The Definitive Guide to Finding the Perfect Red Lipstick for You

The red lipstick – bold, chic, the simplest way to elevate your look and make a style statement. Makeup trends come and go, but the scarlet lip will never go out of fashion. 

While it is said that red lipstick is universally flattering, it is still important to find the right shade, tone, texture, and formulation of red for you. 

The problem is finding the right shade of red lipstick can be tricky. If you end up with the wrong hue, your look can appear either washed out or too strong for your purpose.

Another issue you may discover is how the lipstick can fail to pop the way you want it to – like you didn’t think too much about it. So it ends up having no real impact on the final outcome.

Needless to say, you need to be meticulous in choosing the perfect red lipstick for you. For this, we have tried and true tips.

The Guide to Choosing the Right Shades of Red Lipstick

1. Find out what your skin undertone is.

Lip colors, be they sheer or opaque, always have either a cool or warm undertone. These cool or warm pigments are what make lipstick colors compatible with your own skin tone.

To find out what your skin undertone is to determine the right shade of lipstick for you, here are our best tips:

  • Examine the color of your veins.

What is the color of the veins on your wrists and hands?

If they are generally blue, you have cool undertones.

If they are greenish, you have warm undertones.

If you have both, then you are considered a “neutral.” This means you can wear both cool and warm shades of lipstick.

  • Perform the white paper test.

Get a plain white bond paper and place it on the side of your neck.

If the paper makes your skin look pinkish, you have a cool undertone. If it makes your skin look yellowish, you are warm-toned.

Get both silver and gold pieces of jewelry and hold them against your skin to see which makes you look healthy and radiant. If it’s silver, you are cool-toned. If it’s gold, you have a warm undertone.

2. Apply some swatches on the inner part of your arm.

If you attend a self-makeup class, this is one of the strategies shared in determining what color pigments work for your skin tone, which, by the way, can change through the seasons. The inner part of your arm shows your truest skin color even if you have tanned.

Swipe the shades of lipstick you are considering on this part and stand under natural light. This will reveal the shades that can make your skin look great.


3. Wear your truest match foundation when you sample lipsticks if you are a regular foundation wearer.

Try lippies on your lips – that’s where they go anyway. But when you do, wear your favorite foundation.

Why is this important, you may ask?

You need to see how your foundation oxidizes through the hours and changes the overall appearance of your skin.

How your foundation becomes darker or orangey due to oxidation can change the look of certain lip colors, says a top editorial makeup artist.


If you want your lip color to pop, it ceases to be just about whether it is a warm or cool hue. It is becoming more about how it completes the look you want.

So, apply your foundation right to make sure it stays true to its shade for the rest of the day. Follow the foundation application procedure below:

  • Moisturize your skin before foundation application.

It does not matter if you have dry, dry-combination skin, or oily skin – you still need to moisturize.

  • After moisturizing, apply a primer.

The primer will give your skin some radiance even after foundation. This is even more important when you will be using red lipstick that gives off a well-hydrated look. Good primers also stop the foundation from oxidizing and changing color throughout the day.

  • Apply loose powder.

Get rid of the excess shine of the products you use. Doing this will also make a smaller amount of foundation provide better coverage.

  • Apply foundation in small amounts from the center of the face going out.

Do not rush through this step to ensure an even finish and prevent caking.

  • Brush a thin layer of finishing powder.

  Sweep finishing or setting powder on your T-zone if you have oily skin. But if you have dry skin, do without the finishing powder.

And voila! You get your perfect skin color to help you determine the right lipstick shades for the look you want.

4. Apply a lip color base.


Use a concealer or a full-coverage foundation on the lips if you want to see the red lipstick’s true color on your puckers. Red lipsticks can go from sheer to heavily pigmented.

Making your lips the color of your skin will allow lipsticks to maintain their original hue.

5. Go a bit heavy on the application of your red lipstick.

This should provide the best color payoff. You will be able to determine if you can achieve the same lipstick color from the bullet (or any other form your red lipstick comes in) on your own lips.

6. Pay attention to texture.

Red lipsticks are not formulated in the same way.

When sampling red lipsticks at a store, smack your lips together and get a feel of the product you like for a few hours before making a decision.

There are red lipsticks that give great color payoff and feel moisturizing but they do not wear down beautifully. Some are known to become patchy over time, which is not something pretty to see.

Choose a red lipstick that feels divine and looks good for longer.

7. Combine colors.

Do not be afraid to mix different lipstick colors to achieve your personal perfect shade.

Experiment, experiment, and experiment until you get to your “eureka” moment, and remember the formula to easily recreate the shade in the future.

Find the best lipstick for you

The red lipstick makeup trend is expected to last a long time as makeup that brightens up your face is what most makeup lovers want.

If you are all about this look, it is important to take the time to learn what the most beautiful shades for you are. You should also learn to master the best formulation for you so your lips do not only look great; they feel great, too.


Toni Malt is the Middle East’s leading international editorial makeup artist and the woman behind the highly anticipated Toni Malt Makeup Academy in the heart of Dubai, now training the next generation of key makeup artists. From minimalistic looks to freestyle artistic creations, Toni’s creative work has been published in top international fashion magazines around the world including VOGUE, ELLE, L’Officiel, Marie Claire, Harper’s BAZAAR, Grazia and Cosmopolitan.