Choosing a Red Lipstick to suit you

It seems like a simple task; to choose a red lipstick that’ll suit your skin tone, but it’s a lot harder than you think. There’s actually a lot more to consider when choosing a suitable red lipstick, that goes far beyond what you think looks nice against your arm when you swatch it in the shop. 

We’ve all been there: you see your friend wearing the most to die for shade of red, but when you try it on yourself it just doesn’t look right. Or a shade that looked perfect on the website doesn’t sit well with your skin tone.

It’s all about choosing a shade right for your complexion and skin tone, but also about understanding the undertone of the lipstick and whether it’ll look right.

Luckily, I’m going to break down the different shades of red, and their suitability for different skin tones:

Working out your undertone: This is actually easier than you think. Simply look at the underside of your wrist at the veins there: If they are mostly blue or purple you have a cool undertone whilst those who have mostly green have a warm undertone. If you think you have a combination of blue/purple and green, you’re probably leaning towards a neutral undertone.

This should give you a basis to find a suitable red lipstick. Shades that have a blue undertone look better on cooler skin tones, whereas coral and orange-based red Lipsticks are more suitable for warmer skin tones.

Remember: any lipstick labelled a ‘true red’ is supposed to be universal, and should suit all wearers regardless of skin tone! (E.G MACs Ruby Woo).

Choosing a red based on Skin Tone: A quick ‘rule of thumb’ when it comes to skin tone is that those of you graced with fair skin should aim for blue based reds to flatter, or pink based reds to help ‘warm up’ your porcelain complexion.


(From top to bottom: Bourjois Rouge Edition – 15 Red-volution, Rimmel Kate lipstick 107, Urban Decay Vice Lipstick – Bad Blood, L’Oreal Colour Riche – Blake’s Pure Red)

If you have a light skin tone you may want to consider a slight coral-red to help balance your yellow undertone, and to enhance your golden undertone.

Olive skinned ladies should rock an orange or coral based red, especially in the summer; these shades will enhance and brighten your bronzed complexion. In winter, try something more rust or brick coloured; the slightly darkened red will brighten your skin, prevent any sallow complexions and will brighten your smile.


(From top to bottom; Burberry Union Red 113, Colourpop ultra satin lip – London, Rimmel the only one matte – Take The Stage)

Golden darker skin tones are lucky in the sense that a wide number of shades will suit, and you should play around with previously mentioned colours. For a bold look, try a true red to warm up your skin and brighten your smile. Orange based reds will look amazing in the summer, whereas plum or Merlot shades were made for your skin tone during the winter months.


(From top to bottom: Colourpop Lippie Stix – Bichette, Colourpop Lippie Stix – Ellarie, YSL Rouge Pur Couture the mats – 202, Rouge G De Guerlain – 25, Colourpop ultra matte lip – Notion)

Remember: this is not a hard and fast rule. Makeup is all about having fun and experimenting, so just because a shade doesn’t happen to suit your skin tone on paper (or screen!) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear it!

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Teacher by day, beauty and lifestyle blogger by night. Wallflower, Pinterest obsessive, bookworm, baker, geek, undomesticated goddess, mother, hoarder | PR Friendly

5 thoughts on “Choosing a Red Lipstick to suit you

      1. Haha, same here. My Perfect Red is of L’Oreal Colour Richie Royal Red. It suits on me haha.

        (My Blog/Website ” http// perfectionist you . com” )

  1. This is a really great guide and is easy to understand! I definitely made the mistake of wearing lipstick that was too blue toned before I realised my undertone (light, olive-green) and it made me look very washed-out. When I tried warmer reds that were closer to brick or orange, it looked much better!

    Beccah xx
    thehonestolive.com

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