A new classic: How to nail the ‘relaxed red lip’ trend

According to Vapour Beauty’s head makeup artist

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / June 24 2021

The red lip has been a touchpoint of old Hollywood glamour for generations. Defining and accentuating a woman’s most sensual facial feature, the crisp, clean look is an unrivaled classic. 

Awards season after awards season we’ve become accustomed to seeing celebrities turn heads with startling shades of scarlet lipstick adorning their lips, but recently we’ve started to notice a change in how our favourite celebs are wearing their lippy.

As a possible reaction to COVID-19 and the subsequent stripping down of everyone’s appearances – the red lip has changed. A stark comparison to the carefully applied red lipstick synonymous with Hollywood icons of old, the red lips we’re seeing on red carpets and flooding our social feeds in 2021 are casual, undone and look almost unconsciously painted on. 

We spoke to Vapour Beauty’s head makeup artist Nicole Cudzilo about this interesting pivot in the world of face pillows. And while the modern red lip may appear more relaxed, Cudzilo assures us that there’s still order to the chaos of this trend. “There is a delicate balance between ‘playfully undone’ and ‘messily amateur’ and it all comes down to technique,” she says.

What is that technique you may be thinking?

Well, according to Cudzilo, the first step is finding the right tone of red for you, but it really comes down to the finish. “Any tone of red that flatters your individual skin tone aligns wonderfully with this casual vibe,” she explains. “Whether you choose a blue, neutral or orange based red, the key is selecting the right formula and finish.”

“Opaque lipsticks work well with this technique as you are able to build them up or sheer them out depending on your application,” says Cudzilo. “And formulas with a soft matte or natural satin finish are preferable to something super slick or glossy.”

We recommend:

VAPOUR BEAUTY High Voltage Lipstick in 'Blaze'; FENTY BEAUTY Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick in 'Tang Thang'; and GUERLAIN Rouge G Customizable Sheer Shine Lipstick in 'No 25'.

VAPOUR BEAUTY High Voltage Lipstick in 'Blaze'

FENTY BEAUTY Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick in 'Tang Thang'

GUERLAIN Rouge G Customizable Sheer Shine Lipstick in 'No 25'

Now that you’ve found your lipstick, it’s time to apply it

“I love to start by tapping the colour onto the centre of the lips with my fingers,” confesses Cudzilo. “The warmth of your fingertips helps press the pigment into the lips for an effortless stained effect – and also increases wear time!”

“Begin to tap outwards and fill the lips in softly with a wash of color, but pause before reaching the lip line,” the makeup artist instructs.

Image credit: @nicolecudzilo

Image credit: @nicolecudzilo

Why stop there? Well, according to Cudzilo, “using your fingers directly on the edges of your lips can be messy”, instead you should opt for “a small, dense pencil brush to softly blur and diffuse.”

Lightly run your brush along the edge of your lips, “picking up colour from the centre and blending it outwards,” she explains.

Looking for more colour payoff?

“For more vibrancy, you can also use the brush to pick up colour straight from the bullet itself,” says Cudzilo. “Use the brush to gently blur the entire lip line, focusing mostly on the centre of the top and bottom lip, blotting on more lipstick if the intensity starts to wane.”

Image credit: @nicolecudzilo

Image credit: @nicolecudzilo

What makeup pairs well with this relaxed red lip, you ask?

Cudzilo says keeping the rest of your look lowkey but refined is the aim of the game “to maintain an overall fresh and modern feel.”

According to the makeup artist, “it is essential to consider how the rest of your makeup pairs with your lip.”

Image credit: @patidubroff

Image credit: @lauraharrier

Image credit: @rachelteetyler

Her go-to’s? “A fresh, minimal face with lightly bronzed skin, or a sophisticated but understated monochromatic moment with a tiny bit of matching lipstick tapped onto the cheeks,”Cudzilo recommends.

“Both looks are complemented perfectly with a natural, brushed up brow held in place with a little gel, plus curled lashes,” she says. “A fluffy, conditioning mascara is a great option for those who want more drama, but isn’t crucial for a casual daytime vibe!”

Pair your relaxed red lip with a new 'do. These are the hair colour, cut and style trends you need to try this winter.

Main image credit: @patidubroff

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).