The Best Red Lipstick For Your Skintone

All three models – neutral skintones, wearing Red Apple Red (blue based red lipstick)

Can I pull off red lipstick??

Let me first address the question I hear all the time. Yes, you can pull off red lipstick! I’m going to guide you to the best red lipstick for your skintone.  

What’s most important, though, is how you feel in that shade. Nothing makes me feel more confident than red lipstick – and that is red lipstick’s primary goal in life…to make you feel amazing! 

So, the following are just a set of guidelines – if you find a shade that makes you feel amazing and it’s not on this list or in your “Shade range” – ROCK IT OUT and don’t worry about the rest! 

How do I pick a red lipstick?

First, you need to know what base is most flattering to your skin tone. These are the basics.  

Red lipsticks are broken down into three main categories:

  • Blue-Based Red Lipsticks (looks best on cool skin tones and lighter skin, can also appear pink or purple)
  • Orange-Based Red Lipsticks (looks best on warm skin tones, can also appear yellow)
  • Brown-based Red Lipsticks (looks best on warm skin tones and medium to darker skin)
Next, you need to know if you have cool, warm, or neutral undertones
This is tricky because so many people aren’t one or the other – we all have a little warmth to our skin, so this is not cut and dry. I’m going to break it down as simply as I can.
 

Answer all of the following questions:

  1. Do you look better in gold or silver jewelry?
  • Gold jewelry – go for orange-based or brown-based red lipsticks (you’ve got warm tones)
  • Silver jewelry – go for blue-based red lipsticks (you’ve got cool tones)
  • Both gold & silver – you can use blue-based red lipsticks, orange-based reds and brown-based reds (you are neutral)

2. Does red lipstick tend to “turn pink” on you? 

  • “Yes! And I hate that” – you will want to steer clear of blue-based red lipsticks which have lots of pink undertones and aim for orange-based and brown-based red lipsticks – you have warmer skin.
  • “Yes! And it doesn’t bother me” – great, then stick with the blue-based red lipsticks but try some orange-based reds also to see how they flatter you in different outfits – you have neutral skin.
  • “Nope.” – Keep wearing blue-based red lipsticks and experiment with going deeper/bolder or lighter and brighter to mix it up – you have cooler skin.
3. Does red lipstick “turn orange” on you? 

  • “Yes ugh!” – stick with blue-based red lipsticks, since you have cool tones in your skin an orange or brown-based lipstick is going to look sallow
  • “Yes, and I like it!” – cool, stick with orange-based lipsticks, but also try some blue-based reds to see if they make your teeth appear whiter! You probably have a neutral skin tone.
  • “Nope.” – keep wearing orange-based red lipsticks and experiment with some brown-based reds to get a sultry and warm look, you probably have lots of warmth in your skin.  

Let’s Compare Lipstick Bases

Blue Based Red Lipsticks

Orange Based Red Lipsticks

Brown Based Red Lipsticks

Red Apple Red

Blue-based red lipstick for cool skin tones and neutral skin tones. Bright and classic, this is best on fair to light skin.

Red Apple Red

Firecracker

Orange-based red lipstick for warm & neutral skin tones. Soft red, perfectly orange balanced, looks amazing on darker gingers.

No GMOs Firecracker lipstick from RAL

Barcelona

Brown-based red lipstick for warm skin tones and neutral skin. Looks especially great on brown skin & olive skin.

Allergen free Red Apple Lipstick Barcelona look

Rebel

Blue-based red lipstick for cool skin tones and neutral skin tones. Deeper red lipstick than bright Red Apple Red above, great on all ranges of cool & neutral skin. The classic, retro blue-based red lipstick.

Nut Free Lipstick Sample of Rebel

Risque

Orange-based red lipstick for warm skin tones and neutral skin. A classic red lipstick that doesn’t turn pink (not as orange as Firecracker above). Great on all ranges of warm & neutral skin

Strawberry Lips

Brown-based red lipstick that is soft and perfect for timid red lipstick wearers with warm or neutral skin. Not as deep and sultry as Barcelona above. This is a great everyday red and shows up best on light to medium skin.

Cruelty Free Strawberry Lips Medium Red Lipstick

Does Skin Color Affect Which Red Lipstick I Wear?

The same undertone rules apply no matter what skin color you have. Let’s run through a few examples. Rule of thumb is Cool skin – Cool lipstick (blue-based).  Warm skin – Warm lipstick (orange or brown-based).  Neutral skin – Cool and Warm lipsticks (blue, orange and/or brown based).

  • Deep brown skin w/ cool undertones = blue-based red lipstick (Rebel or Red Apple Red)
  • Deep brown skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Risque or Barcelona)
  • Olive skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Firecracker, Risque, Barcelona or Strawberry Lips)
  • Medium skin w/cool undertones = blue-based red lipsticks (Rebel or Red Apple Red)
  • Light or fair skin w/ cool undertones = blue-based red lipsticks (Rebel or Red Apple Red)
  • Light or fair skin w/ warm undertones = orange or brown-based lipstick (Risque or Strawberry Lips)
  • Light or medium skin w/ neutral undertones = Strawberry Lips (for a soft red), Risque (for a bright classic red), Appley Ever After (for a deeper classic, “retro” red)
  • Dark or Deep skin w/ neutral undertones = Risque (for a bright classic red), Rebel (for a deep sultry red)

A note on other shades we notice in our skin like green, yellow, purple, and pink.

  • If you have green or yellow in your skin – you’re warm
  • If you have purple in your skin – you’re cool
  • If you have pink in your skin because of rosacea, you could be cool or warm – but I recommend staying closer to the warm side of red lipsticks not to enhance the redness in your skin. Try Appley Ever After, Risque or Strawberry Lips

What About Shade Ranges of Red Lipstick & Your Skin?

What I’m about to say is not a hard and fast rule – but I’ve found more often than not the following…

  • Light or fair skin people are most flattered by light and bright red lipsticks. Keep in mind that the smaller your lips, the brighter the lipstick should be. Dark lipstick makes small lips look smaller.
  • Deep red lipstick looks best on medium to dark skin. The same rule applies to lip size, though. So, if you have small lips and don’t want them to look smaller, opt for a lighter and brighter red lipstick!
  • People with darker skin can get away with both deep and bright red lipsticks (within the right base undertone range).  Your base lip color is really what determines how that shade is going to “show up.” If your base lip color is dark brown, you will benefit from a lighter red if you want it to “show up” as a classic red.  Whereas if you want a hint of red – a deeper red lipstick would be beautiful.

Red Lipsticks In Order From Lightest & Brightest To Deepest

Blue Based Red Lipsticks For Cool Skintones & Neutral Skintones

Red Apple Red – a light and bright blue-based red lipstick with a slight pink undertone. 

Appley Ever After – (not listed above) is a perfect mid-toned blue-based red, not too bright – not too deep.

Rebel deep & sultry blue-based red lipstick. Try this one if you like the retro red look.

Orange Based Red Lipsticks For Warm Skintones & Neutral Skin

Risque – the best red lipstick for warm skin or neutral skin…or for anyone who doesn’t want red lipstick that “turns pink.” Just enough orange & yellow undertones that it’s classic and bright. Light to medium gingers look great in this shade.

Firecracker – orange-based red lipstick that’s less “classic” than Risque, and more “rusty red.” Every darker “autumn” ginger should own this red. If your closet is packed with gold jewelry, you need it too! This is a super versatile red for warm skin!

Brown Based Red Lipsticks For Warm Skintones & Neutral Skin

Strawberry Lips – a soft brick red, perfect for warm & neutral skin tones to dip your toes into the red lipstick waters. Pair this with Amor Caliente non-sticky lipgloss for a classic but soft look. Gingers with fair skin and light to medium hair look great in this shade. 

Barcelona – a deeper brown-based red lipstick bold enough to make a statement. It can be worn soft enough (one coat) for everyday use. Medium to dark skin (and many darker “autumn” gingers) swear by this shade! It’s deep and moody and beautiful.

Best 3 Tips For Wearing Red Lipstick

  1. Apply It With A Lip brush – this will ensure you get lipstick to your lip line (which makes your lips look full), it will also ensure that you get an even 1st layer worked into your lips (which will make it wear off EVENLY). Both of these are crucial when wearing red lipstick. 
  2. Apply one thin layer at a time – this will slowly build the color, which makes it last longer and lets you customize the exact depth of color you want to wear that day…with that outfit.
  3. Blot, then let it rest/dry – slide a tissue in between your lips, and slowly & lightly roll your lips in and out.  Blotting sets the lipstick in place, then give it at least 5 minutes before you touch anything to your lips. Allowing lipstick to dry and set up gives your bold lips a flawless finish and even wear.
To learn more about these pro lipstick application tips and others for lipstick success, watch my short binge-able series here: https://redapplelipstick-com-staging.pwyqcyqq-liquidwebsites.com/lipstick-basics-101/

I want you to love wearing red lipstick! I want you to pull out your perfect red lipstick on an average day (not just a special occasion) and feel the glow of confidence that comes along with wearing it.

Comment below if you need further red lipstick guidance, or if you have any red lipstick frustrations that I can help solve!

19 thoughts on “The Best Red Lipstick For Your Skintone”

  1. Add Your Picture

    Andrea, for those of us in our late 50s, cool skin tones, do you still recommend a ‘red’ lipstick? I am definitely a cool, light skinned woman, with 1/2 gray and 1/2 (naturally) brown hair. As I have aged, I have veered toward softer lipsticks. You’ve got my interest so I want to hear more about your thoughts on red lipstick for the older ladies…;).

    1. Andrea Harper

      Love this Catherine, thanks for the question. I think ultimately, you should wear what makes you feel confident and beautiful. So while I do say that everyone woman *can* pull off red lipstick, I’m careful not to *should* on anyone! 😉 I won’t tell you, you “should” wear red lipstick if it doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks. Even if I looked at you and said OMG that looks stunning, and you said “meh I don’t like it” then THAT’S what really matters. All that being said…
      I absolutely think a woman in her 50s and up, can wear red lipstick. What I would caution against is wearing a dark deep shade (like Rebel at full intensity). I would pick the lipstick(s) based on the guide above that best suite you – and start with just a little stain on the lips…use a lip brush to apply a thin coat, or use a finger to dab it on like a stain. Then slowly build the intensity and you can even take a picture of yourself at each stage for review (or send it to me for a 2nd opinion) – find which “intensity” level is right for you. Usually, women above 50 benefit from a lighter wash of ANY shade, not just red…however adding color back to the lips especially in the form of pink and red is LOVELY and I believe not only brightens the face but is youthful and playful. However, as soon as it crosses over into “too dark” then it can have the complete opposite effect (lips look small, face looks older than it is). Finding your shade, then your sweet spot within that shade, will nail it for you. And remember, we have a 6 month guarantee, so getting a few shades to try isn’t risky – you can also play with samples if you don’t want to order full size tubes. My suggestion is to try Red Apple Red, Appley Ever After – and Risque if you don’t like Red Lipstick turning pink on you after hours and hours (which with your coloring, wouldn’t bother me). Hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions.

  2. Add Your Picture

    Great info! This time of year I generally switch to Barcelona, however, I am going to give Risqué a spin around the block. This summer was light and breezy Tangomint with my white, blue and coral wardrobe. I love your products!

    1. Andrea Harper

      Ooh love that!! It’s so fun to hear what others enjoy wearing during different seasons!! Would love for you to share pictures on Facebook or Instagram…or even in a review of your favorite shades. It’s so helpful for others to see how these shades look on people besides our models! 🙂 thanks for the comment, you will LOVE Risque!

  3. Add Your Picture

    Hi Andrea,
    Thank You So Much for your article in clarifying the various undertones in your red lipsticks! I’m a Ginge, but NOT the darker haired Ginge, so seeing the differences in the undertones was perfect. Fair-skinned Ginge folk with strawberry-blonde to medium red hair (like me), look best in the Strawberry and Risque. My darker Ginge friend, that can wear Fall clothing colors such as Darker, Olive, Orange, and Gold, look better in the deeper red lip shades, like Firecracker and Barcelona. I hope you can do this each season of the year, so we can get right to work, purchasing the best lip color for our skin tones. 🙂 I hope you are feeling better after the flu. Thanks Again

    1. Andrea Harper

      Sharon! Love this, thank you for adding this comment – it would be amazing (if you haven’t already) to post a picture of yourself with a review to the two lipsticks you mentioned so other fair-skinned “ginge folk” 🙂 could see what they look like on you!!

  4. Add Your Picture

    Please never stop making Appley Ever After! It’s my Grail Red! Other RAL reds look nice on me, but Appley Ever After is “The One”! ? I’ll only have a problem or frustration if it gets discontinued. ?

    1. Andrea Harper

      Me TOO!! It’s definitely my favorite-could-use-it-everyday red – never to be discontinued – promise! It would be amazing if you left a review for that shade and even more awesome if it included a picture of you wearing it so other shoppers can see what it looks like on someone besides our models!! Thanks for your comments and so glad you’ve found “The One”!!

  5. Add Your Picture

    Does Appley Ever After make the lip looking smaller since it is a deeper classic? And Do the reds go with any color of the clothes too?

    1. Andrea Harper

      Hi Stacey, if you applied Appley super dark (like with 3 coats) it has the potential of making your lips smaller, but with just a swipe or two – no. The ones that really make lips look smaller are the deepest ones like Rebel & Barcelona (wine ‘n dandy – which isn’t listed here because it’s more wine colored). I feel like red lipstick can go with so many different colors of clothing but I stick to mainly neutrals (black, brown, white, tan) unless the clothing I’m wearing has red in it. For example, I have a multi-colored shirt with feathers all over it in shades like blue, yellow, green, and RED! So, I use Appley Ever After when wearing that shirt because it complements the red perfectly. Red clothing is trickier – but as long as you stay in the same undertone of red (if you want to match) you should be good…then you can add coats to darken the red to match the clothing. Here’s an article about coordinating your lipstick with your clothing.https://redapplelipstick-com-staging.pwyqcyqq-liquidwebsites.com/2019/10/what-color-lipstick-should-i-wear/ Using red to highlight something red in your outfit (even if just a scarf or purse) can be super chic!

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