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50 shades of red lipstick: find the hue for you

Shades of red are hot right now in lipstick. Oklahoma makeup specialists offer tips on finding the right red for your perfect pucker.
By Linda Miller Published: November 26, 2012

As they so often do, red lips are having a moment.

Red lipstick is iconic and classic. It's powerful, strong and sexy, and reflective of the way women feel today.

“I think we're still riding that whole Adele, 1950s, '60s ‘Mad Men' situation,” said Alex Mendez-Kelley, owner of The MakeUp Bar. “I think that's still kind of a big deal.”

Regardless of who you are, with a swipe of red on your lips, you're ready to go anywhere in the world, she said.

“You put on high heels to be dressed for going out. Lipstick is your face's dress up. It dresses up the most simple of T-shirts and jeans. And I think it makes any woman sexy going out after 5. It represents way too much for a woman to ignore.”

Red shades are plentiful, from barely-there scarlet glosses to dark cherry reds, and as makeup artists say again and again, there's a red for every woman.

“There are so many choices, and that's a beautiful thing,” Mendez-Kelley said.

Stained lips were popular long before actresses Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly discovered the power of a red lip. In 3,500 B.C., Queen Shub-ad of ancient Ur reportedly used white lead and crushed red rocks to color her lips.

Red lips have had a colorful history through the centuries, denoting status in early Egypt and prostitutes in Greece. Lips have been stained with concoctions that include wine, mulberries and crushed cochineal beetles. Even Martha Washington is said to have liked a cherry mouth.

Choosing the right red

Fast forward to modern times, and red lipstick is always in style, a staple in Hollywood and in many women's cosmetic bags.

While skin tone and hair color often come into play when choosing the perfect red, Mendez-Kelley said the consensus is most women fall into two red camps.

Women with a vintage or pinup look often go for reds that have blue pigments. Women who are approachable and outgoing tend to reach for reds with orange tones. Orange is a happy color, and having warmer undertones in a red lipstick makes it more approachable, Mendez-Kelley said. Blue-reds often are perceived as more harsh.

“It's an attitude,” she said. “It's definitely an attitude.”

For a visual reference, cherry reds are blue-reds, and tomato reds have orange tones. Women with freckles look best in orange-reds.

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