. I’m hoping to visit the counter on Friday so I’m looking forward to it.

  28. Karen says:

    Hi Ellery,

    Yay, it’s beauty blog science experiment time. 🙂 I wonder if it’ll work (I hope it does) on you.

    I just have to get myself mentally prepared this weekend to try it (I have to be in the mood for beets). Plus I’m afraid of doing it during the week and having the experiment go wrong, eeek!

  29. Dao says:

    Ooh, you look good with Red She Said. I missed out that Port Red lipstick from Naughty Nauticals. I am going to try the Russian Red tip you posted after getting my Russian Red on 🙂

    Dao´s last blog post..Sephora Brand The Lash Stash: Perfect for Mascara Addicts

  30. Karen B says:

    I’m diving into the lipstick world! Wohoo. I’m doing another Antwerp trip tomorrow or the day after and I’ll visit MAC then 🙂
    Any lipstick recs?

  31. Almira says:


    I’m almost positive it’ll work, but it might take you a few more applications =3

    Almira´s last blog post..4 Fun Movies For Halloween

  32. Kristen says:

    Red She Said looks awesome on you. Red lipstick is the one beauty maneuver I have never attempted. I’m blond, very fair, and it just does not flatter me. But thanks for the tips and for fueling my envy for girls who can pull it off!
    .-= Kristen’s last blog post… Instant Hair Update: Bangs =-.

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