Laura Whitmore on How to Wear a Red Lip and Not End Up a Mess

Updated 04/27/19

The red lip. One of the most iconic looks to bestow a Hollywood face—Marilyn Monroe, Betty Davis and even Grace Kelly all toyed with it. It has the power to turn any face into that of a movie starlet (it does help that the aforementioned women all had lovely faces, I should add).

I love a red lip. I try to refrain myself from wearing it regularly and keep it for those more important occasions. I love its ability to take any day look into nighttime glamour. Within seconds you can completely transform yourself!

Conor McDonnell ; MAKEUP: Justine Jenkins

The problem, however, is that I’m not very good at keeping it on my lips. It ends up on my chin (especially if I’m talking or eating) and on some occasions on my forehead (don’t ask me how!). I’m always catching it on my wineglass, my fork, my fingers and even on my sleeves. At the end of the night, it’s a bit of a massacre or it looks like I’ve been chomping on some bloody flesh… and thus ruining the glamourous and sophisticated look I had been attempting. So let me share with you some tips for the perfect red lip that I’ve learned over the years.

Conor McDonnell ; MAKEUP: Justine Jenkins

Exfoliate your lips: I recommend Lush Sweet Lips. It’s a fair-trade cocoa and vanilla lip scrub, and it will get your lips soft, smooth and sweet like chocolate. Caster sugar gently exfoliates, jojoba oil leaves lips soft and moisturised and cocoa adds an irresistible richness and chocolate fragrance. Having smooth lips with no dry skin gives the perfect base for red lipstick and prevents the colour from bleeding into cracks.

Use a lip liner: It doesn’t have to be the exact same shade as your lip colour; sometimes it has even more of an impact if they are different shades. Also, you can experiment with increasing your Cupid’s bow a little. Draw the line carefully over your own natural lip line and accentuate the dip in the Cupid’s bow. I love Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat (£16) in Hollywood Honey or Kiss ’n’ Tell.

Have a good concealer pen at the ready: Use it to tidy up any mess. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch Highlighting Pen (£25) is an old favourite of mine; it’s ideal for erasing any mistakes and perfecting that red lip.

Conor McDonnell ; MAKEUP: Justine Jenkins

Finding the Perfect Red

Finding the perfect red shade can be difficult, so I asked five of my favourite red-lipstick lovers for their favourite ones. (I own all of the following, so I’m in good company.) Keep scrolling for five of the best red lipsticks around…

Daisy Lowe, Model

Smashbox Be Legendary Matte Lipstick in Infrared $18

Lulu Guinness, Designer

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red $20

Justine Jenkins, Makeup Artist

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon $25

Fearne Cotton, TV Presenter

Nars Audacious Lipstck in Rita $24

Imelda May, Singer

MAC Lipstick in Russian Red $16

Related Stories