How to Pick the Best Red Lipstick For Your Skin Tone

Rachel Adler

Photo: Karin Kohlberg

Red lips are here to stay. We’ve seen them everywhere from the runways, to the red carpet, to the bars we frequent and finally, to our places of work. Trust us ladies, they’ll be sticking around. If you haven’t figured out what shade of red works best on your skin tone or whether to opt for matte or gloss, it’s about time to do a little bit of experimenting.

We called in Pamela Taylor, makeup artist and founder of the Pamela Taylor Makeup Academy and Studio, to help us choose the right ruby red for our lips.

StyleCaster: The bold red lip is everywhere right now. How do we choose the right shade for our skin tone?

Pamela Taylor: Selecting the perfect red for a model or client is one of my favorite tasks as a makeup artist! The right red can look amazing, while the wrong red can be a disaster!

In general, selecting the right shade of red depends on several factors. Most importantly, consider the depth of your skin tone from pale alabaster to the deepest of ebony you must select a color that enhances the look you are seeking. Brighter reds will pop as deeper, richer reds will evoke a more classic look.

For undertones from golden to olive, I tend to select an opposing shade range on the color wheel. For example, the opposite of green is red, therefore, I tend to go for a cooler, think cherries jubilee red. For cooler skin tones (i.e. more blue or ruddiness is present in the skin), a warmer tomato-ish red would be the best choice.

Here are a few of our favorite lady in reds:

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L to R: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte, $34; NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, $24; CoverGirl Continous Color Lipstick in Really Red, $5.49

SC: Bright colors are a huge trend for spring. What colors do you think will be most popular, and which look best on most people?

PT: The fashion trend for color this season is abundant, with tangerine-coral based shades as well as berry-inspired shades. The important task when choosing these brighter/pop colors is texture. The texture of the product is very important! For example, cheek and lip stains that are sheer are perfect for most faces. Buyer beware when selecting powdery, pearlized blushers and/or heavy, frosted glosses both of which are not good for acne-prone areas nor features prone to wrinkles.

Pamela Taylor is an internationally recognized authority of print and fashion makeup based in New York City. Taylor is a published author and cosmetic industry consultant. For more information visit