Can You Wear Red Lipstick at 40, 50 and Beyond?

red lips over 40Bold, red lips look radiant this fall on the runway and popping out at us from beauty ads. But let’s face it,  the red lips we’re seeing all belong to fresh-faced twenty-somethings!

Can you wear red lips at 40, 50 or older without looking haggard and harsh? I checked in with celebrity make-up artist Sana Young to find out.

Deborah BolandQ. Sana, I love red lips and remember wearing them in the 80’s. Can I still wear them or are red lips too severe past a certain age?

A. Red lips after 40 depend on a few things.


1. The Size of Your Lips

Red is only really harsh and creepy looking if you have very small lips and you are trying to wear a deep matte red. If your lips are thin or shrinking and you want to wear red, try using a warmer, lighter red with a bit of shine.  On the other hand, if you are blessed with  full lips I would try to be more matte, as matte is definitely in!!

madonna red lips over 402. Your Personality

The stronger your persona, the brighter you can go. It’s a confidence thing. Low-key classic types can wear red too. Just go easy with the rest of your make-up.

For example, keep your skin looking fresh by applying blush softly, not in harsh straight lines along your cheek bones but softly, as you would “blush”. Also, you can use an eyeliner but not a lot. I have used Urban Decay 24/7 on my celebrity clients and finds it lasts long and comes in all kinds of great colors. Go easy with mascara too. Apply on the top only. Overall, minimal eye make-up works best with a bold red lip.

3. Your Outfit

Certain red lip looks go better with some looks more than others. If you are wearing something more formal such as a business suit or little black dress you want  a very classic feminine look – re:- ivory skin, matte lips  and more formal coiffed hair.

For everyday casual looks like jeans you can wear a less matte red lipstick. In this case, go a little warmer with your make-up and relaxed with your hair.  If you aren’t warm skinned, olive or sunkissed naturally, then you can use a self-tanner like St. Tropez.

Q. What are your favorite reds?

Most of you will remember wearing Russian Red lipstick made by MAC in the early 90’s, it’s the color made famous by Madonna. Well, it’s just as popular now as it was then, and still looks great on women who have cool or neutral undertones to their skin. If you have ivory skin, regardless of your hair color, try using this shade that is red with blue undertones.

If your skin has olive undertones, then try Dior Rouge Blazing Red or MAC Red

If you have peach or warm (yellow) undertones, try MAC True Red.

A. Some of my favorite long-lasting lipsticks include Clinique Long Last Soft Shine lipstick. It comes in several great colors such as Merlot, or All Heart.

Q. What’s the best way to apply red lipstick and make sure it stays put?

It’s best to apply your lipstick with a brush, it helps you apply just enough not too much and gives you an even coat.  Bleeding can be avoided if you use a  primer to fill in any fine lines surrounding the lips. Ones I like are: Make-up Forever Lip line Perfector, or Urban Decay Lip Primer)

Q. Any last tips?

A. Yes,  I think everyone should be sure to have a red lip color for the holidays.. With all the functions coming up, try it at one of your events!! Maybe start with a luncheon with your girlfriends. See their response, before trying it at a work party or larger family event where lots of pictures will be taken.

Thanks Sana. Sana is a celebrity make-up artist and the owner of Meccage.

Join the Conversation

3 thoughts on “Can You Wear Red Lipstick at 40, 50 and Beyond?

  1. What I have found to work for me is to apply the red lipstick (my current favorite is Mac Brave Red), blot, then apply a light coat of Mac Lustreglass lip gloss in Venetian. It gives great shine and seems to take away the harshness. I love a red lip during the holidays!