How to Build Your Courage for Crimson Lips

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To

5 tips to build your courage for crimson lips

Don’t be scurred!

Dude! Valentine’s Day? I know it’s hella commercial and cheesy, but I don’t even care. Chocolate, love and baby cherubs? You can’t go wrong with that. Plus, crimson lips? If there’s a day to go crazy with crimson, it’s gotta be V-Day.

But what if you’re scared to wear really red lips? What if you like the idea of going full-tilt Gwen Stefani, but you’re too terrified to try?


These five baby steps will build your courage for crimson lips. Remember, Drake was on Degrassi Jr. High once upon a time. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.

1. Keep calm, and start with a red lip tint or balm

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Cherry

Wearing Fresh Sugar Lip Tint in Cherry ($22.50)

Before going all the way with opaque red lips, you can take a baby step with a tint.

Red balms and tints are like crimson kitten heels, and years from now, when you’re strutting around town in the red lipstick version of 5-inch stilettos, you’ll think back to your starter balms…

When you wear a red balm or a tint, you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to wear red on your lips without the full-on shock of something opaque like MAC Ruby Woo.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments

Ease your way into red with something like Fresh Sugar Lip in Cherry (pictured in the center)

And that shock at seeing yourself in red lipstick for the first time is a legitimate thing. The first time I wore red (I think it was in high school, which would place it in the early Cretaceous Period), I didn’t recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. A red lip balm reduces that risk.

Some tints/balms to try…

Fresh makes a great one called Sugar Lip Tint in Cherry ($22.50). Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia is also gorgeous (and affordable at $6.99).

2. Shine with a sheer red gloss

NYX Butter Gloss Cherry Pie

Wearing NYX Cherry Pie

If you’re more of a gloss girl, you could skip the balm, and go for a sheer red gloss instead. It’s the same idea of easing your way into red with a baby step.

Look for a sheer red gloss that lets most of your natural lip color through. That way you won’t have to worry about the gloss migrating outside your natural lip line.

Check out Buxom Full-On Lip Polish in Taylor ($19) or NYX Butter Gloss in Cherry Pie ($4.99).

3. Text a friend

Think of her as your makeup training buddy. Here’s the scenario: you’re visiting a makeup counter and trying to choose your sheer red gloss, but you can’t decide. Do you go with a sheer blue-based gloss or a warm-toned yellowish red? Sparkles or no sparkles?

Gah! These decisions are tough. ๐Ÿ™‚

If all of the reds start to look the same, swatch the top contenders on your arm or the back of your hand, then take a quick pic with your phone.

Text it to a friend who (hopefully) knows a little bit about makeup, and ask her which shade she likes best for you, because it never hurts to have a second opinion.

4. Hit up the drugstore

Get an affordable taste of red before committing to a four-course meal. Cruise your favorite drugstore for a cute red — ideally, one that doesn’t cost a ton.

That way, you can try it at home without being out a lot of money (this works for all kinds of products; not just reds).


5. Take your reds for a test drive

Seeing yourself in a bold red lipstick can be quite jarring. Make no mistake, it’s a dramatic transformation.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got — and I use this all the time when I try bold new looks — is to take things for a test drive around the house. Wear it while you’re chillin’ on the couch, washing dishes and feeding the cat. The little glimpses you catch of yourself in every mirror will add up, and pretty soon you’ll be ready to rock crimson lips outside.

Watch out world! ๐Ÿ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 25 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Sarah says:

    What a great post. It took me 30 something years to rock a red lip and I’m hooked!

  2. Jana says:

    When I was 27, I bought a red lipstick. My self-confidence was so low. I was actually embarrassed by the compliments I got. But the more I wore it, the more my self-esteem and confidence grew. That one lipstick really changed my life, no kidding. I will tell any lady it there to go for it, you just might be surprised by how much it an change you!

  3. Debra says:

    Oh, yes, the Red Courage!! Baby steps is The Way!

    It’s been 6 or 7 years since my starter red, Laura Mercier Lip Color in Cranberry. As subtle and refined as it was, it scared me into a near panic attack when I first looked in the mirror!

    Yup, I wore it in the house, feeling like a mouse! Honestly, there was something very w-r-o-n-g with a very adult woman running away from red lipstick! So I progressed on to MAC Ladybug (with matching lip liner). And then Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Rebelle.

    Now I’ve got Dior Rouge Dior in Darling, MAC Captive, Chanel Pirate. The big leagues!

    And you know what? Once you conquer red, there are all of those vampy shades and the berries and the merlots.

    Sky’s The Limit!

    But Baby Steps is the way. Just like with training a horse, if you expect a miracle from day one, you’ll get a mess!

  4. fancie says:

    Red lipstick still makes me a little nervous lol. I guess I should grab a couple glosses and tints to get a little more comfortable. Great tips!
    fancie recently posted … NYX Spring Sneak Peeks!

  5. astou says:

    I’m just too shy for a red red lipstick.
    But those tints are great !!!
    Thank you so much, i love it …

  6. Rachel R. says:

    I’ve worn red lipstick since I was 14 or 15. It’s a classic lipstick color. I’m very surprised that people are intimidated by it.

  7. Agata says:

    I love your tips and I know you already gave some of them to me and they are brilliant! I really like the idea of starting with a sheerer gloss to try it out or buying just a cheaper drugstore lipstick. Also, your tip with trying a lip liner first is genius! Now I am not scared of wearing red lips although I still haven’t been brave enough to get Ruby Woo ๐Ÿ™‚
    Agata recently posted … Ulta Beauty Sightings

  8. gio says:

    Great tips! Red lipsticks used to intimidate me, but the more I wear it, the more I love it. It makes me feel so confident.
    gio recently posted … Know Your Ingredients: Palm Kernel Acid

  9. Fran says:

    Great tips! I started with some red lippies from Silk Naturals, an affordable way to try different colors, and they’re made with good quality natural ingredients. Now I’ll mix various pencils and lip tars from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics to come up with my own shades of red. I still like my sheer reds for casual days, busy days when I don’t want to have to deal with a high-maintenance lip, and for when I have to refresh my lip tar after eating and don’t have access to a mirror and good lighting.

  10. kwmechelle says:

    Great tips. Once upon a time, I NEVER wore red lips. I was too intimidated by it and thought my complexion was too deep. I actually only started wearing red lips about 2 years ago (can you BELIEVE THAT!). And I started with an inexpensive WnW color in Stop Light Red (because I heard it’s a dupe for MCA Ruby Woo) and I haven’t looked back since. This year I plan to find a killa matte red without the drying properties of Ruby Woo. And I also plan to expand my red lippie collection because I only have two (for shame!). Lol at the Cretaceos Period reference. I’ve been reading a dinasour kiddie book to my nephew so I can totes relate ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Lisa says:

    Great post! I’m still in the “kitten heel phase” with the Fresh tints. Baby steps!

  12. Komal says:

    Great tips! Love the last one ๐Ÿ™‚
    Komal recently posted … Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm Review

  13. Cassie says:

    Funny thing is when I started wearing makeup I bought a bunch of reds and never worn them. It wasn’t until Mac Spice It Up came along that I was like “omg wait, red iz gud ??!? ?” Seriously changed my mind about lip products in general. The lipstick collection went from baby pink and pale nude to dark red, darker red, and deep berry… and my face better for it, damnit!

  14. Nicole says:

    I’m always astounded by the number of people who are scared to wear red lipstick, then again there was a time in my life when lipstick scared the bejesus out of me. My favourite tip I love to give red lippie averse wearers: wear it around your house while cleaning, and before you know it you’ll be out the door with bright red lips ๐Ÿ™‚
    Nicole recently posted … Can we chat for a sec?

  15. You are so right karen taking reds for a test drive could be the best thing.. Even I was scared of reds earlier and just couldn’t feel its the same lady in the mirror but after a lot of hits n misses I am a Red addict now!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    My fav red is Stila Liquid Lipstick Beso but starting out with a sheer red lip tint is great for beginners… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … HerbaLife Skin Soothing Aloe Cleanser and Instant Reveal Berry scrub Review, Swatches

  16. I used to be afraid to wear red lips. Chanel La Flamboyante had changed me! Lol
    Alyssa Melanie recently posted … Chanel Spring 2015 Makeup Collection Haul (Part 1)

  17. Janet Shepherd says:

    Totally off topic, but I follow this blog via Bloglovin’ and the last few days your posts haven’t been loading in my feed. Not sure if anyone else has had the same problem?

  18. Baby steps! That’s the key! ๐Ÿ™‚ I definitely don’t feel confident wearing bright crimson lips yet…

    P.S.: That striped top looks cute, Karen!
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Itรขย€ย™s tricky living on the darkside: wearable smokey eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette

  19. Chic Lapin says:

    Baby steps work very well, but it came to me like a revelation one day… A Russian Red revelation. It helps to wear a matte, longlasting lipstick; it’s bold, yeah… But if you don’t have to worry about it moving/ being sticky/ fading unevenly, you feel a lot more confident!
    Chic Lapin recently posted … Outfit Of The Day {fringed poncho sweater, over the knees & Moschino clutch} January 2015.

  20. Sugarenia says:

    OMG that’s me basically. Took me 30 years to actually muster the courage and see myself in bolder lip colours. My mouth shape was all wrong, I looked freaky when I smiled, my teeth were yellowโ€ฆ all kinds of low self-esteem reasoning. Now I rock the fuschia lip like it’s noone’s business, and a good bright red is a staple when going out. Do it, ladies!

  21. Kim says:

    I agree with all your points and think it’s 100% confidence. If you’re self conscious in red, it shows (says someone who is self conscious in red). HAHA! Just for you, I dug through my purse and found my reddest option (Clinique Spiced Apple). It’s not a bright red but it was the best I could do. I’m now rocking it at my desk and think it really brings out my sweatpants. ๐Ÿ™‚ One of my coworkers came in to discuss something and spent the entire time looking at my lips because they’ve been pretty bare for the last 19 years or so when she’s seen me. I’ll keep you updated on the rest of the reactions. HAHA!

  22. Kelly B. says:

    I love bold red lips so I’m totally the person who dives right in ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s definitely the shade I own the most of!
    Kelly B. recently posted … Ciate Glametal swatches & review-OPI Number One Nemesis Dupe!

  23. Natalie says:

    I always think of Taylor Swift in her beautiful red lipstick. I think she wears Nars Dragon Girl. I have some great reds, including MAC Ruby Woo, RiRi Woo and Lady Danger, but I haven’t found my ultimate red yet.

  24. bella says:

    It took me,a long time to get get used to a brighter lip. I have been wearing lip gloss for at least ten years. But then Bars intervened, and it was all over. My got to isn’t red, but pink. I love, love Yu. There is a reason why it’s a cult classic. Whenever, I wear it I get lots of compliments, and it also just elevates whatever outfit I have on, and makes it more glamorous. Whereas, as when I wore lip gloss, it makes everything seem more carefree “Californian.”

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