04/20/2012 12:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Case For Vibrant Lips

I think it's pretty much safe to say that every bride-to-be devises an enormous 'To Do' list before the Big Day (it's a checklist maker's ultimate dream!) and let's be honest, how her face will look while standing at the altar is usually near the top of it. Now, regardless of whether or not she does her own makeup (yes ladies, it is possible, although I do recommend finding a suitable professional, but that's a whole other topic!), special pains will be taken to determine what will look best; the internet will be scoured, magazines will be ripped apart, cosmetics counters will be stalked and friends will be solicited for their 'honest' opinions (which to make matters worse, will all be different, I guarantee it!). Out of all of the makeup conundrums she will encounter, this very well might be the biggest query: What shade of lip color am I going to wear?

Sounds like a fairly innocuous question and one that doesn't really garner all that much importance, but when you think about it, your lips are center stage and the main focal point on your face (aside from your tearing/sparkling eyes). You'll be smiling, laughing, kissing and probably giving some sort of speech and you want your mouth to not only reflect who you are, but also make you feel beautiful and of course, to last. It doesn't take a genius to take note (and advantage) of how we women obsess over every Hollywood starlets hair and make-up whenever they grace the red carpet; Angelina's claret lips at the Golden Globes were almost as newsworthy as her strange and leg-baring posing at the Oscar's. I mean, how gorgeous was that lip? And totally unexpected from a woman who usually eschews color to downplay one of her most alluring assets, I might add. In my 10 plus years as a makeup artist, I have come to realize that most women would rather play it safe when choosing a shade; some sort of pink-nude is usually selected as it is viewed as being the most flattering and easy to manage. While it's tough to argue with such logic, and I will admit to you that I am also guilty of this 'condition' on the best of days, I find that taking more of a risk with your lips on your wedding day usually receives the highest of praise (and that alone can make you feel like a million bucks!).

So in light of this revelation, and this is going to sound a little radical here, I am going to suggest you embrace a pop of color instead of going for a neutral palette. No, I'm not talking about your typical red (although that alone can look lovely) and I'm not asking you to go dark and dramatic with something crazily high-maintenance (the last thing you need is burgundy lipstick all over your teeth!), I'm just suggesting you at least give something more vibrant a chance. Gone are the 90's 'no make-up make-up' rules where lips were made to look a little better than if we had used actual mud as lip gloss (come on, we all had our taupe lipstick days, didn't we?) and we now know that brighter is better when it comes to enhancing our complexion. Bright pinks and berries (either warm or cool) or vivid corals (light or mid-toned) can be equally stunning on a variety of skin tones. Do you love reds, but don't want to do a classic red lip? Tone it down with fuchsia or coral. I would recommend Bite Beauty's new High Pigment Lip Pencil in Zinfandel, which is a gorgeous coral-orange, MAC's "Force of Love" matte lipstick, a warm vivid pink that will brighten any complexion and if it's a deeper fuchsia you're after, try Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in "Aventure".

I realize this can sound more than a little frightening, especially to those out there who's idea of lip-wear constitutes nothing more than a quick swipe of their beloved chapstick, but it really can make all the difference in pictures, and how you feel that day. The key to this look is to keep everything else relatively understated and let your lips have their moment. This means nothing overly done, and gasp, heavy. It also keeps the look very modern and fresh. Tons of make-up ages you (umm, only 11 year-olds experimenting with their grandmother's makeup in a locked bathroom want that), and it usually ends up looking dated and scaring the bejeezus out of your hubby to be. Instead, you want to opt for a glowing complexion by way of a light base and some strategically placed blush, bronzer and highlighter and lightly defined eyes surrounded by lush, be it fake or real, lashes.

The rule of not overdoing it also applies to your lip product. Even though you're focusing on your lips, you don't need hard-edged lip liner from the 90's (please just let that die once and for all, please!) or anything overly-glossed that looks like you just returned from an all-you-can-eat outing to KFC. A chic and simple tint or wash of color is easy and looks oh-so-pretty when dabbed lightly onto lips. At all costs, avoid slathering on the lipstick, instead blend multiple coats of it, blotting between each. By blending, you're pressing the pigment into your lips, which helps to ensure longevity (and decrease the amount of touch-ups) and creating a soft, full look. Use a lip brush, a cotton swab or even your ring finger, being sure to do your blending and clean your hands before you put your dress on.

When all is said and done, the key is to have fun and try out as many different shades as you can before your wedding. Make a day out of it with the girls, take photos, test out products, you may be surprised that what you end up choosing just happens to be that punch of saturated color that at first, you were afraid of!

Photo by Adam Levett for Bamboo magazine