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It’s the little black dress of the makeup world, the little day to night switch-up we make before heading out or sometimes just that thing we turn to when we want a pick-me-up; red lipstick truly is a failsafe. Here is our easy guide to help find the perfect red lipstick for every skin tone - whether you're fair, olive, blue-toned, yellow-toned or just know that you're 'warm' t oned - complete with the shades and formulas we love the most.
If you’re FAIR
Alabaster skins – think Emma Stone or Nicole Kidman - are perfect candidates for those classic pillar-box red lips. Look for reds with a hint of blue in them – they make paler skins look more alive and counteract any underlying redness – or cranberry hues and rich wine reds. Easy to wear and as glam as they come.
POW_ER TIP: Don’t want to go full throttle? Use your finger to pat on lipstick – it gives a blurred hint of colour without being too in-your-face.
MAC Ruby Woo, £16.50 – There isn’t one person in the whole world who has tried MAC’s Ruby Woo and not liked it. It’s a matte, blue-based red that stays put through all manner of activities. And it’s not just for the fair-skinned; it suits most skin tones.
Lipstick Queen Medieval Lipstick, £22 – Sometimes you don’t want a whole lot of colour on lips and for that there’s this sheer Lipstick Queen lipstick. It’s like a stain that gives that natural ‘once-bitten’ look to lips.
Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in 172 Rouge Rebelle, £28 – 'Chanel lipstick isn't for me' said NO ONE EVER. This one is ultra-moisturising thanks to the sweet almond oil – it’s a balmy dream that still gives good colour.
If you’re OLIVE or MEDIUM
Like Beyonce and Eva Mendes, you’re lucky because it’s easy for you to find a red lipstick that works; this is a beauty world that is most definitely your oyster. Look for vivid, orange-based colours and brick-toned reds to brighten up and impart a healthy luster to skin. Keen on a more rock ‘n’ roll vibe? Try a deep burgundy.
POW_ER TIP: Darker colours often look best – more powerful even - when applied with precision. Truth be told, it can be difficult, but find a sharp lip pencil in a colour that matches your lipstick and follow the very outer line of your lips. You might just find they look fuller, too.
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil – Red Square, £20 – You won’t find an easier way to apply lipstick than with Nars’ lip pencils – they make applying feel like drawing. From the richest of pigments (which give a bolt of colour) to the soft feel on lips, not to mention how long they stay on, they really are the ultimate easy-to-wear lipsticks.
Urban Decay Vice Liquid Lipstick – Crimson, £15.50 – Another easy-to-apply, Urban Decay’s liquid lipstick goes on like a gloss and dries to a lipstick. It’s so waterproof that it requires an oil-based cleanser to budge it. In our books, that’s pretty much the dream.
Topshop Lips in Shazam, £8 – This tomato orange lipstick is one of the most fun around and, luckily, it’s super affordable too. Apply a couple of coats for a bold statement lip and dab some onto cheeks for a pretty flush.
If you’re DARK
From candy-cane red to rich plums and oxbloods, dark skins – like Naomi Campbell and Lupita Nyong’o - can pull off most reds. Go for a matte finish if you’re wearing a lighter red – it’ll look punchy and impactful against your skin – or try a metallic for added sparkle.
Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte by Kate Moss in 111, £5.49 – A ruby red that comes in such a beautiful velvety formula that it’s hard not to love. And anything that gets us even remotely in Kate Moss territory is a winner.
Bobbi Brown Semi Matte Lip Color in Red, £23 – One of Bobbi Brown’s bestsellers, this lipstick isn’t too matte and isn’t too glossy – it sits in between. Perfect for adding that little bit of sheen to lips and feels so good you won’t find it hard to wear all day.
Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Fireball Matte, £17.50 – These are called Be Legendary lipsticks for good reason – this specific colour isn’t for the faint-hearted but it will stop traffic, men, friends, family - and even animals - in their tracks.
And if this didn't help, why not try a quick quiz to find your perfect red lipstick?