# beauty # Makeup

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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CashmereLibrarian said...

Ah, a post after my own heart...you know how I feel about red lipstick! I think I just found my holy grail recently: Guerlain's Le Rouge G in Geisha. I'll try to post about it soon with photos.

Hope all is well with you and Baby Connoisseur!

Merveilleux said...

I'm still working on the perfect shade for me. However, let me know if the Rouge Allure Laque dries your lips out. I have it in Ming and can only wear it for a day at a time or my lips get really dry.

the gardener's cottage said...

well i too love red lipstick. i always have but now that i'm 53 i need it! i wear mascara and my aveda poppy all day every day. i honestly don't even get the mail w/o it. you look lovely in the red you chose.

how's that little baby doing?


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

This is a great post...I am so happy to see it that I read it twice!

I have wanted to get some red lippy for eons...I have my berry Aveda but want to try something more daring and I will get right on it!
Thank you...and as Janet mentions how is baby?

Anonymous said...

I really love NARS Jungle its a very gorgeous bright red I feel in love with it right away.

Marguerite said...

You look just beautiful in the picture, Jennifer. Not only your lip color, but your skin is glowing. I have never tried a a red, as I am very fair. Just seems too intense. Perhaps I shall try again. Do you prefer Chanel lippy over Laura Mercier?

Anonymous said...

Hello, love the photo. You look beautiful and the red lip suits you. I love a red lip. It always feels so Agnathia Christie/film noir to me. And because I'm half dead most days with exhaustion it's the only thing that makes me look semi alive. I have been using Chanel Rogue in Gabrielle but I also swear by the Mac reds and I like LancĂ´me as well for the smell. xx

CHE said...

I've been on the look out for the perfect red lip for years now. Its true they evoke the glamour of a more sophisticated era. On a more prosaic note, I worry about getting red lipstick on my teeth and looking hideous when i smile. Any way to avoid that?

Pearl said...

I wear red lipstick most every day. I have shades ranging from brownish-reds to pure red to cherry. My technique is as follows: exfoliate lips for smooth surface; line outside lips with anti-feathering stuff; line and fill in lips with red liner; apply lipstick; blot and powder lips; apply a second time; blot. I love red lipstick and frankly have a harder time finding pink or plum colors I wear well. I am a fair-skinned brunette.

Gretchen said...

Lipstick Queen! Poppy's reds are amazing, in Saint (my favorite) or Sinner. Medieval is more cherry red and my next try. I love reds, but my lips are so small, I look kind of silly with too intense a lip colour, so I indulge infrequently. Mostly because I'm too worried what others will think, which is ludicrous, i'm sure. You look AMAZING...with your colouring, you definitely can pull off red lips!

Reese said...

I'm another full lips person who always felt like a strong red lip was a bit "too much" for me. I'm also a very pale-skinned blonde who could never find a red lipstick that didn't turn purple on my lips. MAC's "Chili" is a more orangey-coral red that I can wear, but I still wear it in a somewhat subtle way. Don't think I'll ever go for full-on red, but brava to those of you who can rock it. You look great in your new red, Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

Like you, I've been too scared to try red lipstick. I normally stick to roses (I'm fair with ruddy cheeks). I'd like to try, though, and Chanel is a good place to start. Thanks for this post!

Sandra Sallin said...

Met Shadi a few weeks ago. She did a great makeup on a friend. I was busy having fun being photographed for Nylon magazine. There was a promo for Dior, don't know how that translated to photographs, lemonade and kettle Korn.

Anyway as a woman of a certain age, I find that red is scary on me but...aw, very bright pink with grey hair works. It still takes guts to wear. Saw a woman in Paris, on a bicycle, leopard faux coat and brilliant fuchsia lipstick. I think Fuchsia is about as far as I can go.
What do you think grey hair and red lipstick? I only see Diana Vreeland getting away with that one beautifully.

My Cottage Diary said...

Great post! When I was in high school, I wore what I thought was a perfect red for me, but they quit making that shade long ago. I rarely wore red lipstick after that. Now, with gray hair and "le no makeup look," I don't know if I could find another red that isn't overpowering, but you inspire me to try! Bess

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Cashmere- Ooh I must check it out- I love Guerlain. Baby is doing great- she is so much fun- I am loving each phase! Currently in crawling, standing and eating solid foods :) Love to you and your fam xo

Merveilleux- I haven't had the experience of Dragon drying my lips... But I tend to apply lip balm after lip liner and before lipstick because my lips can get really dry...

Janet- Thank you! The baby is doing great- she is so delicious! I'm sure you look beautiful in your poppy color- Madame Chic was the same- she wouldn't leave the house without her lipstick on xo

Hostess- thank you! Janet also uses Aveda- I must check it out. Baby is wonderful- just posted a picture of her and Gatsby on twitter. Thank you for your kind comments xo

Jennifer- I will look at NARS jungle- loving these recommendations!

Marguerite- I have never tried Laura Mercier lipstick. Let me know what you think if you try it! Thanks for your compliment re: the picture. I am actually horrified by my hair- I was trying an old Hollywood experiment that day that clearly did not work out- I'll (of course) blog about that at a future date ;) xo

Josephine- thank you darling! I just read an article on Dita von Teese- her signature red is MAC's Russian Red- very interesting...

Che- A valid worry and one that I worry about too! I suggest after applying your lipstick to make sure you do not have any lipstick on the inside of your lips. You can do this with a clean index finger or cue tip (behind closed doors of course). Also throughout the day you can discreetly run your tongue over your lips- you can do this without anyone knowing.

Pearl- I find exfoliating the lips so necessary too- I do it about three times a week. Love your tips!

Gretchen- thank you lipstick queen! :) I must admit after having my lippy applied I felt very self conscious meeting my friends for lunch because I never wear such a bold color during the day- it took me a while to get used to.

Reese- Yes we have the same problem. It's nice having full lips but I also do not want to look like a blowfish when wearing lipstick! I think it's just a matter of getting used to the bold shade... Thank you for your compliment.

Rebekah- You are welcome! Hope you give it a try xo

Sandy- How great that you met Shadi. And how intriguing you did a shoot for Nylon! I think that grey hair and red lips is fabulous. My grandmother Lila has beautiful silver hair and looks stunning in red and pink lipstick- which she's worn her entire life.

Bess- Best of luck! Let me know if you find one!

LM said...

I am a big fan of the red lip and have been using lipstick brush and applying Lancome Merlot for years but ran out & bought Chanel dragon last night. It is a little bright for me as I favor a brown-red but stays on and I am loving it.
I am obsessed by all things Paris and would be interested in your feeling on Decleor skin products. How about a column about those??
the serum and night balm are divine.
Linda in Santa Barbara

Rose said...

ah this is such a quest- like the perfect scent- I like a limited edition chanel called london bus red I got about 2 years ago- of course I should have thrown it away as I know these things go off but it seems fine and it's too lovely to. I save it too much though, I should just wear it.

The other one I wear is a drug store one, most of my make up is very high end but this is just the right colour and with a good lipliner all over my lip underneath it seems to last.

I also think a really great fuschia pink can work as well as a bold red and give a similar effect but be a bit quirkier- Maggie Gyllenhall works that look very well

Sandra Sallin said...

You must check out this Red lipstick tutorial. Parfait!


Of course it's in French and I don't understand a word. But great tutorial and great products to recommend. Of course she is gorgeous also, which helps.