Here is your ultimate guide to the perfect French red lip makeup look. I’m sure you might all picture the French girl aesthetic: tousled hair, flawless skin with natural makeup, simple but always chic French style, and a red lip! However, if the key to the French aesthetic is to look effortless, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require any effort to achieve. And if red lipstick can add instant chic to any outfit, it’s not always an easy look to wear. To make things simpler, being French, I’ve gathered all the information you need to recreate this classic red lip makeup look à la Française wherever you live.
I independently select all products featured on Leonce Chenal. If you buy something through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only recommend products I genuinely love.
1. Prepare Your Lips
First, make sure to exfoliate your lips before any lipstick application. You can use a lip scrub —like the Dior Lip Sugar Scrub, a face scrub —I love Sisley Paris Gentle Facial Buffing Cream and Dior Prestige Rose Sugar Scrub, or an old toothbrush. Starting by using a lip scrub will give you a smooth, hydrated surface to work with and will prolong the longevity of your lipstick.
After your lip exfoliation, applies a nourishing lip balm or a primer to moisturize your lips before applying red lipstick. Lip balm is essential to get smooth lips and to prevent the red color from bleeding.
I would recommend using a lip balm that’s not very emollient to get hydration without a heavy texture. If your lips are very dry, apply several layers of lip balm and let it sit for several minutes before applying red lipstick. My favorite lip balms are Sisley Paris Nutritive Lip Balm, By Terry Baume de Rose, and Hermès Lip care balm.
2. Apply Red Lipstick the French Way
Start on the bottom lip with one continuous swipe of lipstick from one side to another. Then, with your fingertips, diffuse the color all over your lips. Caress it a bit and that’s it. Once it’s done, you can intensify the color by tapping the lipstick on your lips.
For a daytime look, the French soften the color with their fingertips (or with an eye shadow fluff brush) without adding more color. The idea is just to give a little bit of color to the lips without doing something too sophisticated or too bold.
For an evening look, you can intensify the color to make this look a little bit more dramatic. Just apply several layers of red lipstick and smush your lips onto a tissue. It’s the best tip if you want your lipstick to last all night.
3. Leonce’s Favorite Red Lipsticks
- Rouge Hermès Satin lipstick – Rouge Casaque
- Sisley Paris Phyto-Rouge Shine – 31 Sheer Chili
- Guerlain Rouge G – No. 25 Satin
- Chanel Rouge Allure – 99 Pirate
- La Bouche Rouge – Selfservice Satin
4. What Makeup to Wear With Red Lipstick
When French women wear red lipstick, their overall makeup remains fairly natural, which allows them to wear very intense shades of red lipsticks. The key here is to find the perfect balance between glam and natural.
First, choose a foundation with light coverage or a tinted moisturizer, BB, and CC cream that gives your skin some extra hydration and still allows some of your freckles, redness, and imperfections to shine through. I highly recommend the Sisley Phyto-Teint Nude.
Then, apply the tiniest amount of concealer —I love Le Correcteur de Chanel— sparingly to problem areas: under the eyes, but also anywhere else to cover blemishes or pigmentations. Finish your makeup with a hint of blush —my current favorite is the Sisley L’Orchidée Highlighter Blush in Coral—, brow gel, and one coat of mascara.
5. The Nails
French women generally match their nails and lips. In order to do so, you don’t have to find the exact same shade of red for your nails as the one you’re using for your lips. You can wear a darker or brighter shade of red on your nails. My ultimate favorite red nail polish is Chanel Le Vernis in the shade Pirate and Rouge Puissant.
Bonjour! I’m Leonce, a French native and the founding editor of Leonce Chenal, a modern lifestyle platform for lovers of everything French. With my previous experience working for top tech companies in London and Paris, I created this platform in 2018 to offer discerning Francophiles an authentic experience through carefully curated content about French fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Merci for visiting, and à bientôt!