Almost every girl I know has a ride-or-die red lipstick. So I’m pretty used to the shocked, disapproving looks I get every time I tell people that I don’t wear red. Worse, I haven’t found a red yet that is ‘me’. This story is about how I got over my fear of red lipsticks, thanks to my journey of self-discovery.

I’m aware of all those clichés surrounding crimson lipsticks: That they are universally flattering and they embody power and sophistication. It’s also well-known that to be stylish like those French ladies, you need a good red lipstick in your beauty kit. Still, I haven’t been able to warm up to the colour. There were other small reasons – I’ve also been plagued by the fear that red lipstick can get all over your teeth or will bleed outside of the lines frequently. In that sense, it’s a tougher colour to manage.

The author in her signature red: The Fenty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored

The bigger reason is how I felt around the colour itself – I was intimidated. Trust me, that’s a big admission to make considering that I am a Beauty Editor by profession and I practically live and breathe beauty and makeup. Let’s just say, I’ve always been more of a nude or pink lipstick aficionado and just never felt the overwhelming need to fit a bright scarlet into my life, even with all that peer pressure surrounding it.

If you’re nodding your head along with me because you’ve had (almost) the same fears and excuses as me, you’ve come to the right place. Though, in the last few months, I took kit upon myself to get out of my fears and embrace the colour – but not without doing my homework. After a few hits and misses, I’ve managed to figure out a way to find a red that works for me. But before we start off, I’m letting you know, that I’m considered fair so I have to be really careful about picking the right red, plus, it’s also about how bright I want it to be. Now, I am finally on a  journey to get out of my red-lip phobia, because ladies, most of what they say about this colour is actually true. Here’s why.

Start Off Subtle

While a liquid lipstick in blood-red can send a lot of women running for the hills, there is an easy way out for those looking to add it subtly into the colour palette. Dip your toes into the land of red with a less daunting lip stain, gloss or even balm – that’s how you start off. Clarin’s Water Lip Stain is ideal for taking baby steps in the right direction. Made from 70% water, it feels like practically nothing on your lips while giving you a smudge-proof tint. I also recommend Benefit Cosmetics Love Tint thanks to its easy-to-use doe-foot applicator that will definitely help you get over those liquid lipstick nightmares.

It’s All About The Shade

This is a trick that really works for me. When it comes to choosing the right red, look for subtler shades. It doesn’t have to be a bright, in-your-face scarlet, experimenting with different shades of red really helps. Since pink lips were more my jam, I started trying on pink-reds – step by step I went for a shade darker. Soon it was orange-reds, peach-reds, fire-engine reds, and then maroons. YSL Rouge Pur Couture The Slim Matte Lipstick in Red Enigma is a very pretty, not-so-loud shade of red that would suit Indian skin beautifully. So is MAC Ruby Woo, a universally flattering red that can be worn as a blurred lip.

Don’t Forget About Undertones

When choosing a red, it’s important to know undertones. A good rule of thumb: Lighter skin tones go well with cooler reds with blue undertones while olive skin works best with orange or yellow-based reds. But, I’ve found that reds with blue undertones actually look gorgeous on almost everybody – light or dark, and that’s how I chose my favourite red lippie. Also, since Indian skin is warmer, we can also pull off brown-reds beautifully. Brick and deep reds look fantastic on deep skin tones too since our skin tone can handle intense colour.

Texture Counts

I would say that red lipsticks truly look great when the texture is matte since the colour is so bold. You definitely don’t want to start off with a glossy lipstick – they’re not for the faint-hearted. But, if you’re not much off a matte girl, try a semi-matte or satin texture instead – it will look stunning without the risk of being OTT. Plus they go on so smoothly and comfortably on the lips – you won’t even notice you are pulling off a red. Just be sure to line your lips first because red lipsticks can have the tendency to bleed. You can’t go wrong with Huda Beauty’s Lip Contour Matte Pencil in Cheerleader or Make Up For Ever Aqua Lipliner Pencil in 8C Red that suit most Indian skin tones.

Last words


A couple of weeks of trial and error with lightweight formulas and experimenting with shades helped me progress to the advanced stage – liquid lipsticks. I managed to get my hands on the Fenty Stunna Lip Paint in the cult shade Uncensored that is touted as universally flattering. Guess what? I really believe it is! It was deep, dark, mysterious and made me feel extremely chic in minutes. So, at the ripe age of 31, I’ve finally become a proud member of the red lipstick club. Follow these steps and you can find your shade too.

Red Lipsticks For Beginners: Here’s my list

These are the ones to reach for when you’re a bit unsure, you can’t go wrong with these babies.

1. Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Bawse, Rs 2,100

2. Giorgio Armani Rouge D’Armani Lipstick in 400, Rs 3,000 (approx)

3. MAC Retro Matte in Ruby Woo, Rs 1,650

4. Shiseido Visionary Gel Lipstick in Shizuka Red, Rs 2,000

5. Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipstick in Icon, Rs 1,825

Priyanka Ghura

A bonafide makeup hoarder, when she isn’t stalking beauty trends you can find Priyanka glued to her Kindle or catching up on her other guilty pleasure – reality shows. She’s also always bookmarking ideas and plans on where to travel to next. hit her up on tips for your next getaway.