How to Do Perfect Red Lips

Published in: Lips, Loreal, MAC Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To

perfect red lips

Some things are really hard — climbing Mount Everest, saying no to the last French fry, learning how to breakdance when you’re over 30 and completely inflexible (particularly in the hamstrings) — but other things, like achieving a perfect red lip, aren’t that hard at all.


Smooth, symmetrical red lips with crisp, yet not harsh, edges are easy with the right tools, a few tips and a little practice. By the end of this post, you will NOT look like a demented clown about to go on a rampage at a children’s birthday party (although this happens sometimes when I try to do lip liner on bare lips). Pretty soon you’ll be doing ’em like a seasoned pro.

So, let’s start at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start. 🙂

Um…I think I may or may not have just quoted Sound of Music, but whatever!

1. Apply lipstick to the center area of your lips


Begin by applying (directly from the bullet) the red lipstick you’d like to wear around the center area of your lips. The key here: don’t take the lipstick all the way out to the edges.

lipstick 2

At this point, as is the case so often with makeup, if you’re doing it right, it’ll look kinda weird…

2. Now drag the lipstick out to your natural lip line

lip brush

Using a lip brush loaded with the same red lipstick, fill in the edges around the area you applied from the bullet a moment ago, dragging some of the existing lipstick out while also painting all the way to the edge of your lip line. We’re doing this because the brush is more detailed than the lipstick bullet.

lip brush 2

Try to get that lip line smooth and even, but it doesn’t have to be perfect at this point.

3. Line your lips with a lip liner in a complementary color

red lip liner

Now set aside the lip brush, and grab a sharpened red lip liner (sharpen it first, because we want the point to be nice and sharp) in a color that complements your lipstick.

Take that lip liner, and start drawing a line right around the edge of your lip, following your natural lip line, and we have two reasons for this. First, we’re creating a boundary for our red lipstick outside of which we won’t go, and second, we’re also using this as an opportunity to tweak the shape of our lips, if need be, to make them look perfectly symmetrical. Like, one side of my lips is thinner than the other, so I slightly overdraw that side at this step to make my lips look even and full.

Next, with the same lip brush you used earlier, although this time without any extra product on it, gently merge the line you created with your lip pencil into the lipstick to soften the appearance of the lip liner.

4. Clean up any mistakes with concealer

concealer pencil

If you made any boo-boos, like if you accidentally drew outside your natural lip line, or if you just want to sharpen an edge a bit, correct the line by drawing along the edges slightly beyond your natural lip line using either a flat, thin concealer brush with a little bit of concealer on it, or a flesh-toned eye pencil (like I’m doing here).

After you’re done fixing, pat and smudge the concealer in (if you used any) with a Q-tip or your finger, because we don’t want to just leave that line of concealer there as it is.

5. Highlight your Cupid’s bow


Lastly, and this is kind of a bonus step, gently run a brush or finger with a cream or powder highlighter on it across the top of your Cupid’s bow. That way, when the light hits your lips, your Cupid’s bow will reflect that shimmery highlight and look even fuller.


5. The finished look

final red lip looks

Ooh-la-la! You did it! 🙂 Perfect red lips. 💋

final red lip look k

Lip products I’m wearing (along with the highlighter)

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 24 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Joan says:

    You did that red lip classic thing I like. Lovely tutorial Karen. Thank you!
    Joan recently posted … Sept 2015 Week 3 New Kbeauty Makeup Launches

  2. Angie says:

    That looks beautiful! Thanks for the tips!

  3. Nikki says:

    Thank you for the tutorial Karen! You do things with utmost perfection 🙂

  4. Chelsea says:


  5. Stephanie says:

    Ooh, this is super handy! I’ve never thought of doing it this way, but I love it. Thanks!

  6. Lulle says:

    It’s funny because I don’t believe I ever thought of using lip liner AFTER applying lipstick, but I had a makeover at a Dior counter today and that’s exactly what the makeup artist did! It worked well too, so I guess I’ll have to give this technique a try.
    Lulle recently posted … #FrenchFriday : Guerlain Ecrin 4 Couleurs Les Fumes

  7. jessica says:

    ohhhhh THANK YOU

    I’m the eyeshadow girl, always will be, so I keep my lips neutral…
    but for fall I want to do BOLD LIPS! (with more muted eyes)

    so this really helped me.

    jessica recently posted … I *KNEW* It!

  8. Agata says:

    It is a perfect red lip, that shade is gorgeous!!! And the whole look is stunning, Karen! I love these glossy eyelids!
    Agata recently posted … Beauty Influencer’s Sunday Column Vol.15: ​​How do you overcome blogger’s block?

  9. Holly says:

    Love! I’m always a bit leery of red or bright lips, but this looks emminently doable. I need to pull out the red lippies & give it a shot.

  10. Aenea says:

    You have such lovely lips. My lips, according to my son, are “crunchy”.

  11. Your lines are just soooooo crisp and clean! Love it. Thanks for sharing/showing 🙂
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Hawaii sunscreen routine with the Clinique SPF 30 Face Cream + Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturizing Anti-UV Mist SPF 30

  12. angie says:

    whoa.. thx for the tips karen! never thought that we have to use the lip liner after the lipstick. Would definitely try this

  13. Cherry says:

    Woah…nice tip ^_^
    Thank you :-*

  14. What a bright, happy red lipstick!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … VIDEO : Pink Chocolate Makeup Tutorial

  15. Erin says:

    Love that color!
    Erin recently posted … Gentlemen’s Tonic Gentle Body Wash

  16. Belinda Lawlor says:

    Always trying to get the perfect red, thank you

  17. Trudy Erickson says:

    I absolutely love the red lips. I think keeping a sense of humor is MACnificent & I always do my nails 😎

  18. I usually just slap some on from the bullet, but your lines look so crisp I think I should take the extra step(s)!
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Recent Reads – Mr. Penumbras 24 hours book store

  19. Trude says:

    Such a great color on you! I never thought to do liner second, will have to try that!

  20. Lena says:

    julianne’s red is such a beautiful color on you! i need to try this one. who’d have thought something for a fair, red head would be awesome on us tanned asian brunettes!
    Lena recently posted … Habis! Used-up Hair Masks

  21. Gloria says:

    Thanks Karen! This is a really helpful short tutorial! I am still trying to find a perfect red lipstick… I kinda feel brown reds look better with my NC 30 skin, but I just want to have a real red lipstick so badly!!! This L’oreal one looks stunning on you! Maybe I will give it a try too. What are your favorite reds??? A short list would be helpful! Thank you!

  22. Lennae says:

    Wow thank you, this is a really helpful tip!

    Lennae xxx

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