Red Lipstick: What Once Intimidated Me Is Now My Signature Look

I didn’t know how to wear lipstick like it was a part of me as a whole, as if I’d be naked without it.
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Samantha
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I didn’t know how to wear lipstick like it was a part of me as a whole, as if I’d be naked without it.

When it comes to products that really get me through the day there is my number-one, always-reliable, quick and easy old friend: lipstick. I know no matter how awful I feel, how sleepy or disheveled I am, I can always rely on lipstick. 

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I can’t explain how much confidence a swipe of the right red, coral or hot pink can give a girl. I have friends who only dared to wear red because they’d comment on how much they loved it on me and wanted to try it. Apparently, I was the final push towards giving red a go! (OK, it was more like a shove and a “how has this taken so long” hand flail.). 

Everyone seems to be afraid of daring lip colours at first, but knowing some foolproof ways to keep your lips smooth and moisturized and the pigment locked down gives anyone that boost to try it out. I remember teaching my friend about using foundation, setting with powder, applying lip pencil--all over, not just as a line around the lip--as a base, and then applying the colour that really helped her out. Helpful tips like that are the reason I’m hardly ever caught without a swipe of red across my lips anymore.

I first approached actually buying and wearing lipstick with trepidation. I was super-intimidated by the notion of applying something so visible and new to my face. As someone with crippling social anxiety at the time, just the thought of drawing that much attention to my face made me break into a sweat. 

I envied the girls who seemed to have all the confidence in the world, effortlessly wearing the richest, boldest reds day in and day out. I wanted to explore the world of lip colour, but I wasn’t ready for a bright red just yet. I needed to build up to that kind of confidence. I didn’t know how to wear lipstick like it was a part of me as a whole, as if I’d be naked without it. 

This brought me to buy my first MAC bullet in the girly coral pigment known as Vegas Volt. It was visible but less noticeable if I didn’t apply it just right--far less dramatic than the coveted blue-red I was working towards. 

Today, the closest thing to Vegas Volt I wear would be MAC’s Impassioned or Lady Danger, both of which are hardly the most subtle hues.

My go-to MAC Lipsticks left to right: Brave Red, Lady Danger, Ruby Woo.

My go-to MAC Lipsticks left to right: Brave Red, Lady Danger, Ruby Woo.

Red lipstick seems to be both the ultimate beauty staple and the most intimidating look to approach when you’ve never worn a red lip before. The (not so) best-kept secret is this: once you’ve mastered the red lip, it’s all you really need. A quick swipe across your lips can transform how you feel and how people perceive you. 

The best part? It literally takes seconds. No sleep? No time to put your full face on? Throw some mascara and red lipstick on, and you’re good to go! It’s insane how much you can trick people into thinking you’re totally put together when you’ve got your favourite red on your lips. If anyone knows about creating the illusion of being put together in the mornings it’s me. It’s my superpower.

Wearing my go to red: MAC Ruby Woo and REDD Lip Pencil

Wearing my go to red: MAC Ruby Woo and REDD Lip Pencil

A bright red lip and relatively minimal makeup has become my personal staple. The last time I came to work without lipstick on, “Are you OK?” comments were thrown at me at full speed. ALL. DAY. Apparently, I just didn’t look like myself without my signature red; and to be honest, if I’m not wearing some shade of red on my lips, I don’t really feel like myself much either. 

Today, even with my collection always growing, I swear by three shades of lipsticks (all of which happen to be from MAC). Clearly, I tend to learn toward all sorts of reds. 

Lady Danger, Brave Red, Ruby Woo

Lady Danger, Brave Red, Ruby Woo

When I’m going for a more mature, serious look I’ll apply Brick lip pencil and Brave Red lipstick. It’s a very brown-red, very '40s/wartime in style so it works perfectly with vintage styled hair and clothing. 

When it’s warm out, or I just feel like looking super-bright and girly, I swipe some orange-red Lady Danger across my lips. 

Then there's the almighty Ruby Woo. It doesn’t matter what look you’re going for--this red will work. There's a reason it’s so popular. Everyone I know seems to have a bullet of this stuff, and it’s my most used lipstick, hands down. (If you want to make sure it doesn’t budge, apply MAC’s Lip Pencil in REDD beforehand, and you’ll be singing its praises, too.)

It’s funny looking back at how hesitant I was to purchase something that inevitably became my staple and helped me reach a level of confidence I never had. 

Have you experienced a similar journey? Did you start off envious of the girls with the rose-coloured lips? Did you just dive in and go for red straight away or ease into the lipstick game like I did?