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 see 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.

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

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


1. The Size of Your Lips

If you have tiny lips, red is only harsh and creepy, and try 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 cheekbones but softly, as you would “blush.” Also, you can use eyeliner but not a lot. I have used Urban Decay 24/7 on my celebrity clients and find it lasts long and comes in 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

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

You can wear less matte red lipstick for everyday casual looks like jeans. In this case, go a little warmer with your make-up and relax with your hair. If you aren’t warm-skinned, olive, or sunkissed naturally, 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 90s; 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 with excellent or neutral skin undertones. If you have ivory skin, regardless of hair color, try using this red shade with blue undertones.

If your skin has olive undertones, 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 fantastic colors, such as Merlot or All Heart.

Q. What’s the best way to apply red lipstick and ensure 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. If you use a  primer to fill in any fine lines surrounding the lips, you can avoid bleeding. 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 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 more significant family event where many pictures will be taken.

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

Visited 13,908 times, 1 visit(s) today
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 use a light coat of Mac Lustreglass lip gloss in Venetian. It gives excellent shine and seems to take away the harshness. I love a red lip during the holidays!

It's your life. Make it Fabulous!

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins
There has been a problem with your Instagram Feed.