Use This Unexpected Technique For The Perfect Red Lip

How to apply red lipstick

Red lipstick has been a cosmetic classic for centuries, and with good reason: “A red lip is the quickest way to finish your look,” says Lori Woodhouse, makeup artist and director of education at Tom Ford in the UK and Ireland. “It’s also unbelievably versatile; it can be sexy, dramatic, classic, demure, pretty, chic… you can customize it for whatever look you’re going for.” If you’re a red lipstick wearer, you know this already. But if you’re new to the bold shade, the idea can be a little intimidating. Here, Woodhouse shares her secret to pulling off a red lip with ease.

The trick, she says, is keeping the rest of your makeup pared down. “The freshest way to work the red lip is going for really bare, glowing skin and a crisp, red lipstick,” she explains, adding that her favorite textures right now are sheer mattes, like Tom Ford Liquid Matte Lip Lacquer in Fetishist ($54; After moisturizing, apply a little foundation or BB cream, blush, and mascara – that’s it! If you’re wearing a pigmented pout, you don’t need much more.

Before applying lip color, be sure to slough off any flaky skin so you have a smooth base. And while the application itself isn’t exactly rocket science, the different techniques will give you different results. You can always apply lipstick straight from the tube, but this technique delivers the strongest finish, while dabbing color on with your fingertips will give a softer effect. But for even more of an effortless vibe, Woodhouse uses an unexpected beauty tool: an eye shadow brush.

“Recently I did the makeup for actress Portia Freeman, and we wanted to create a red lip that wasn’t too overbearing or bold as her vibe was relaxed, so I used an eye shadow brush,” she says. Starting in the middle of the lips, buff color outwards with the brush. Then, use your fingertips to blend the edges so there are no lines. “This creates the perfect, just-bitten effect – darker at the center and diffused around the edges,” she says. “I also think not using any lip pencil for a look like this makes it all the more modern, as liner can often date the effect.”

There you have it: a red lip look you won't feel self-conscious rocking!