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If you’ve ever dreamt of breaking out of your pinky-beige lipstick prison, now’s the time. With Valentine’s (and Galentine’s!) right around the corner, and a raft of chic new options, there’s never been a better time to flaunt a hot red. Whether you’re loved up or single and looking to mingle, it’s the ultimate “eyes on me” color choice.
The latest reds also promise lip-smacking innovations. Several hydrate and plump (think Sisley Paris Le Phyto-Rouge and Giorgio Armani Beauty Rouge D’Armani Matte). Or last (almost) forever (Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick and Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Drama Matte Lipstick). Some capture the light (Stila Shimmer Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick) or sculpt and contour (Clinique Dramatically Different Lipstick Shaping Lip Colour). Others look like money when you whip them out of your evening clutch (Bond No. 9 New York Lips, a luxe collection of nine reds making its debut on V-Day).
Two more just-launched lippies promise to take the guesswork out of picking the right red. Despite its tomato-y brightness, the “Red for Me” shade from Maybelline New York’s inclusive new Made for All collection was tested on 50 women of diverse skin tones and deemed universally flattering. Meanwhile, the “complexion crafted” Ultimate Lipstick Love by Becca Cosmetics, categorized by undertone, divides its reds into “warm” and “cool” camps.
Still feeling like a ’fraidy cat? Gather inspo from red-carpet cool girls and experiment until you land on a shade you swear by.
“Emilia Clarke can pull off a red like nobody’s business,” says pro makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, who works with the English actress. “She looks great in brighter, crisp red hues so I play around with pink-blue tones.” Dempsey recommends “blue-orange reds” for medium complexions, “pinky-blue reds” for fair faces and “berry reds” for anyone with darker skin.
While shade is important, “texture is key,” says Sarah Lucero, global executive director of creative artistry for Stila. “The most flattering finish is velvet or matte. Those always look and feel modern and leave room for minimal movement.” (In other words, they’re more likely to stay put than slippery gloss.)
To prevent migration onto your pearly whites, Dempsey suggests inserting your index finger in your mouth, closing your lips around it and gently pulling it back out. “Any excess lands on your finger,” she says.
If full-coverage lipstick is too lavish, try something sheer. Dempsey suggests newbies “start off with a clear red stain and graduate to a red lip liner with a clear balm on top.”
Then sit back, sip that sparkling rosé and wait for the air-kisses to roll in.