How To: Apply A Flawless Red Lip

So you’ve found your ultimate red lipstick. Whoo hoo! But you’re not in the clear quite yet. The key to making crimson lips look sophisticated, and not messy, is careful application. (You don’t want to go the way of Courtney Love, after all.) We asked makeup artist Reiva Cruze for her best tips on flawless, long-wearing application.

Step One: Time to Prime

It’s easy to get excited and immediately reach for your color, but priming your lips is crucial. “Use a soft toothbrush or clean mascara wand to gently buff your lips and remove dry, dead skin,” suggests Cruze. Follow with a swipe of matte lip balm to keep skin hydrated.

Birchbox Recommends: Nuxe Reve de Miel® Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm, which contains mega-moisturizers like Acacia honey and shea butter. Apply a layer and then blot to remove any excess balm.

Step Two: Lay the Foundation

Next, lightly dab your go-to foundation over your lips. While this might seem a little kooky, Cruze explains that the nude hue helps red tones stay vivid throughout the day.

Birchbox Recommends: The foundation trick works like a charm but lately we’ve been loving Pixi Beauty’s ingenious, Lip & Line Primer. The two-in-one pencil has a nude balm for priming lips and a translucent lip liner to keep pigments in place.

Step Three: Draw the Line

Trace the outline of your lips with lip liner. Cruze says a single line of liner is not enough to keep red hues from straying. “After tracing the outer contours of your lips, move the liner slightly more towards the center and thicken up the outer line,” Cruze says.

Birchbox Recommends: Finding a shade of liner to perfectly match your red lipstick isn’t easy. If you want a product that will work with multiple hues, try Lipstick Queen’s Invisible Liner. The genius formula goes on completely clear.

Step Four: Brush Up

Use a lipstick brush to carefully fill in your lips with color. Cruze advises taking your time and using short brush stokes. “An angled brush is best for getting into every nook and cranny,” she explains.

Birchbox Recommends: stila’s #6 Lip Brush has tapered bristles that are ideal for precise application.

Step Five: Set Your Shade

Gently dust loose or pressed powder over your lips to set your color. “Any powder with talc, will do,” says Cruze. “Use a foundation brush and gently pat powder over your lips.”

Birchbox Recommends: A regular foundation powder that you already own, like Smashbox Cosmetic’s Photo Set Pressed Powder, is ideal for this step.

Extra Credit: To make sure your red is long-lasting, repeat steps four and five.

Still feeling intimidated? Check out our matte lips tutorial.

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