A Red Lip For Every Skin Tone

Shilpa Bhim
Gritty Pretty

A red lip is a classic for a reason. It adds that *magic touch* to any look, anytime. But not every red lipstick shade works for all skin tones. Fortunately, we’ve got the inside scoop on the red lipsticks that work best for you, and the ones that will work on you and every other lipstick wearer you know, guaranteed.

You can’t go wrong with a red lip. Need to send off boss vibes at your next meeting? Put on a red lip. Want to glam up your look? Put on a red lip. Feeling a little glum and need to brighten your day up? A red lip will do the trick!

Sounds easy! But making sure your red lip really pops against your skin tone is a fine art.

A red lipstick shade might look amazing on the models wearing it. But how do you know if it will complement your skin tone?

You’ve come to the right place! We asked four makeup artists for their expert insights on the red lipsticks that suit every skin tone.

Prep Prep Prep!

To achieve the perfect red lip and or any lip colour for that fact, it is so important to make sure your lips are hydrated,” says Sydney based makeup artist Jess Mass.

To prep your lips, Mass recommends applying Vaseline to your lips at night and a lip balm with SPF during the day. “Using a SPF on your lips decreases the chance of pigmentation and discolouration.”

Work Those Undertones

There are three key skin undertones: cool, warm and neutral.

Knowing your undertone helps determine what type of red lipstick will best complement your skin tone. As Perth makeup artist Isabel Dabgwa says, “If a warm tone person uses a cool tone lippie they may end up looking washed out.”

Kristyan Low, also based in Sydney, suggests checking the veins under your wrist to figure out your undertone. “If your veins are greener then you are warm, if they are blue then you are cool. If they sit somewhere in between then you are neutral.”

He highlights that neutral undertones will suit most red shades. Work it, girl!

Melbourne makeup artist Sophia Pafitis breaks down the types of red lipstick shades that work for warm and cool undertones.

She recommends going for brick reds, and vibrant, orange-based reds if you’ve got a warm undertone. Meanwhile, raspberry, cranberry and wine-coloured shades will work best on cool undertones. Who doesn’t love a red wine-stained lip?!

Still not sure what type of red lipstick will work with your undertones? Our experts suggest actually trying the lipstick on. If that’s not an option, Low suggests swatching several colours under your wrist to see which colour appeals to the eye.

Imagery: Whitney Madueke

Photography: Tāne Coffin / Makeup: Victoria Baron / Hair: Anthony Nader / Talent: Jessica Gomes

Pucker Up

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to find out the red lipstick shades that work for every skin tone, and the one specific to your skin tone, per our experts’ advice.

MAC’s Ruby Woo is the clear winner when it comes to a universal red shade for all skin tones. “I have not seen any skin tone that it does not suit,” says Dabgwa.

Mass and Pafitis agree, and Pafitis also notes that while Ruby woo looks amazing on all skin tones, “it really pops on an olive complexion.” Mass also loves to mix Colourpop Arriba and the Sephora cream lip Stain in 01 to create an “amazing red that suits most skin tones.”

Meanwhile, Low notes that the Fenty Uncensored and MAC Feels So Good longwearing liquid red lip colours are both deep rich reds that work on almost any skin tone. If you’re after a more hydrating formula or like a sheen finish to your lipstick, Low recommends YSL Rouge Pur Couture 1. “It’s a beautiful red lipstick that suits most skin tones.”

For specific undertones, Pafitis recommends the following shades:

  • Cool-toned complexions: Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Jungle Red, Tom Ford Cherry Lush and MAC’s Russian Red lipstick.
  • Warm-toned and deeper complexions: MAC’s Lady Danger, Fenty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored and Nars Audacious Lipstick in Bette – “a gorgeous deep plum with a buttery hydrating formula.”

Remember, if you’ve got a neutral undertone you can rock every shade of red lipstick under the sun!

Finally, Mass shares this pro-tip to really make your pout pop: define your lips further by applying a lip liner after you’ve applied your lipstick. “It can either be from the same shade or you can get a shade darker to really enhance your lips.”