Not All Women Over a Certain Age Can Wear a Red Lip. I’m One of Them!

Red lipstick.  It’s empowering.  It’s strong. It is sexy.  And the experts say that there is a red lipstick for everywoman. Beauty experts also say that every older women can wear a red lip too!


Red Lips for everywoman!  When I was younger, I had the “Perfect Imprint”. Now that I’m older I have the “Liver Lips”. It’s not a good look for a red lip!

Um. That would be for every  older woman except me!


Dita Von Teese. She will be able to wear red lipstick when she’s 90 and still look sexy. Red Lipstick on me WILL put the fear of God into people –but for different reasons!

When I was younger, I could wear red lipstick. It had to be a cool red and had to be a blue red. No fire engine red or warm reds because my skin tone was just too fair.

Then I aged.  And the once bee-stung, full lips that received many compliments back in my single days, and were the lure for getting drinks bought for me, morphed into lips that I could admit were no longer my best feature.

Full lips are great when you are younger but with age, they get a bit fishy looking.

And despite the many red lipsticks that I’ve purchased, red lipstick, at this point in my life just does not work for me.

Is it upsetting?  Yeah!  I love a red lip!  In fact, the most beautiful lipstick color of all time, in my opinion, is MAC’s Ruby Woo.  I purchased it.  It didn’t look good on my lips and it was upsetting to trash it. But it just wasn’t happening.


This photo doesn’t even give the proper justice to this beautiful red lipstick. It’s a beautiful cool red that is just the most incredible shade. Mac got it right with this one. Too bad I can’t wear it!

And what bothers me most is when I see articles about how to wear red lipstick when you are over a certain age.  Or how to wear red lipstick when you are over a certain age.

To prove my point, I dug deep into the bowels of my many lipsticks and came up with a matte liquid lip color.  “Passion” by Ulta brand. It’s actually a very pretty red.  And since I have a snow day today, I decided to put it on.


A deeper red than photographed, this is a nice red and as an in-store brand is a good price..around ten dollars.

Timewise, it took longer to apply this lipstick than it did the rest of my makeup.  I had to prep the lips by exfoliating.  I had to carefully use a lip brush. I had to make sure all the little cracks in my mouth were filled in. I had to blot then reapply.  I had to run after Chippy after he snatched the lipstick-blotted tissue that he ended up eating.


It took a good 15 minutes to get the lip color this even–and trust me, it still isn’t perfect!

And here’s the end result.  It doesn’t look bad but….


In all honesty, I don’t like the way matte lip stick feels. It feels dry and waxy! The only reason I’m smiling is because if I don’t smile I’ll look like..


Baby Jane. I FEEL like Baby Jane with the red lips!

I added a gloss to get rid of that waxy feeling that matte lipstick often gives.


Feels much better and the shine gives a brighter appearance. Don’t let the lighting fool you–this still was very red..


See–it looks a bit clownish.  Bonaparte jumped off the ground with fright when he saw me like this!


See the far corner of my mouth to the left?  The smear campaign has begun–and that’s less than ten minutes of wear!

….Bonaparte was very honest and agreed that red lips just were not my most flattering look.


I could stop traffic with these lips. Driver’s would think I was a red light!

Then I went out in the snow to take photos for an upcoming blog post.


I have absolutely no idea how that streak of red lipstick ended up on my cheek–or a bit on my chin.  Or under my lip. Or on the side of my mouth.  I think it should be called “slipstick”.  It’s bleeding so bad that my lips need a tampon!

And the lipstick smeared. Big time fish and liver lips here.


I look like I got into a cat fight here.  And the smear!!  Ugh!


Sorry. But red lipstick is just too high-maintenance for me. I’m a bit lazy.

I was so happy to wipe it off.


I felt so much better after wiping the red off!  Bonaparte was so happy that he gave me a kiss!

So I decided to head back upstairs and put on a more flattering color combo.  I went a bit corally pink.


You know how I love to pile on a few colors at a time–don’t you?  This combination of (front to back), Lipstick Queen’s “Saint Fire Red”; Flower’s “Lovely Lotus” (which I need to say, I purchased this when Oona was living in Arkansas. I got it at the ONLY Walmart I was ever in that sold Flower brand. I LOVE this lipgloss), and Mally’s “Must Have Pink”.  The result was a nice coral pink.



OK. I was a bit sloppy with the application. Don’t judge. I did this to show how a more flattering lip color than red!  

Then  I went with my most comfortable lip color—neutral pink.


The pinks.  Left to right. Revolution Lip Amplification in a color that wore off so I can’t tell you what it is; NYX gloss in “Salsa” and Sephora “Moon and Back” 17.


I feel so much better now!

Wait. There’s more!


I went a bit more neutral with iT cosmetics Lip Vitality Flush in “Je Ne Sais Quoi” and iT gloss in “Love”–two all time faves.

And to finish it all off, I wiped some color off and went with…


A one euro beeswax lip balm I picked up at CityPharma in Paris. I should have bought 10 of these!  This balm by Laino is the bomb!!!  Can you notice that I’m holding it quite steady with my fang?  Yeah. I have a fang. I’ve been asked if I want it filed down. Never!  It’s part of my imperfection! I love my fang almost as much as I love my crossed eyes!

Ladies-it basically comes down to this–wear the lip color you are most comfortable in and feel the best in.  I can wear a neutral pink and still feel strong, empowering and, sometimes, a tad sexy.

I will stick to my red bag, my red shoes, my red sweaters, all my plaids with red, my red watchband my red…….


Red clothing and accessories work better for me!



Yes. Red is a great color—but for the lips, it really isn’t for everybody!  Do you agree?  Are you able to carry that red lip off at an older age?  If you are—wear that red well!!!!

Simply Red!  Remember that group? Remember that great song “Holding Back the Years”?  Here it is!!!  Enjoy your day!!


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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37 Responses to Not All Women Over a Certain Age Can Wear a Red Lip. I’m One of Them!

  1. Liz McGarry says:

    Cathy…I so agree with you about the red lipstick…I am Irish with very pink skin and white hair…I find, surprisingly, that coral pinks look good on me and my favorite is Revlon Colorstay Constant Coral. It’s a liquid color which goes on first…then a clear gloss coat. Feels a bit sticky at first but that quickly goes away. And, best of all, it really lasts all day. Thank you for your blog, I have enjoyed them all…Here’s to surviving the Trumpocalypse.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Liz! Right? We Irish Girls just have different skin. So pale–and the red lipstick doesn’t do it for many of us! You know, I never thought a coral color would agree with me but surprisingly, it does–and I think coral lip colors are more universally flattering than red! Coral needs more love! Oh God. I’ve been having serious Trumpocalypse lately!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  2. hipchick66 says:

    I have NEVER been comfortable in a red lip, no matter how many I have bought, tried, then gave away. I’m a pale/light/nude lip girl, who mostly winds up with just balm on my lips (nature blessed me with naturally rosy lips). I can rock a heavy black liner eye, or a flushed cheek look, but cannot carry a bold lip of any shade!

    • Catherine says:

      Lori! We have the same ideologies on makeup. I rock an roll with the heavy black liner. I LOVE a darkly lined eye. Same for a nice flushed cheek, but those bold lips–We’re sisters in that way!!! XOXOXOXO!!!


    I love a red lipstick. If in doubt, try Lipstick Queen’s Medieval – somehow changes to suit everyone!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Carla. Lipstick Queen has some pretty nice lippies! The Saint Fire Red really is more like a dark coral. The texture is very silky too. Thanks for the tip on Medieval!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. Gillian says:

    Your blog is wonderful. You really make me laugh! On to lipstick. Red doesn’t work for me either. I’m “blonde” with very light skin and, like you, have to stick to pink. It took me roughly 28 years to find a lipstick that I actually feel comfortable wearing on a daily basis. The winner — CoverGirl Continuous Color “Rose Quartz” which has a bit of shimmer, but not too much. It costs $5.99 at RiteAide which makes it even more perfect. Like you, I like red, just not in lipstick.
    Thank you for being so funny and honest. Really look forward to your posts.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Gillian! We all need to be able to laugh at our shortcomings and make others laugh with us. Thank you!! I’ll tell you, I have to be careful with Pinks too. Some pinks don’t look good on me because of the pink in my skin so I go for a more neutral toned pink. Cover Girl also makes a 10-hour long lasting lipstick that is matte, but you apply a balm-like substance over it and it lasts all day. Thanks again for the kind words–I appreciate that! OXOXOXOXOXO!!!

  5. Yvonne Gray says:

    You are hilarious. I wish I had your lips – mine are ropes as per your index. I have only just started wearing red lips after all these years but it does take ages to put on. You are wonderful with make-up and I am so hit and miss. Love for you to do my face one day(and hair). Cheers Y
    (Remember the song but didn’t know the name. Looking to buy tickets to Steve Miller Band this summer and The Doobie Brothers.)

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Yvonne! Isn’t it good to put some humor into writing about features that just aren’t the best. You know there are no smoke and mirrors in my little world! You are lucky that you can wear the red lip! And it DOES take a long to apply–I’m so lazy, I would rather spend the time on the eyes!!! Steve Miller Band AND the Doobie Brothers on the same bill? Wow!!! I love both!!!! Hope you get the tickets!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

  6. Renee says:

    I can’t wear a bright red lip either! I was never quite sure why? Is it my fair (“whiter shade of pale”, lol) skin? Is it my dark hair? Anyway, Clinique’s “graped up” chubby stick seems to work well on me and I love the texture.
    P.S. “Sweet Baby Jane” still gives me the creeps!! LOL:)

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Renee. I’m loving the fact that so many of us cannot wear red. So why does the beauty industry insist on pontificating that every woman can wear red. Another marketing ploy. I say we wear what we know works, I’ve heard very good things about Clinique’s chubby sticks, btw! LOL. Bette Davis rocked that awful lipstick–but when she sang “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”–it was epic camp! XOXOXOXO

  7. Nancy says:

    Hi Catherine–
    You know, I’ve really never considered wearing a red red lip for anything other than a Halloween costume look–when I was in high school and college, the Yardley “Slickers” were the in thing, along with Bonne Belle lipstains. So even though I love the sophisticated, often retro look of a femme fatale in a smoky room in a black dress with a blood-red mouth, I’ve never even thought of it for myself in everyday life. I would feel like Baby Jane for sure–love that pic AND that crazy movie! But I may look closer, thanks to your post. Borghese used to make a shade called “Black Mushroom” which was very shimmery and rich, but of course when you find that shade you love, what happens? Yes, it’s discontinued. Or at least I never was able to find it. Alas. Now I’m into NARS “Super Orgasm.” The name is pretty cool–who doesn’t love that?–but the shade is natural but shiny and glittery and is nice by itself or on top of a deeper color.
    Anyway, thanks for the post and for the ideas…I may have to revisit red. Enjoy your snowday!

    • Catherine says:

      Nancy! I grew up with Yardley Slickers and Pot O’ Gloss–remember those great little pots of lip gloss? I loved them and wish they were still made! I remember the shimmery slicker sticks too. And I loved their eye shadows too! I’ll have to check out the Nars Super Orgasm lippie. I have the Nars Multiple in Riviera but only use it as cheek cover! Oh my snow day was very productive! Writing and baking!! ANd running after Chippy! Enjoy your evening! OXOXOXOXO!!!

      • Nancy says:

        While we’re on the subject of Yardley, do you remember a little pot of something that was kind of tannish in a little Yardley-colored pot and was pathouli perfume/scent? It had the neatest, spiciest smell and I seem to recall it came in a little pot where you rubbed it on your pulsepoints/skin? It was such a cool product…I’ve wondered about it for years…

  8. LA CONTESSA says:

    SO, I have HAMBURGER LIPS!GOOD TO KNOW!I want YOU to TRY REVLON’S CRAYON the FAT STICK’s…………..They stay on and do not BLEED like lipstick……………..THERE Is not a GOOD BLUE RED OUT YET but I am holding my BREATH!The PINKS and BROWNS are GREAT!CHEAP TOO AND LAST!XOXO

  9. Momcat says:

    OMG!! I laughed so hard reading this post! You are such an original! Especially the ‘stop light’ comment…some of your photos remind me of an older relative of my husband’s. I am sure she applied her Revlon ‘Cherries in the Snow’ freehand and usually coloured outside the lines..scary.
    I love a red lip and my favourite is Nars ‘Cruella’ ( nice name!) it is a blue red and looks good on many women. But red lips are pretty unforgiving and high maintenance. You gotta line those lips, check your teeth for red smears ( Cruella did you snack on a puppy?) and reapply, reapply. So for me a red lip is more special occasion because, unless you’re young with perfect skin, red lips need the balance of full on makeup and for me it works better in the winter than in warmer months.
    Geez what is going on with your country??? Poor Mr. Trudeau heads to Washington next week and he knows the bromance he had with Mr. O won’t be continued with Mr.T…not his type at all. Ivankagate! ( mean old Nordstom’s)The Kelly Conway Freak Show! and now the worst news of all is the possibility of Sarah Palin becoming the American ambassador to Canada….I am not sure if that woman could be the ambassador to Pluto. Glad she likes the cold, we won’t disappoint!
    Anyway, you made my day!

    • Catherine says:

      Momcat. When I heard the news (which I hope is fake news) abut Palin being the American ambassador to Canada, all I could think of was “Oh shit, the Canadians are gonna hate us now” I can’t believe it. There is no hope for our country anymore. I have literally given up. We are officially now a true Confederacy of Dunces! XOXOXOXO!!!

  10. Barbara says:

    Ruby Woo was one of my favourite lipsticks. (Blueish) Red lips were my trademark for decades. Me too have fair skin, with grey hair now and therefore I prefer a more subtile look. Found a drugstore dupe of Clinique Chubby Stick in Pink Magenta.
    I put Concealer on and around my lips and fill the color with a lip pencil. The I use a little eyeshadow sponge with a bit powder on it and put it around my lips. This lasts for hours because this stick is not as greasy as lipgloss. Of course one can use a tissue and add additional color. But mostly I’m too lazy.

    You look so much better with your usual routine. And you’re right, this strong red is clownesk.

    Red lipsticks were fun, but not anymore.

    • Catherine says:

      Barbara. Right??? Red lipsticks WERE fun when we were able to wear them without a care. No more. Nevermore! I think the sooner we realize what we are comfortable in wearing then perhaps the beauty industry will take a step back and stop forcing certain colors and products on ALL women!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  11. JulietC says:

    I can’t wear red lipstick – not that I have ever tried but I know that mentally I am not a red lipstick kind of person, that said I love it on other people when it is done well. I am late to the lipstick kind of thing, but I am really taken with soft berry shades – we are talking deep (not bright) pinky shades – Nyx are good and Marks and Spencer do some excellent knock-off versions (Rosie H-W) versions of the more expensive Charlotte Tilbury. I always thought lipstick wasn’t for me but then I was smitten by some particularly lovely shades as I was time wasting in the shops between bus rides home and people at work thought my new lippy was really flattering… so I live and learn. I have messy hair that is naturally white (still growing out that damn hair dye – this could take forever) and soft pinkish/fair skin and bluey green eyes. I definitely look better when I focus on the eye makeup rather than elsewhere, I have learnt (eventually) not to pick fights with nature – this is what I am so I may as well get over it

    • Catherine says:

      Juliet. I LOVE what you wrote about not picking fights with nature. It’s so true! So darned true! Those are good words to live by. Thank you for writing them! XOXOXOXO!!!

  12. Julia Poulos says:

    You are so great. City PHarma THE place for cosmetics? Im going in April. I love your site. I have taken many of your recommendations on: makeup, jeans, wig, etc. Thanks. Julia

    • Catherine says:

      Oh Julia! You will LOVE CityPharma. It’s my favorite store in Paris. I swear it is. You can find anything for your skin there and you won’t pay a fortune!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  13. Margaret says:

    I seldom wear red lipstick anymore, I’ve switched to cool berry and pinky coral shades because I’m fair skinned also. When I do wear the red, it’s a pencil that I dab on (which kind of stains the lips) and then put lip balm/chapstick over it and it blends everything together nicely (it also lasts most of the day).

    I love that lip chart, I see a lot of old Hollywood actresses there ( like Lucille Ball’s – Overhanging Type. I’m a Silent Type, but not always true for me, lol).

    I happen to like the bold color lipsticks on you, they set off your hair color nicely. Maybe apply only a little bit and cover with some chapstick? I don’t spend too much time either, don’t have the patience either, lol.

    • Catherine says:

      Margaret. Isn’t that chart great? And I thought of LUCILLE BALL TOO!!!! OMG. Her overhanging lips! And she happened to wear a red lip quite well!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  14. So true!
    I’m not a red lipstick person either – because red lips don’t look good on me. (In all honesty, I think red lips don’t great on most women.)

    Unfortunately there are too many women who try to make other women believe that they “just have to find the right shade of red” – but that’s just a bunch of hooey!

    By the way, my favourite red is Revlon’s Cherries In The Snow”. I envy and admire every lady who can wear it!

    Oh, and I too like to mix different lip products – unique colours and finishes guaranteed – every time!

    • Catherine says:

      I had to google Cherries in the Snow. It IS a beautiful red. And much cooler than the ever popular Fire and Ice. I I could wear red, Cherries in the Snow would be a great one to wear! I’ll stick to blending the lighter more flattering shades for now too!!! XOXOXOXO

  15. Vivella says:

    Ruby Woo is also my favourite red lipstick, and it suits me even though I have olive skin. Either way, I love it! I also look good in deep oranges with a red leaning. Sadly, I am one of those who looks dead in a nude lip and envy those who can wear nudes! If I find a lipstick too bright I tend to use 2 or 3 colours together and use a deeper shade in the inner corners of the mouth, or a lip pencil in a toned down shade, which helps a lot, especially with keeping colour from bleeding! I think you might look fab in a good neutral red lip pencil applied all over the mouth, like a stain which would be less harsh, and just lightly dab a lipstick on top. I also have Maybeline Intense Velvet Lip pencils which are lipsticks in pencil form (a bit fatter than eye pencils), very comfy on lips and are not thick. They do a red called Red Essentials which is lovely, and an orange and some pinks. I have not tried it, but some people swear by a lip primer which smoothes out the lips prior to applying lipstick. At age 62 I also find it harsh to wear dry matte lipsticks but some of the newer liquid formulations with a velvet texture are good, like Revlon Ultra HD matte; it feels amazing on and I have it in a deep berry shade. I think they have some good pinkish shades you might like. With reds I do pencil first all over the lip, then lipstick, then blot carefully with tissue, then reapply, blot again. That way one gets a stain that wont move around as much. The problem with red is it takes so much prep work including lip balm beforehand, so it is labour intensive. Sorry for the long comment – I do love your posts!

  16. Loved this – you look gorgeous no matter what colour lipstick you’re wearing

  17. Chuck Evans says:

    Hi beautiful! I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do with/to those lips. Kissing is at the top of the list. Don’t tell your other half, he will only agree.

  18. Pi says:

    Lady, plllease don’t be so harsh on yourself. Anyone can wear red lips at any age with a good lipliner and confidence. For what it’s worth I don’t think you look too clownish. What is clownish is that there are all these don’t do this don’t do that for women and makeup. So many people say not to do certain colours with certain colours and it all comes down to keeping a woman down and killing her confidence. It’s ridiculous that black shadow or Smokey has to be paired with a nude lip or don’t put pink with purple or don’t do dark pink or dark red and even worse when bright red and pink is connotation with “whore colours”
    All these makeup unspoken and unwritten rules need to go out the window. Makeup is for everyone. What isn’t for everyone is harsh put downs and name calling.

    Rock on my lady.

  19. Barbara says:

    Absolutely do not agree. You look better with the red lip than the washed out pink, which does nothing for you. Sometimes we cannot see ourselves. Our perspective is distorted by our preconceived notions instead of seeing what is actually there. You are a beautiful woman. Red IS your color!

  20. Marya says:

    This post made me laugh so much, I love your approach, experiment a lot and if you feel good then go for it

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