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How to Wear Valentine's Red

By Shelly Ballestero
Licensed Esthetician

CBN.comLipstick has been around for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Babylon days-semi-precious jewels were crushed and applied to the lips and occasionally around the eyes. (I guess that’s where cosmetics came up with sparkle.) Cleopatra had her lipstick made from carmine beetles, which gave a deep pigment, and she had her base made from ants.

Carmine -- also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I 75470, or E120 -- is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the carminic acid produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for a particularly deep, red color. Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, rouge, cosmetics, food additives, and crimson ink.

Queen Elizabeth I wore her bold, red lipstick on her pale face. In the ‘20s many women welcomed red lips as a symbol of their newfound power and voice. Then in the 1930s, lipstick grew redder to Oxblood (a hue), and it was said that kissing had gone out of fashion due to the high cost of lipstick. The 1940s makeup was minimal, and the 1950s paler lips came and went to strawberry meringue, thanks to Max Factor in the ‘60s. The natural look was popular in the mid- to late ‘70s, and heavier makeup was all the rage in the 1980s with red lips. Throughout the centuries, one thing is for sure: lipstick gained popularity.

Red is still and will always remain a fashion fad, even though it’s been a love-hate battle with lipstick throughout the ages -- from finding the right shade to smearing it on your husband’s shirt.

So know it is the season to wear the darker shade of lipstick, “Red,” the color some women are afraid of. You may say, "Oh no…not me… I can’t wear the color red; it’s not on my color chart." Fear no more. Depending on your skin tone, there is a red color lipstick out there for you. (For those skeptics out there, pink is a great alternative. It’s still red except with white added.)

Red comes in a variety of shades with all kinds of undertones. The key is to find your undertone and then determine what season you are. Are you cool or warm tone? If you are cool, you may burn in the summer and not tan so easily. Most cool tones have a pinky skin tone like English, Irish, and Scottish skin. Warmer skin tones are more olive complected, like Mediterranean, Asian, French, and black skin.

Now that you have established what season you are, let’s find that perfect shade. Cooler tones should wear true red, plums, or pinky reds. Warmer tones tend to look great with stronger hues, and brown undertones like a brick red. There is a universal color by Annemarie Borland called Poppy Red. I found it at and it was voted best lip color in Organic Style 2005. Remember: colors with blue undertones will also make your teeth look whiter, or you can use whitening strips, baking soda, and a Rembrandt whitening pen to brighten your teeth.

Now that you have chosen a lip color and your teeth look great, you need smooth lips. Cracked lips can make you look older, so why not try a simple approach? Rub some olive oil or lip balm on your lips, and then use an old tooth brush and stroke lightly; this exfoliates and plumps lips up.

Now you’re ready to apply lipstick. Here’s how:

  • Apply a light layer of foundation on your lips.
  • Wait a few seconds, and then pat lips with loose powder.
  • Outline lips with lip liner and fill in with feather-light strokes.
  • Blot with tissue.
  • Apply color with your lip brush to the center first. Then brush color out toward edges.
  • Blot with tissue. (Do this lightly. You don’t want to smudge.)

There is actually a plant called the Lipstick Plant (also known as Aeschynanthus) that has red, tubular buds. They are found in southern Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Philippines.

When choosing lipsticks, be sure to look for natural ingredients. Some lipsticks may contain lead. The higher the lead content the greater the risk for your health. You can test your lipstick for lead by applying some to your hand. Use a gold ring to scratch on the lipstick. If the lipstick changes to black, then you know it contains lead.

Some great lipsticks without the added beetle juice or other funky stuff are lip-ink, ZuZu Luxe, Pur Minerals, Ecco Bella, and Hemp Organics. For those of you who don’t mind the drugstore brand, the Shopper’s Bible listed minimal risk of carcinogens for Cover Girl’s Lip Advance Lasting Lip Color.

Well, ladies, that should help you save time and money searching for your Valentine red. Don’t assume you can’t wear it. Remember: all reds are not equal. Options include cool red, warm red, deep red, orange red, red glosses, and transparent red with liner. There are so many to choose from.

The most beautiful thing you can wear on your lips, however -- and it’s free! -- is a smile.

Shelly BallesteroShelly Ballestero is a licensed esthetician, make-up artist, beauty editor of Lifestyle Magazine, and author. Shelly has studied under Emmy Award winner Eve Pearl, head make-up artist for ABC's The View. In addition, Shelly is one of the make-up experts for Jane Iredale cosmetics and participates in the International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa conference. Shelly and her husband, Angelo, a worship pastor, live in Windermere, Florida, with their two children. (Photo of Shelly courtesy of Katie Meehan,

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