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Five Simple Steps For Perfect Red Lips

When I first started wearing makeup and experimenting with color, my mother warned me against using red lipstick. My old-school, no-nonsense, church-going Puerto Rican mother believed only “fast girls” painted their lips red. She worried about what people would say about me. As a result, I went through my teenage years and beyond wearing pale pinks and rosy browns.

As I got older, I realized that red lipstick was classic, chic and didn’t need to look cheap. But I believed I couldn’t pull it off. I didn’t have the confidence to rock a red lip. Until the day I put some on. It happened unexpectedly while at a blog conference; I applied a red shade just for fun and immediately my entire face was transformed. I looked in the mirror and saw a new woman. I didn’t look like a tired mom; I looked vibrant. I felt pretty and confident. That is the power of red lipstick.

Unlike other colors, red lipstick isn’t something that can be smeared on before running out the door or while sitting on a crowded subway. It needs time. Red lipstick is a commitment. Think of your lips as a canvas, deserving of a bold splash of color—but it needs to be precise and carefully applied.

Red lips can go from day to night, with anything you decide to wear. A little blush, a touch of mascara and you can run out the door feeling fabulous. Red lips can make a statement before you even have a chance to say a word. Here are my five steps for perfect red lips:


Red lipstick needs a smooth, clean surface. There are a few ways you can exfoliate your lips using ingredients you already have at home. I like using honey and sugar (more honey, less sugar); mix together and massage on your lips in a circular motion to scrub away any dead skins cells. Leave the mixture on for a few minutes before rinsing your lips with warm water. If you’re in a rush or don’t have the ingredients readily accessible, a washcloth and warm water will do.


In the evenings before bed, I use a petroleum jelly-based product on my lips to moisturize. During the day before applying any lipstick, I apply a lip balm that moisturizes my lips without feeling greasy or leaving a sticky residue.


Red lipstick should be applied carefully, following the natural line of your lip. The first application will be your base color. Blot by taking a tissue and pressing between your lips.

Lip Liner

In order to prevent bleeding, I recommend lining your lips with a neutral color lip liner. I love Clinique’s Quickliner for Lips in Baby Buff because it glides right on. Be wary of using red lip liner because it’s almost impossible to find a shade that will match. I find that putting the liner on after the lipstick helps prevent color-bleeding best, but you can also apply it before the lipstick if you prefer.


Finally…the second coat will seal the deal.

What's your best tip for rocking red lipstick?

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