27 Jun 2020

Be Brave: The Top 5 Reds

Be Brave: The Top Five Reds on vickiarcer.com

What a wonderful portrait of a very beautiful woman.

Isabella Rossellini has one of those unforgettable faces and age has only enhanced her beauty. If Better, Not Younger had a pin-up girl, it could be her. Everything works for me in this image – the shirt with cufflinks, the earrings and the simple red lip with little eye makeup and a strong brow. The old beauty rule of strong lips and light eyes is absolutely perfect.

Her signature, a red lip, is the kind of look I love.

Some will say a red lip is too difficult to wear or it’s for a younger woman. You might have heard it makes the skin look harsh or a red lip is too difficult to apply. I agree to disagree. I adore a red lip and if there is ever a time I need a lift a red lipstick is my solution. It’s the quickest fix to a brighter mood and the fastest way to dress up in a hurry. All black, a red lip and earrings to go is oftentimes my motto.

I believe the success of wearing red lipstick comes down to the texture, the shade and the application. Forget shiny; that’s a messy world we don’t want to enter into. Matte is a winner every time and the formulas now take away the dry and pulling sensation of the past. Pick your application. Are you a pencil, a brush or a straight to the point kind of girl? Do you need a blood-red, a vermillion red or crimson red with an undertone of plum? The shade makes all the difference and a little bit of trial and error goes a long way.

Red lipsticks are like a fetish for fabulous shoes; there are never too many.

We need a wardrobe of reds because different days call for different reds. Summer, I wear brighter, more luminescent reds and in autumn and winter, my choices of colour become darker.

It’s true I have been wearing reds for more than 30 years, always matte, even back then. A lip gloss is all well and good in a neutral shade or as a dab in the centre of the bottom lip but as an all-over dark colour, there is only one place I end up – in trouble. Lip gloss can be messy and it doesn’t last; neutrals are the exception because a natural shine is a great look with enhanced eye makeup.

Hourglass has an amazing gloss called Opaque Shinethis is one to try for the days a red is not in the mindset.

A simple trick makes application easy. Layer up, tissue bite, layer up, tissue bite and re-apply. Another tip a big smile check for teeth before exit. 

Whether you use a lip pencil or not depends on your lip line and whether you need it or are comfortable working with one.

I’m on and off with that one.

There are 5 can’t-live-without starters in my lipstick wardrobe.

Bobbi Brown Art Sick in Harlowe Red and Cassis.

Estee Lauder Envy Matte in Decisive Poppy and Persuasive.

Kevin Aucoin Unforgettable in Blood Roses.

Nars Matte in Force Speciale.

Chanel Rouge Allure Liquid Ink in Signature.

Let’s be brave, we can always go bare another day. xv

Coming Red-y or Not

harlowe red   ||  cassis  ||  persuasive  ||  decisive poppy  ||  blood roses ||  force speciale  ||  signature

image of Isabella rossellini from the financial times

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I think I would have to be brave for a bright red lipstick especially as I’m more of a nude/bare wearer and if wanting a little pazazz a bright pink!! I love Bobbi Brown Art Stick so have looked at your recommendations and am going to go for the Harlow Red!! Might wear whilst in the house first so I get used to this colour on me and the shock of me catching myself in the mirror won’t be too bad!! Then I’ll venture out, maybe to another garden near me!!!!


A good way of trying, Janet… I adore these sticks and they make the application easy. One other trick I forgot to mention is to blot the lipstick as your final coating… and this will give you the stain without feeling it is too strong. Start like this…

Angela in NZ

Isabella Rossellini has always been my pin up girl. She embodies all that I admire about aging with grace in a world obsessed with image. Loving red even more now that I’ve decided to ditch the dye. Going through the slow lightening process from brunette, I’m now at the blonde stage which is, quite frankly, not my most flattering look. Thankfully red and bright, deep pink lipsticks are acting as my saviours to get me through the months ahead. Just have to keep my eye on the prize.

Michelle à Détroit

I saw the great Isabella in the 1980’s. It was in a tiny cafe in NYC, in the east 60s just off of Madison Avenue. She breezed in and sat at the next table. There was a journalist waiting to interview her. Rossellini was absolutely gorgeous, without artifice of any kind. I also remember my lunch distinctly, as it was the greatest tranche of paté de fois gras, petit salade, crusty roll and glass of Sauterne that I have ever had, all at a very reasonable price. Ahhh, those days are long gone…

Yes, I call a great red lipstick the “red badge of courage”.


Love this idea of a badge of courage… sometimes I find a good “red” gives me confidence… and maybe the wine type too… ha ha :)


Good morning Vicki! You are speaking my language here!

I made myself laugh one wild, winter morning at school (before the pandemic) – I had forgotten my red lipstick in another handbag, therefore, I had NO lipstick on that morning. The children were just getting into the building and in a panic when I discovered my lips were “naked,” I told my colleague, as we both stood by our doors to greet the children, “I can’t do this. I can’t DO THIS WITHOUT MY RED LIPSTICK!” And it’s true; I don’t feel ready without my one signature stroke of makeup.

As I look at this extraordinary woman here and how she has matured so beautifully, the only thing this face of pure beauty needs to be lifted into a glamorous model is that red lipstick. I am a believer and user of a red lipstick that has less of a “blue undertone” – my friend who has worked in makeup retail for years noticed one day that I had changed my lipstick from a blue undertone to one with more red. It goes with my light complexion and dark hair. For daily work life, who needs mascara. Who needs eyeliner. Bring on the red lipstick and I can conquer a team of wild and darling third graders!


not brave enough …..daytime-red it’s not me…….agree it looks great with all in black perhaps a turban on?…braver! wow the Opaque Shine..very enticing as every red ..be it lipstick or clothes…but red required also a very perfect skin otherwise it looks messy.


A bold red has made me uncomfortable for years since I now have lips above my lips (and I don’t smoke!) and marionette lines that are aging. The beautiful photo of Isabella demonstrates a mature face with full lips and without my challenges. I love red lips, but should I really emphasize this part of my face?


It sounds like you know exactly what works for you Lynn… stick with your nude shades if they look best :)


One visit to Paris some years I decided it was time to add a red lipstick option to my make-up. So I went to my favourite store, le Bon Marche and decided to visit three counters – Chanel, Dior and YSL At each I explained to the consultant my wish to venture into red. Each consultant was superb and invested quite a bit of time studying my skin and hair colour, asking about which colours I normally wear and then brought out about three colours to try. We tested them and each time I found a colour I loved. Yet they were all quite different. One was a more orange red (my hair then was sunstreaked orange red – my natural colour) one was a wintry dark red and the other was spring/early summer clear fresh red. I loved them all. Then each time as I paid, the consultant had a little parcel made up for me with ribbons and lovely skincare and perfume samples – échantillons. I love that word! So it was a happy beautiful experience and I’ve always had red lipsticks in my make-up armoury ever since.
Best wishes, Pamela


Years ago you recommended another red Chanel Pirate. I bought it for an upcoming trip to Paris and though I rarely wear it in Australia I always take it and wear it everyday in Europe on my trips to visit family. Like Serge Luten’s Fleur d’oranger I just took your word for it. Ordered it and still love it. Thank you!


So happy to hear that Ann-Maree…. it’s a great red and as for Fleur’d’Oranger… still a very firm favourite… it’s the most beautiful fragrance.. :)

Maisie Kapollas

I only have one red lipstick. in my make up bag, a rather old Dior one, recommended for my colouring. I just wish I had fuller lips, but I am going to remind myself to wear it, especially now it’s summer. I love red lipstick against bare, tanned skin.Isabella looks beautiful, as ever. One of my icons !


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