Read our lips: A real girl's guide to rocking red lipstick

/ Source: TODAY
By Kristin Granero

Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.

There’s more to rocking red lipstick than meets the eye ... starting with picking the perfect color to complement, not compete, with your natural tone and features. This and other unspoken rules are often forgotten when attempting to mirror the latest and greatest celeb looks — but not anymore.

Behold, the top tips for nailing your true-to-you hue.

1. Pick the right color

Kerry Washington attends The Daily Front Row "Fashion Los Angeles Awards" on Jan. 22.Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

The first and perhaps most important step in mastering the red lip is choosing a shade that’s complementary to your natural skin tone. Experts tend to suggest orange-y and dark-blue bases for medium to dark tones, while bright, blue-based reds work for fair tones.

For medium-to-dark complexions: Smashbox's Be Legendary Lipstick in "Bing," $20, Sephora

Sephora

For fair complexions: Lancome L’Absolu Rouge in "Bordeaux," $30.50, Lancome

Lancome

RELATED: How to choose the best red lipstick for your skin tone

2. Focus your look

Maisie Williams attends the National Television Awards on Jan. 21 in London.Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

Now that you've taken your natural skin tone into consideration, keep your eyes on the prize by leaving the rest of your beauty look minimal. "Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams ensures her lips pop by keeping her eye makeup neutral except for her strong brows. You can also get away with a cat-eye (great for bright reds), a subtle smokey look (pairs well with deeper or matte hues) or even a carefully-concentrated pop of color, like a swipe of cobalt eyeliner (to contrast against orange-red tones).

Stuff We Love

Get a daily roundup of items that will make your life easier, healthier and more stylish.

3. Choose a signature shade

Taylor Swift at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards Post-Party on Ja. 11.Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Just like a statement handbag or everyday fragrance, a signature lipstick can be one of the unique little somethings that make you, well, you (a good reminder when you've had a bad day or need a pick-me-up). While Taylor Swift has dabbled in several shades, she certainly plays favorites, among them is NARs Dragon Girl.

NARS Dragon Girl, $26, Nordstrom

Nordstrom

4. But don’t be afraid to mix it up

Rihanna on Jan. 9 in New York City.Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

That said, you shouldn't limit yourself to only one shade. One of the most alluring things about lipstick — or any makeup for that matter — is the freedom to transform your look to match your mood or the event you're attending. Just ask Rihanna, who can be seen rocking many a red hue even when she had a limited-edition shade all her own with "RiRi Woo" by MAC.

5. Find your finish

Leighton Meester at the screening of "Country Strong" on December 14, 2010.Kevin Winter / Getty Images

From matte to mega-gloss, cosmetic companies are offering their beloved lip shades in a variety of lusters that are all worth a try. Scoop up a matte or creamy version of your top pick for daytime, then swap in or layer on gloss, like CoverGirl's "Mauva Lava" for evening.

CoverGirl Lip Lava in "Mauva Lava," $6, Target

Target

RELATED: 13 drugstore lipsticks celebrity makeup artists buy in bulk

6. A little liner goes a long way

Gwen Stefani attends the premiere of 'Paddington' on Jan. 10.Mark Davis / Getty Images

With red more than other colors, outlining and filling your lips with liner before applying lipstick is a crucial step to avoid smudges. To ensure the colors match, look for brands that offer both in the same shade and keep a universal nude liner on-hand for those that don't. We also like NYX Jumbo Lip Pencils as a fill-in while on the go.

NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in "Deep Red," $5, Amazon.com

nyxcosmetics.com

7. Keep it clean

Miss Universe of 2014 Gabriela Isler on stage during The 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant on Jan. 25.Alexander Tamargo / Getty Images

Now, it’s time to address the frequent elephant in the room: lipstick on your teeth. To avoid a truly embarrassing moment, simply try this age-old trick. After applying color, put your index finger in your mouth and close your lips around it before taking it back out. While this should remove any lingering lipstick that may rub off, you can also use an old pageant trick and coat teeth with Vaseline.

8. Contrast is key

Selena Gomez at the American Music Awards on Nov. 23, 2014.Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Speaking of teeth, you’ll want to make sure your pearly whites are exactly that when wearing red. A bright lip color will serve as a frame, drawing attention to any discoloration or spotting. If you don’t want to go through with a professional whitening treatment, try an at-home solution.

Crest 3D White 1 Hour Express Whitestrips, $55, ULTA

ULTA

RELATED: See all 43 drugstore winners from the People and TODAY Beauty Awards

9. Some stains are good

Zosia Mamet attends the "Girls" season four series premiere at on Jan. 5, 2015.Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

If you’re planning to rock your red at a time when there’s no room for error (such as date night), keep your lipstick off of your face, teeth and him by opting for a stain. Many dry in a matter of seconds and stay put for several hours (and stolen kisses).

Avon Extra Lasting Lip Stain + Balm marker in "Ready Red," $6, avon.com

Avon.com

10. Enjoy yourself!

The best accessory for a commanding lip color? Confidence! Now that you have a cheat sheet for selecting and applying your best red yet, show it off with your beautiful smile and have fun.

This story originally appeared on Feb. 12, 2015.

Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.