4 Gorgeous Red Lipstick Makeup Looks

Red lipstick makeup looks have achieved iconic status over the decades. Red lipstick is to a makeup look what a fine bottle of wine is to a meal - time-honored, cherished and intoxicating. Whether you are having a paired down beauty day or are going for full glamour, throwing on a shade of red lipstick is a perennial winner. Up your game as the next lipstick queen with our 4 gorgeous red lipstick makeup looks below.

Wait. What Kind of Red Lipstick?

Before we delve into red lipstick makeup looks, it’s worth taking a moment to talk about the different types of red lipstick available. Lipsticks come in varying finishes and levels of moisture and pigmentation. On the moisture-rich, less-pigmented end of the lipstick spectrum are satin finish and sheer lipsticks that appear more glossy. At the opposite end of the spectrum - lipsticks with less moisture and more pigmentation - are semi-mattes and matte. When it comes to achieving classic red lips, we advise you go with a matte. Here’s why:

  • Matte lipsticks are not as moisturizing, so they stay put and are less likely to feather outside of the lips and onto your skin.
  • Matte lipsticks are rich in pigmentation, making your pout look wow red.
  • The waxy matte formula gives it fantastic staying-on power so the perfect shade of red can be showcased all day.
  • Matte lipsticks work on any occasion, any time of year.

Wearing red lipstick makes a statement. With the lips being the center of attention, you’ll need a color that pops against your complexion and lasts so you can strut that perfect pout all day. Faded or vanished lip color just won’t do when you’re going for a statement-making red lips makeup look.

Lipstick feathering beyond your lip line never looks good, no matter what color you’re wearing. You can maybe get away with some feathering in lighter lip shades, but a highly-pigmented red that is hanging out beyond your lips will be readily apparent. So, in short: grab your favorite red matte lipstick and get ready to learn how to apply red lipstick to achieve a variety of looks.

Which Red Is Right for Me?

Let’s take a step back to something most of us learned by kindergarten, but may have forgotten: the color wheel. Remember, red is one of the three primary colors; the other two being yellow and blue.

Now think about a classic, down-the-middle shade of red. Now consider other shades in relation to the true red, asking if they have more yellow or blue in them. Warmer reds with more yellow in them will appear brighter. Examples of reds with yellow in them are candy red apple red or orange-red. These brighter, more vibrant shades of red are the perfect lip color for tan skin. Cooler reds have more blue tones and include colors like bordeaux or maroon.

The big secret to choosing a red lipstick is doing it based on your complexion undertone. If you have warm undertones, then choose a warmer red like our Red & Butter Matte. This is hands down one of the best lipstick colors for warm skin tones. Conversely, if you are a woman with cool undertones, you’ll want a cool red lipstick such as our Red Carpet Matte or our Red Rover Matte. We created makeup for women of color so that no matter your skin tone, you can find the shades that actually work with your complexion.

Pro Tip - Not sure of your undertone? Here’s an easy way to figure it out. Look at the insides of your wrists in natural light. If the veins there are green, you have a warm undertone. If the veins are blue, you have a cool undertone. If you have a combination of both, you have a neutral undertone and will look great in most colors, ranging from a bright, fiery red to even a dark brick red.

#1 The Effortlessly Chic Red Lips Makeup Look

Wearing a striking red lipstick with minimal accompanying makeup is good for any day you want to appear effortlessly chic. Since the focus of your makeup will be your red lips, you’ll need a deft hand when applying your lipstick. To get a perfect pout for statement-making lips, be sure to do the following:

  • Exfoliate and moisturize your lips before putting on makeup.
  • Apply your facial and eye makeup. This gives your lips time to absorb the moisturizer.
  • Outline your lips with a lip liner in a shade close to your natural lip color as possible. Choosing a lip pencil in red that is even a slightly different shade than your lipstick will create the unenviable two-toned lip effect.
  • Apply your matte lipstick with a single stroke between your outlined lips.
  • Take a small brush and outline your lips with concealer. This gives you a sharp, magazine-worthy outlined lip.
  • Press a small amount of setting powder to your lips.

Going for this look with red lips and nearly naked makeup means putting on small, judicial touches of facial and eye makeup. The big player here is a strong brow. It will frame your eyes and create a gorgeous bowing counterpoint to your luscious red lips. So groom those brows, fill them in and set them. You may want a bit of mascara too to balance out the eye area too. However, stay away from too heavy of eye shadow for this look.

As for facial makeup, less is more. A touch of concealer under the eyes and a bit of blush on the cheeks, buffed in with setting powder is enough with red lips to look fabulous. You may also want the slightest touch of contouring below the cheekbone and jaw for added dimension.

#2 The Classic Bombshell

Nothing quite says sexy sophistication like the classic bombshell look. Made famous in the 1950s by gorgeous starlets like Dorthy Dandridge, over half of a century has passed and this look has never gone out of style. You’ll use quite a few eye and facial makeup tools to get this look. Although you might be pulling out much of your makeup arsenal, the rule of thumb is to select nude shades and layer them on airily. Nothing should look too dramatic. The red lips will be dramatic enough and too much rogue or eyeshadow will make you look put on. Remember: the classic red lips are your star.

Here’s a run-down of how to achieve this bombshell look:

  • Get flawless skin with concealer, foundation and setting powder
  • Bring some color to your cheeks with a favorite blush 
  • Add in natural-looking touches of contour below the cheekbone, between the brows and at the jawline
  • Highlight with a highlighter or concealer above the cheekbone and along the nose and chin
  • Create a bold, well-groomed brow
  • Build in subtle touches of nude and brown eyeshadows
  • Layer on plenty of mascara
  • Put on your lip liner and red lipstick
  • For a true 1950s bombshell look, dab on some lip gloss

#3 Cat Eyes & Red Lips

This is a variation on the classic bombshell look, with an added dose of sass. Like the classic bombshell look, the cat eye look was popularized decades ago. Characterized by winged eyeliner sweeping from the outer corners of the eyelid, the cat eye was made famous by Josephine Baker and other swingers in the 20s. Girl do-woop groups in the 60s continued the trend and the cat eye saw a big comeback in the 2000s. Of course, it has never really gone out of style and you will find many a celebrity rocking the cat eye today.

To get this long-beloved makeup look, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Decide on an angle - the goal is to create an angle from the corner of your eye up towards your outer eyebrow. At the same time, you want to take into account your features like the size and curvature of your eye, as well as the relation of your lash line, eye bone, and eyebrow to each other. The angle will be about 45 degrees, more or less depending on what looks good on you.
  • Create the angle - you want a sharp, clear sweeping line radiating from the outer corner of your eye. This is challenging to do freehand, so try using a tool. You can grab a business card, place it at your preferred angle and trace the liner along its edge. Or, some ladies swear by placing Scotch tape along their preferred angle and running the eyeliner along the edge of the tape. At this stage, simply focus on lining from the outer portion of your eye, not along your eye.
  • Line the rest of your eye - get as close to your lash line as possible when outlining the rest of your eye. The tricky part will be connecting the lined eye with the flick you already created. To make the entire line look seamless, consider making the eyeliner wider at about the outer third portion of the eye and slightly past the eye.
  • Touch up - you may need to go back at this point and fill in with your eyeliner. Taking a fine brush with a touch of concealer on it and outlining your cat eye will also make it look extra sharp.

Cat eye and red lipstick are each in their own right striking makeup looks. As such, keep the rest of your makeup to a minimum. Only add enough color to your eyelids and cheeks to subtly complement your lips and outlined eyes. A swipe of a nude shade or two on the eyelids and touches of brick blush at the apples of your checks will probably be all you need.

#4 Smokey Eyes & Red Lips

The smokey eye was all the rage in the 90s and it is officially back in vogue. Smokey eyes look great with red lips, so long as you’re careful about the intensity of your eye color. The 90s smokey eye was all about inky and charcoal tones. Today’s smokey eye is diverse in its palette, with just about any deep color up for grabs. The key is smudging and blending the eyeshadow and eyeliner for a smokey effect.

Here are the basics to get a smokey eye:

  • Sweep a mid-tone shadow across your entire eyelid.
  • Apply eyeliner at the lash line of your upper eyelid and/or bottom eyelid, depending on your desired look.
  • Layer a darker eye shadow over the eyeliner. Use a thin brush and press the shadow over the liner.
  • Smudge the darker shadow with your finger or fine blending brush.
  • Finish off the look by adding a highlighting shadow color - one brighter, lighter or with sparkle - at the eye crease.

Smokey eyes lend themselves to a great deal of creativity, so have fun playing around with them. You can make your eyes look more smokey by adding more smudged shadow around the eye. You can also play around with the placement of your highlighting color. We’ve recently seen touches of highlighting shades at the inner eye corners, for example, that combine beautifully with smokey eye looks.

While any eye colors can work with red lipstick, we recommend using nudes, browns, and charcoal as your base. As you become more confident with this look, try experimenting with other colors like wine shades, copper tones or bold sapphire and emerald hues. Again, just be wary about the vibrancy of the color and if it enhances your red lips.

Red Lipstick Makeup Looks that Kill

Mented has you covered in learning how to apply makeup like a pro. We’re a cosmetics company made by and for women of color and are passionate about helping all women feel their most confident and beautiful. Now that you know how to wear red lipstick like a pro, we encourage you to go out there and kill it with one of these looks in one of our red lipstick shades!