How to get party-ready red lips

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Color bleed be damned. There's a red lipstick for everybody nowadays.

You know how celebrity beauty guru Ted Gibson found that out?

"My mother has just now been wearing red lipstick since I turned her on to it over the last two years. Before, she thought red meant you were kind of easy," he laughed.

Red no longer evokes sexpot alone, and it doesn't have to lead to severe chapping. Shades of red can be had in balms, glosses, creamy mattes or a combination of care and color — or CC as they say in the beauty biz.

If you're unsure of shade, swipe a bit on the inside of one arm the next time you're in a store, then step outside into natural light for a better idea of how it will look.

And if you're traumatized by lip color seeping into lines and crevasses beyond where it's supposed to be, use a primer underneath or a lip liner as a barrier. Apply concealer around the outside of the mouth for extra protection against bleed.

"What's great right now is that there are some really creamy dense highly pigmented red lipsticks that are fantastic for people who really want to go for that power pout look. There are also sheer reds for those of us who don't feel so comfortable or who may feel like a clown with a big red mouth," said Alexandra Parnass, beauty director at Harper's Bazaar.

And there's no better time than the holidays to get creative with red for the lips, the two agreed, noting how well the color goes with holiday gold and urging a breaking of traditional skin complexion rules. Go for what feels and looks right on you alone.

Even better, pick up a tube or two as a gift or stocking stuffer. Some suggestions from Gibson, Parnass and others:


Parnass raved about the natural Burt's tinted balm in Red Dahlia.

"It is absolutely one of my favorite products in the world," she said. "It is just the perfect sheer red. I have given it to hundreds of friends and everybody who tries it loves it."

To beef up the color, use a liner underneath. But the best part of wearing it alone: "You don't even need a mirror to put it on. It is the easiest red lip color of all time."

This kiss of color and care retails for $7.


There are 36 shades of red here across the spectrum. They, too, tout lip care like a balm and color hold for every day. Parnass likes No. 400.

"It is just that perfect classic red. If you asked someone to create a red that suits everybody this would be it," she said. "And it is the farthest thing from drying, yet it's a very pigmented red that just looks beautiful.

The price for this dramatic tube is $34.


For a touch of orangey undertone, Gibson picked his own line in a shade he calls Charice. The selling point: it's rich but opaque and will stay put.

Reds, he said, are no longer just for "Hitchcock blondes," meaning all the platinum-haired stars in Alfred Hitchcock movies.

"There was a time that darker-skinned women wouldn't necessarily wear red because they were a little afraid of it," he said. Not anymore — Lupita Nyong'o got her red on recently against a white outfit at the Glamour Awards.

Gibson's Charice retails for $24.


Gibson also recommends these for lining and all-over color in matte and gloss.

As for the rest of the face when red is under consideration, all bets are off for hair style, Gibson said. No longer does red require a dramatic Hollywood updo. He does urge restraint for the eyes if a bold red is used on the lip.

And there are no age restrictions for who wears red.

"What's funny is you're seeing girls in their early 20s who are wearing lipstick. Girls are wearing a little more lip color, a little more of a stain to the lip. You have to have a little bit more confidence to wear that," he said. "The girl who wears red is independent, very self-assertive and certain about who she is. And she's not afraid to show that."

Nars liners go for $22 to $24 and the pencils for $25.


The Dolce & Gabbana brand ambassador is a fan of red. Her fave is the company's Devil in the Classic Cream Lipstick line.

"This red lipstick is the perfect shade," she said through a spokesman. "Not too orange and not too blue. It's bright and bold without being loud. It feels iconic, like the sleek, gold case it comes in."

The cost? $33.


The designer is a longtime fan of the red lip. As a boy in Nepal, he told W magazine, he recalls watching his mom apply the shade. Then along came Paloma Picasso in ads with a red kisser beaming from magazines.

Now, Gurung has a cosmetics capsule collection for MAC that includes red for the lips in three shades — with glosses.

"The colors we created are great when applied lightly for day or darkened and dramatized with a gloss on top for the evening," he told The Associated Press. "The lipstick in Carmine Rouge is definitely a favorite. I love a red lip — it's such a powerful statement. It exudes confidence and makes for a bold look."

Look for Gurung's line at on Nov. 20 and in select stores on Nov. 26 for $30 each.


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