Rock a Red Lip!

You Just Have to Find YOUR Red…

Happy day, reader dear!

It’s the middle of December, and red is everywhere… So why not on your lips? In all honesty, I have not always been a red lip aficionado. I loved red lips on everyone else, but on me they felt conspicuous. Like my lips were shouting at the world. That was before I had my colors done in the Absolute Color System and took a deep dive into the properties of color! The difference between undertone and overtone, warm and cool, light and dark, bright and soft make all the difference. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this post will be extremely image heavy. My apologies if loading is a bit slow…

It’s easier to see the distinctions on dresses than on lipstick samples!

All of a sudden the shouting lips made sense! It wasn’t that I couldn’t wear a red lip, it was just that I hadn’t found My Red Lip (Or Lips, as the case may be). So how do you find your red lip? The two most important properties to take into account when looking for your red lipstick are undertone and intensity. Finish, which isn’t a property of the color per se, but of the lipstick itself, is also a major player.


Is your coloring warm or cool? You will hear lots of people talk about looking at the veins in your wrist to tell, but tanner, health conditions, and lighting can make that test lie. If I am trying to help someone I cannot see, I ask them about jewelry and bronzer… Do you look better in silver or gold jewelry? Or better asked, which looks richer on you?

If you look great in gold-toned jewelry, or brass and bronze, you likely have a warm complexion. What does bronzer have to do with the undertone? Warm complexions look great in the right shade of bronzer beautifully applied. If you still aren’t sure: Which color of pearls makes you glow, white or ivory? Warm complexions look better in ivory pearls, and bright white will look cheap.

If you look your best in silver or pewter jewelry and bronzer just makes you look like you need to wash your face, your complexion is most likely cool. Cool complexions look best in a pink or plum blush rather than a bronzer. I always used to wonder why I never could find a bronzer that worked for me. Now I don’t waste time or money on bronzer; now I spend it on a lovely blush! As for the pearls, cool complexions look best in a whiter pearl, and ivory pearls simply look dirty.

(Some people’s genes give them a combination of warm and cool that reads more neutral; don’t worry, there are palettes for them, too!)


Intensity is how bright or soft a color is. A pure hue is incredibly intense, like the primary and secondary colors in a child’s box of crayons. The outer ring on a color wheel are pure hues. They can be lightened by adding white (tint), darkened by adding black (shade), or softened by adding grey (smoked) or brown (toasted). Makeup colors and names will often tell you something about the color’s intensity. (But there are NO guarantees!) Smokey plum is likely to be cool and soft. Toasted Caramel will probably be warm and soft. Coral is usually warm, and Cherry, cool. Words like Bright, Electric and Clear generally indicate more pure and vibrant colors.


Four Red Lips with very different finishes!

Finish is about the texture and transparency of the lipstick you choose. A red lip balm will be more transparent than a highly pigmented (more opaque) lipstick. A bright red lip in a transparent lipstick will always look less in-your-face than the same color in an opaque formula. You might think a matte finish would be more subtle than shine, but a satin finish will be less in-your-face than a high gloss or matte. Note: A matte finish can look very harsh against the more textured skin of those of us past our prime child-bearing years…

If you are trying a red lip for the first time, I suggest starting with a more transparent finish to get used to a brighter look and then move to a more opaque formula after your eye adjusts. Or if you feel like going all in, do a Red Lip Challenge! Grab any flattering red you like the texture and feel of, and wear it every day for a week. (Yes, 7 days.) Reapply during the day. By the end of day three it won’t feel strange, and by the end of the week, you will have learned a lot about the power of a red lip. (And there is power. Not kidding.)

So, how about you? Do you wear a red lip? For everyday, or only for special occasions? What’s your favorite brand and shade? Do tell! We’re all friends here…

Stylishly yours,


  • Andrea Andresen

    My favourite is Revlon colourstay Ultimate wine- slightly warm and stays on all day- just a top up the gloss coat when required.

  • Lise

    I want to wear a red lippie sometimes but have yet to find a really flattering color. I know it needs to be cool but I find how it looks I the lighting in the store is often different out of the store. I’m going to look for names with cherry in them 🙂 Thanks. Lise

    • closetplayadmin

      Glad to be of help, Lise! Another tip is to take your options to the front of the store where (hopefully) you can see them in natural light rather than the scary lighting in the store… That will give you a more true idea of the color!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.