The Best Red Lipstick for Your Skin Tone

By Ellie Child - 2 years ago | Updated
red lipstick on three models

Ah yes, the humble red lipstick: a beauty essential for millions everywhere. This must-have item has made quite an impact over the years, gracing the famous pouts of Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe and Angelina Jolie. A bold red lip can dress up any outfit, making it a staple handbag item.

But how do some women pull it off so damn well? (Taylor Swift, we’re looking at you.) Well, it actually comes down to your skin tone and undertones. This may sound like a load of unnecessary beauty spiel, but knowing your warm tones from your cool can seriously help you with finding the perfect shade.

To make it a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular and flattering lipsticks for each skin tone, meaning you can rock a picture-perfect pout all year round. For a longer-lasting finish, we recommend investing in a liquid lipstick or prepping your pout with a lip liner to enhance your look.

Best Red Lipstick for Fair Skin with Cool Undertones:

A strong red lip can look iconic on fair-haired beauties – just refer to any picture of Marilyn Monroe. However, it's important to opt for a lipstick that has cooler undertones. Pale skin types with cool undertones suit berry tones or cool reds. Always look out for blue-based reds to avoid looking washed out or clown-like.

Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate Moss Lipstick

Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate Moss Lipstick

This Rimmel berry-hued lipstick is perfect for a more classic, vampy look. Its cool undertones allow for an iconic finish that doesn’t wash you out. The key here is to avoid orangey hues – something that this lipstick banishes the likes of.

Best Red Lipstick for Fair Skin with Warm Undertones:

Play on your naturally warm skin tone by investing in a red lipstick that mirrors its yellow undertones. We suggest opting for red-orange hues to compliment your natural glow and to keep things looking warm. We also recommend kitting yourself out with a lip palette or lip kit to get the full experience!

MAC Lipstick Matte VIVA GLAM I

MAC Lipstick Matte VIVA GLAM I

This lipstick's bold ‘n’ bright appearance may look a little daunting, but trust us, the results are worth it. This warm red hue will light up your smile with lashings of pigment while keeping your lips nourished throughout the entirety of its wear. Looking for even more hydration? Check out our lip care section to discover a selection of restorative balms and treatments.

Best Red Lipstick For Medium Skin with Cool Undertones:

If you have more of a medium-cool skin tone then you’re in luck – your lipstick choice is pretty versatile. You’ll still want to opt for a blue-toned red lippy to complement your cool undertones but overall, anything goes. The world is your oyster!

bareMinerals BAREPRO Longwear Lipstick - Cherry

bareMinerals BAREPRO Longwear Lipstick

Lather up your lips in this lasting cool lip colour from bareMinerals. Its anti-smudge formula gets you through the day in style and boasts a super-easy application. This is sure to be your next handbag essential!

Best Red Lipstick for Medium with Warm Undertones:

As with fair-warm skin tones, you’re going to want to hunt out an orangey-red lipstick – but maybe choose a slightly darker tone to ensure that you don't end up looking washed out. The aim is to play on the warmth in your skin and emphasise it. Luckily for you, there is a huge amount of orange-hued red lippies on the market, making your job 10x easier.

Burt's Bees Lipstick - Sunset Cruise #523

Burt's Bees Lipstick

The Burt's Bees Lipstick in shade Sunset Cruise is a pigmented, warm red that both illuminates and defines your smile. Its lavish hue coats lips in a drenching high-coverage pigment that sculpts lips with a mattified texture. Pair this warm hue with a classic cat-eye to nail that vintage glam look.

Best Red Lipstick for Dark Skin with Cool Undertones:

Just like medium skin tones, dark and deep hues get to play with a little more variety when it comes to their choice in red lipstick. Dark skin has the ability to handle more intense tones which means you get to experiment with beautiful berry-inspired hues. For cooler undertones, we suggest a dark berry red paired with a darker pencil to line and define.

Sleek MakeUP True Colour Lipstick - Dare

Sleek MakeUP True Colour Lipstick

Containing with antioxidant vitamin E, the Sleek MakeUP True Colour Lipstick is the perfect red for cool-toned beauties. Its rich pigment glides effortlessly on for a full-coverage finish that enhances your pout with a seductive red.

Best Red Lipstick for Dark Skin with Warm Undertones:

Inika Vegan Lipstick - Auburn Ambition

Inika Vegan Lipstick

A deep wine red is the perfect accompaniment for warmer dark skin tones as it boasts a sultry finish that completes any outfit. The Inika Vegan Lipstick in Auburn Ambition is the dreamiest dark-toned red. Its lustrous texture acts as a balm to deeply hydrate lips whilst providing pure, intensified colour.

Best Red Lipstick for All Skin Tones:

MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour - Feels So Grand

MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour

If you’re looking for an all-rounder red lipstick that suits all skin tones then there is one cult-favourite that makeup artists swear by: the Mac Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour in shade Feels So Grand. Several celebrity makeup artists have dubbed this shade as their favourite red lippy colour for all skin tones. This is because Mac has hit the nail on the head with the balance between a warm red with cool undertones, making it a universal must-have shade.

Edtior's pick:

We've rounded up our all-time favourite red lippies that have passed countless kiss-proof tests while keeping our pouts nourished!

Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips 2.0 - Patsy Red

Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips 2.0

When people think of Charlotte Tilbury, they immediately think of her iconic nude-pink Pillow Talk lipstick.

However, for the nights where you feel like being a little more daring, we suggest opting for one of her royal ruby red lippies. Our favourite is the Hot Lips 2.0 in shade 'Patsy Red', as it delivers the same punch of pigment and lip-enhancing nourishment as her renowned Pillow Talk lipstick, all with a truly eye-catching red finish.

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Oil In Stick Lip Colour - 04-Danger

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Oil In Stick Lip Colour

Teaming together unparalleled pigment with a lustrous shine, the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Oil In Stick Lip Colour is your fast-track pass to a plumper pout. The formula glides effortlessly on, delivering an enviable shine with its oil-infused formula. It's our favourite way to lock down moisture without compromising our lip colour!

bareMinerals Mineralist Hydra Smoothing Lipstick - Perception

bareMinerals Mineralist Hydra Smoothing Lipstick

This elegant wine-red shade is perfect for your next special date night. Its creamy formula cushions and comforts the lips for a non-drying feel, while its smudge-proof formula keeps the pigment in place to ensure that none of those awkward 'you've got something on your teeth' moments happen.

Sigma Beauty Infinity Point Lipstick - Ecstasy

Sigma Beauty Infinity Point Lipstick

Adored for its long-lasting formula, this elegant red lipstick from Sigma Beauty serves as the perfect finishing touch to your evening look. Take your style from desk to disco in a flash by swiping on this lavish colour and relish in its beautiful matte finish.


Dress up any outfit with a strong red lip and feel your confidence sky-rocket - and don't forget to look at our guide to lipstick for more tips!

If you're really feeling the colour red, check out our ultimate guide on How to Nail Red Eyeshadow Looks Like a Boss.

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Ellie Child

Written by Ellie Child

With five years’ experience under her belt, Ellie has worked alongside a range of highly regarded makeup artists, giving her a real insight into what consumers should be spending their money on.

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