5 Steps to Red Lips

red-lipstick.jpgLast year I engaged in a quest to find the perfect shade of red lipstick. After I found it (more on that in a second), I reserved the look for evenings, but recently started sporting a red lip periodically for day events. At BlissDom, I decided to rock the red lip every day since my makeup is pretty neutral and I feel more finished with a bold lip. And I was admittedly a little shocked by the result -- I received countless compliments (including people I didn't know stopping me in my tracks!), and also many comments such as "Oh, I could never do that," or "I have no idea how to find the right color." So today, I wanted to share my 5 steps to red lips. Really, I think anyone can pull this off and it looks spectacular!

1. Seek professional consultation. If you are, like me, paralyzed when it comes to picking shades at the drugstore, visit a professional cosmetics counter. Yes, the high end products are more expensive than the drugstore products, but I probably spent more money experimenting (and failing) with drugstore shades compared to what I paid for the right colors. And make sure the folks at the counter actually assess your skin tone and try the shade on you before you buy it. I had one unfortunate encounter at Sephora (a place I typically love) where I asked for red lipstick recommendations and the salesperson simply picked out the bestselling store color and rang me up. I tried it on at home and it looked terrible and I ended up returning it. I was smarter the second time around and ended up at the Chanel counter at Nordstrom. They not only advised that the deep red I was envisioning would look Goth and not great on me, but they selected a fantastic shade that works well both for night and day.

2. Invest in the tools. At a professional makeup counter, you may be tempted to skip the lip pencil to save money, but you will need the pencil to help set the lines and prevent color bleed (aka "feathering") around the lips. Following my Chanel consult, I purchased the Carmin #14 lip liner and Gabrielle #19 lipstick. The lip liner is especially awesome because it comes with a lipstick brush built into the other side. (Note: I was surprised to see how pink and brown, respectively, these products look online -- all the more reason why you should go for an in person consult and save online shopping for once you have established your colors.)

3. Budget in extra time. Because red is such a strong color, I find that it requires more application precision than my usual super quick lip pencil + gloss. Allocate 10 or so extra minutes in your routine to quickly exfoliate your lips (I simply run a warm washcloth gently over my lips), add a little lip balm to moisturize, then apply the pencil and lipstick (use the brush for nice clean lines). Once you're done, make sure you bring your lipstick and lip liner with you, as you will probably need to touch up periodically.

4. Maintenance. Red lipstick is, admittedly, a little more high maintenance. It's definitely an eat-with-a-fork instead of chow-down-a-burrito type of lip color. However, I did not find that I needed to build in extra stops -- at BlissDom, I simply checked my color whenever I happened to use the bathroom. Later in the day, I did find I needed to deal with a little feathering -- easily remedied by running a bit of tissue along the edges of my lips to clean up the color bleed then reapplying. Also, make sure you check your teeth after application!

5. Try it. Own it. Many women who asked me about wearing red lipstick said they loved the look but "just couldn't do it" or that it would "look terrible on them." Yet, when I asked if they had ever tried, they said no, it was too intimidating. I conveyed the importance of steps 1-2, and that knowing you have the right shade helps with the confidence-to-wear factor (it certainly did for me!). Then once you procure the red, OWN IT. Try it at an evening event first, just to get your legs under you, then try it during the day. This may take a while -- I found my red January 2011 and it wasn't until the last couple of months that I started wearing it for day events, and then BlissDom was the first time that I have ever Gwen Stefani'd it and worn red three days straight. As I mentioned earlier, I loved how it looked and was shocked by the positive response!

Will you try red lipstick? I'm curious! You can see my red BlissDom lips here, and if you're feeling really inspired and want to share, post up a photo of you rocking your red lips at the Boston Mamas Facebook page. It would be so fun to see your lovely faces!

Image credit: Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net