If you’re like us, you’ve longed for that classic red lip à la Taylor Swift for quite some time now. But if you’re also like us, you’ve tried on about a million different shades only to ultimately decide none of them are “your color.” Now that can pose a bit of a challenge as it’s been etched into our brains that red lips work on everyone. But after doing some research—ahem, testing so many swatches of lipstick we ran out of hand space—we decided to chat with two makeup artist to get to the bottom of this. What we learned is that red lipstick does, in fact, work with everyone—with one caveat: Like all makeup, you have to take into consideration your coloring and skin tone. Thankfully, our makeup artists spilled their tips for finding the best red lipstick for skin tone, so we can take the guess work out of lipstick hunting. No more swatching required.
For fair or rosy skin
According to makeup artist Linda Hay (who’s worked with Heidi Klum, Selena Gomez, and Meagan Fox) coral and blueish-pink-based reds complement the pink undertones of a fair complexion. “They’re fresh and bright when mixed with fair skin.” Try editor-favorite Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in 1975 Red ($32, charlottetilbury.com) for a bold red with a touch of coral undertones.
For olive skin
Think that ’90s brown lipstick is too hard to pull off? If you’ve got olive skin, it’s actually you’re best friend. “Play around here with browner and brick reds to complement olive shades,” explains Hay. “The brick reds wash out lighter skin tones and tend to get lost on darker skin tones.” But on those will olive skin, they’re just right! Try Ciaté London Liquid Velvet Moisturizing Matte Liquid Lipstick in Voodoo ($19, sephora.com) for a black cherry splash of color.
For skin with yellow undertones
Have yellow undertones? You’re in luck. “Yellow skin tones can wear a lot of different types of colors,” says Blushington Lead Makeup Artist & Trainer, Rocio Matos. “From orange-y reds to dark deep blackberry shades, the skin will always look healthy and glowing.” Try SheaMoisture Shea Butter Luscious Lipstick in Coral ($10, ulta.com) for a bright (and hydrating) red pout.
For tan or bronzed skin
Another skin tone that can rock just about anything and everything is none other than bronzed skin. “I find bronzed skin can play with a wider variety of reds,” says Hay. “True reds, brick, a touch of orange, berry shades all can work. Check [out] Beyoncé. This skin tone creates a neutralizing backdrop for a variety of hues!” Consider us jealous. For a true red (and it’s nude pairing!), try Wander Beauty Wanderout Dual Lipsticks in GNO ($30, sephora.com).
For darker skin
Although your first inclination might be to reach for the boldest cherry red, those with darker skin tones would do well to choose a color with a hint of brown, says Matos. Additionally, Hay adds darker skin tones also pair well with burgundy reds or deep maroon reds. And in case you’re looking for a little bit of a pop, orange-reds are your friend. “Bright tangerine colors also look great to make a statement,” says Matos. Try Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Sour Cherry ($26, sephora.com) for a darker take on the cherry red lip that will work wonders on darker skin tones.
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