Red lipstick is, hands down, the most universally flattering makeup look. Every wearer instantly looks dressed up, sexy, and powerful—even if there’s barely any other makeup worn with it. For many people, it’s also symbolic. Take, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who wore her favorite Stila red lipstick at her swearing-in as an homage to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. And RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour’s whose signature red lip harkens back to when the performer first discovered makeup as a young boy.

Whether you wear red lipstick to make a statement or just for fun, making sure your lip is on point is also important. Read on for tips on how to apply red lipstick like a professional makeup artist: no feathering, no smudging, just eye-catching color. Pat McGrath and her team at Pat McGrath Labs break it down step by step.

Step One: Line the Lips

Lightly apply concealer over the lips with a fluffy shadow brush (this will make your lipstick shade look brighter), then follow your natural lip line with a lip pencil using “light, feathery strokes” instead of long, extended ones. You’ll have more control this way.

Step Two: Partially Fill In Your Lips Using The Same Pencil

Before you reach for your lipstick, pull the liner towards the center of the mouth with the pencil, but don’t fill it all the way in. Diffuse the harsh lines with a small brush. This base will help avoid any feathering or smudging, and will help the lipstick last longer.

Step Three: Apply Tube Lipstick

Go over your liner base with your desired tube of red. “The most important thing to remember is to push, press, and roll the lipstick on for the most gorgeous results,” McGrath advises.

Your final lipstick look “should be rich, even and saturated,” the makeup artist says.

Director of Photography, Kat Wirsing // B Cam, Rob Mroczko // Hair by Britt White // Makeup by Tatyana Makarov for Pat McGrath // Model Liz Rankey at JAG

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