The Hunt for Red Lippie in October

We all know red lips are bang on trend for A/W 2007-8. Hell, they seem to be bang on trend every Autumn/Winter. That's the thing with a classic look, there's just no getting away from it. I love love love the idea of red lips - on other people, they look glamourous, polished, sexy, womanly.

On me, they just look ridiculous.

Determined not to let a make-up look get the better of me, however, I recently took myself off for a chat with Joseph Vera of MAC in BT Dublin to see where I've been going wrong.

Cleo is only kilt recommending this Aussie chap and now I can see why; Joseph's an all-round pro and really nice to boot. He's been at MAC for the last four and a half years and also teaches at LA Make-Up Academy, works freelance for Evints and weddings, and does a lot of stuff for film and TV including special effects make-up. Frankly I dunno how the man can find time to breathe, let alone talk to me.

So I sez to him - now Joseph, is it reeeally true that anyone can wear red? How in the name of Banoffi do you choose a shade that'll look glam, not garish? How do you get your lovely new red lippie to stay put and not migrate all around your mush or disappear in a matter of minutes? And if the prospect of a full-on crimson pout scares the bejaysus out of you, what are the less terrifying alternatives?

See what he had to say after the cut!


Is it reeeally true that anyone can wear red? I asked this in my best coz-I-think-it's-total-codology voice. Yes, definitely, sez Joseph. Ah. Right so. That's me told!

Choosing the right red for you: Joseph believes that the overriding thing to consider when choosing the perfect shade of scarleh is the hue of your teeth. Your mouth is going to be the focus of attention with red lips; you don't want your teeth looking anything less than their best.

So, if you've just had a spot of Zoom whitening or are naturally blessed with a set of whiter-than-white gnashers, you'll be able to carry off a warm orange- or pink-based red like MAC's "Eager".

If you've a chronic 40-a-day habit or maybe just feel that your tootles are a little bit on the yella side, choose a cool blue-based, berry red; either "MAC Red" or "Ladybug" would work well.

You should also think about your skintone. Are you a sallow lady or a sunless tanning worshipper? Stick with cool reds. Or have you a lot of pink in your skin? Warm reds are the way to go - with two exceptions. If your gruaig's red [how very this season!] or you think your teeth could do with seeing the business end of a Crest Whitestrip, go for a cool-toned red instead.


For an altogether more muted daytime look, Joseph recommends a suit-all red with brown undertones like Viva Glam "IV".

Getting it to stay... staaaaaay... good lippie: It's all about the application. First things first: get hold of a good lip liner. Choose one that'll work with your chosen lippie; Joseph recommends something like MAC's "Brick" lip pencil for browny reds, while their "Redd" lip pencil or "Red Enriched" cremestick liner would both be good for use with either blue- or orange-based reds.

Joseph uses "Redd" on me, but doesn't trace the entire outline of my lips. Instead, using short firm strokes, he applies it first to the Cupid's bow of the upper lip and then the areas immediately either side of it; he then sets to work on the same central area directly below on the lower lip. Joseph creates quite a generous rim of liner along and inside my natural lip line, and then has me blot my lips together, making me look distinctly geisha-like. This is where lipstick is most likely to bleed, Joseph explains, so it makes sense to really fence it in.

Using a flat square-headed lip brush, Joseph next fills in my lips with "MAC Red", working again on the top lip before moving down to the lower one.

He then dips a small brush in some loose blot powder and taps off the excess before pressing it all over my lips. You should do this, he explains, to set as many layers as you decide to apply; it'll remove any excess wax in the lipstick and make it really last.

Using the lip brush again, Joseph then applies a second coat, getting me to stretch my lips by smiling so he can work the colour right in. For a high-shine, super glam look [for I am a classy laydee, wha'] Joseph finishes off my smackers with a bit of clear Lipglass applied with the trusty lip brush. Alternatively, you could use a lipstick fixer as a top coat to just impart some sheen and help your lipstick last even longer.

All this rigmarole seems like an awful lot of hassle even to me, but two hours and a big durty burger later, I still have a red pout [albeit a rather less glossy one] that would make Ms. Von Teese jealous. And my lips aren't a bit dry the next day or anything. What can I say, the man knows his stuff.

The face: Keep the rest of your make-up understated. Joseph just smudged a wing of "Smut" charcoal eyeshadow above and below the outer corners of my eyes to help define them without having them compete with the lips.

The dreaded washed-out effect can go hand in hand with scarleh lippie, and privately I felt I was looking a little wan with my new red lips despite wearing a good lashing of blusher. To combat this, Joseph recommends forgoing blusher and using bronzer to contour instead. I was skeptical; red lips and bronzer just seems like an unnatural combination to me.

When I saw the incredible difference that swapping my blusher for bronzer made to the overall look, though, I was sold. I looked like I was born to wear red. [Just so you know, I have medium brown highlighted hair, hazel eyes, and bazillions of freckles, so eh I definitely wasn't!]

Alternatives! If you think a full-on red mouth isn't for you but would still like to have a go of the look, Joseph recommends you try a fairly sheer blue-red gloss, something like Lustreglass in "Venetian" or 3D Glass in "Boundless". Going for gloss means you can test drive the look without the commitment of a lipstick. Make sure you pick one that's not sticky, though: sticky red gloss and loose hair is just asking for trouble!


With my shiny cherry-red lips, I felt... well, I felt distincly va-va-voom, and no-one in the street, on the bus, in Supermacs [told you I was classy] or on the train looked at me funny because of them.

I could definitely get used to this vampy new me.

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