Red lips are perfect holiday party makeup—I can't think of anything else that looks as instantly sexy or festive—but they do require some TLC. Here's some tricks on how to achieve the perfect red lips for the holidays.

Find your best red. If you want to try something trendy, orange-red lips are popular right now. And as for skin tone, orange-red works on mostly everyone, though it can bring out any yellow in your teeth. If you want to play it safe, a blue-based classic red is universally flattering. As for how the deep or dark the color goes, it's entirely up to you. Same goes with the finish. I personally prefer a creamy texture with a bit of sheen instead of a powdery matte one as they can look retro. 

Prep for success. Exfoliate your lips first by sloughing off any flakes with a damp towel or toothbrush. Follow it up with a creamy lip balm to moisturize. Then do the rest of your makeup while the balm soaks in; you want to save red lips for last since they need to look fresh. 

Cover your apples. Keep the rest of your makeup simple with a few coats of mascara and a healthy dose of blush: You need a little color on the apples of your cheeks to complement and balance out your lips. Choose a blush shade that is of the same color temperature as your red lipstick—warm to warm, cool to cool. A peach or bronze blush is perfect for brown-red and orange-red lip color while a pink blush looks better worn with a blue-based red lip color.

Ace the application. Decide your desired effect: If you want a stain finish, dab red lipstick on with your finger. If you want a super-precise line, paint them with a lip brush. 

Look good for the long haul. The secret to the perfect red lips is not having it feather or bleed. Use a lipliner to combat this problem with a shade that matches your lipstick. Once you've done this, you can touch them up throughout the night by gently gliding on the color from the stick. But if it's been a few hours and your lips feel dry, dampen a tissue and remove remnants before re-applying.

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