Gemma Chan is known for soft, diffused make-up and a statement red lip. Here’s how she switches up her signature look for multiple occasions.
There are a few people who can make a red lip look effortless. Those who always look like they have had a swathe of easy and immaculate glamour on their faces. We’re thinking here, of course, of Tracee Ellis Ross, Camille Rowe and Candice Brathwaite, who all nail the strong, soft and statement red lip.
For the rest of us, putting on red lipstick can often feel more like sitting a driving theory test, dodging hazardous lipstick-ruiners in new and inventive combinations. See smudges on shirt collars, coffee cups and hastily removed face masks for more evidence.
Chan, who is in Rome promoting the upcoming Marvel movie Eternals with co-star Richard Madden, demonstrated once more how to execute a perfect red lip over the weekend. The Crazy Rich Asians star walked the carpet in a stunning creation by South Korean-born designer Sohee Park, each piece handmade and embellished with a generous dusting of gems.
Above the neck, Chan and make-up artist Alex Babsky created a diffused bronze cheek, soft eyebrows and delicate hybrid eyeliner, fusing a thin black cat eye with inner corner contouring and heavy upper lid shading. The lip? Red, naturally.
Describing the lipstick as a “matte, velvet-y [sic], crimson” and inspired by old Hollywood glamour and costume designer Gilbert Adrian’s work, Babsky also shared the sketches he worked from to create Chan’s timeless look.
As we’re sure you know, when it comes to a signature red lip, Chan is no stranger. In 2019, she paired a light-reflecting Tom Ford dress with a smudged scarlet matte lip and heavy winged eyeliner for the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Stun-ning.
Then, for the 2020 Golden Globes Awards ceremony, Chan chose to overline her lips slightly. This is when the lip line (technically known as the vermilion border) is extended beyond the natural limit using lip liner to create the illusion of a more full lip. When done carefully it’s an effective way to play with lip colour and shape.
Try it: Using a sharp tip will help to make the line more obvious and exaggerate the peak of each part of the cupid’s bow. Or, soften the pencil on the back of your hand for a more subtle finish.
Earlier this year Chan worked with L’Oréal Paris Global Makeup Director, Val Garland, during Cannes Film Festival. The duo reimagined the strong lip, strong eye combination, focusing on finishing touches of fanned false lashes and press-on eye gems, instead. This time, the pink-hued red lip was smudged into the lip line, creating an all-together softer, more ‘undone’ effect.
Part of the L’Oréal family (Chan was signed as an International Spokesperson in 2021), she seemingly doesn’t go far without a red lipstick bullet nearby. Her go-to? The L’Oréal Color Riche Lipstick in Maison Marais.
Suffice it to say, Chan is basically an endless source of red lipstick inspiration – including how to soften it around the edges (smudge into the lip line) or make it stand out (pair with a matching red lip liner and use a clean foundation brush to clean up the edges).
Side note: is the word “red” starting to sound weird to anyone else? Red. ReD. OK, just us. As you were.