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How to Find The Perfect Shade of Red


All crimsons are not created equal.

Another school year means more occasions to show your school spirit. And the easiest, and cutest, way to do that is to swipe on some red lipstick. But choosing the right shade and formula is one of the hardest things a girl can do, especially when it deals with finding the perfect red pout.

The first thing to consider when choosing a lip product is the formula. The main types of lip products are, gloss, stain, cream, and matte.

Lip glosses are probably the first makeup item a girl will ever put on. They are a sheerer color with a glossy finish. The benefits to a gloss is that the color is more sheer, which is perfect for a girl who doesn’t want to make too much of a statement with a full on red lip. The downsides to a gloss is that they tend to be sticky and they wear off easily. So if you go with this option, I would suggest pulling your hair back and bringing the tube along for touch-ups throughout the night.

Stains have been very popular this summer with the “popsicle lip” trend, where color is applied to the inner portions of the lips and then smudged out to create the illusion that you have been eating a popsicle. The perks to stains is that they have major staying power. Once you apply a stain, it will not come off for the rest of the night, making it perfect for the girls that want to pay attention to the game, and not worry about lipstick smudges. This also means that mistakes can be hard to fix, so take your time when applying. Stains can also be very drying to your lips. Some come with a moisturizing top coat, but if yours doesn’t, it would be a good idea to bring some lip balm along.

Cream lipsticks are the default lip products that everyone thinks of when they hear the word “lipstick.” They come in a tube, and are the easiest to find and apply. You can find cream lipsticks in a range of opacities, from sheer to very bold color, and can be anything from glossy to matte, which means everyone can find the perfect one for them. Cream lipsticks have a tendency to smudge and bleed, however. The best way to prevent this is to use a lip liner that either matches the color of your lipstick, the color of your lips/skin, or is clear. You can also set your lipstick with a light dusting of translucent powder after applying.

Matte lipsticks have been very on trend, especially in the fall. Most come in a tube, and are applied with a doe foot applicator, much like a lipgloss. They apply very creamy, but dry to a matte finish, which means that they don’t have any shine or gloss. Matte products have a staying power similar to stains, but that also means that they can be drying.

The next thing to consider is shade. Not all red lipsticks are the same color; they can range from a lighter red to a deep oxblood color. Undertones are also very important when choosing a lipstick. Certain undertones look better on certain people, which might explain why a certain shade looks good on your friend but it’s not as pretty on you. Especially if one of you is more tan or if you have different undertones in your skin.

The best way to determine undertones is to look at the lipstick in natural light. The lighting in stores can often distort the color, which is why the lipstick that you fell in love with at Ulta last week just isn’t making your heart skip a beat now. Look at the lipstick near a window, or use a tester and swipe a little bit on the back of your hand and then walk outside. The natural lighting will make it easier to see the undertones, so you’ll be able to tell if it had blue, orange, purple, yellow, or any other undertones.

Fair Skin Tone:

For fair skinned girls, red lipsticks with cooler undertones look the best. Pale skin will make colors pop more, so it’s best to stay away from warmer colors, as they will tend to look more clownish. It’s best to go with a blue toned lipstick (which will also make your teeth look whiter!)

Recommended: Maybelline Color Sensational Lipcolor in Red Revolution ($5 Target)

Medium Skin Tone:

If you have a medium skin tone, you’re really lucky, because almost everything looks good on you. You’re able to pull off a brighter red without it making you look like a clown. Warmer reds really look good on you because they work well with your tan skin.

Recommended: Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Color in Fire & Ice ($8 Ulta)

Dark Skin Tone:

Darker skinned girls can really pull off bright warm colors. Orange toned reds look the best with a darker complexion without overwhelming the face. Try patting some gold eyeshadow on the center of the bottom lip for goddess like lips.

Recommended: Nyx Matte Lipstick in Pure Red ($6 Ulta)

If You’re Looking for Something Else:

If you want something else, try for a “universal red.” These colors have purple or yellow undertones and work with most, if not all, skin types. One of the most raved about colors is MAC’s “Ruby Woo” ($17 MAC). Although it is on the pricier side, if you’re really serious about lipstick, it would be a good investment. Taylor Swift is constantly seen wearing this color for her signature red lip. A cheaper, drugstore dupe for this would be Wet N Wild Lipstick in Stoplight Red ($2 CVS). At such a low price, it’s better suited for those on a budget.

When it comes down to it, wear whatever color makes you feel best. After all, the most important thing is that we all show school spirit and Lancer Pride. Go Lancers!

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