The Best Red Lipstick For Your Skintone

group of women with different skin tones and eye colors

All three models – neutral skintones, wearing Red Apple Red (blue based red lipstick)

Can I wear a red lipstick??

I hear this question a lot. 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 select 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)

Next, you need to know if you have cool, warm, or neutral undertones
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:

  1. 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.

3. Does red lipstick “turn orange” on you? 

  • “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


Blue-based red lipstick for cool skin tones and neutral skin tones. Deeper red lipstick than bright Red Apple Red above, great on all ranges of cool & neutral skin. The classic, retro blue-based red lipstick.

Red Apple Red

Blue-based red lipstick for cool skin tones and neutral skin tones. Bright and classic, this is best on fair to light skin. It will fade to a lovely pink.


Blue-based red lipstick that’s deeper than Red Apple Red but not AS deep and blue as Rebel. This is a nice classic middle ground that can be worn bold or blotted back for a slightly softer red.

Appley Ever After

Blue-based red lipstick that’s got very slight pink undertones on people with warm skin. Those with neutral skin or cool skin will enjoy this beautiful middle red that won’t turn pink.

Orange Based Red Lipstick

Orange-based red lipstick that’s bold and bright like a tomato. This will look perfect on warm skin and neutral skin, cool tones will want to steer clear and stick with the blue based red lipsticks above.

Orange-based red lipstick with lovely brown undertones, like a deep brick red. This warm lipstick looks amazing on auburn/ginger red heads, warm skin tones and neutral skintones with any hair color!

Brown Based Red Lipsticks

Strawberry Lips

Brown-based red lipstick that is soft and perfect for timid red lipstick wearers with warm or neutral skin. This is a great everyday red and shows up best on light to medium skin.


Brown red lipstick for warm skin tones and neutral skin. Looks especially great on brown skin & olive skin. This deep brown red lipstick will have more brown than red and is perfect for those who don’t want a true, bright red! Looks more brown on light-medium skin. Looks more red on deep and dark skin.

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, Appley Ever After, or Radiant)
  • Deep brown skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Risque or Barcelona)
  • Olive skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Risque, Barcelona or Strawberry Lips)
  • Medium skin w/cool undertones = blue-based red lipsticks (Rebel, Appley Ever After or Radiant)
  • Light or fair skin w/ cool undertones = blue-based red lipsticks (Rebel, Radiant 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, “brick” red), Radiant (for a bold classic retro red)
  • Dark or Deep skin w/ neutral undertones = Risque (for a bright classic red), Rebel (for a deep sultry red), or Barcelona (for a deep brick 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

blue based red lipstick

Red Apple Red – a light and bright blue-based red lipstick with a slight pink undertone. 

blue based red lipstick

Appley Ever After – is a perfect mid-toned blue-based red, not too bright – not too deep.

Radiant – bright, bold, classic not as deep as rebel – not as bright as Red Apple Red.

blue based red lipstick with deep retro vibes

Rebel deep & sultry blue-based red lipstick. Try this one if you like the retro red look.

Orange Based Red Lipstick For Warm Skintones & Neutral Skin

Risque – the best red lipstick for warm skin or neutral skin…or for anyone who doesn’t want red lipstick that “turns pink.” Just enough orange & yellow undertones that it’s classic and bright. Light to dark skin can all rock this shade as long as your undertones are warm or neutral

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. Warm skin and gingers swear by this shade! It’s deep and moody and beautiful.

Best 3 Tips For Wearing Red Lipstick

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

To learn more about these pro lipstick application tips and others for lipstick success, watch my short binge-able series here:

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!


  1. “Does red lipstick tend to ‘turn pink/orange’ on you?”

    This question helped a lot. The question about gold or silver jewelry shows up a lot in these guides and I find it confusing, because I own jewelry in both colors and couldn’t answer one way or another (probably makes me neutral, ha). I have a similar problem with the “vein” test. But determining if lipstick appears a certain way on someone was actually a much better question. I tend to like orange-reds a lot more, because blue-reds and even true reds do turn pink on me and make my face a lot rosier than the rest of me, and orange-reds give me more of a poppy pin-up lip. So that tells me I’m actually somewhere on the warmer end. Seems like Risque would be the candidate for my perfect red.

    And kudos to Andrea for acknowledging us girls with rosacea. I really appreciated the tip, which will make selecting the right make-up colors a lot easier.

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Thanks Vanessa! I’m so glad that was helpful. The question about jewelry is usually the easiest to answer (way easier than veins) because people usually know if they look awful in one or the other…and if they don’t look awful in either then they’re neutral. So yeah, you nailed it – you are neutral! And probably lean a little warm, you might also just prefer warmer shades because of rosacea or personal preference (this is how I am, I just prefer warmer makeup shades – even though I can wear both because I’m neutral…same for clothes)
      So glad this helped! So excited to hear what you think about Risque

  2. Andrea Harper says:

    Hi Gwen! Those of us that love lipstick are for sure still wearing it under our masks!
    The solution is to blog, reapply, then blot again – you don’t want any slippery/silky-ness sitting on top. Interestingly, this is what we recommend pre-mask-wearing for keeping your lipstick on for a long time, helping it to wear off evenly, and not transfer to drinking vessels.
    A makeup setting powder would also work well dusted lightly on top – but I’ve found with a properly fitting mask (that is not rubbing against my mouth) blotting solves the issue.

    Your second question is a bit more complicated. It essentially has to do with blood flow and hormones/body chemistry. There are questions I could ask you about specific times that this happens to figure it out details. However, the simplest answer is – sometimes our base lip color changes because of more or less blood flow to them (changing their base color ever so much), or getting more sunshine on your lips will change their base color (which affects the way the lipstick blends with it). I’ve also found that the outfit I choose to wear with a lipstick can affect the way it looks on my lips. Making it appear a different shade because of the way it’s “bouncing off” the color of my top. I hope that helps, but you’re always welcome to email us if you’d like to further dissect this. This happens to MANY people 🙂

    1. That helps a lot! Thank you for answering.

  3. Thank you for this! Wearing a mask has seriously cut down my lipstick wearing time and I really miss it. Any suggestions on wearing lipstick & a mask without the mask wearing the lipstick?

    Also, there are time a lipstick that once was perfect suddenly looks too orange or brown on me. Another time the same lipstick will be perfect. Am I a chameleon or does this happen to everyone?

    Thank you!


    I am in need of a new lippie!
    I am a brunette with fair skin, and I look good in both silver AND gold jewelry. I had my colours done a long time ago, and I am a “Winter/Spring”, which means on occasion I can wear clothing that has a bit of brown or coral in it. I am looking for a “Classic” red that is a bit on the orangey side–like a Tomato Red. I say this because right now the market seems to be flooded with PINKS and I tried those for a while, but now I’m getting bored and want to get something new. The “Risque” mentioned above still looks pinkish to me and contrary to its description, “Red Apple Red” looks more like it would suit. I already own an orangey red from Beauty Without Cruelty and a browny red from Clinique. I want something that is just clear, bright and NOT pink. Straight down-the-middle-of -the-road RED. Can you help me decide which to order? My vimeo channel shows me with different kinds of lipsticks!

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Hi Leigh – I truly believe Risqué fits that bill perfectly. Now, all of us react to different shades differently – but from what you describe Risque is the closest to a tomato-red that won’t turn pink as we’ll get. Personally, I think our Scarlet Red lipliner is as neutral straight down the middle of the road red as you can get but since you said a classic red that is a bit on the orangey side I would suggest Risque. Red Apple Red does appear that way in pictures and on our models – but for most people it turns pink on them – even on our models you can see that it leans pink. And just know if it doesn’t quite hit the mark for you – you have 6 months to return or exchange it 🙂

  5. The Red Apple Red turned bright pink on me, but I do have cool undertones and pink/red in my skin. I typically wear berry colored lipstick. Berry Blast and Vogue are my favorites. I also love to wear Strawberry Lips. I would love a red to wear to evening events. If you don’t mind sharing, I would love your opinion. Should I try Appley Ever After, Risque or Reddish Fetish? Thank you!

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Hi Erin! Makes sense, (and p.s. if you don’t like RAR be sure to exchange it – we don’t want you wasting your money on a shade you’ll never wear). That being said, I would go with Risque for brighter, Appley Ever After for deep, or Reddish Fetish for a nice in between. I know that doesn’t realllly answer the question – because it depends how bright or deep you want the shade. But for elegant evening events MY go-to is Appley Ever After (it’s just deep enough for me, but it does have a hint of that pink underneath). So if you don’t want ANY chance of going pink – I would go Risque. The Scarlet Red lip liner we’re about to release will be a game changer for you. That paired with Risque would be stunning (really with any of the reds or all by itself). Hope that helps!

  6. I like the Berry Blast! sorry!

  7. I am blessed. I can wear most of the reds. I wore Firecracker today. What color I wear depends on if I am tan or not.
    I would like to see Scarlet make a come back. Love that color. Which red is the closes to it? Thank you for an amazing product (s). You help to keep me me safe.

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Hi Renee, we are planning on bringing Starlette back very soon! Thinking around Galentine’s Day…Currently the closest to it is Hibiscus which has a little more pink. So glad you can wear so many reds!! Would love to see some pictures of you wearing Firecracker!! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram #IAMRAL

  8. Can you tell me what base the Very Berry (I think its name) is?

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      We don’t make a shade called Very Berry…there’s Berry Blast and Boys ‘N Berries. Which of those are you asking about?

  9. Catherine says:

    Andrea, for those of us in our late 50s, cool skin tones, do you still recommend a ‘red’ lipstick? I am definitely a cool, light skinned woman, with 1/2 gray and 1/2 (naturally) brown hair. As I have aged, I have veered toward softer lipsticks. You’ve got my interest so I want to hear more about your thoughts on red lipstick for the older ladies…;).

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Love this Catherine, thanks for the question. I think ultimately, you should wear what makes you feel confident and beautiful. So while I do say that everyone woman *can* pull off red lipstick, I’m careful not to *should* on anyone! 😉 I won’t tell you, you “should” wear red lipstick if it doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks. Even if I looked at you and said OMG that looks stunning, and you said “meh I don’t like it” then THAT’S what really matters. All that being said…
      I absolutely think a woman in her 50s and up, can wear red lipstick. What I would caution against is wearing a dark deep shade (like Rebel at full intensity). I would pick the lipstick(s) based on the guide above that best suite you – and start with just a little stain on the lips…use a lip brush to apply a thin coat, or use a finger to dab it on like a stain. Then slowly build the intensity and you can even take a picture of yourself at each stage for review (or send it to me for a 2nd opinion) – find which “intensity” level is right for you. Usually, women above 50 benefit from a lighter wash of ANY shade, not just red…however adding color back to the lips especially in the form of pink and red is LOVELY and I believe not only brightens the face but is youthful and playful. However, as soon as it crosses over into “too dark” then it can have the complete opposite effect (lips look small, face looks older than it is). Finding your shade, then your sweet spot within that shade, will nail it for you. And remember, we have a 6 month guarantee, so getting a few shades to try isn’t risky – you can also play with samples if you don’t want to order full size tubes. My suggestion is to try Red Apple Red, Appley Ever After – and Risque if you don’t like Red Lipstick turning pink on you after hours and hours (which with your coloring, wouldn’t bother me). Hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions.

  10. Kathleen Holmes says:

    Great info! This time of year I generally switch to Barcelona, however, I am going to give Risqué a spin around the block. This summer was light and breezy Tangomint with my white, blue and coral wardrobe. I love your products!

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Ooh love that!! It’s so fun to hear what others enjoy wearing during different seasons!! Would love for you to share pictures on Facebook or Instagram…or even in a review of your favorite shades. It’s so helpful for others to see how these shades look on people besides our models! 🙂 thanks for the comment, you will LOVE Risque!

  11. Hi Andrea,
    Thank You So Much for your article in clarifying the various undertones in your red lipsticks! I’m a Ginge, but NOT the darker haired Ginge, so seeing the differences in the undertones was perfect. Fair-skinned Ginge folk with strawberry-blonde to medium red hair (like me), look best in the Strawberry and Risque. My darker Ginge friend, that can wear Fall clothing colors such as Darker, Olive, Orange, and Gold, look better in the deeper red lip shades, like Firecracker and Barcelona. I hope you can do this each season of the year, so we can get right to work, purchasing the best lip color for our skin tones. 🙂 I hope you are feeling better after the flu. Thanks Again

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Sharon! Love this, thank you for adding this comment – it would be amazing (if you haven’t already) to post a picture of yourself with a review to the two lipsticks you mentioned so other fair-skinned “ginge folk” 🙂 could see what they look like on you!!

  12. Please never stop making Appley Ever After! It’s my Grail Red! Other RAL reds look nice on me, but Appley Ever After is “The One”! 😃 I’ll only have a problem or frustration if it gets discontinued. 😆

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Me TOO!! It’s definitely my favorite-could-use-it-everyday red – never to be discontinued – promise! It would be amazing if you left a review for that shade and even more awesome if it included a picture of you wearing it so other shoppers can see what it looks like on someone besides our models!! Thanks for your comments and so glad you’ve found “The One”!!

  13. Does Appley Ever After make the lip looking smaller since it is a deeper classic? And Do the reds go with any color of the clothes too?

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Hi Stacey, if you applied Appley super dark (like with 3 coats) it has the potential of making your lips smaller, but with just a swipe or two – no. The ones that really make lips look smaller are the deepest ones like Rebel & Barcelona (wine ‘n dandy – which isn’t listed here because it’s more wine colored). I feel like red lipstick can go with so many different colors of clothing but I stick to mainly neutrals (black, brown, white, tan) unless the clothing I’m wearing has red in it. For example, I have a multi-colored shirt with feathers all over it in shades like blue, yellow, green, and RED! So, I use Appley Ever After when wearing that shirt because it complements the red perfectly. Red clothing is trickier – but as long as you stay in the same undertone of red (if you want to match) you should be good…then you can add coats to darken the red to match the clothing. Here’s an article about coordinating your lipstick with your clothing. Using red to highlight something red in your outfit (even if just a scarf or purse) can be super chic!

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