Love a red lip but don’t know where to start? Use this foolproof guide to find your perfect shade and rock it all year-round.
Gigi Hadid wearing a blue-red shade of lipstick.
“A bright red lip symbolizes that you’re here, you’re willing to be seen, and you’re ready to participate,” says Poppy King, founder of the It Girl cult favorite lipstick brand Lipstick Queen. “It’s very Rosie the Riveter.”
Although a bold red lip is simultaneously powerful and intimidating, shopping for a red lipstick can inspire fear and trepidation in even the most seasoned beauty consumer.
“I think when shopping for a red lipstick, you first have to decide a few things,” says MAC Cosmetics Senior Artist Keri Blair. “Are you trying to make a statement? Or do you want it to be harmonious to your face? It’s important to remember that in this day and age, you can really try anything you want; there are ways to manipulate color to control the outcome, even if you think you’ve selected the wrong color choice.”
A general rule of thumb, according to NARS Lead International Makeup Stylist, Uzo, is that orange-red lip shades look best on medium to deep skin tones while blue-red lip shades look great on fair skin tones. “But there are other things to consider: hair color, the clothes you wear, and whether the red lip shade is for day or night, at the office or for a party,” she says.
Emma Stone wearing an orange-red shade of lipstick.
To find your perfect match, don’t be afraid to put a little work in. In the quest to find your true red shade, trial and error is essential. “To test, swipe the lip colors on your hand and compare. Looking at shades side-by-side makes it easier to see the base colors,” says Bobbi Brown’s editorial makeup artist Cassandra Garcia. “Wearing red is all about confidence—if you’re feeling bold, try a highly pigmented formula. If you’re new and feeling a bit shy, first consider trying a red sheer gloss and work your way to a bold red,” she suggests.
The final decision is the type of finish—matte, glossy, or somewhere in between—which is the easiest element of the search. “All finishes are in style right now and have been for the past few seasons,” says Uzo. “It’s so refreshing and gives everyone options.”
“It’s very important to remember that red lipstick is not a tattoo. It comes right off,” says King. “Don’t be scared to be bold.”