How To Choose The Perfect Red Lipstick

which red lipstick will suit me
image source, edited by me
Who else has been there: eyed up a gorgeous red lipstick in the shop, loved the colour of the swatch and admired how great it looked on the celebrity promo poster- just to put it on yourself and look absolutely hideous? It's always a disappointing moment, especially if you've gone and spent a lot of money on the product. I shied away from red lips for years just because I believed that they didn't suit me at all. In actual fact it's just because I didn't have a clue which kind of red would work for me (or even that there were different shades of red for that matter). Red lipstick can look ultra feminine, sexy and glamorous, but there's definitely an art to choosing the right shade for your own personal colourings. You might be asking yourself, "so how do I find a red lipstick that suits me?"

In terms of colour, very few lipsticks are a 'true red' with most leaning towards pinker shades, purples and blues (cool undertones) or corals and oranges, yellows or browns (warm undertones). It's these subtle undertones that you really need to pay attention to when choosing a red lipstick. There's more to it than simply deciding you like the look of a certain colour red, or assuming because it works for a celebrity or friend it will work for you too. Get it wrong and you can make your face look ruddy, flushed, or washed out. The wrong shade can even make your teeth look yellow. Before taking the plunge with such a bold colour it's always best to carefully consider what will work for you. If you haven't picked up a red lipstick in years because you believe that they're not right for you, now might be the time to give them another whirl!

Define Your Skin's Undertones
The main trick to choosing the perfect shade of red is by defining your undertones. These are the underlying natural colours in your skin and are categorised as 'warm' and 'cool'- your perfect red lipstick will have similar undertones and therefore look 'right' against your skin. Knowing your skin's undertones will give you a much better idea what kind of colours will suit you in general; this can give you an idea about things like what hair colours will look best on you, which makeup shades will be most flattering and even what colour clothes will make you look your best. Have you ever wondered why certain colours make your eyes pop, and others make you look ill?

It's important to note that these are not hard and fast rules, most people won't fit exactly into these categories but go with the one you think sounds most like you. If you fit into both evenly there's a chance you have 'neutral' undertones and can get away with both cool and warm shades (you lucky devil). Both pale and dark skin can be both cool or warm- it's definitely not true to assume that you're one or the other based on how light or dark you are. Once you've determined your skin's undertones you can get a much better idea what shade of red will work for you. Both cool and warm undertones will suit a lipstick that is a 'true red' but other shades will need more consideration. Even though the difference might only seems slight. it can be the difference between a lipstick that looks stunning and one that looks scary.

Cool Undertones
Eye colour is likely to be: blue, grey-green, grey-blue, brown (with no golden flecks) or black
Hair colour: blonde, brown or black with ashy rather than golden undertones
Veins appear blue in natural daylight
Cool toned pale skin tends to look 'pink' whereas cool toned dark skin tends to look 'ashy'
Cool toned red lipsticks lean slightly pink, purple or blue. 
In terms of Mac lipsticks think Ruby Woo (vivid blueish red) MAC Red (vivid bright blueish red) Russian Red (intense blueish-red)

Warm Undertones
Eye colour is likely to be: amber, green, hazel or brown 
Hair colour: blonde, brown or black with golden undertones, auburn/red/strawberry blonde 
Veins appear green in natural daylight 
Warm toned pale skin tends to look yellowish whereas warm toned dark skin tends to look 'bronzed' 
Warm toned red lipsticks lean slightly yellow, orange or brown 
In terms of Mac colours think: Chilli (brownish orange-red) Dubonet (deepened claret) or Lady Danger (vivid bright orange red).

Blue Toned vs Orange Toned Red Lipsticks

(Swatches above from There's no need to assume that pale skin should stick to muted reds and only darker skin colours can get away with the bright and deep reds- it's much more about the how the underlying colours in the lipstick work with the colours in your skin, as opposed to how vivid or vibrant the lipstick is. So next time you feel like rocking a bold red lip, take into consideration what your skin's undertones are and work with them rather than against them. Swatch the shade and see if you can pick up any additional colours within the red, or even better find a description of the shade before you buy it. I hope you found this post helpful, and good luck finding the perfect red lipstick.


  1. This post was so helpful! xx

    1. Thank you! I've just subscribed to your Youtube channel, I'm looking forward to seeing more videos :)x

  2. Ive been on the hunt for a new red lippie today! I didnt find the perfect one so this post has been so helpful for me, thankyou! I like the look of Mac Red! xx

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful, I hope you manage to find the perfect shade! x

  3. Lady Danger looks lovely! This post was really helpful thanks! I'd never really considered that there was many shades of red before :/ haha. I shall definitely be more careful with my purchases in the future!


    1. I've wasted so much money on shades that didnt suit me in the past, hope you manage to find one that works for you :) x

  4. I love this post!
    WELL DONE!! You won my giveaway! I have sent you an email :)
    Georgia x

    1. Thank you! I'm so excited, Ive replied with my details :D x

  5. I love reds on others. I am still afraid to wear them! I need to ste it up these are gorgeous reds!

    1. I used to be the same way, once you find a red that suits you you'll never look back. Good luck! <3 x

  6. Hiya You have been tagged for the 11 Questions Tag! Go to this link to find out the rules! :)

  7. Really helpful advice! I simply love your posts!
    Mind checking mine? ^-^ I’ve just updated it and don’t have many followers :) It’s - I always follow back ♥

  8. great post! really helpful :) I love orangey reds:)

  9. This post was so helpful! I have cool undertones, and always found wearing red lipstick a challenge until recently. I finally bought a red lipstick a little while back, and this helped confirm I made the right choice!
    Following you :)

    xoxo Renee

  10. Great post - red lipstick can be so scary but like you say, it's all about finding the right shade! I bought a Rimmel Kate Moss one a while back, and while I've only used it on the odd night out, I really like it!

  11. Brilliant post, red lipstick can be so hard to wear if you don't have the right shade!

    Found you through the BBU blog hop :)

  12. Nice shades of red.
    I like orangish red though,
    Found you through BBU Blog hop,

    Following you via GFC, hope you follow back.

  13. I wish I could pull off red, but I look horrid in ANY red! lol

    I found you through the BBU blog hop!
    I'm following you via GFC and hope you'll follow me back! :)

  14. helo!
    found you through followers to friends blog hop =)
    i love reds but the do not look good on me at all!it's funny because i was thinking about doing a post like this in my blog by the beggining of fall...oh well!
    =) (it'd be great if you stopped by)

  15. Great blog! I have nominated you for a blog award. Find out more here

  16. You can beat a red lip, right? Very interesting post!!

    Found you on BBU BLOG hop. :) x

  17. I nominated you for the liebster blog award tag!!
    here is the link


  18. love red a red lip!

    p.s. I'm having a $50 giveaway from Fox House if you'd like to check it out! xx

  19. Hey! I've tagged you to do the Liebster award, sorry if I tagged you last time, you don't have to do it again! check out my blog for more info!

  20. I found this post very helpful!
    I'm never brave enough to go out with a red lip! I usually opt for pinks/nudes, think maybe I should take the plunge?!
    Great post!

    Natasha Carly x

    1. go for it, you just need to find the right one! I love pinks and nudes too, but I think its nice to be able to go all out with red every now and then x

  21. wow ive been wanting to try red and this is very helpful

  22. Excellent post, I always go to the reds, and am glad to know I have been gravitating toward the right undertones (I am a cool, so I go for the blue reds) I think only because I tried a coral red once and MAN did it look bad! LOL.

    Excellent descriptions of both the lipstick choices and how to determine if you are warm or cool - and great visuals.

    BTW, I am here with the Friday Chaos blog hop :-) I am not following you via GFC and Bloglovin'! I can't wait to get to know you better. :-)

    My Imperfect...

  23. This post is amazing and confirms everything I have just recently learned. My skin is cool toned even though I have a slight olive complexion and have recently indulged in a variety of blue and pink tones red lipsticks - I'm obsessed!

    Thanks for the follow :) your blog is incredible! Now following back

    Amy xxx

  24. Loved this post - Iv always b so scared to wear a red lip but not any more x