The Perfect Red Lip
My whole life I have been fascinated by the perfect red lip, but have been too intimidated to wear it. My fascination stems back to when I was a child and my mother and I used to watch classic films from the 40s and 50s. Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Elizabeth Taylor… Those film sirens were so glamorous. Everything about them- their hair- their makeup, the way they talked. I wanted to be just like them.
In those glitzy movies from the golden age of Hollywood it seemed that everyone donned the perfect red lip- both day and night. In fact, just this weekend I re-watched Hitchcock's brilliant Dial M for Murder and noted with amusement that Grace Kelly's character, Margot Wendice, wore the perfect red lip throughout the entire film until the end when she had just been released from death row. I believe her not wearing her red lipstick at that point in the film was a conscious choice made by Hitchcock to convey that Kelly's character had been extremely stressed - nothing else had changed about her appearance- she still looked fabulous and her hair was even done. The only thing that changed was she wasn't wearing her red lipstick!
The perfect red lip is a look I’ve tried in the past but have shied away from for one reason or another. Either I felt it was too much for daytime or I felt my lips looked too big… and then there is the question of eating… how on earth do you eat lunch while wearing the perfect red lip?
I decided the only way to conquer my fear was to consult a professional. I sat down with Shadi Molavi, beauty expert and makeup artist with Chanel in Bloomingdales, Santa Monica to get her thoughts on the perfect red lip- and see if I could make it work for me. After all, the defined lip variation of le no makeup look is one of my favorite looks. It’s a glamorous and passionate look and one, I learned from Shadi, that is highly achievable.
Here are Shadi’s thoughts on wearing the perfect red lip:
Find the right shade for you. For brunettes and women with olive complexions it is best to find a red color with tinges of blue in it. For Blondes or people with fair skin that have a tendency towards redness (such as rosacea) it is best for go for cherry reds or reds with pink undertones.
The red lip can absolutely be worn during the day if it is the main feature of the face. Look at your face like a triangle, with the eyes as two points, scaling down to the cheeks then the lips. Only one of the three areas of the triangle (eyes, cheeks or lips) should play the starring role- not two, and certainly not all. Following this rule can help you avoid looking overdone like a clown. Shadi suggests that to wear the red lip during the day it is best to use only mascara to define the eyes and a subtle blush for the cheeks. For night play it up with an eyeliner.
If you are running late to work, for example, the red lip can really brighten your face and pull your look together quickly. (As a side note I would like to add that my favorite French television presenter Marie Ange Horlaville of Nec Plus Ultra is a woman of a certain age that frequently wears the red lip. Her face always looks beautiful and bright. She knocks most 20 something TV presenters out of the park with her chicness!)
To apply always use lip liner. Start by lining the lips and then feathering the liner in, avoiding the central area of the lip. Then apply your lipstick or gloss. In my case, I used Chanel’s best selling Rouge Allure Laque no. 75 in Dragon (pictured above). If you wish to make your lips look fuller, you can apply clear gloss in the center of the lip on top of your lipstick.
Use foundation or brightener on the skin around the mouth to highlight the lip and make it appear expertly applied. This will give you that professional polish those 40s film stars had.
As for my concerns about how to eat with the red lip, Shadi says there are three options:
Apply a lip stain that will last all day. You can apply the stain and then a clear gloss on top to create a moisturized look. You will not have trouble with your red lip color coming off while eating if you do this.
If you don’t want to wear a lip stain, you can fill in your entire lip with the lip liner before applying your lipstick. This will not ensure that it does not come off while eating but if you’re careful the lip liner can help to preserve the look while you lunch.
If you are really concerned that your lipstick will come off (or end up on your chin) while eating, you can take it off all together and reapply after lunch.
After meeting with Shadi and purchasing my Rouge Allure Laque in Dragon I met up with some girlfriends for lunch to test out the red lip. It lasted quite a long time- that is until I forgot I was wearing it (I rarely wear bold color during the day, you see) and smeared it with my napkin down my chin! But thankfully I was with girlfriends who told me instantly.
Wearing the red lip and channeling my inner 40s screen siren will take some practice. I’ve since worn it twice during the day and with greater success each time.
I would love to know… do you ever wear the perfect red lip?
Above Shadi (left) and I are pictured at the Chanel counter in Bloomingdales, Santa Monica.
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