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Beauty: festive red lipsticks without the guesswork

I always wear red lipstick on Christmas Day. It feels festive and jolly, more tasteful than tinsel, and goes just as well with a party frock and slippers as with a pinny and skewwhiff paper crown.

I find women are increasingly willing to give red lipstick a spin, but are paralysed by talk of undertones – should one go orange or blue, and how can you tell anyway?

As a general rule, the darker the skin, the more flattering a blue-red; the paler, the prettier an orangey-red. I don’t get too bogged down in this edict because it’s only colour, life is extremely short, and red is hardly for the rule-abiding conformist, so let’s just pick one and get it on.

I do understand, though, that choosing reds can be overwhelming and tricky – I’ve just spent three weeks finding the perfect one for my front door (I finally took Bobbi Brown’s Old Hollywood into Brewers to get a similar colour) – so I’m suggesting some neutral reds.

Neither too orange nor too cool, these sit nicely and classically somewhere in the middle. Illamasqua Glamore in Virgin (£18.50), is based on the airline’s colour scheme, but don’t let that put you off. The finish hedges its bets as much as the colour – smooth and comfy, not quite glossy or matte. If you prefer a matte look, try Revlon’s Really Red (£7.49). Shiny but still flattering on most is Maybelline Colorsensational Elixir in Signature Scarlett (£6.99), a Christmassy Marilyn Monroe-esque lacquer.

Personally, this year I’ll be wearing Nars in Annabella (£24, see main picture) from the Audacious range, which are quite simply the best new lipsticks of 2014. The coverage, comfort and lasting, even colour, are spot on.

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