There are two types of people in this world; those who wear red lipstick and those who don’t. Some people swear on it as their ultimate pick-me-up before leaving the house, “All I need is a swipe of lipstick and I’m ready to go!”. Others shrink away at the thought of drawing unnecessary attention to their faces as they seek comfort in more neutral “my lips but better” shades. However, whether we’re talking about a playful tangerine-based hue or a vampy crimson laced with plum undertones, there’s no denying that it takes a considerable amount of confidence to pull off a good layer of strong, red lipstick. Sticking out like a sore thumb in a sea of nudes and mauves is not for the faint of heart—but that’s not to say that you can’t jump on the wagon anytime you feel like it.

Other than bestowing upon you the most basic advice of “being confident” (easier said than done, am i right?), a better way to alleviate your fear of the mean reds is to help you understand what you’re truly up against. As a young woman who has had more than her fair share of makeup blunders enough to write a book on it, I would like to help you reach your new makeup milestone. Here are some ways to help you feel more prepared about pulling off the bold lip look without feeling like you’re walking around with a blazing red letter “A” on your chest:

1. “Constant Vigilance!”

Little did Mad-Eye Moody know that one day girls around the world would be using his famed mantra to fight a completely different type of battle against equally-damaging evils on a whole other spectrum… such as bright red lipstick on your teeth. Carry a little hand mirror around in your handbag, excuse yourself to go to the toilet after each meal, stare at your reflection at the back of the spoon if you have to, just don’t forget to check your pearly whites for any red stains every hour or so. It’s a tedious task but it’s a small price to pay to look like an effortless Parisian woman who knows what she’s doing in life instead of Bozo the Clown.

2. “Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.”

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that working a red lip takes up a lot of time and effort. It’s the beginning of the day, you’re running on a tight schedule and you decide to do a bit of freehand and just casually swipe on your lipstick. How hard can it be, right? All of a sudden you’ve drawn one side of your lip higher than the other and it looks like you’ve been stung by a bee. “No biggie, I’ll just even it out”, right? Wrong. Before you know it, you’ve overdrawn your entire lip and you look like you’re on the way to a casting audition for “It”. Now you’re later than ever and there’s really no time to start all over again. “Take me back to the start” indeed.

Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and in this case, no truer words have ever been spoken. Take the necessary precautions before and after swiping on some colour. Line your lips with a matching lip pencil, blur out the imperfections with concealer or use the classic “blotting technique” and your future face will thank you for it.

3. “Go big or go home”

As a millennial, I am proud to be witness to the turning point in makeup history where liquid lipsticks have changed our lives while creating a better place for the generations to come. Long gone are the days of a subtle lip tint or a sheer coat of gloss to tide us throughout the day.

However, with liquid lipsticks of any kind, most of the time they always look better on a full face of makeup. Due to their pigmented nature, a bare face tends to accentuate the opacity of the lipstick, often making it look more garish than it really is– which is why it is crucial to have the right makeup look to complement your lip shade. Whether you’re rocking your statement red lip with just your basic foundation routine and a coat or two of your favourite mascara, or if you’re looking to emulate some old-school Hollywood glamour with a dramatic smokey eye and winged liner, remember that red lipstick is an all-or-nothing commitment.

Last but most importantly, do not to be afraid of it. Red lipstick can smell your fear and will act accordingly. So double-check your teeth in the mirror, stuff a q-tip or two into your purse for emergency cleaning purposes and before you step out of your comfort zone, remind yourself, you wear the lipstick and not the other way round.