Red Lipstick: How to Find Your Shade


Summer 2024

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The power of red is undeniable — it’s bold, empowering, and seductive. Versatile enough to be worn any time of the day, red lipstick is a timeless investment in your beauty kit. The dilemma, however, lies in finding the right shade that suits your skin tone.

Scarlet, merlot, or cherry? Before buying just about any red lipstick that catches your eye, determine your skin’s undertone to find out what shade of red would complement your colouring. Simply look on the underside of your arm to check the colour of your veins. If your veins are bluish or purplish in colour, you have a cool undertone. If your veins appear greenish, you have a warm undertone. If it’s a mix of both, you have a neutral undertone.

Another test to determine the correct shade of red for your complexion is to hold up silver and gold jewellery in front of the mirror. If silver jewellery goes well with your skin tone, you have a cool undertone, and if gold looks better on you, you have a warm undertone. If you can’t decide or if both look equally appealing, your skin has a neutral undertone.

Now that you have identified your undertone, the next step is finding the perfect red lipstick. Since red is a primary colour, it cannot be created by mixing other colours together — instead, different colours are added to produce a cooler or warmer red. Adding blue-purple tones gives it a cool reddish tint while adding orange-yellow tones gives it a warmer reddish hue.

If you are shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, do a swatch test by applying the lip shade to your inner arm to see how it would look on your skin tone. If you are shopping online, read through customer reviews and utilize AI tools like a virtual try-on to check what the colour would look like on you.

A flawless red lipstick is non-feathering, fade-proof, and lasts at least eight hours. Don’t limit yourself to one shade of red — be adventurous with the process and find your own palette of reds that are ideal for your complexion.

Ahead, Elixuer breaks down which shade of red will best suit you, according to your skin’s undertone.

If You Have Cool Undertones

Cool reds with underlying hints of blue and purple will work wonders on you. Look for shades of raspberry, cranberry, burgundy, plum, mahogany, garnet, and merlot to fill up your lipstick cabinet. 

Pro tip: A must-have in your beauty kit is a lip pencil with a blue base that can be worn as-is for a long-lasting daywear look or layered with a satin finish for a sophisticated evening vibe.
Lipsticks to Try:
M.A.C – Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
Laura Mercier – Longwear Lip Liner in Passion Plum
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna – Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Deep Burgundy

If You Have Warm Undertones

Warm reds with orange and yellow tints will suit you best. Think in terms of scarlet, terracotta, tomato, brick, maroon, poppy, and coral hues when looking for your ultimate go-to red lipstick.

Pro tip: Choose matte or glossy to create a stunning day-to-night look and finish off your pout with a smear-proof liquid lip liner in a matching colour.

Lipsticks to Try:
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez – Lip Soufflé Matte Cream Lipstick in Bright Coral
Cheekbone Beauty – Sustain Liquid Lipstick in Shannen
Rimmel London – Lasting Finish Lipstick in 170 Alarm

If You Have Neutral Undertones

All shades of red work in your favour. Apart from wearing cool and warm reds listed above, light hues like beige red, nude cherry, salmon, candy blush, and pale rose make great choices for you. 

Pro tip: Take your pick from sheer balms and nourishing oil tints for day events, or creamy and glittery lip coats to create a confidence-boosting makeup look for evening events.

Lipsticks to Try:
Nudestix – Lip Glace – Lip Plumper Gloss in Nude Cherry 00
Charlotte Tilbury – K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in So Red

Evio Beauty – Lip-Spo Gloss in Lise 

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Wear Red Lipstick for All Skin Tones

Nailing a red lip with aplomb requires patience — you want to ensure the colour lasts and doesn’t smudge or stain your teeth. Follow these steps to perfect your signature red lip:

1. Prep your lips with a moisturizing balm

2. Exfoliate with a scrub to remove any dead skin

3. Use blotting paper to take off excess lip balm

4. Use a lip brush to apply lipstick

5. Use a lip liner to define the edges

6. Use tissue paper to remove excess lipstick

7. Dust a loose translucent powder on your lips

7. Reapply a light layer of lipstick

8. Trace the lip’s outer edges with a concealer to erase smudges

Key Takeaways on Finding the Right Red

Each shade of red lipstick gives off a sense of unbridled passion, and it will effortlessly elevate your outfit. The reason for wearing red lipstick with the same undertones as your skin is to ensure an understated makeup look that blends in rather than contrasts. If you are looking to create a dramatic statement, switch up the undertones and go for the opposite tone to your skin for an audacious makeup look bound to turn heads. 

Shweta Gandhi | Contributor writer

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