Finding the perfect red lipstick to complement your skin tone — whether it’s fair or dark — is tricky. That’s because you have to find the right kind of red to suit your complexion. Do you have cool- or warm-toned skin? The answer will guide you toward the right lippie.
And then you have the question of what finish you want in your lipstick. Mattes are great if you want a red that won’t budge, while glosses can instantly brighten your appearance. With all these criteria, it’s no wonder we grab a lipstick that looks gorgeous in the tube only to detest the shade as soon as we apply it.
Save yourself the stress and your hard-earned money the next time you’re at the makeup counter with our handy guide to the best red lipsticks for all skin tones.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.
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Nicole Kidman Red Lips
Fair Skin: Blue-Based Cream
A red with cool blue undertones like Nicole Kidman's cancels out any ruddiness to make skin look luminous. And the subtle shine of a cream formula brightens fair skin while reflecting light to blur the appearance of lip lines.
FIRST pick: Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Best Red ($4.97, Amazon)
Susan Lucci Red Lips
Medium Skin: Orange-Based Gloss
An orange-red like Susan Lucci's neutralizes the green undertones in medium skin while a glossy formula helps enliven the complexion so it doesn’t appear sallow.
FIRST pick: CoverGirl Colorlicious High Shine Lip Gloss in #670-Succulent Citrus ($8.88, Walmart)
Iman Red Lips
Dark Skin: Berry-Based Matte
The pink pigments in berry-toned reds like Iman's add radiance to darker skin and the matte's lack of sine ensures it won't overwhelm. Tip: Opt for a lipstick pencil and use it to outline lips first, then softly fill them in. The subtle contrast creates lip-plumping dimension.
FIRST pick: e.l.f. Matte Lip Color in Mulberry Maven ($3.99, Amazon)