Let me first address the question I hear all the time. Yes, you can pull off red lipstick! I’m going to guide you to the best red lipstick for your skintone.
What’s most important, though, is how you feel in that shade. Nothing makes me feel more confident than red lipstick – and that is red lipstick’s primary goal in life…to make you feel amazing!
So, the following are just a set of guidelines – if you find a shade that makes you feel amazing and it’s not on this list or in your “Shade range” – ROCK IT OUT and don’t worry about the rest!
How do I pick a red lipstick?
First, you need to know what base is most flattering to your skin tone. These are the basics.
Red lipsticks are broken down into three main categories:
- Blue-Based Red Lipsticks (looks best on cool skin tones and lighter skin, can also appear pink or purple)
- Orange-Based Red Lipsticks (looks best on warm skin tones, can also appear yellow)
- Brown-based Red Lipsticks (looks best on warm skin tones and medium to darker skin)
This is tricky because so many people aren’t one or the other – we all have a little warmth to our skin, so this is not cut and dry. I’m going to break it down as simply as I can.
Answer all of the following questions:
- Do you look better in gold or silver jewelry?
- Gold jewelry – go for orange-based or brown-based red lipsticks (you’ve got warm tones)
- Silver jewelry – go for blue-based red lipsticks (you’ve got cool tones)
- Both gold & silver – you can use blue-based red lipsticks, orange-based reds and brown-based reds (you are neutral)
2. Does red lipstick tend to “turn pink” on you?
- “Yes! And I hate that” – you will want to steer clear of blue-based red lipsticks which have lots of pink undertones and aim for orange-based and brown-based red lipsticks – you have warmer skin.
- “Yes! And it doesn’t bother me” – great, then stick with the blue-based red lipsticks but try some orange-based reds also to see how they flatter you in different outfits – you have neutral skin.
- “Nope.” – Keep wearing blue-based red lipsticks and experiment with going deeper/bolder or lighter and brighter to mix it up – you have cooler skin.
- “Yes ugh!” – stick with blue-based red lipsticks, since you have cool tones in your skin an orange or brown-based lipstick is going to look sallow
- “Yes, and I like it!” – cool, stick with orange-based lipsticks, but also try some blue-based reds to see if they make your teeth appear whiter! You probably have a neutral skin tone.
- “Nope.” – keep wearing orange-based red lipsticks and experiment with some brown-based reds to get a sultry and warm look, you probably have lots of warmth in your skin.
Let’s Compare Lipstick Bases
Blue Based Red Lipsticks
Orange Based Red Lipsticks
Brown Based Red Lipsticks
Does Skin Color Affect Which Red Lipstick I Wear?
The same undertone rules apply no matter what skin color you have. Let’s run through a few examples. Rule of thumb is Cool skin – Cool lipstick (blue-based). Warm skin – Warm lipstick (orange or brown-based). Neutral skin – Cool and Warm lipsticks (blue, orange and/or brown based).
- Deep brown skin w/ cool undertones = blue-based red lipstick (Rebel or Red Apple Red)
- Deep brown skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Risque or Barcelona)
- Olive skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Firecracker, Risque, Barcelona or Strawberry Lips)
- Medium skin w/cool undertones = blue-based red lipsticks (Rebel or Red Apple Red)
- Light or fair skin w/ cool undertones = blue-based red lipsticks (Rebel or Red Apple Red)
- Light or fair skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Risque or Strawberry Lips)
- Light or medium skin w/ neutral undertones = Strawberry Lips (for a soft red), Risque (for a bright classic red), Appley Ever After (for a deeper classic, “retro” red)
- Dark or Deep skin w/ neutral undertones = Risque (for a bright classic red), Rebel (for a deep sultry red)
A note on other shades we notice in our skin like green, yellow, purple, and pink.
- If you have green or yellow in your skin – you’re warm
- If you have purple in your skin – you’re cool
- If you have pink in your skin because of rosacea, you could be cool or warm – but I recommend staying closer to the warm side of red lipsticks not to enhance the redness in your skin. Try Appley Ever After, Risque or Strawberry Lips
What About Shade Ranges of Red Lipstick & Your Skin?
What I’m about to say is not a hard and fast rule – but I’ve found more often than not the following…
- Light or fair skin people are most flattered by light and bright red lipsticks. Keep in mind that the smaller your lips, the brighter the lipstick should be. Dark lipstick makes small lips look smaller.
- Deep red lipstick looks best on medium to dark skin. The same rule applies to lip size, though. So, if you have small lips and don’t want them to look smaller, opt for a lighter and brighter red lipstick!
- People with darker skin can get away with both deep and bright red lipsticks (within the right base undertone range). Your base lip color is really what determines how that shade is going to “show up.” If your base lip color is dark brown, you will benefit from a lighter red if you want it to “show up” as a classic red. Whereas if you want a hint of red – a deeper red lipstick would be beautiful.
Red Lipsticks In Order From Lightest & Brightest To Deepest
Blue Based Red Lipsticks For Cool Skintones & Neutral Skintones
Orange Based Red Lipsticks For Warm Skintones & Neutral Skin
Firecracker – orange-based red lipstick that’s less “classic” than Risque, and more “rusty red.” Every darker “autumn” ginger should own this red. If your closet is packed with gold jewelry, you need it too! This is a super versatile red for warm skin!
Brown Based Red Lipsticks For Warm Skintones & Neutral Skin
Strawberry Lips – a soft brick red, perfect for warm & neutral skin tones to dip your toes into the red lipstick waters. Pair this with Amor Caliente non-sticky lipgloss for a classic but soft look. Gingers with fair skin and light to medium hair look great in this shade.
Barcelona – a deeper brown-based red lipstick bold enough to make a statement. It can be worn soft enough (one coat) for everyday use. Medium to dark skin (and many darker “autumn” gingers) swear by this shade! It’s deep and moody and beautiful.
Best 3 Tips For Wearing Red Lipstick
- Apply It With A Lip brush – this will ensure you get lipstick to your lip line (which makes your lips look full), it will also ensure that you get an even 1st layer worked into your lips (which will make it wear off EVENLY). Both of these are crucial when wearing red lipstick.
- Apply one thin layer at a time – this will slowly build the color, which makes it last longer and lets you customize the exact depth of color you want to wear that day…with that outfit.
- Blot, then let it rest/dry – slide a tissue in between your lips, and slowly & lightly roll your lips in and out. Blotting sets the lipstick in place, then give it at least 5 minutes before you touch anything to your lips. Allowing lipstick to dry and set up gives your bold lips a flawless finish and even wear.
I want you to love wearing red lipstick! I want you to pull out your perfect red lipstick on an average day (not just a special occasion) and feel the glow of confidence that comes along with wearing it.
Comment below if you need further red lipstick guidance, or if you have any red lipstick frustrations that I can help solve!