A punchy lipstick brightens up more than just your face. Fact. I once wrote a piece for Marie Claire on the merits of a whack of something loud on lips with commentaries from psychologists and all that but I’ve long since forgotten everything they said bar the bare fact: bright hues of lipstick lift the mood. Trust me on this – many man hours were spent mining archives for evidence that red lipstick was worn by women during WW2 to boost morale as is commonly claimed (this, it transpired, was true), and for links between joy and colour.
There are two issues with donning a bright right now during the day – if your lips are anything like mine, they’ll be a bit parched, and colour will only draw attention to cracks and roughness. Second, being paler than usual makes the wearing of it a bit tricky and requires some serious fake tan skills (unless you’re partial to the whole Victorian pallor thing). These are but small obstacles in your path, I promise. All that stands between you and wondrous, joyous bright lips are these 5 little steps…
Step 1 / Lipbalm // Non-negotiable. Roll on with a cotton bud if you have flaky bits that look ready to come off, or otherwise just smooth on. I’m using ReVive Intensite Moisturizing Lip Balm but if you want something thriftier Carmex works just as well (NOT Vaseline – I don’t have space in this post to explain fully but I cannot caution more strongly against putting that stuff on your lips).
Step 2 / Apply Coat Of Lipstick Directly From The Bullet // Using a lip brush or a lip liner to lay down colour are also both perfectly acceptable methods of applying lip colour, but I really think the key to this splash of bright look is to make sure it isn’t too intense and the Lipstick Queen colour I’m using lent itself really well to being smoothed on straight from the bullet.
Step 3 / Blot // Even if you go back afterwards to apply more colour, do this – it makes colour last longer and look slightly more diffused. Before I blot, I usually smush (technical term) my lips back and forward to make sure the colour has really taken so the tissue just takes excess off, leaving a stain of lipstick behind. If you’re expecting any drinking/eating/kissing to take place, don’t apply the second coat – it’ll just end up everywhere.
Step 4 / Clean Up Edges // I go a bit further than just taking off anything outside the lines with a cotton bud: once my line is clean, I roll the other side of the bud across the outer line of my lips to slightly soften the edges. It makes it look less contrived, which I think works well for daytime.
Step 5 / Dab On Some Highlighter // If your lips rival Angelina’s, skip this step. Otherwise, just take a little highlighter on your fingertip and dab it into your cupid’s bow – it’ll catch the light and make your upper lip look a little more voluminous (and remarkably always makes paleness look ‘healthy’). Key to this looking subtle is to use a really creamy highlighter that blends into your skin (pat, pat, and pat some more to make sure it’s seamless). I usually use Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone, but any of these will do the job.
Before you skip off, I’d just suggest taking a final look at your face – colour has a way of draining warmth from the skin, so you may want to add a little blusher to cheeks just to infuse some warmth. Once you’ve done that, try to catch sight of yourself throughout the day in windows/mirrors – I bet those psychologists are right and you feel perkier.