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Red lips are a classic, making any face look instantly elegant. Makeup artist Troy Surratt, who's worked with celebrities like Martha Stewart and Anjelica Huston, says red lipstick is "the little black dress in your makeup bag." Here, his 10 tips for getting it right:
1. Match your skin tone. According to Surratt, true reds work best on a pale face, while olive skin calls for brown-reds or mahogany shades. Also, if your teeth are yellow, a red lipstick with blue undertones will make them look whiter.
2. Test on your lips. Most women try out lipstick on their hands, but that's often a different shade than your face. Head to a makeup counter or Sephora to test directly on your lips, scraping a bit of color off with a Q-tip.
3. Trust your instincts. If you're not sure where to start when choosing a red, trust the shades you are first attracted to. Surratt believes we are often drawn to the colors that look best on us. If that fails, he recommends Kevyn Aucoin's Sheer Red as a shade almost anyone can wear.
4. Keep other makeup subtle. While smoky eyes and crimson lips look great for a fancy, nighttime occasion, everyday red lips should be accompanied by a subtle, natual-looking face. Surratt advises this subtle treatment for eyes: Apply mascara, curl lashes and keep brows well-shaped.
5. Give yourself time to get used to it. If red lipstick is a huge departure from your normal look, make an effort to glance at yourself in the mirror as often as you can on the first day of your new look. This will help your eyes adjust to seeing yourself that way. If that fails...
6. Ease into it. Too timid to go for all-out red? Try a more subtle gloss or stain. Surratt suggests Vincent Longo's Liquid Kiss or Tarte's Rhett & Scarlett.
7. Decide on your shine level. Glossy or matte? A moister lip looks more modern (Surratt like Revlon's Moisturous Red Monsoon), but a matte formula stays on your lips longer and won't feather. Experiment to find the right one for you.
8. Use a neutral liner. Although using a lip liner in a different shade than your lipstick sounds counterintuitive, Surratt says it gives you the freedom to fill out thin lips. Choose a shade that matches your natural lip color.
9. Apply it correctly. Surratt advises this method: Line and fill in lips with liner. Apply lipstick from the tube or using a lip brush (which eases color into tiny lip lines) over the liner. Blot once with a tissue, and lightly dust with face powder. Apply one more coat of lipstick, and you're set.
10. Go for more red. Although it may be too bold a look for some, Surratt loves the "eternally chic" look of red lips matched with red nails.