Abandon Barbie-doll pinks and barely there nudes in favour of ultra-feminine, seductive red lipstick. From shade selection to application, here’s to the art of going red.

Red lips: Smooth moves
Before you unleash red’s siren power, make sure your lips are ready to hold the colour. “Red lipstick will emphasize the appearance of chapped lips,” warns Lora Spiga, official makeup artist for Lancôme. She recommends using a lip scrub or face cloth to gently exfoliate and smooth away dry skin before applying lipstick. Steer clear of post-scrub balms or oil-based moisturizers as they will cause your colour to smear.

Red lips: Drawing board
“Nothing looks worse than a sloppy red lip,” says Sarah Lucero, global director of artistry for Stila. “Use a neutral lip pencil that mimics your natural colour and sketch the outline of your mouth. The liner can act as a stencil when you fill in the colour.” Once your lips are prepped, use a brush to apply lipstick, beginning in the centre and blending outwards. (A brush is more accurate and prevents you from applying too much product at once.) If the look-at-me power of a glamazon shade intimidates you, Min Min Ma, a New York-based makeup artist, suggests trying the stain option: Apply lipstick and then blot it with a tissue; continue applying and blotting until you have the desired shade and intensity.

Red lips: Scarlet letter
Red lipstick looks great with any complexion, but keep your makeup fresh and don’t overdo it. “The lip is the star,” says Lucero. “Go bold and commit to the colour, but leave the rest of your face clean. It’s a more youthful, modern look.” Opt for a tinted moisturizer and skip powders, which can age you. Also avoid bronzer, which can take your red lips from street-chic to streetwalker. “Texture matters too,” says Lucero. “Pick a lipstick with a creamy velvet texture and blue undertones, which are universally flattering and make your teeth appear whiter.”

Red lips: Supersize me
If you think your lips are too thin to hold a red lipstick (also known as “sun-dried-tomato mouth syndrome”), makeup artist Pat McGrath recommends adding a shimmer powder to the centre of your bottom lip and over your cupid’s bow to make your mouth appear fuller. “Shimmer plays with light and is a quick plumping fix,” she says. You can also create the illusion of fullness by mixing various shades together (avoid whites—they make lips appear pasty), and use beige or neutral colours to mellow an OTT rouge. For an edgy vibe, Lucero recommends adding a punchy orange-red colour to the centre of your lips.

Read more:
The top red lipsticks of the season
7 red lipsticks under $30