Your step-by-step guide to the perfect red party lip

By Josefin Forsberg

From how to make your classic red lip last to the ultimate way to vamp-up your New Year's Eve – Vogue Scandinavia's beauty editor Josefin Forsberg taps Yves Saint Laurent's makeup artist Jenifer Pascha in mastering a crimson pout three ways (and how to make it stay) for the party season ahead

How do I find the right shade of red lipstick?

Overwhelmed with trying to find the right shade of red lipstick? You're not alone. In the crimson jungle, it is hard to know whether you suit warm, cool, or neutral shades better – not to mention the many variations in each category.


To make things easier, Pascha notes that knowing your undertone is vital. "Look at your wrist under natural light," says Pascha. "Blue or purple veins indicate cool undertones, suggesting that red lipsticks with blue or pink undertones might be the most flattering, often making your teeth appear whiter." On the other hand, she notes, if your veins appear green or olive, you likely have warm undertones, and red lipsticks with orange or coral undertones would complement your skin tone beautifully. Those with neutral undertones, indicated by indistinct vein colour, can experiment with cool and warm red shades.

Finally, Pascha suggests you don't try the lipstick on your lips when deciding on a colour. "Your fingers mimic the colour of your lips pretty well," she says, noting how applying and removing lipstick from your lips can make your lips redder than normal. "For fair skin, use your fingertips. For two-toned lips, the side of your finger mimics this pretty well, while dark skin tones can test lipstick on the back of their fingers."

What is the best way to perfect my lip?

"I think the trick a lot of people miss out on is to use your phone to make sure your red lipstick is even," shares Pascha. "It is something we learned in makeup school." Using your phone camera offers a different perspective compared to a traditional mirror. The camera, especially with zoom capabilities, allows for a detailed, close-up view, making it easier to spot any asymmetries or smudges. Additionally, phone cameras adapt to varying lighting conditions, providing insights into how your lipstick looks under different lights and ensuring consistency and vibrancy.

"Some cameras flip the image, contrasting with mirrors and highlighting any unevenness in application," says Pascha. Modern smartphone cameras, with their high-definition quality, capture fine details that might be overlooked in a mirror. They can also be more accurate in depicting the true colour of your lipstick. Better yet, when you're away from a mirror, your phone camera is a convenient tool for quick checks and touch-ups, making it an invaluable ally in achieving that perfect, evenly-applied red lip.

How can I make my lipstick stay in place?

For a long-lasting lipstick application, the key is to use translucent powder. First, prepare your lips by cleaning and moisturizing them, avoiding excessive slipperiness. Outline and fill in your lips with a lip liner that matches your lipstick, creating a base for better adhesion. Pascha suggests using a lip pencil to get a precise application, saying, "It is something our grandmothers had on hand, and it is how they got their perfect red lips." Having applied the lipstick, blot your lips gently with a tissue to remove any excess.

Now comes the crucial step: place a single ply of tissue over your lips and lightly dab translucent powder over it using a fluffy brush. This method sets the lipstick effectively, as the tissue acts as a barrier, ensuring the powder doesn't alter the lipstick's colour. Finish by applying another layer of lipstick, which seals in the product for an enduring, vibrant finish.

Watch the step-by-step video:


How to recreate the blotted lip

Are you a red lip novice? Then the blotted lip will be your new best friend. Building on soft, blurred out pigment it is the perfect option for those who want to avoid reapplication – or who knows that a lot of eating, drinking and talking will be involved wherever they're headed.

  1. Exfoliate your lips: Start with smooth lips. To remove dead skin, gently exfoliate your lips using a lip scrub or a soft toothbrush. This helps in achieving an even application.
  1. Hydrate your lips: Apply a light layer of lip balm to hydrate your lips. Wait a few minutes for the product to absorb, ensuring your lips aren't too slippery.
  1. Apply red lipstick to the centre of your mouth: Apply your chosen red lipstick. It doesn't have to be perfect, as the blotted look is more relaxed.
  1. Blot the lipstick: Using either your fingertips, a cue tip or a fluffy eyeshadow brush, soften the pigment and blend it outwards for a blurred gradient effect.
  1. Optional powder or gloss: Depending on your desired effect, you can dab some translucent powder on the blotted lip for a matte look built to last or top it with a clear gloss for high-shine impact.

This technique results in a softer, more natural look compared to a full application of red lipstick, making it perfect for everyday wear or a minimalist look.


How to create the classic red lip

Remember, precision and patience are the key to perfecting the classic red lip. Take your time with each step to ensure crisp lines and even application.

  1. Prep your lips: Start with clean, smooth lips. Use a gentle lip scrub to exfoliate dead skin, and follow up with a hydrating lip balm. Give the balm a few minutes to absorb, ensuring your lips are moisturised but not overly slippery.
  1. Apply lip primer: Use a lip primer if you have one. This helps smooth out any lines and creates a base for your lipstick to adhere to, increasing its longevity.
  1. Outline with lip liner: Choose a red lip liner that closely matches your lipstick. Carefully outline your lips, starting from the cupid's bow and moving to the outer corners. Fill in your entire lips with the liner. This step provides a base for your lipstick and helps prevent colour from bleeding.
  1. Apply red lipstick: Apply your chosen shade of red lipstick. For precision, use a lip brush, starting at the centre of your lips and working outwards. Fill in your lips completely, making sure to get even coverage.
  1. Perfect the edges: Clean up any mistakes or smudges with a small concealer brush dipped in concealer or foundation. This step also helps to define the lip line and makes the colour pop.
  1. Blot and reapply: Blot your lips with a tissue to remove excess lipstick, then apply a second coat. This helps to solidify the colour and ensures your lipstick lasts longer.
  1. Set with powder (optional): Place a thin tissue over your lips and lightly dust translucent powder over the tissue for extra staying power. This sets the lipstick without altering its finish.
  1. Final touches: For a clean and polished look, outline your lips with a bit of concealer using a fine brush. This step defines your lips and makes the red stand out more.

How to manage the vampy ombré lip

The dark and vampy red ombré lip, also known as "cherry cola" lips, is the trickiest look to try on our list. Perfect for New Years Eve, it involves blending a lighter shade of red on the inside of the lips with a darker shade alon the outside creating a daring and dimensional effect.

  1. Lip preparation: Begin with exfoliated and moisturised lips. Use a lip scrub to remove flakes and follow up with a light lip balm to hydrate.
  1. Apply your classic red lip: Lightly dab a small amount of foundation or concealer over your lips. This creates a neutral base and helps the colours stand out more vividly.
  1. Outline with dark lip liner: Choose a dark, vampy lip liner, preferably deep red or burgundy. Carefully outline your lips, defining the cupid’s bow and the lower lip line. Slightly overline for a fuller look, if desired.
  1. Fill the corners: With the same dark lip liner, fill in the corners of your lips and slightly blend towards the centre. This creates the shadowed effect essential for the ombré look.
  1. Apply dark lipstick: Apply dark red or burgundy lipstick over the areas where you applied the lip liner. Use a lip brush for precision, blending the lipstick into the centre of your lips but not filling in the centre.
  1. Re-apply lighter red lipstick: In the centre of your lips, reapply a lighter red shade. Dab it on gently, concentrating the colour in the very centre.
  1. Blend the shades: Using a lip brush or your fingertip, gently blend the lighter shade into the darker shade. This should create a seamless gradient from dark to light, with the lightest point at the centre of your lips.
  1. Clean and define the edges: Use a small brush with a bit of concealer to clean up the edges and define the shape of your lips. This step is crucial for a sharp and polished look.
  1. Optional gloss: Add a clear or slightly tinted lip gloss over the top for added dimension.
  1. Final checks: Look at your lips from different angles and in different lighting to ensure the gradient is smooth and the colours are well-blended