Red lips are having a serious moment right now, and anyone who’s a red lipstick devotee (as I decidedly am) will understand why. To paraphrase Gwyneth Paltrow, a kick-ass red lipstick gives you a confidence boost like nothing else.
And science shows that red lips also get you noticed: A study at the University of Manchester found that men stared longer at women who wore red lipstick (7.3 seconds) than they did at women who wore pink lipstick (6.7 seconds). Bare lips clocked the least attention, at 2.2 seconds.
The thing that makes today’s reds different, in my humble option, is the texture. Rich, opaque and matte with a capital ‘M.’ Think Miley Cyrus or Rihanna or Dita von Teese—color that’s rich, saturated and decidedly not for makeup-phobes.
“I just started wearing matte red and I love it so much more than shine,” says New York City fashion stylist Adriana Pellegrini. “It refines any look and it gives me that little extra boost of confidence. It makes me feel like I’m in a technicolor film!”
Makeup pros concur: “Red lips are always a staple, and right now the most modern way to wear red is to keep the texture matte,” says New York City makeup artist Josephine Keo.
Now, the trick when you’re doing a lip this intense is to keep the rest of your makeup balanced. Picture Miley, Rihanna or Dita—compared to their lipstick, the rest of their makeup is fairly understated.
“You’re making a statement with the matte red lips, so it’s best to keep the rest of your face super clean,” says Keo. “The less eyeshadow and blush, the better. Accentuate your eyes with two or three coats of mascara, and if you have light-to-medium skin, apply a bit of bronzer brushed along your temples and cheeks. If you have dark skin, use a little highlighter at your cheekbones.”
As far as choosing the right shade of red for your skintone, I know we’ve all heard the “cool reds look better on blah blah blah” and “warm reds look better on blah blah blah.” Of course there’s merit to that advice, but personally I think it’s all about the look you want to rock. And it can be kind of fun to switch up tones from a cool vixen-y red to a cheerful coral-red, depending on how you’re feeling.
If you’re new to reds, though, and you’d feel better with a little professional advice, Keo offers these tips: “Fair or light skintones looks great with the bright hues of red, especially colors that have hints of orange to them. Bronze and medium skintones can play with the entire red spectrum, but their ideal picks would be true reds that have a tiny bit of pink mixed in—think cherries! Olive and dark skintones look amazing in dark reds, like burgundy or wine colors.”
Red-y to go matte? Check out some fabulous reds below.