Find the Perfect Red Lipstick to Flatter Your Complexion
Have you ever spotted a red lipstick you loved on your friend, but when you tried it on yourself, the effect wasn't quite right? We hear you!
A bold red lip is such a classic look, but we the struggle of finding that perfect shade of crimson to flatter your complexion all too well. That's why we enlisted the expertise of celebrity makeup artists to help us find a complementary color for every skin tone! Click through our gallery to find your perfect match.
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Fair with Red Hair
Contrary to popular belief, redheads can rock a bold red lip. "Look for a red with orange undertones if you have Holland Roden's coloring to spice up the effect," says makeup artist Elle Leary. "I love coral-reds on redheads with fair skin because it adds a flash of color to the milky tone that wasn't there before." For a look similar to Jessica Chastain, opt for a color like NARS Audacious Lipstick in Lana ($34; sephora.com) or Tom Ford's Lip Color in Federico ($36; sephora.com).
Fair with Cool Undertones
Celebrity makeup artist Robin Fredriksz says a raspberry lipstick "complements and warms up the cool pink undertones found in very fair skin." Try a color like Kevyn Aucoin Expert Lip Color in Jorjia ($35; sephora.com), or something a little more glossy like YSL Vinyl Cream Lip Stain in Bourgogne Alternatif ($36; sephora.com).
A pinkish red like Lipstick Queen’s Velvet Rope in Private Party ($50; nordstrom.com) is best suited to medium-light complexions, especially if you dab it on with your finger to get an imperfectly diffused finish, says Rossum's pro Jo Baker.
A deep vivid berry like NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg ($27; sephora.com) brings warmth and radiance to golden skin tones, like Jamie Chung's.
Medium with Yellow Undertones
Olive, have you met orange? Complexions with yellow undertones turn a glowing tan with a little help from a tangerine-tinged bullet, says pro Matin Maulawizada. Try Iman Cosmetics Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Hot ($7; jet.com).
Medium with Gold Undertones
A medium complexion with light golden tones jibes with "a true red," says Rita Ora’s makeup artist Kathy Jeung, who suggests a color like Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Lipstick in 111 ($4; target.com). "If you detect any undertones in the lipstick, they should be orange, not blue."
Medium with Neutral Undertones
"Sofia's skin is warm with a neutral undertone, making the blue-red hue of CoverGirl's lipstick in Garnet Flame ($9; target.com) a perfect shade of red for her look," says makeup artist Jen Flemming. "If you're having trouble with the undertone equation, true reds that do not lean blue or orange are always winners."
Medium with Caramel Tones
A brown-based red like L’Oreal Colour Riche in Raisin Rapture ($6; target.com) is a pretty perfect match for caramel skin like Freida Pinto’s. Just make sure the hue has a hint of plum to contrast with your complexion, and a shimmery finish to enhance the glamour.
Tan with Warm Undertones
Rihanna certainly knows a thing or two about finding a lipstick to flatter her complexion. She did, after all, create a universal red with her Fenty Beauty line. If you have similar coloring to the star, try choosing an orange-based red, which will complement the warmth in your skin, or her Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored ($24; sephora.com).
Tan with Neutral Undertones
Though tan or olive skin with neutral tones like Ashley Graham's can veer toward either side of the lipstick spectrum, a bright cherry red with a slight glossy sheen will really pop against the complexion. Celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic says "it also looks great paired with golden and natural shades of makeup on the eyes." Try Dolce and Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Sassy ($36; nordstrom.com).
Tan with Cool Undertones
With a deep merlot as flattering as Kerry Washington's, you can take the minimalist route on your eye makeup and allow your pout to be the focal point. To get a similar look, reach for a shade like Neutrogena's MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Rich Raisin ($7; target.com).
Dark with Warm Undertones
"An opaque blue-based red like MAC’s Ruby Woo ($18; nordstrom.com) creates a gorgeous contrast with dark caramel complexions," says Jennifer Hudson’s makeup whiz Yolonda Frederick-Thompson. "A matte surface makes it stand out even more."
Dark with Cool Undertones
One word: Metallic. Lupita Nyong'o's makeup artist Nick Barose says a creamy ruby red lipstick needs shimmer to "bring dimension and luminosity to deep cocoa skin." Try Lancome’s Le Metallique Metallic Lip Lacquer in Rouge Magma ($22; sephora.com).
DARK WITH COOL UNDERTONES
If a shimmery metallic finish is too flashy for you, take a note out of Viola Davis's book and pick up a wine-hued gloss—we love Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer Lipgloss in Boom ($28; sephora.com). The deep berry hints play up the cool tones in your complexion, while the mirror-like finish adds extra dimension.