TRUELOVE’s guide to rocking the classic red lip

A guide to rocking red lips
A guide to rocking red lips

Choose the right shade  

The right shade of lipstick can brighten up your face, while the wrong red could very easily overpower a look. With so many variations in skin tone and undertones in women of colour, the right shade of red can depend on many factors, even the colour of your clothing. The good news is that everyone has a shade of red that will suit their skin tone. Don't be afraid to experiment to find the shade of red that you love. Know that a lipstick’s texture (cream, matte, or gloss) could have an effect on the way the shade looks on your lips, so keep your lips hydrated and exfoliated. If you aren't ready to commit to lipstick, you can ease into red with a sheer lip gloss or try a lip stain to gradually add colour. Beyond considering just undertones, women of colour can’t underestimate the importance of pigment quality of their lipstick. 

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Different reds for different skin tones 

People with light skin tones can wear red for a bold pop of colour against their fair skin. Fair skin tends to look better in cool reds and berry reds with a blue undertone. 

Try: Revlon Ultra Red Matte Lipstick in HD Romance (R185) or Yardley Intense Rouge Lipstick Miss Scarlet (R89,95)

Medium skin tones have a bit more versatility when it comes to picking a red lipstick. Caramel skin looks best in yellow or orange-based reds. TryLO’real Paris Makeup Designer Colour Riche Lipstick in Cassis Passion (R165) or Sorbet Mattefy Me Flirty (R150).

Warmer medium tones look great in brown-reds. Try:NYX Professional MakeUp Butter Lipstick in Licorice (R129,95)or Essence Velvet Matte Lipstick (R54)

Dark skin can handle more intense color, like deep reds and reds with blue undertones. Fabulous wines, berries, and brick reds look great. Try: Bobbi Brown Luxe Matte Lipstick in Burnt Cherry (R550) orEstée Lauder No330 Decisive Poppy(R470).

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Apply your lipstick correctly

1.   First prep your lips by exfoliating them before applying any colour. Dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your lips so you can remove them with a gentle lip scrub, then follow up with a moisturising lip balm to help keep your pout hydrated. This can help ensure that you have a smooth, even canvas on which to work when applying your lipstick. 

Try: L’Oreal Paris Sugar Scrub (R159,95) and Labello Hydro Care Lip Balm (R26,99)

2.  Lip liner makes your lip colour last longer, but it can also help stop smudging and bleeding. Start by lining the outside of your lips with the lip liner to help fill in any fine lines. Then, fill in the rest of your lips with a lip liner in a shade that matches your lipstick before actually applying your lipstick to prevent any lipstick bleeding. 

Try: Yardley Gel Sensational Lip Liner (R89,95) or Essence Draw The line! Instant Colour Lipliner(R29,95) 

3.   Prime your lips with a lip primer or concealer; apply a tiny bit to your lips using a makeup blender. Then, take a lip brush and apply your lip colour of choice on top.

Try: Catrice Prime And Fine Multitalent Lip Primer (R65)or Clinique Pop Matter Lip Colour & Primer (R310)

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4.   Apply one coat of lipstick using a brush (this allows for more precision than applying directly from the tube), then gently blot your lips with a tissue. Repeat the process again. After applying a second, final coat of lipstick, blot again with your tissue. Then, using a powder brush, apply a translucent powder onto your lips through the tissue to help set your lips. 

Try: The Body Shop Lipstick and Concealer Brush (R105) and Maybelline Master Fix Translucent Loose Powder (R169,95)



“I’ve been using the MAC Ruby Woo(R140)for years as it lasts throughout the day. I love that it’s a universal shade of red, so it suits all skin tones.” – Palesa Vilakazi, Beauty Editor

“To achieve my matte ultra red lip, I useElizabeth Arden Beautiful Colour Moisturising Matte Lipstick in Bold Red(R325).The fantastic thing about this lipstick is that it hydrates my lips even though it has a matte finish.” – Buhle Mbete, Digital Editor

“’I always add a bit of Maybelline Vivid Hot Lacquer in Classic(R155)over my red lip looks. It complements all red lipsticks and creates a glamorous glossy look.’’ – Tsakane Ndlovu, Junior Fashion Editor

“’My NYX Professional Make-Up Suede Matte Lipstick(R139, 95)is always in my bag. It’s chic, durable and its velvety texture creates the perfect statement look.’’

–     Zizipho Mqingwana, Editorial Contributor

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