It is fun to wear red lipstick, especially at Christmastime! Our StyleBlueprint teams in Atlanta and Memphis joined forces to bring you “Tips for Red Lips” this season. We have a brave brunette in Atlanta (Katherine Michalak) and an adventuresome blonde in Memphis (Lindsey Hedgepeth) who were willing to try on many shades of red in search of the perfect one. They also collected general guidelines and product advice from two makeup artists who are ready to help anyone pucker up in red this season! Here is what we learned from Michael Hanz of Woo Skincare + Cosmetics in Atlanta and from Erika Bomarito, the Laura Mercier artist at Joseph in Memphis.

Advice from Katherine Michalak in Atlanta:

I’ve loved red lipstick ever since I purchased my very first tube of Chanel Rouge Coco for a high school dance sometime in the 80s. After several awkward years of fluffy taffeta dresses, accented by smears of frosty pink lip gloss, I had graduated to a strapless black velvet number that begged for a bright red pucker. My mother marched my teenage self over to the counter of the “fanciest” store in town to make sure I received assistance in selecting my best red. Holding the black tube with those golden interlocking C’s reflected in the mirror, and watching the carmine wax smear across my mouth, I felt like Audrey Hepburn.

When worn the right way, red lipstick transforms the entire face for instant glamour. When worn wrong, however … well, as my mother always said, “It’s like your lips barge into the room before the rest of you.” Over the years, I’ve found new favorites and made costly mistakes, approaching my purchases in a somewhat haphazard manner. Determined to find a festive holiday red, I marched my now grown-up self to Woo securing an appointment with with Michael Hanz, resident Glam Genie. Once I settled safely in Michael’s chair, he taught me the formula for unlocking the magic of a perfect red lip.

1.) Uncover Undertones:

For the most natural look, determine your skin tone as either warm, having a yellow or olive base, or cool, with a pink or fair base. Reds are also characterized by the undertone, blue or orange, blending best with a similar skin tone. You can also look for the third category of neutral reds or blood reds, which contain more brown.

2.) Pick Pigment:

Just as the color itself varies, so can the intensity of the pigment saturation and the thickness of the formula. Choose from sheer, matte, satin or stain to adjust the depth of color on your lips.

  • Sheer — Glossy formula, not as precise an application, often just a hint of color.
  • Matte — Full pigment, strong color.
  • Satin — Full pigment with sheen.
  • Stain — Full pigment in liquid-based formula that soaks into lips. Requires careful application, but wears all day.

3.) Locate Lipliner:

For all but a sheer formula, Michael recommends coordinating a matching lipliner to help prevent bleeding and feathering. Apply the liner after the lipstick, following the precise edge of the color. Michael used Laura Mercier True Red liner for the warm-toned reds, Laura Mercier Ruby liner for the cool-toned reds, and Bobbi Brown Red liner for the neutral red.

Testing, Testing … 1,2,3,4: (Clockwise from Top Left) YSL Rouge Pure Couture Matte #201, warm tone; Bobbi Brown Satin #94 “Hollywood Red,” cool tone; YSL Rouge Pure Couture Glossy Stain #9, warm tone; YSL Rouge Pure Couture Satin #14, neutral.

Play around! It’s just makeup and it washes right off. Try some different looks and see what works for you and what makes you feel beautiful. Remember to balance your makeup accordingly. If you want heavy drama on the eyes, go with less focus on the lips (maybe that sheer red for just a tint). However, if you’re choosing to make an impact with intense red on your lips, then pull back a bit on the eyes.

Big thanks to my “Glam Genie,” Michael Hanz. Make an appointment to let him work some makeup magic on you!

More Red Lip Tips, from Lindsey Hedgepeth in Memphis:

Unlike our lovely brunette model from Atlanta who totally rocks the red, I am deathly afraid of color. I have hundreds of nude to goldish-pink lip glosses that seem appropriate, if not a little boring, for someone of my coloring or lack thereof (blonde with blue/green eyes). Unfortunately, nostalgia is working against me here, too (thinking va-va-voom 80s, Marilyn Monroe, clowns … you get the drift.) Lately, however, I’ve been noticing the refreshingly modern look of red pouts parading down runways and on the pages of always-stylish catalogues like J. Crew and often wondered if this look would ever work for me.

For professional help, we enlisted Erika Bomarito, Laura Mercier artist at Joseph in Laurelwood where we would peruse their extensive array of lipstick choices to arrive at 4 looks that work for me and my blonde friends out there who might be looking for something merry and bright this holiday season and beyond.

Erika gave us a little red lips 101 before we got started and assured us that the right red can wake up tired eyes, be an instant mood-lifter and, she says, “people listen to red lips!” So, while I have your undivided attention, here’s my attempt at wearing red.

Easing into red here: ___ is a sheer hue by Laura Mercier that can be worn with or without liner depending on the intensity you are looking for.
Easing into red here: Poppy is a sheer hue by Laura Mercier that can be worn with or without her Warm Poppy liner, depending on desired intensity.
Laura Mercier Sexy Lips worn with Ruby liner is a cooler-toned red.
Laura Mercier's Portofino with Warm Poppy liner is a warm red look.
Laura Mercier’s Portofino with Warm Poppy liner is a bright, warm red look. And I’m pretty sure it’s all over my teeth.
And for a matte look, here’s Laura Mercier’s wax-free formula, Moi, with True Red liner. A lady shopping across the counter voted on this shade so I didn’t wipe it (all) off.

Picking the Right Red:

The Laura Mercier line-up:  Hollywood, Red Haute, Red Amour, Deco Rouge and Portofino Red-and that's not all!
The Laura Mercier line-up: Hollywood, Red Haute, Red Amour, Deco Rouge and Portofino Red. And that’s not all!

If the sheer number of red shades just from Laura Mercier illustrates anything, it’s that red lips are certainly having an on-trend moment. Personal preference is important when considering if you want sheer or full coverage. Stains and wax-free balms are also becoming more popular. For the shade, you can base your choice on your outfit, your mood or just what looks best on you based on your coloring. It’s important to feel comfortable and confident with your lipstick. This is no laughing matter!

Preparation and Application

When it comes to red, preparation is key! Erika recommends Sara Happ Lip Scrub ($24 at Joseph) and serious hydration prior to application. Red lipsticks will cling to dry flaky skin and you want people to notice your lips for all the right reasons. To keep feathering at bay, line outside lips with a product like Laura Mercier’s Clear Anti-Feather Lip Pencil.


Unlike other colors in the lipstick spectrum, reds should always be worn with a liner. Precision, definition and a steady hand are ultra important towards achieving the perfect red pout. Laura Mercier makes three different red liners to boost all shades of rouge: Warm Poppy, True Red and Ruby.

Erika used a lip brush on my lips to apply color. (Note: before you smile, be sure you don’t have it on your teeth!) She recommends applying often for the best representation of the shade. Faded red lips are not so pretty.

Complementing the Lips

Wearing red lipstick really makes the rest of your face easy because you’ll want to keep it fresh and low-drama to avoid looking over done and dated. All you need is a wash of a gold eye shadow (we like Laura Mercier’s Gold Dust for warm red tones and Stellar for cooler reds), a complementary blush (warm or cool pink) and black mascara!

Here’s our girl Erika Bomarito wearing Laura Mercier Deco rouge color.
Here’s our girl Erika Bomarito wearing Laura Mercier’s Deco Rouge color. Thanks for your help, we had fun!

While red might not become my signature color, at least not by day, I feel more empowered to let my lips do the talking at my next festive affair. And Memphis ladies, hurry over to Joseph now through Sunday while all cosmetics and fragrances are 15% off! Happy shopping!



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