The new black

Ever since a school bully told me that I wasn't "properly black" because I didn't have big enough lips, I've concentrated on making my lips look as full and as big as possible. I prefer lip glosses to matt lipsticks - and the brighter the better. That said, I have yet to find the ideal red - one that gives me a good colour and high sheen without making my teeth look yellow.

I have always assumed that the reason the perfect red lipstick has eluded me is that no one has made a shade bright enough, but this is where I've been going wrong. According to the experts, when it comes to red lipstick, the darker the skin, the deeper (rather than brighter) the red should be.

For yellow-based, lighter skins, the red should have a warm undertone, so try Benefit's Raisin Hell or Briefing, which is a pinky red. Baby, a cranberry-red lip-and-cheek stain from Hard Candy, is perfect on golden skins. For medium-dark skins, which tend to be red-based, go for more plummy tones - Mug Shot and Liar Lips, again from Benefit, work well, as does Red Cherry from Estée Lauder. Darker skins need a red lipstick with blue undertones, so try Madison from Vincent Longo or Punch from Hard Candy. Both are lip stains, which means that the initial look is quite subtle, but use a good gloss over the top (try Vision Lip Lux from Vincent Longo) and it'll work wonders.

If, on the other hand, you want to play down the size of your lips, "avoid high-gloss lip products", advises Louisa Andre, make-up artist with Benefit. "I'll use matt or creams on very full lips," she says.

Scarlet and Velvet from Chanel, a purple-red and an orange-red, respectively, are great traditional lipsticks, and will give you a pout that is worthy of a movie star. The same can be said for the reds at Elizabeth Arden, where the Baroque red is stunning.

In the all-important glosses, meanwhile, my personal favourites are Groovy from Benefit and Geranium from Alchemy. Both are blood red in colour, and give a high gloss without too much stickiness. Finally, if you're still shy about the whole red thing, ease yourself in gently with a Stila strawberry lip glaze - the colour is barely there, and the smell is divine.

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