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Crimson tide: The most beguiling red lipsticks for summer

May 31, 2010 | 10:00 am

Beauty articles on summer makeup always teach us how to wield various bronzers to affect a just-off-the-beach look. But since we all now know that tanning is akin to smoking Lucky Strikes, healthwise (and faking the look only perpetuates the "healthy glow" myth), perhaps it's time for a new approach to hot-weather beauty.

Enter the timeless red lip. Worn with clean, nearly makeup-free skin (don't forget the mascara), a crimson pout rivals the "J.Lo Glow" for sheer chicness  — especially on hot, balmy evenings.

But winter's blue-tinged reds don't feel quite right when you're tucked into a cabana, clad in spaghetti straps. More festive, orange-y reds fit the bill — or, if your skin tone won't allow for too much warmth, opt for a deep salmon or rose-toned color.

Below, a few of my favorite new — and time-tested — summertime reds:

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square, $24: This bright, coral-toned red is used frequently on the models in the J. Crew catalog to evoke that fresh, carefree look. A terrific daytime red, it adds instant retro appeal to preppy outfits, from classic sundresses to Katherine Hepburn-style pants ensembles.

Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Cherry Lush, $45: Leave it to the curator-esque ways of designer Tom Ford to launch a palette of lipsticks so sublime, they feel more like pricey oil paints than lip shellac. The just-released collection includes a few amazing reds, but Cherry Lush's soda-pop brand of hot pink-ish red makes it the perfect crimson to pair with cocktail dresses on steamy nights.

MAC Viva Glam Lipstick, $14: A flawless deep brick hue, MAC's original Viva Glam lipstick (which debuted in 1994), set the bar for subsequent Viva Glam releases sky high. Not too dark and not too light, with a dewy matte finish, it's a true all-arounder for summer — as fetching with jeans and a Hanes v-neck as it is with a red carpet-ready gown. 

Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick in Talisman, $30: Chanel's Rouge Coco collection is full of showstopping reds, but Talisman — a brick-cum-rose color that looks especially gorgeous on super-pale skin — boasts a warm, summery vibe, and works day or night. Best of all, when used without lip-liner, it fades into a soft, juicy red that's more stain than anything else.

-- Emili Vesilind

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Photos, from left: Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick in Talisman; Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square; Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Cherry Lush; MAC Viva Glam Lipstick. Credit: Chanel; Nars; Tom Ford; MAC.