Sunday 17 December 2017

The beauty panel: Scarlet Kisses - how to keep red lipstick fresh

Red lipstick is a perennial piece of kit, says our expert, but how you wear it is the key to keeping it fresh

Pictured, from left, Max Factor Marilyn Monroe Lipstick in Marilyn Red; Mac Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in In Control; Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick in Best of the Best; Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo in Histoire; MUA PowerPout Glaze in Hush. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Pictured, from left, Max Factor Marilyn Monroe Lipstick in Marilyn Red; Mac Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in In Control; Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick in Best of the Best; Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo in Histoire; MUA PowerPout Glaze in Hush. Photo: Kip Carroll.

Sarah Caden

Red lipstick never goes out of fashion, but it goes through phases of high and low popularity all the same. This spring, it's having a high moment, as the nearly nude make-up trend permits the odd flash of scarlet. Which is to say that while the overall look this season is pared-back, squeaky clean and all about glowing good health, there is room in there for a red-hot lip. Not all the time, but as a surprising occasional counterpoint to the hyper-natural looks that abound.

How you wear your red lipstick is key to making it look modern, and not like you're playing with your mummy's (or your granny's) cosmetic bag. Always and forever - bar a moment in the 1990s that ought to be forgotten - the rule has been to either emphasise your mouth or your eyes, but never both. This has always been extra-important with va-va-voom red lips, but this year, that rule is taken to the limit. Right now, if you're wearing red on the mouth, then the rest of your face should look almost bare. Brows should be defined, lashes should be well loaded with mascara, and skin should be made even with base and nicely highlighted, but no other bright colours or big statement. This spring, let your scarlet lips do the talking.

Best Overall

Max Factor Marilyn Monroe Lipstick in Marilyn Red, €10.99, available nationwide

Marilyn Monroe's red lipstick of choice was Max Factor's Ruby Red, and this lipstick is the reinvention of that shade, with new-technology pigments and emollients. This is old-school, bright, Hollywood red, while the three other new colours in the Marilyn Monroe line are tweaks on classic red to suit various skintones, with a creamy, old-school finish. "This is a statement-and-a-half by day," said a panellist, "and it's a gorgeously glam addition to my standard night-time look."

Best Outer Edge

Mac Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in In Control, €20, Brown Thomas and BT2

One problem with strong lip colours can be that they bleed out into the creases and lines around your mouth. Or, if your lip edges are pale or indistinct, a bold mouth can look messy. A red pencil is not crucial with a red lipstick, unless you're looking to create a very defined, full-glam look. A lighter shade such as this, which is close to a natural lip colour, can also work well. The waxiness will hold the lipstick in place, but, drawn on just inside your lip line, it will also define the shape and lend just a little more impact. "If you need that my-lips-but-better look," said one panellist, "this is it."

Best Red Hot

Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick in Best of the Best, €8.99, available nationwide

Rimmel is touting (pouting?) this lipstick as its very best ever. Now, we know that this is the claim of every new launch, but this promises endurance without dryness, and a non-fading colour. Apparently, it's the silicone and polymers that hold the colour and bring the comfort. It comes in seven high-impact shades, and this one is a classic red of the post-box variety. "Some reds need super-careful application to avoid looking severe or messy," said a panellist. "This is a doddle, though. It glides on and, surprisingly, stays put."

Best Easy Elegance

Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo in Histoire, €32.50, Chanel counters nationwide

This is one of a line of limited-edition lip colours that will get you through spring and summer. Somewhere between a sheer lipstick, a light gloss and a proper full-on lipstick, they come in eight shades, from nude through pinks and berries, to this classic French red. The glossiness feels nourishing, while the pigment works as a subtle stain. "At first, this seems to sort of sit on top of your lips, but then it settles down and the colour stains your lips, and it's just gorgeous," said one panellist.

Best Red Resistance

MUA PowerPout Glaze in Hush, €4, Superdrug, Omni Park Swords, D9, or The Square, Tallaght, Co Dublin

Some of us think red draws too much attention to a lip-shape we don't like, some of us think our teeth are too yellah, and then some of us just aren't attention-seeking types. So, if you want to go totally for the low-key look this season, this lip pencil is a great find. It's more glossy than your standard pencil-style lip colour and less high-voltage and sticky than a regular gloss. "This neutral shade is wonderfully 'no make-up', if used with just BB cream and mascara," a panellist said. "But you could go mad, and use it to dilute a full-on red lip."


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