Black Girls Wear Red: The Best Brands and Shades of Red Lipcolor For You

October 28, 2011  |  
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by Tracey Brown

From Hollywood starlets of yesteryear, to today’s pop culture idols of the runway and red carpet, red lipstick is eponymous with style, fashion and beauty. Red lipstick spells allure, glamour, sophistication and oozes sex appeal. A makeup must-have that is simultaneously a trend and yet a classic, red is on the lips of women of all ages and skin tones.

Hollywood sisters sporting a red pout Taraji Hensen , Kerry Washington, Zoe Saldana, Rosario Dawson and Tracee Ellis Ross instantly up their glam quotient with just a swipe of red lipstick. Catwalk queens Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls worked the Gucci runway with glossed-up red lips for Fall 2011.

Songstress Sade’s signature red lips are now on-trend for new millennium vocalists Jill Scott, Keri Hilson, Janelle Monae and Estelle. Each woman rocks the red lips with ease, yet each is wearing a different formula and shade that works for them.

When red lips are done right—meticulous application, seamless blending of lip liner and lip color in a flattering hue for your skin tone and undertone—you’ve got glam gold. Whether you have champagne and caviar cash or beer budget bucks, there is a red lipstick for you.

Red lipstick options span the color wheel—vampy vermillion, classic crimson, sassy scarlet, banging burgundy—so let your lips speak volumes with the perfect red. Many black women are left in a quandary about which red is best, and some still think their lips are a little on the “voluptuous” side to wear red lipstick. Don’t believe the “less-is-more hype”!

First, before we get into product recommendations, let’s start off with the steps to a perfect red pout:

1. Prime lips
Priming lips with foundation, lip pencil and/or lip primer will keep your red lipstick in check. If your lips are uneven in color, balance your lip tone by applying a thin layer of foundation, concealer, neutral (brown) lip pencil or lip primer.

2. Apply color

While many women apply lipstick directly from the bullet (the tube), instead, try using a lip brush to get the best saturation of color and exact placement on your lips.

Most black women pull off any color red lipstick with aplomb, however for ladies who are hesitant, using a color that falls within your skin tone is always a safe choice. Nonetheless, brown girls with golden and yellow skin tones look equally beautiful with a blue-red lipstick, while brown skins with red skin tones wear orange-tinged lipsticks amazingly well. It’s all in your sister swagger!

3. Touch up your edges.
A steady hand is the perfect tool for red lipstick application. But, if you draw outside of the lines, use a q-tip or makeup wedge tipped in foundation or concealer for precise lip lines.

4. Blot and reapply
No, blotting your lipstick is not cliché nor passé. Lipstick blotting is in fact a lost art; a step in lipstick application that enables your color to last longer.

Lip pencils to try:

• Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner Pencil in Red 8C (true red), Burgundy 9C (deep brick red), or Matte Raspberry 10C (deep berry plum) $18

• NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Hot Red, Plush Red or Deep Red. $3.50

• Iman Cosmetics Luxury Lip Liner —5 shades of brown. $8

Best Matte Red Lipsticks:
For years, a red lipstick paired with strong black eyeliner has been the vanguard for Hollywood makeup. This makeup look continues to be one that gives instant sizzle and glam to any woman who puckers up to matte red lips.

• Bite Beauty High Pigment Matte Pencil in Pomegranate (rich red) $24
• NARS Pure Matte Lipstick Mascate (bold red) $25
• Revlon Matte Lipstick in Really Red $7.99
• Wet n Wild Spotlight Red $2.99

Best Sheer Red Lipsticks:
For the crimson challenged, a sheer red lipstick is the perfect choice. A touch of color that enhances your own lip tone is Hot for an evening out or a casual day.

• The Balm Read My Lips Lipstick in Wanted $17
• Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Chunky Cherry $15
• Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Rebelle $32
• Black Radiance Indelibly Sheer Lip Tint in Crimson Red $2.99

Best Creamy Red Lipsticks:
Mainstream red lipsticks that anyone can wear are the ultimate beauty accessories. Creamy formulas are easy to find and easier to wear.

CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Hot $6.99
Lancome L’Absolu Rouge in Absolute Rouge $29
Black Opal True Color Lipstick in Heat Wave $7.25
Too Faced Lip of Luxury in Drop Dead Red $20

Best Red Lip Stains:

Red lip stains leave no telltale marks on his cheek or your wine glass and last for hours. For glossy glam, add a touch of your favorite clear gloss.

• Josie Maran Magic Marker Lip & Cheek Stain in Jitterbug $19
• Smashbox ‘Limitless’ Dual Ended Lip Stain & Color Seal Balm in Sangria $25
• Tarte Natural Lip Stain with LipSurgence™ Technology $24
• IMAN Luxury Lip Stain in Sensuous (sheer red) $9

Best Red Lipglosses:
If you want lips that stand out in a crowd, a high-shine red lipgloss is your best option. Sheer to intense pigments will keep your lips in focus.
• Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss in Succbus $20
• NUXE Lip Gloss Prodigieux Nutri-Protector Lip Gloss- Charismatic Red $23
• Revlon ColorBurst Lipgloss Lip Shine in Fire $7.49
• Burt’s Bees Super Glossy Lip Shine $7

Tracey Brown is the founding editor of

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