Whether you aim for rockabilly red during the day or smashing scarlet for evening, a red lip is classic. You can wear a crimson color with anything from everyday denim to an elegant gown, but it takes a bit more skill to choose and wear a red lip. Start by picking the shade and formula that’s best for your complexion and style — then make your red last from the beginning of your dinner date through that spectacular goodnight kiss.

Crimson Colors

Red lipstick comes in many shades, from deep blue reds to muted brown reds and vivid orange reds. If you’re quite fair, consider a slightly softer shade with a coral or pink tone, particularly for daytime. Medium skin tones can wear a wide range of reds, while very dark complexions pair best with richer and deeper red tones. If you have a cool complexion — you’ll know by the blue veins on the inside of your wrist — choose reds with blue or pink undertones, from cherries to wines. If your complexion is more golden and you have greenish-toned veins, opt for a red without a blue undertone; try a red with a hint of coral or one with a slight brown or rust tint.

Fabulous Formulas

Red lipsticks come in a range of formulas, from matte to glossy, sheer to opaque. For a casual and relaxed daytime look, a softer red lip stain or red gloss offers a wearable and comfortable semi-sheer option. Opaque red lip colors may be very matte, very creamy or quite glossy and are available in both standard and long-wearing formulations. Creamy reds look modern, while matte shades create a glamorous vintage style. A matte or creamy, rich red lip pairs well with classic evening attire, from a dinner out to a formal event, while a glossier or shinier red looks quite modern and fresh if you prefer an edgier style for evening. If you’re going to be dining and drinking in the evening, consider a long-wearing formula — either in a matte or glossy finish — to help your look hold throughout the night.

Applying Apple Red

For the perfect red lip, you need care and precision. If you’re short on time, skip the red lipstick in favor of an easy-to-apply gloss or stain. For a killer red lip, start with lip preparation. Apply foundation over your lips, outlining the outside of your lips with concealer to reduce bleeding and feathering. If you opt to wear a lip liner and can’t find one that is the exact match for your lipstick, choose one that matches your natural lip color so that you don’t end up with contrasting colors. Use a brush or the tube to apply red lipstick, but do so with care, keeping the lipstick within your natural lip line. Blot and apply a second coat.

Balancing Out the Burgundy

Red lipstick draws attention to your mouth, so you should downplay your other features. Skip the smokey eye in favor of more delicate eye makeup — a soft gray or brown liner, a cream-colored shadow and a light coating of mascara. Wear a blush that matches the undertone in your lipstick, or use a very small amount of your lipstick, well-blended, as a cream blush. And don’t forget to put your finger in your mouth, purse your lips around your finger and pull your finger slowly out to remove excess lipstick that could get on your teeth.