The Red Renaissance

This winter it’s time to embrace the beauty and energy of the bold red lip.

By Ingrid Wood

Red lipstick has been a bold and powerful statement of beauty and confidence for centuries, and it’s proving to be an enduring trend. It remains one of the most iconic symbols of glamour and femininity, thanks to Hollywood stars from the 1920s to the present day. It’s also long been regarded as a sign of rebellion, in no small part due to people like Elizabeth Arden who famously handed out tubes of bright red lipstick to marching suffragettes in New York in 1912.

But it’s the catwalks that always manage to give it a fresh twist – be it sexy, alluring, empowering, vampy or cheeky. In recent fashion weeks, maisons welcomes the red movement, with models taking to the runway in a range of shades from bright scarlet to deep ruby – and everything in between. Makeup artist Pat McGrath created sultry crimson pouts at Dolce & Gabbana and seductive reddish brown lips were painted by Karin Westerlund for Yves Saint Laurent. The vinyl lips at Christian Siriano leant more towards magenta, while Gucci was full on flame red and David Koma opted for a raspberry hue.

© Chanel

We love red lipstick because it’s a perfect contrast to the traditionally subdued colours of winter, bringing warmth to our wardrobe and is also the easiest way to add a pop of colour to a neutral face.

© Lancôme

Finding a red that packs a punch and complements your skin tone can be tricky, but there is undoubtedly a red for everyone. As a rule of thumb, if you have warm undertones, you should choose a warmer red lipstick to compliment your skin tone, while blue-toned reds are best for cooler complexions. Warm lipsticks are usually more orange-red, while cool lipsticks are usually bluish red. Don’t know your skin’s undertone?  If your skin tends to burn in the sun, you most likely have cool skin; if your skin tans easily, your undertone is probably warm. If you have dark skin, try holding a piece of white paper against your face – if your skin looks more gold or yellow in comparison, you have a warmer skin tone, and a cool undertone if it looks more red or purple.

Ultimately lipsticks will always look different on everyone, depending on other factors like your hair, eye and natural lip colour, as well as your attitude and personal style, so you might need to just keep trying until you find the perfect shade or try blending two shades to get your ideal colour. If you’re still battling, MAC Lipstick Matte in Ruby Woo is considered to be a universally-flattering red, while Chanel recently released 20 shades of red giving you endless freedom to explore.

Photo credits: Spring-Summer 2023 Haute Couture Collection CHANEL Beauty Backstage Makeup CHANEL © CHANEL 2023

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