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For the Love of Red

Red, crimson, scarlet, rouge, ruby, vermillion, and cherry! No other color has the same impact, strength, or call to emotion as red! My personal favorite since childhood, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s belated blog to this unique and supercharged shade!

Let’s start with just a touch of color theory, shall we? Light is a form of energy that travels in tiny particles called photons, and these little particles travel in waves. These waves are the key to why we see color. The waves themselves are measured in wavelengths from peak to peak. There is a specific window of wavelengths that can be differentiated by the naked eye. It’s within this window of light that we see color! Some substances will absorb certain wavelengths, while others have the ability to reflect these wavelengths away. When one wavelength is reflected and all the others are absorbed, the eye sees one color. Keep in mind that this is a very simplified explanation, so all you super science junkies, forgive the brevity.


Okay, so in order for you to see the color red, the wavelength of 650nm must be reflected and other visible wavelengths must be absorbed. Red is unique because it has a longest wavelength as the bookend of the color spectrum before the light becomes invisible again. This means it moves slower than other colors and that alters things when working behind the camera. You can see red less and less as light dims when compared to other colors. So if you are filming in a dark room, crimson colors will disappear as the light gets dimmer. Add a touch of blue to your lipsticks to keep them lips popping and choose the plummy blushes instead of coral or neutral hues.

Apart from black and white pigment, red pigment is the most used in the make-up universe. The reason is that it brings “warmth” to the skin, a vibrant glow. Red highlights the pinkish undertones of our skin’s capillary bed. This creates a subtle flush that we naturally associate with youth and good health. This is why in the Victorian era, as women matured, they would apply red paint on their cheeks to imitate the rosy, or “high color” cheeks of young girls. Although it is not obviously apparent, foundations also contain red undertones, even when they are for different tissue undertones such as olive. If the red pigment in foundation was removed, the effect would make the skin look sick, and lacking good circulation.


Red lipstick prevails over blush as the most popular of make-up items, and the reason why can be faulted to sex appeal. Firstly, red colored lips allude to the saturation of blood and swelling of private lady parts during arousal. It’s been studied, crimson lips make men think about va-jay-jays, even if they are not overtly consciously aware of it. Lusciously red lips carry huge appeal to women as well, who want to be seen as attractive and sensual. Over the years, the fashion industry has dubbed red lipstick as timeless, to be paired with an understated eye for the innocent look, or with a sharp cat-eye liner for a sultry effect.

Cinematically, red is used by power characters with fire in their hearts, whether benevolent or villainous. Think Geum-ja Lee’s gorgeous eye shadow in Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Glenn Close rocks the shit out of some red lipstick and eye shadow as Cruella Deville. Instinctually, red is a warning, the color of pure passion, so make-up artists like to pair this vivid shade with bold characters. It’s not for the meek, nor for those with cold hearts. Red is for the vibrant characters in a story and in my opinion, it’s the best color of the spectrum!


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