“Any attempt to make femininity trivial or unimportant is an attempt to take away my power. So I’m going to wear the red lipstick.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a part of a legion of women taking pride in the classic red pout. Historically, red lips suffered an off-color reputation, becoming a means of oppression through male-dominated governments.
In the 1700s, British Parliament willfully tried women for witchcraft if they were found of using something as simple as rouge and a red lip. In Ancient Greece, prostitutes seen without their red lipsticks suffered punishment if caught. And as the shade gained popularity in the racier professions, red-lipped dames discredited themselves as societal protest deemed a red pout inappropriate for the lady.
Fast forward to the 1920s flapper and the era of silver screen sirens, and this once-demeriting object became a symbol of women’s liberation and empowerment. We’ve come a long way since then, with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Madonna giving us reason to flock to makeup counters looking for the perfect red. It’s no wonder AOC is putting her foot down when it comes to her red lipstick.
To democratize the controversial hue, we asked Taylor Dempsey, a SIIA cosmetics makeup artist, her top tips to integrate the empowering statement lip in your own life.
Find Your Perfect Shade
Your first step to rocking the power lip is identifying which undertone will work with your skin tone. It’s imperative to match your skin undertone with the red hue formula, so identify your undertone first. If you’re unsure how to do this, Taylor offers this simple trick: “The easiest way to do this is to look at your veins; if they are blue or purple you have cool undertones, if they are green you have warm undertones, and if you can’t tell if they are blue or green then you most likely have neutral undertones.”
Got it? Now reference Taylor’s notes below to find the perfect lipstick:
Cool Undertone Skin (blue or purple veins):
Lipsticks with a slight blue undertone will complement the pink tones in your skin. SIIA Cosmetic’s Change Agent Liquid Lipstick in Midnight Rose is the perfect longwearing shade for days when you are running between meetings and events and don’t have time to check your lipstick in the mirror. It lasts all day and gives your lips all day comfort since it’s infused with nourishing ingredients like jojoba oil. If you are looking for a traditional velvet matte lip try SIIA Cosmetic’s Change Agent Matte Lipstick in Flaming Red, it’s infused with the same nourishing ingredients.
Our favorite blue-toned reds:
Warm Undertone Skin (green veins):
Lipsticks with orange or yellow tinges usually sit better on your skin tone than a blue-based lipstick. For that classic matte red, check out SIIA Change Agent Matte Lipstick in the shade Tango Red. It gives you a matte lip but still has the slip and moisture of a regular lipstick due to the natural moisturizing ingredients. If you prefer a shinier finish, try SIIA Change Agent Magnetic Original Lipstick in the shade Party Red.
Our favorite orange-toned reds:
Neutral Undertone Skin (you aren’t sure if your veins are blue or green):
Go for a subtle berry-toned red or a deeper red when you have neutral undertones. For a subtle red shade that is practical for every day, try the Change Agent Matte Lipstick from SIIA Cosmetics in the shade Sensual Rose. If you’re feeling a little more bold and powerful, go with a deeper red shade like SIIA Change Agent Original Magnetic lipstick in Roasted Red.
Our favorite reds for neutral undertones:
Prep Your Pout
Just like your skin, your lips need extra care to ensure the surface is smooth enough for a lipstick application. A lip scrub or some brown sugar mixed with a bit of coconut oil go a long way. Smooth on a bit of lip balm or coconut oil to hydrate the sensitive skin and let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. Blot off the excess product when you’re ready to apply the color.
Applying for Crispness & Symmetry
Taylor gave us a step-by-step to achieve the perfect crisp lip. If you’re like me, your lips might have a little asymmetry that the application can address to create the perfect pout.
- Start by lining the bottom lip with a matte red lip pencil; the matte liner will help to keep your red lipstick from feathering and going outside of where you put it. When lining your lips, you want to start from the bottom curve of your lip with the point of the liner and work your way out to one corner at a time with the side of the lip liner. I find this especially helpful for uneven lip shapes because you can subtly fill in and even out the shape for a perfect pout without looking too over-drawn or dramatic.
- Next, move to the top lip: start from the cupid’s bow and work your way out to the corners to help create symmetry on top.
- Take your lipstick straight from the tube and apply it to the center of your lips.
- Load your angled lip brush with your lipstick. Build up the outer portion and line of the lips with your lipstick to keep the precision you made with your liner.
- Once your lipstick is applied, take a little of your Ultimate Fit Concealer on the back of your hand to warm up and use the flat liner brush to carve out and clean up your lip line even further. Wipe off the leftover product from the flat liner brush and blend the concealer out. This trick will help prevent feathering, help you create a crisp line, and it will also let you fix any slip-ups or mistakes you may have made along the way.
- Now it’s time to show off your perfect red lip!
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