The Beauty Memo

How to do the perfect red velvet lip

Precise edges, an opulent, pillowy-soft finish… the classic red velvet lip feels more contemporary than ever before. SHANNON PETER reveals the insider secrets that will help you get the perfect pout every time

Chanel, Rodarte and Escada SS19

Like the silk slip dress of the makeup world, few looks are quite as impactful and alluring as the red ‘velvet’ lip. “It automatically makes the rest of the face and skin glow,” says Sada Ito, NARS Global Artistry Director. It has a practical advantage, too: a super-matte lipstick provides extra grip and durability, making it more long-lasting than other lip finishes – even after a margarita or two. And despite being all about precision and opulence, creating the ultimate red velvet lip at home isn’t actually that tricky, especially with Ito as your guide…

Invest time in the prep

Such a statement look will draw attention to the lips, so you need to ensure they are at their best. A lip scrub will create a smooth base for the lipstick to glide on to, and the grains in Apa Beauty’s Lip Loofah are coarse enough to buff away loose, dry skin cells, but gentle enough not to damage or scratch the skin. Next, apply a thick blanket of lip balm, leaving it on for a few minutes (time to finish the rest of your face) to rehydrate and soften the lips. “Remove any excess with a tissue before applying your matte lip color,” says Ito – any lingering greasiness can cause the matte lipstick to slide off.

Carve out a sharp edge

A precise lip line is vital for this look. Not only does it add finesse, but it will stop the color from bleeding or cracking at the edges. If time allows, start with a lip liner. First, lightly sketch the peaks of the Cupid’s bow and the outer corners of the mouth before joining each of the segments. Once the shape is correct, follow with a stronger line. Next, fill in the entire lip with the lip pencil. The waxy formula will provide grip for the lipstick on top and make the color appear more saturated. But if you’re in a hurry, you can skip the liner. “Sometimes applying straight from the bullet and using a Q-tip to clean the edges can be easier,” says Ito.

Apply the color

Thanks to its blue tinge, classic pillar-box red suits all skin tones, but it’s the format of lipstick that’ll depend on personal preference. “I like to use a crayon because it’s easier to control the depth of color,” says Ito, although the pointed edge of a traditional lipstick is helpful in maintaining that crisp edge. And where previous matte formulas would vacuum the moisture from lips, new-gen versions are much more hydrating and won’t drag the skin as you apply. If you do accidentally verge beyond the lip line, just use a dab of concealer on a small flat brush to erase any mistakes.

Super-mattify the finish

To amplify the matte texture and create a more dramatic finish, Ito has a trick: place a tissue over the lips and apply a bit of loose powder over the top. The powder will intensify the suede-effect finish, while the tissue acts as a sieve, allowing only a very fine layer through, removing the risk of any clumping or pilling. Finish by reapplying your lipstick over the top to lock it all in place. Alternatively, Make Beauty’s Super Matte Lip Pencil contains starch powders that mimic a similar effect in a handbag-friendly, easy-to-reapply crayon form.

The models featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.