Thursday, December 17th, 2009


Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque

The Perfect Holiday Red Lips

‘Tis the season to wear beautiful mixes of burgundy, crimson, and scarlet. We’ve been enjoying The Scarlet Season for the past few months by featuring shades of scarlet, but here are all of my favorite tips to achieving the most defined and long-lasting red lip.

The Prep

It’s important to regularly exfoliate and moisturize your lips, even when you’re not trying to wear a bolder lip color, because it gives you a better foundation to apply lip color onto. I suggest Sara Happ’s The Lip Scrub for a yummy and effective for-purchase scrub. For a DIY version, I suggest a little jojoba oil and sugar. Scrub and then rinse off, blot dry, and apply a layer of a moisturizing balm. My favorite balm right now is Philosophy’s Kiss Me Tonight Intensive Lip Therapy. Super, super moisturizing and feels great on lips.

Now, let’s talk about the BASE, the DEFINITION, the COLOR, and the TOUCH-UP stages…

The Base

Lip color needs something to hang onto, and one method I’ve found to really help color stay on longer and look better several hours later is laying down a base–just as I would for eyeshadow. I’ve used products like concealer and foundation to MAC’s Lip Erase; they all work about the same.

Before you apply your base, ensure your lips are smooth, soft, and have nothing else on them — you don’t want them dry and flakey (if this is you, try moisturizing lips twenty minutes before you go to apply lip color; blot the remainder off by kissing the back of your hand).

Now, when you apply your base, you can do so with a lip brush, a concealer brush, or your fingers. It really doesn’t matter, but the idea is to fully cover your lips in a very beige-y, neutral base. If you have darker skin, I’d suggest using a light to medium concealer shade instead. The lip base works in two ways: it neutralizes your natural lip color (therefore, colors look truer-to-the-tube on you) and gives color something to grab.

The Definition

Defining lips is easier said than done! You need a steady hand and a good eye for your natural lip shape. Start by lining your lips with a matching lip liner–stay in the lines; it’s better to stay within your natural lip line (overall, at least) than to stray too far to make a faux shape. I also like to fill-in lips with lip liner, just because liner is excellent for adding another layer of staying power, so I recommend doing that during this time, too.

The second step to defining lips comes later, after you’ve finished applying your lipstick/gloss. Taking a concealer brush and your concealer match, apply concealer outside of your lips – this will help give you that crisp, well-defined lip you want. You can use a fluffy brush like MAC’s 217 to help blend the concealer to make it look soft and natural.

The final step to defining your lips is adding just a touch of highlighter at the cupid’s bow (that’s the area just above the middle of upper lip). You want to use a small, fluffy brush and just lightly sweep a highlighter shade (something very soft, nothing glittery!) over the area to add more light.

The Color

One of the best methods to apply rich color and get excellent results is by using a lip brush. A lip brush will allow you to be more precise and apply even layers. You can easily add additional layers, but you know you’ll be applying a solid, even layer from the get-go. If you want to cheat a little during this step, apply the lip color directly from the tube to the middle of your lips and use a lip brush to stretch and bring color to the outer areas of the lips.

If you want to apply a gloss on top, I recommend using a separate lip wand (like a disposable one) to grab the color, then apply it with your lip brush. This will let you add the glossy finish you’d like without reddening up the gloss itself–plus, you’ll get more precision with the lip brush, too.

The Touch-Up

You may find a touch-up is required, depending on the occasion, the length of it, and what you’re doing. Lip color always has a much tougher job if it has to endure eating and drinking; or if you want it to last more than four hours. Of course, picking the right product can help on both accounts, but you never know when you need a touch-up.

I always find that keeping a gloss around for touch-ups is easier than a lipstick, just because lipsticks often need to be fully removed and reapplied rather than just layered on top. For this purpose, I tend to recommend finding a gloss in a similar shade as the lipstick you’re using. Otherwise, invest in makeup remover pads or swabs for on-the-go so you can truly reapply with perfection!

Tips & Tricks

  • For another layer of long-lasting powder, try dusting lips with blotting or setting powder after you’ve applied the first layer of lip color. Apply a second layer of lip color, and then continue on.
  • Makeup remover is also another way to make sure you’ve defined your lips and kept the lip color where you want it. I like to use an oil-based makeup remover (like Lancome Bi-Facil) and a cotton swab or lip brush to make sure everything is on the up and up.
  • Two years ago, just in time for the holidays, I put together a how-to apply red lips tutorial — which is an oldie, but a goodie — so I encourage you check that out as well!

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46 thoughts on “How-to: The Perfect Holiday Red Lips

  1. Avatar of Amy Amy

    I am in love with this colour.

  2. apfelwinter

    Def Dragon wins against VG!

  3. The price tag has kept me from buying any of the other Chanel Lip Laques – But I DO have this one and it is A M A Z I N G! Probabably one of the best reds ever. I can come very close to this color with other products – But nothing glides on (or feels nearly as good) as this! Yes yes… It’s well worth the bucks.

  4. Avatar of Rashmi rashmi

    hello christine
    i have already fallen in love with this colour n the pink one … i think phoenix …
    pls tell me where can i buy this chanel
    should i wait for some sale or so ….
    pls advise

    • Hey Rashmi,

      Chanel hasn’t really gone on sale that I know of… so I wouldn’t say to wait for a sale! I’m not sure where you can find Chanel in your country, though :(

      • Avatar of Rashmi rashmi

        thanks christine for reply
        i appreciate
        but u know what … i have friends who shop for me from USA only and they r coming to india next month
        so m asking them few things
        like this lip color and few more m keeping my eye on the sara happ lip scrub as well but its too pricy …lets see
        is mac’s lip cond. good ????

        thanks

        • Hey Rashmi,

          You could also try Fresh’s Sugar Lip Scrub – I think it’s slightly cheaper (or at least more readily available). Even just jojoba oil and sugar will work well, for a more affordable option! :)

          MAC’s Lip Conditioner is OK, but it’s in a pot, which kind of makes it gross at the same time. The Lip Conditioner Stick is nice, but it’s just lip balm in stick form… could go with many lip balm brands (Chapstick, SoftLips, etc.).

  5. Teresa

    Ah, Chanel Dragon Rouge! The best red lipstick I’ve ever seen :D

  6. wow that is a gorgeous color and application!!

  7. EMily

    What color lip liner did you use with it. I would love to buy both Please tell us!

  8. Avatar of Meghann Meghann

    This is so on my after Christmas gift to myself lists along with MAC power kohl pencils.

  9. Avatar of Kristina Kristina

    This Dragon lip photo belongs in a Chanel ad. It’s perfection.

  10. MAC addict

    This is awesome. Thanks for the tips. It is always good to learn something new.

  11. Dragon is such a gorgeous color! WOW! Thanks for the tips. Where can I find jojoba oil?

  12. Claudia

    How in the world do you get that on so perfectly???

  13. I totally need this colour! And by the way what make up remover do you use?

  14. Inara

    Christine, you are awesome but how many red lipstick posts do you plan on doing ? Most people wear bright red lips seldomly, maybe a handful of times each year, not religiously everyday. Yet it seems almost every other post you do now is red lipstick related. I wish you did more eye make or product reviews at least :)

    • Hi Inara,

      This is the holiday season, so red lips are a huge part of it :) We’ve been doing “The Scarlet Season,” which is a series of posts, but I’m not sure what you mean by more eye makeup or product reviews – because we have about 2-3 per day, even with the red lipstick posts…

  15. hey christine,
    i was following your steps cos today I wanted to wear Russian Red on my night out on the town. I moisturized while i was doing my makeup so my lips would be soft, but after when i put the concealer on, it totally dried out my lips again! So it kinda undid all the moisturizing that I did before. Any tips to prevent this from happening? Especially since MACs Russian Red is pretty drying itself.. :( such a pretty color though, can’t put it down!

  16. venice

    hi. hi. im new to makeup and now im so into lipsticks. thanks for the tutorial and for your features. got myself totally hooked with chanel lipstics. keep up the good work. hey, can you also please give advice what lip color works best for certain seasons. thanks. thanks.

    • Hi Venice,

      I like soft colors — like pinks, pastels, nudes — in the spring; brighter pinks and corals in the summer; plums and raspberries on the fall; and reds in the winter.

  17. Connie

    :( Why can’t I wear red!!! Christine, I’m jealous. I’m going to have to stop reading your blog soon. =P
    I kid! I kid!

    • Why can’t you! I bet you could. Wear it around the house ;)

      Luckily, come January 1st, we’re starting the Spring Season – pretty pastels, soft pinks and nudes and corals (soft corals!!).

  18. Liz

    How on earth did you apply that so perfectly????? When I do red lip, took me forever and still not perfect.. This chanel dragon is the bomb!!!!I think it is the mosr gorgrous and head turning red I’ve ever seen…

  19. K

    This was a great and really helpful post. Thank you! Plus how IMPECCABLE does Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque look on your lips?!

  20. alex

    Is dragon a limited edition?!

  21. Anna-Marie

    Wow. :D I’d love to begin that I have been looking at your Scarlet season for a while now, and I adore every installment. I never knew how versatile red could be. I love it. I think this is personally my favorite one of all, and I’d love to try it. It looks amazing!

  22. Kristen

    What lip brush would you recommend using?

  23. Hilana

    OMW… The most stunning red I have seen in ages. Gorgeous

  24. wow, this looks great on your skin tone!!

  25. I’ve seen you mention this color but WOW…I LOVE IT!! Isn’t it being discontinued?