This may surprise you, but we’re well aware that not everyone is eager to slap some aquamarine Disney-princess-mermaid-tail pigment on their eyelids. Some of you are even a little wary of color (you’ve told us, we've listened), and prefer the whole “I’m not trying” brand of trying. Well, no longer! ITG Resolution #2? Embrace a bold red lip. (Why not? #YOLO, etc.) To bolster our efforts, we got Wren designer and crimson-lip aficionado Melissa Coker involved in the conversation—nobody we know can work a red lip quite like Melissa.
“Funnily enough, winter seems to be perfect for red lipstick because you can look really nice and polished and pulled together. When you're a little bit pale, it really pops and looks classic—retro in a nice way, like you made an effort. It can be the smallest effort but it looks sophisticated.
I don’t remember why I tried it for the first time, but somehow I made the connection that if I wore red lipstick in a photo, it was the ultimate secret for a flattering picture. And all of a sudden, it would add all this color to my face and it was just transformative. And it was like, 'This is my magic secret!' for how to take a photo I'd find flattering and be happy with. It just adds so much life to your face. Especially when it’s the only bit of makeup I have on—especially being so fair—I just feel like it’s night and day. I go from being sort of one-toned to being more dynamic. As I’ve gotten more into it, I’ve experimented more with ‘Is it a blue tone or a red tone?’ and playing it off of my blush or eye color. If you get shades that are complimentary, it's amazing. For me, I want to bring out the blue in my eyes and it’s incredible how the lipstick can play with your blush to kind of intensify the effect that I'm going for. When I discovered that, I was like, 'It’s a miracle!!!' The right red, with the right blue-ish undertone really brings out the blue in my eyes, and I’m just like, ‘This is so cool!’
These days, I love the Nars Velvet Matte Pencil in Dragon Girl. It wears really well and I love the tone. It’s so easy to apply and you know you’re going to put it on and you’re not going to end up with it only around the corner of your lips in an hour. That’s my new discovery; I know it’s not new, but it is to me. I’ll put that on my whole mouth and then apply a lipstick over it, whichever one I'm feeling at the moment [right now that's Smashbox 'Be Legendary' Matte Lipstick in Infrared], so that if the brighter colored lipstick wears off, you still have the base color; you don’t have to worry about constantly reapplying or having lipstick in some places and not others. Also, I've found it’s a good way to extend the life of your darker-color lipstick without having to put on a million coats. To me, the Nars Velvet Matte Pencils are a good ‘gateway’ red lip. For beginners, you can put it on really lightly or just a couple dots around and blend it in with a lip balm and you get a blush or a hint—almost like it's deepening your natural color—before you really dive into the red lip.
Ever since I started layering and mixing the Nars pencil and other colors, I’ve had people come up to me—strangers, on the street—and say, 'Excuse me, what's that color you’re wearing?' and I’m like, 'Oh wow, that’s exciting! Something must be working.' I never felt like someone who was going to worry about doing my makeup, I never really thought it would make much of a difference in how I looked, and then this, a bold lip, is something that’s such a simple thing, and it’s just like, ‘Oh wow, makeup really works.’ I get why people have such a thing about it.
My advice for the beginner? Nike was on to something when they said ‘Just do it!’ I can get on board with a good slogan.”
Our red-lip starter picks:
Revlon Cherries in the Snow
Tom Ford Cherry Lush
Melissa Coker photographed by Emily Weiss in New York.