Perfect Red Lips for the Holiday Season

I consider myself quite the connoisseur of red lip products. I have a fishing tackle box filled with over 50 lipsticks, glosses, and pencils – arranged by manufacturer, natch – of every shade of red ever imagined by man. Cool or warm, gloss or matte, screaming-fire-engine or deep burgundy; I’ve never met a red I didn’t like. And what completes a holiday outfit better than a perfect red mouth? Whether you want to wow ’em at your office holiday party, get your smooch on under the mistletoe, or just look glamorous for no reason at all, there’s nothing more stunning than a woman confidently wearing the perfect shade of crimson.

[i]How can I find the right red for me?[/i] Finding your own perfect red hinges in large part on your skin color and undertone. Let’s talk about how to determine your skin’s undertone and how that corresponds to a flattering red lip color. Take a look at the underside of your wrist, where you can see the veins through the skin. If the color of the vein appears more blue, you’re cool-toned (pink undertones). If the vein color tends more toward a greenish hue, you’re warm-toned (yellow undertones). Another way to determine your tone is to judge what color jewelry appears most flattering on you: silver (cool) or gold (warm). In lipsticks, cool reds appear to have a more bluish tinge to them, while warm reds appear more orange-based. If you’re still having trouble determining what shade would most flatter your coloring, visit your favorite local makeup counter. The makeup artist there should be able to quickly ascertain what undertone you are and give you a few different options. After sampling the products at the counter, be sure to take them for a test drive outside as well – that amazing shade you have on your lips under the indoor fluorescent lighting can look completely different, and not nearly as nice, in natural outdoor lighting.

[i]Lip liner – yay or nay?[/i] I’m a big fan of lip liner. I have, to put it kindly, a “problem” applying lipstick without having a nice outline to fill in, much in the way that I’m great with a coloring book but horrible with a paintbrush. Without a proper line to fill in, I get all spastic. With nude or pink lipsticks, a precise line isn’t so vital – with reds, it’s absolutely essential, since a slip-up with a shaky hand is much more noticeable. There are a lot of great basic red lip liners on the market, both high- and low-end Two of my favorites are MAC’s Brick and L’Oreal’s Burgundy. Both are neutral medium-reds that match up beautifully with dozens of lip colors. Check [url=][/url] for locations near you to sample their many lip pencils, and L’Oreal products can be found at major drugstore chains nation-wide.

In addition to a lip liner, I highly recommend using a lip brush to apply the lipstick. A lip brush will distribute the color much more evenly and precisely than applying the color straight from the tube.

[i]What’s new for the season? [/i] Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how to procure yourself the perfect shade, let’s take a look at some gorgeous new reds for the holidays.

NARS has unveiled a new Lip Stain Gloss ($22), which provides the benefits of both a lip stain and a gloss. The Stain Glosses provide long-lasting matte color but avoids that common overly-dry feeling by infusing Vitamin E and Nylon 12 into each product. The Stain Gloss can be applied with a swipe of the sponge-tipped wand for an opaque finish or dabbed with a finger for a softer, sheerer look (great if you’re a newbie and trying to ease your way into the crimson world). For a dazzling ruby mouth, be sure to check out the Lip Stain Gloss in Indian Red – a gorgeous, dramatic scarlet that immediately found its way into my regular lipgloss rotation. Visit to find a retailer near you.

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The Julie Hewett Noir Lipstick Collection was born of makeup artist Julie Hewett’s love of old movies, and thus she created an entire line of reds to pay homage to the gorgeous starlets of each decade. Representing the 1920s is Sin Noir, a wine shade inspired by Gloria Swanson. Femme Noir is a scarlet blue-red that harks back to 1930s beauty Jean Harlow. Coco Noir is a classic 1940s brick red – brick shades tend to work for all skin tones, and is a good choice for someone looking for a great neutral red. The 1950s brings us Rouge Noir, a classic neutral-toned movie star red (think Marilyn Monroe). As the 1950s eased into the free-love 1960s, the bright reds sheered down into lighter, more summery shades, like the coral-hued Belle Noir. Nudes were all the rage in the 1970s, and the Twiggy-inspired Nude Noir has just a hint of red. For today’s modern on-the-go gal, Julie also developed some sheer reds: Gem Noir (rosy-red), Film Noir (blackberry stain), and Oona Noir (cherry red). Check out Julie’s website – [url=][/url] – and choose a shade, based on her recommendations in her “What Red Are You?” section. Each individual lipstick retails for $21.00, and can be purchased via Julie’s website or a local retail outlet.

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The environmentally-conscious Aveda is featuring some new bold ruby hues in its holiday color collection. Their new Lip Tint SPF 15 ($11.00) is a botanical lip conditioner that provides mineral and planet-derived SPF protection, which is vital to the survival of your poor lips during the icy winter weather. Infused with orange, spearmint and pomegranate, these tints smell as good as they look! Try Verbeena for a great sheer berry. Aveda’s new peppermint-scented Lip Color Concentrate ($14.00) is moisture-rich and vibrantly, deeply colored, and also features SPF 15 sunscreen. Check out Cerise (a lovely wine shade), Kalahari Clay (brick red), and Rambutan (cool, clear red) for some trendy crimsons. Also amongst the newcomers, translucent and high-shine Lip Shine ($13.50) contains extracts of peppermint, cinnamon, anise, basil and cinnamon – all the great flavors of the season with none of the guilt! The slanted-tip applicator dispenses the perfect amount of gloss, making your lips appear moist but not overly gloopy. Beet Root is a lovely sheer red-brown, and a great shade for someone who covets a red lip, but wants to err on the conservative side. You can find all of these in Aveda salons, spas, stores, and online – visit [url=][/url] or call 800-328-0849 for locations.

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Chanel’s Rouge Hydrabase ($23.50) is truly one of the standards by which all lip products should be judged. Their moisturizing formula imparts broad range of colors with long-lasting satiny finish and opaque coverage. It also happens to be one of the most non-feathering lipsticks I have ever had the pleasure of owning. Chanel’s got some gorgeous scarlet colors, and debuts two new limited edition ones this fall: Champagne Red (medium cool-toned red) and Red Ruffles (berry-red; especially great for darker/olive skin tones). If you’re looking for a corresponding lip liner, definitely check out their Le Crayon Lèvres Precision Lip Liner in Red (neutral red) or Sienna (brown-tinged red). This liner is the Rolls Royce of lip liners, and worth every cent of the retail price of $27.00. It even comes with its own sharpener and a built-in lip brush for blending! Visit [url=][/url] to purchase or find a retailer nearest you.

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FYLO (For Your Lips Only) is truly that: a cosmetics line just for the lips! All of FYLO’s products (except lip pencils) come in wee cubes that pop in and out of a mirrored compact, which founder Heidi Harris has affectionately dubbed the “cubicle”. After years of purchasing lip palettes where only some of the shades were flattering (and who among us hasn’t had that happen a dozen times?), Heidi decided to create a new product that would give women the option of personally selecting colors for a custom-made lip palette which comes with its own lip brush. With FYLO, you get to select which cubicle suits your needs, and then fill the cubicle with the perfect colors for you. It’s about time! FYLO’s Lip Color formula is a unique blend that moisturizes your lips and is long-lasting. These satin-finish colors are concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Check out bergamot oil-infused lip colors like Habanera (medium red-brown), Tango (cool classic red), Con Amore (bright warm red), and lip gloss Tarantelle (vivid neutral red with essential oil of rose geranium). Lip colors and lip glosses are all priced at $8.00. FYLO is currently available only online at [url=][/url] for us New Yorkers, but check out the website for retail outlets if you happen to be traveling.

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I am a shameless fan of the 1940s makeup style: precise, formal, high-contrast. Bésame – which means “kiss me” en Espaà±ol – is all about that vintage glamour. Makeup artist Gabriela Hernandez created Bésame to reflect the WWII-era look of sophisticated beauty and her product line stays true to the style of the time, down to exact reproductions of certain colors and using metal containers instead of plastic. It looks, and feels, like you’re using actual 1940s products! This holiday, Bésame presents a beautiful set of five red lipsticks ($60.00). The Enchanting Lipsticks are housed in tiny golden bullet-shaped cases decorated with red chrysanthemums, and come packaged in a slender deco-style box. Even niftier is the angled design of the lipstick, created so that one can use the sharp angled tip as a lip liner, and the blunt side as a fill-in. The colors available in the boxed set are: Bésame Red (bright fuschia-tinged red), Cherry Red (cool-toned scarlet), Red Hot Red (warm medium red), Red Velvet (neutral blood-red) and Noir Red (dark blackberry). I was unfamiliar with Bésame before, but I’m now a huge fan. The shades of red are spectacular, and so highly pigmented that the color lasts all day long. To try Bésame out for yourself, visit or call 818-548-2628 to find a local retailer.

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So, you see, anyone can wear red. With all the striking new crimsons out this holiday season, you can be sure to find something (if not several somethings) to add to your makeup collection. And come on – what with buying all those gifts for others this time of year, don’t you deserve a little treat for yourself, too?

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