I know what you’re thinking: A matte lip? A red matte lip? A red matte lip in summer?! Even though outdated beauty notions have brainwashed us into thinking rich, makeup-looking makeup should solely be worn during the cool, sumptuous months of fall and winter, I’m letting the cat out of the bag: Makeup is an artistic form of self-expression, and, therefore, there aren’t any rules. Just like our age or job title shouldn’t limit us within the creative makeup sphere, neither should the time of year.
No-makeup makeup and minimalistic application techniques may feel as synonymous with the season as outdoor barbeques, frosty daiquiris, and full-time uniforms featuring swimsuits and sunnies, but Gossip Girl star Emily Alyn Lind’s stunning beauty look from our June cover begs to disagree. Swathed for the shoot in airy, cream-colored couture, Lind’s dramatic red lip, hazy peach eyes, and fanned-out lashes prove beautiful, non-invisible makeup is just as right for summer as your go-to roster of sun-drenched festivities.
Photo:Vanessa Granada for Who What Wear
Alright, now that I’ve convinced you Lind’s “peachy-eyed red-lip vibe” is absolutely it for the season, you might have one more small qualm: the doability factor. Because yes, for all its power and beauty, pulling off a precise, ultra-saturated crimson pout can definitely raise the pulse, especially if you’re not used to swiping on anything other than clear lip balm this time of year. But hey, I’m here to help! Inspired by the sunset color story of Lind’s cover shoot, I decided to try the look out myself and took detailed notes along the way. (And yes, considering I was melting in 100-degree Arizona weather when I undertook the project, I hereby attest to its heat-, sun-, and sweat-proof staying power.) If you’re looking to spice up your makeup MO this summer, follow along below.
I’ve talked to an infinite number of makeup artists over the years, and every single one has emphasized the paramount importance of skin prep. In fact, many say what you apply to your complexion pre-makeup is actually more important than the makeup itself. Hydration is key, as is knowing your skin type. If you have oily skin, pre-game with a lightweight moisturizer and maybe even a mattifying primer here and there—or wherever your midday greasies like to lurk—for good measure. On the drier side? Reach for a thicker moisturizer and a primer that has an extra hit of thirst-quenching ingredients. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m very breakout-prone, but I fluctuate between oily and dry depending on wherever you’re waving the wand over my face. Thus, I like to keep it simple and multitask.
Layering too many products starts to feel risky, especially in the dead-hot heat of summer, so I prep with an oil-free moisturizer and top it off with a few key products: Chantecaille’s oil-free, SPF-spiked Ultra Sun Protection Broad Spectrum Primer for some soothing and smoothing action, plus a non-sticky lip balm to keep the flakes and chapped lips at bay. Then, I apply an eye cream. This eye contour fluid from Sisley Paris is an investment, but it subtly firms and brightens my under-eyes so I need less coverage from foundation and concealer later on. This is also when I curl my lashes and comb out my brows.
Finding a middle ground between “luminous” and “Slip ‘N Slide shiny” once summer strikes can be a trick and a half, and, honestly, it’s taken me years to find a coverage concoction that stays put but doesn’t look too dry and pasty or on the contrary, greasy and wet. I love It Cosmetics CC+ Cream because the tiniest bit gives a satisfying dollop of coverage, it blends and moves around the face effortlessly, and it brims with good-for-your-complexion ingredients, including, but not limited to, a potent dose of SPF. I usually go with the OG formula, but the brand has additional iterations catering to different skin types. (I have a few oily friends who love the oil-free matte option, for instance.)
I actually like to start by applying the CC+ Cream with my hands, working and massaging it into my face almost like I would a face cream. That way, it really becomes one with your skin. Then, I’ll take my handy dandy Beautyblender—make sure it’s slightly damp—and I use that to dot, dab, and push the remaining foundation into my skin for an even, believable-looking finish. Since my under-eyes can get pretty vampire-esque, and since I like to add a little bit of a highlight effect to the center of my forehead, chin, and the bridge of my nose, I also go in with Urban Decay’s Stay Naked Correcting Concealer. This stuff is the shit. A little goes a long way, it looks invisible on your skin, and it lasts a while—an essential trifecta for seamless summer makeup. I try to avoid using powder during the summer, but if I felt like I needed it, I would have dusted a little bit wherever I get oily (e.g., my T-zone and chin).
If you take a look at Lind’s cover look, you’ll notice that the red lip really takes center stage, and everything else takes a backseat. There isn’t any heavy contouring, blush, or highlight work. Instead, peach-tinged lids, well-defined brows, and fluttery lashes do the legwork where accents are concerned. It’s physically impossible for me not to chisel and bronze-up my cheekbones and temples a tad, so I did so with my all-time favorite bronzer from Too Faced, and then I used a small fluffy brush to pull a little bit of color into my cheeks. I’ve been obsessed with Hermès’s new line of blushes ever since their launch earlier this spring. I used the shade Rose Pommette here.
For shadow, Lind’s makeup artist Kale Teter opted for a peachy lid that A) gives me warm fuzzies and B) reminds me of the earthiness of a hazy sunset. Another perk? It complements versus competes with our cover star’s cherry-red lip. I’m usually shadow-averse, but to pull everything together, I applied Violette_FR’s Yeux Paint Liquid Eyeshadow + Liner in Tendre Corail—first with the easy-to-maneuver doe-foot applicator, and then with my finger and a fluffy brush to blend and diffuse it all out. This stuff packs a punch, so tread carefully, but the ultimate result won’t budge regardless of what the rest of your day or night entails.
I can’t be sure, but I would bet Teter used some strategically-placed falsies on Lind to get that super drapey bedroom-eye effect. That being said, I just cannot be bothered with an extra step like that, especially if I’m going to be out and about and living a normal person’s life versus posing in front of the camera like Lind. So, a superstar mascara and a tiny bit of liquid liner is exactly what the doctor ordered for me.
To make my natural lash line look denser, I used the tip of Ilia’s Clean Line Liquid Eyeliner to dot in some inky color right at the roots of my lashes. Filling in your lash line like this (without going above like you normally would with liner) fakes the look of fuller, more fluttery lashes sans higher-maintenance steps like falsies. Then, I took Dior’s Diorshow Iconic Mascara and coated my lashes with a few healthy layers (probably about three). I’m mascara-obsessed, and I’ve gravitated toward this wand from Dior ever since high school since it simultaneously curls, lifts, defines, and adds a believable dose of length without getting all spidery, clumpy, or scary.
Next up, brows. Brows are huge! I personally think they are the single most important way to accent and frame your face and makeup look, and every makeup artist I’ve ever talked to agrees. Admittedly, I’m a minimalist when it comes to my brows, and I never do anything heavier than a quick application of brow pencil and maybe a touch of clear gel for placement security. Kosas just launched a new collection of brow essentials, and I’m quite addicted. I use the Brow Pop Defining Pencil in Honey Blonde to fill in any sparse areas and to make the shape of both brows match more than they do naturally. Next, I add a quick coat of clear brow gel (also from Kosas) to keep everything in place.
Here it is, the big moment. I know a red lip like this looks intimidating, but I promise, the fear and anticipation is the worst part! Now, I’m not a makeup artist, and I’m sure a pro would probably nitpick my technique, but for a super-bold look like this, I feel most comfortable with a liquid lipstick like Violette_FR’s Petal Bouche Matte. The shade is universally flattering and so gorgeously pigmented, and even though it’s matte, it won’t suck your lips completely dry. (That said, don’t underestimate the importance of a megawatt lip balm beforehand.) Oh, and it’s also completely transfer-resistant. In other words, it won’t come off on your mask, glass, or anything else your lips might come in contact with.
I like to start by applying a lipstick like this to my bottom lip—the doe-foot is the perfect size for creating precise coverage. And then, because I’m squeamish and usually highly caffeinated, I dip a small lip brush in the lipstick instead before doing my work on the top lip. I start by tracing my lip line (as I would do with a liner), and then I simply fill it in. Slow and steady is the name of the game here. Then, once I feel like I have the shape down, I’ll blot my lips to nix any residue and really get it into my skin, and then I’ll apply a second coat. Similar to painting your nails, going in on that second layer is way less scary after you have the first one down. I like that quintessential French ombré look, so I concentrate that second dose of color on the outer corners of my lips—both the upper and lower. And that’s it! If you’re worried about any type of product migration, my one parting tip would be to add a quick spritz or three of setting spray all over your face, lips included. Psst! Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray is iconic for a reason.
Looking for more makeup inspiration? See what happened when our editor re-created Daisy Ridley’s February cover look.