Reader Question: How To Rock Red Lipstick For the Holidays (or any day)


Reader Question:

Do I ask a lot of questions? I need a lot of help 🙂

This question is probably geared toward Scotti, since she is the make up guru. I would like to wear red lipstick for Christmas. My guy saw it on an actress in a movie we were watching and said “You would look good in red lipstick” Hint taken! Spice it up already.

What colors are best? And I’d like to do nail polish, too? Obviously they can’t match, (Can they?!?!?!) but should I go bright red on the nails, too?

I’m not going to be spending beau-coup bucks on either item since it will probably get busted out for Christmas and NYE and then pushed to the back of the drawer.

Your adoring fan


Screen shot 2010-12-16 at 10.56.30 PM What a great question!  Not only are red lips perfect for holiday parties, but they are completely on-trend for Winter 2010/2011…and I’m seeing more and more gals rocking the red lip for day.  As the picture at left proves (photo credit: Caroline’s Mode) the red lip makes any outfit look a bit glamorous.

Scotti is in the midst of her first year of teaching high school…and as any teacher will tell you, the first year is hell.  The poor girl is crazy-swamped.  HOWEVER….since she is my sister, I was able to harass her  catch up with her to discuss the best ways for moms to rock red lipstick.

Scotti recommended two different ways to rock a red lip:  The traditional, high-impact, Hollywood style matte red lip (with a decently high level of difficulty), vs. a glossier, softer version.

Traditional Matte Red Lip

This is Scotti’s preferred way to rock red lips, but keep in mind that it’s fairly labor-intensive.  “This is not an everyday lip” Scotti reminded me.  “It’s like a really smoky eye – it takes a long time, but is totally worth it for a night out.” The process is:

  1. Start with clean, exfoliated lips.  If your lips are chapped and flaky…don’t bother.  Matte red lipstick needs smooth lips.
  2. Apply a thin layer of balm.  Scotti uses traditional Chapstick, but you can use your favorite.  Apply thinly to lips.
  3. Line your lips with a very sharp pencil liner.  Fill in lips completely with liner.  (NOTE:  YOUR LIPS SHOULD BE COMPLETELY COVERED WITH LINER)
  4. Apply red lipstick.
  5. Finish with a sealer (if included – see below) or small touch of gloss (optional)

Pitfall #1:  Tempted to skip the liner?  Think again.  Red lipstick can fade and feather in strange ways…and skipping the liner might look OK at first, but catch a glimpse of yourself an hour or so into the party and you’re in for a scary, kool-aid mouth sight.  Liner is key.

Pitfall #2:  Trying to match the liner to the lipstick.  Well intended, of course.  But as Scotti pointed out, red lipstick is bright.  And in her experience, bright liner + bright lipstick always equals a hot pink mouth.  Her solution?  Make sure your liner is a darker red than your lipstick.  Scotti actually uses a wine colored liner.

Scotti’s Favorite Products

Screen shot 2010-12-16 at 10.19.30 PM

Scotti swears by the long-wearing Infallible lip compact, but if you hate the feel of the long-wear lipstick, Scotti also recommends Maybelline’s Sensational Lipcolor in Red Revival (currently the best selling red in the US), Flirt’s Plushcious Liquid Velvet Lipcolor in Flirt Alert (sold only at Kohls), or MAC’s Ruby Woo lipstick (voted best red by, with pics to prove it).  No matter which red lipstick you choose, the process remains the same: balm, liner, lipstick.

A Softer, Glossier, and Easier Red Lip

If the above process is above your skill level, or you don’t want the full impact of the Hollywood red lip, try this one on for size:

Screen shot 2010-12-16 at 10.31.33 PM

In this case, you skip the liner and lipstick completely, and just go with glossy red lips.  Scotti punches the color up a bit by layering a vibrant red gloss (her fav is Clinique’s Juicy Apple) over a stain.  A thin layer of balm is always a good idea in winter, but Scotti warns that the stain must go on before the balm.  Her favorite stains are theBalm’s Staniac (pictured above) in Beauty Queen, and Sephora’s Lush Flush Lip and Cheek stain in Pinot.

Hope that helps!  I know I’m feeling a bit inspired…thanks, Scotti!  For more makeup tips and tricks, head on over to our Beauty section!!

And thanks for writing in!  Great question!



ps.  Hmmmm….just realized that we haven’t addressed the nail polish question.  I’m not a matching nails and lips kind of girl…but that might just be me.  I’d probably keep my nails short and go with something dark….like OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark or We’ll Always Have Paris.  Or maybe a taupe like Tickle Me France-y.  Readers – care to weigh in?




  1. Thank you!! Love the ideas for Red Lipstick & I think I’ll go with dark, short nails as well (if I can actually find some time to paint them) I know exactly how Scotti feels. The first year you eat, sleep and breath teaching. Enjoy your 1st Holiday Break, Scottie! Much needed and well deserved

  2. With the high drama of the red lips, I think I’d go with a simple American manicure over any color. That way you can ass dome blingy accessories without going over the top.

  3. This is puuurfect for NYE. Emerald green one-shoulder satin top from Limited + black tuxedo pants + heels (um, going to have to look through previous ANMJ posts for suggestions) + sparkly fake-diamond jewelry from Old Navy + red lips and dark nails per Scotti.
    Thank you!!!

  4. I am so glad I have found a site like yours! you do not know the help I need! I also wanted to give you the Stylish Blog Award…
    Stylish Blogger Award
    Rules for accepting this award are:
    1. Thank & link back to the person who awarded you this.
    2. Share 7 things about yourself.
    3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
    4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their Blog Award!
    You can get the award off of my post, just save it as a pic ; )

  5. Great post! The right red kind of depends on personal coloring, though, don’t you think? My best reds have a berry leaning, for instance. I’ll have to check out that Target red. Thanks for the suggestions!
    I love MAC’s lip pencil in “Half Red”. I line like Scotti detailed, and then just gloss up the liner with a clear gloss or even a little more lip balm.
    For the holidays, I think short red nails with red lips rock it. Maybe only if the rest of the look is simple and neutral (black, anyone?). The only color being on your lips & nails? I think that’s glam 🙂

  6. Teagan – LOVE the outfit, and Amber – LOVE Tarte. Of course, Tarte.
    Tricia – Thank you! So nice to think of us!
    Jacci – I think you might possibly be the most stylish mom in Ohio. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
    Soooooo…I did it. I rocked the red lip on Saturday. Aaaannnnddd..I went for the full-on, high difficulty Hollywood red lips. Just as Scotti instructed, I did the Revlon wine liner, the Target red lipstick. It. Was. Awesome. I’m shocked, actually. I am rather makeup challenged, but it wasn’t too hard! And I looked (or felt, anyway) oh-so glam.
    Thanks, Scotti!

  7. I’m so glad it’s working for you guys! As far as the nails are concerned . . . I think all of the above. It really depends on your personal style, I think. As Jacci said, short (key word – SHORT) red nails can look awesome with red lips, especially if the rest of the makeup is minimal. I also liked Shana’s suggestion of Lincoln Park After Dark, and an American manicure, as Bambi pointed out, is always a great look. Thanks for the feedback!

  8. An American manicure is like a French manicure (where the tips of your nails are painted white), but with lighter colors…usually more of a sheer pink. However, one word of caution: where I live (DC), French and American manicures are definitely on the out. Like way out. From what my mom has said, ladies aren’t even doing them in the South any more (she lives in Atlanta). It could be a quick way to make you look dated, when what you’re looking for is something neutral and classy. I think it’s much safer and classier to go with a short nail in a sheer color, like essie’s Limoscene or Ballet Slippers.

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