How To Pick The Perfect Red Lipstick For Your Skin Tone

Choosing the right red lipstick for your skin tone is not an easy task. Here’s how to pick red lipstick for your skin tone.

We all love to rock a red lip from time to time, but have you ever tried shopping for that perfect red lipstick? There are ones that are more pinky-red while others have strong orange tones and still others have blue undertones.

It can be overwhelming at times given how many hundreds, if not thousands, of different shades exist across some of our favorite brands. Not to worry though as help is here!

If you have been put off from wearing a red lip due to the color not suiting you, it was probably more the tone of the lipstick itself that wasn’t right for you rather than the color red itself.

However, that’s not to say that the perfect red lipstick doesn’t exist for you, so don’t give up just yet! Often, it’s down to finding the right red to suit our skin tone. It can have varying results on how the color looks depending on our natural tone and if, for example, we have a tan or happen to be paler.

While I, myself, have very pale skin thanks to my Irish ancestry, having worked on beauty counters, I have been fortunate enough to work on women across the spectrum, so here is my guide to help you choose the perfect red lipstick for your skin tone. Best of luck with that pout!

Pale skin

red lipstick for your skin tone

I love channeling old school Hollywood in the form of my hair pinned up while sporting that classic red lip as seen on the likes of Marilyn and Rita. However, over the years, I have come to learn exactly what works for me and what definitely doesn’t when it comes to red tones in general.

While coral suits me nicely in the summer especially, orange toned reds definitely don’t! I always look for blue-toned reds, and one of my most used ones is by Barry M in the shade 121. Blue-toned looks great on very fair complexions, and is also great at making teeth appear whiter.

red lipstick skin tone

Another shade that is slighter richer in the red (yet not to a brown or purple tone) is Rimmel Lipstick in the shade Diva Red. This has a slight gloss to it and is not as matte as the Barry M, so it really depends on what finish you like.

Deep red shades are classic on pale skin, and I love the way they bring out my complexion and are quite striking—especially if you pair it with lashes or eyeliner.

Tanned/medium skintones

When working on counters, I found women with tanned complexions really suited orange-toned reds as this brought out their skin beautifully, especially if they had just been on vacation and wanted something to really bring out their newfound color.

For something a little bolder with an orange undertone, MAC’s Lady Danger has always been a classic choice for so many women (in fact, it’s one of MAC’s best sellers!), so is definitely one to try if you haven’t previously.

skin tone red lipstick

Pink-toned reds are also an option, and can look a little softer if you are not a fan of anything too bold. Nice to Meet You by MAC is a deep pink-red and could work great. There are 200 shades of MAC lipstick currently available, which is why I recommend them for a task as great as finding the perfect red lip.

Nice to Meet You by MAC

With a tanned skin tone, you really can afford to experiment and try new hues that not everyone can pull off, so don’t be afraid next time you are at a counter.

If you fake tan, but only sometimes, be sure to go to a counter when you are at your palest so you know the color will work for you regardless of how pale or tanned you get.

Deep skin tones

Dior Rouge Dior Nude Collection 779 illusion

It’s always a privilege to work on women with ultra rich, deep skin tones as you can use some of the most divine shades you have at your disposal on the counter, and they never fail to look amazing!

I love cherry reds on deeper skin tones as they really pop against the skin. One of my favorites from my Dior counter days was the shade 779 Illusion from their Rouge Dior collection.

It sits so well on all skin colors, but especially the deeper and richer skin tones. It’s one of those shades you could wear with very little makeup with and still look polished. MAC’s La Vie En Rouge is also to die for and has strong red tones with a hint of coral.

MAC La Vie En Rouge

Deeper skin tones can also take purple-toned reds and more experimental application such as a deeper shade on the lower lip. The red carpet looks of Lupita Nyong’o are a fantastic example of such a technique, so I highly recommend researching how she pulls it off if you are in need of inspiration as her makeup always looks flawless.

Finally, I love Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Lipstick in the shade Irrepressible. It’s quite a deep, strong-toned red with subtle brown undertones. It’s definitely a statement maker, however, but deeper skin tones can take such colors with ease, so don’t be afraid to have a play to see what works for you.

Estee Lauders Pure Color Lipstick Irrepressible

How to apply red lipstick?

If you are going to figure out how to wear red lipstick in the most flattering possible way, pay attention to the balance.

The first step to making your red lipstick last is to line your lips and fill them in.

Once you have an all red lip, you are ready to add your lipstick. Apply it with a lipstick brush to get the maximum amount of precision.

Grab your translucent powder and blush brush. Put the single ply piece of tissue over your month then dust a little translucent powder over your lips.

Here is more about  how to apply red lipstick perfectly.

With so many choices and tones available, I can guarantee that the perfect red lip is out there—you just need to know what you’re looking for! What are some of your favorite shades for a red lip?

About the author

Rachael OFlaherty

I am a beauty blogger and Youtuber. My goal is to encourage confidence within fairer skintone as I believe all skintones are beautiful and should be embraced. Outside of this I work as a Graphic Designer having graduated in 2012 and I also work part time on beauty and fragrance counters.

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