Tutorial - How To Apply Red Lips, Holiday Makeup

This tutorial is designed to walk you through, step-by-step, how to create those crisp, red lips.

Skill Level: Beginner


Lips: Viva Glam I lipstick (any matte red lipstick will do)
Tools: MAC 316 lip brush, MAC 194 concealer brush


Start with bare lips. (Mine have a touch of foundation from applying it to my face, but this is not an issue, as you’ll see in the next step.)


Using the 194, apply a layer of foundation all over your lips. Alternatively, you could use Urban Decay’s Primer Potion or MAC’s Lip Erase (PRO product). The purpose is to neutralize your lips and reduce pigmentation and undertones.


Your lips should resemble something like this.


Using the 316, pick up a generous amount of Viva Glam I lipstick and begin applying it to the bow of your lip.


Using the 316, you want to line your lips with the lipstick itself, before applying it all over the lips. Alternatively, you could use a matching lip liner (Red Enriched cremestick liner is my recommendation) to get a cleaner line or for added bleed prevention if your lips have a tendency to bleed.


This is how your upper lip should appear.


Now, utilize the same technique to line the bottom of your lower lip.


Since we are using the same lipstick to fill in the lips, perfection is not key! It doesn’t have to be an exact line.


It’s time to fill in your lips. Keep brushing the 316 against the lipstick itself and then apply the color generously to your bottom and upper lips.


Keep repeating the process until you get to the desired level of redness. It will start off as a light to medium pink and get darker, eventually to the truest red that you see from the lipstick itself.


After several applications, your lips should have a color like this.


Fix any imperfections by slowly going over the edges of your lips. If you find yourself with a few bits that are outside the lines, there are two ways to remove it. One, use a cotton swab with a touch of make remover, and erase the flaws. Two, use foundation or concealer to go over the flaws. Either way will usually accomplish what you need, but if there is a significant stray red mark, makeup remover is the better option.


Here is the final version.


Plushy red lips!

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Thanks for the tips! Maybe I should start buying red lipsticks, I’m used to nudes, peaches and pinks. Viva Glam I is the ultimate classic red lipstick! You should use reds more often, looks good on you 🙂

Christine! This is a great tutorial and the red looks FABULOUS on you. I wish there were lipsticks of this shade but in an all-day formula. I have kids and my lips are on them all day.

Thanks, Mrs. Lynne! I am happy to help 🙂

MAC does make prolongwear and prolustrewears that are longwearing. I know how you feel – with my boyfriend I can’t go wearing ka-pow lips all the time!

oh! that’s amazing! it’s not even messy applying rich red lipstick. and i’d like to have that MAC’s Lip Erase (PRO product)to even out my lip’s skin tone 🙂

loved this tut and omg red looks so good on you. thanks for the tip i never thought of using concealer on my lips. my lips are so pigmented that many lipstick colors always go “off” from what they look like in the tube. thanks so much.

wow this looks great!!
i was wondering, does adding concealer/foundation to ur lips before the lipstick make them feel dry? i feel like i have this problem, then again it could be because i always have to have some sort of chapstick on my lips.
thanks again!! u look awesome!
-Renee :b

WOW. I BEEN HAVING SO MUCH TRUBLE WITH MY **SO SO CUTE** REDS. AND I HAVENT DARED TOUCH IT MORE THEN ONCE BECUZE IT JUST DOESNT LOOK RIGHT. BUT I HAD THAT EXACT BRUSH THE WHOLE TIME!! NOW I KNOW JUST WAT TO DO. THANKZ TEMPTALIA. UR THE BEEESSTTT!! **LONG TIME READER, BUT JUST STUMBLED INTO THIS ARTICLE HAHA**

What color combination eyeshadow look good with red lipstick?

What color combination lips go good with black smokey eyes?

I always get confused as to what goes best with what?

Another one is purple combo eyeshadow or blue eyeshadow what type of lipstick or gloss goes with what Any advise would be greatly appreciated as I find that many makeup blog sites never go over this…thank u 😉

Hey D! I like neutrals, golds, and occasionally a tinge of purple or pink.

I always opt for a nude lip, at most a pale coral lip, for black smoky eyes.

I like corals or nudes with blue shadows, whereas I like pink or purple/plum lips with purple eyes.

Hey D! I really like these lipsticks: CB96, Sweetie, Cherish, Capricious, New York Apple. I like these lipglasses: Lychee Luxe, C-thru, Pink Poodle.

Christine, I know every MA says to always apply lipstick with a brush rather than straight from the tube. What is the reason for this–longer last? I don’t personally see how precision is improved by using a brush–in fact, for someone like me who isn’t a pro, precision is much worse with a brush rather than from the tube. Plus it takes sooo much longer with a lip brush. What are your thoughts?

Hi Erin,

It is to help with precision for the most part, and it also helps you layer it on layer by layer. I usually apply from the tube to be honest 🙂

Just discovered this – in fact, I just bought my first EVER red lipstick in Russian Red. The tip about the foundation was very useful – my lips are varying shades and I have the perfect neutraliser for them. I think this will be my look for work tomorrow… 🙂

I have a maroon and dark purple lipstick. what eye makeup go best w/ them?

oh and thank u so much fot the tutorial, I always afraid trying red on lip, but no more.

Lucky you, you’ve got great lips! I on the other hand do not. They’re small and I’ve noticed my upper lip is a bit skinnier than my bottom lip. I’ve heard that if you have small lips then it’s better not to use bold colors like red…is it true? Oh I certainly hope not because red is the only color I use. I’ve tried every other color but before I leave the house, I wipe it off and replace it with my red lips again…

Ugh, men! 😉 They just don’t understand. Red lips are classy and it’s all I ever plan to wear from now on…regardless what my future partner might want lol!

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