20 Best Red Lipsticks for Fair, Medium and Dark Skin Tones
We’ve looked across different stores, and at different brands, to find all the best red lipsticks on the market for women with fair, medium and dark skin tones! After all, there isn’t just one perfect red. Every woman has that one shade of red that is perfect for her – and might look awful on the unfortunate friend, who tries to borrow it.
The key to choosing the best red lipstick for you is to identify your skin’s undertone, as well as keep in mind how dark your skin is. After all, a red lipstick that might look beautiful and rich on someone with an olive complexion might be too dark and gothy on someone with pale, cool-toned skin.
So from light to dark, and for all undertones, here are the best red lipsticks for that sexy look you crave!
Best Red Lipsticks for Fair Skin Tones
When you have fair skin, nothing is easier than throwing on a red lipstick and calling it a day. Like magic, a great red lipstick will transform your look from dull to fabulous. For fair skin, the best red lipsticks would brighten your skin tone, and really call attention to your gorgeous lips.
It’s safer to stay away from dark maroon-reds, since they may end up registering as gothy. For pale chicks with cool undertones, it’s generally better to stick to blue-pink based red lipsticks.
However, if your skin leans toward neutral or warm, you can also get away with some fiery orange-reds! The key is not to overdo the rest of your makeup, because those reds really stand out.
#1: Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Carina’s Love
Available at Charlotte Tilbury, this gorgeous blue-red is the perfect color for any pale complexion with cool undertones. It’s not too dark to overwhelm, but it’s just dark enough for a bit of that danger that a great red lipstick inspires.
This red lipstick has a semi-matte finish, with 3D glowing pigments that give a luminous sheen. A blend of natural oils and extracts will keep your lips soft and smooth, throughout the day – and we guarantee it’ll last that long. For a classic look, pair it with a winged black eyeliner.
#2: MAC Ruby Woo
Is it a cliché to have a classic? You’ve likely already heard of the MAC Ruby Woo red lipstick, but it is undeniably one of the best red lipsticks ever made. It’s another one for the cool-toned ladies, because it’s got just a bit of blue-pink and a whole lot of glam.
No surprise, seeing it as a favorite of burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese.
Available at Nordstrom, this is the kind of lipstick you should let take center stage, so keep the rest of your makeup light with a bit of rosy blush, and brown eyeliner.
#3: Tom Ford Lip Color Matte Ruby Rush
Want ruby lips, ready to be kissed? This lipstick is a bright, perfect red shade that will grab everyone’s attention. It’s neutral enough, so could be worn by a lady with both warm and cool skin undertones.
Retailing at Nordstrom, it has a velvety sheen, and wouldn’t be out of place at any bar this summer. Because it’s not too dark, you could actually play up the eyes while wearing it – if you dare. For a night on the town, try wearing it with a smokey eye!
#4: Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Rouge Charnel 56
This apple red lipstick gleams on the lips, with a hint of pink that complements alabaster skin so beautifully. A matte finish that is somehow still moisturizing keeps you looking classy and elegant. Buy one for you at Chanel!
#5: Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Lipstick Impassioned
Available at Nordstrom, Impassioned is an orangey-red that we’ll be the first to admit: it’s hard to pull off. But if you have the perfect combination of sandy-pale skin and bright white teeth, then boy does this lipstick make a statement! It’s creamy and long lasting, with a one-sweep coverage, and a soft shine. You can play this one safe with matte eye look, or be daring with a jewel-toned eye.
#6: Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick Santa Sangre
This red lipstick could have been bright and in your face, but because of a matte finish it actually ends ups registering as much more sophisticated. Available at Sephora, it’s perfect for any lady with fair skin, and golden undertones.
Ask any Kat Von D devotee, and they will rave about the incredible staying power of the Everlasting Liquid Lipstick range, and the fact that thanks to Vitamin E and sunflower seed wax it leaves their lips feeling soft and hydrated by the end of the day. It’s an attention grabbing apple-red, with a warm undertone that’d be perfectly paired with a peachy blush and a soft, natural eye.
#7: YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain Rouge Laque
Nothing beats YSL’s classy packaging and high-quality products. Available at Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, this lip-stain is one of the few high-gloss red lipsticks on this list, and for a great reason! It lasts ages and has a buildable color opacity, and if you don’t like the shine? Well, just blot it. Rouge Laque is a red that leans toward orange, so it’s more suited for those whose fair skin leans toward neutral-warm.
Best Red Lipsticks for Medium Skin Tones
Medium skin tones can get away with a lot – both darker and brighter red lipsticks look great. Because red lipsticks rarely run the risk of overwhelming your face, you can still have fun with your blush, contour, and eye makeup even while wearing a loud red lip.
Cool medium skin tones are fairly rare, and should definitely stick to blue-based red lipsticks. However, while most people with medium complexions tend to lean towards a warm undertone, that doesn’t mean they have to stay away from cool toned red lipsticks.
Unless your skin leans very heavily towards yellow or olive, you can get away with almost anything! The best red lipsticks for medium skin tones are as diverse as the women that have medium skin! Wear a true red for a sexy evening look, burgundy red for a sophisticated look, or a bright orange-red for a fun day out.
#8: MAC Russian Red Lipstick
How can I make a list of the best red lipsticks without including MAC Russian Red? While this color is almost universally flattering, those with medium-cool skin benefit the most from it. The slight blue undertone, and sexy medium-dark hue make it the perfect match for any nighttime event. Pair it with a soft brown smokey eye for a truly seductive look. Get one from Selfridges!
#9: Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro The Red
This red really pops! It’s an almost perfect neutral, with just a hint of a cool undertone that would flatter just about anyone. The finish is a creamy velvet, and the color is so bold and bright that adding any gloss on top would be a crime. This lipstick begs for a winged liner look, so practice your stroke! Buy it at Giorgio Armani Beauty!
#10: Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon Napa Vineyard
I was surprised by the amazing reviews that Napa Vineyard gets, since Burt’s Bees is not especially known for their lipsticks. However, this gorgeous dark red is one of the best red lipsticks around!
Available at Ulta, this lip crayon is filled with shea butter, kendi oil, and jojoba oil, so it’ll hydrate your lips while imparting them with a beautiful rich color. The finish is matte, but not overly so, and the staying power is great.
Its undertone is neutral, leaning towards cool, which actually complements warm skin undertones instead of clashing.
#11: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Fiery
True to their word, Stila makes lipsticks that do not budge. Fiery is a deep, warm red that will bring out all the best in your warm skin tone. It is just bright enough to stand out, and you could easily up the glamour with a swipe of clear lip-gloss.
For everyday wear, just wear it alone and enjoy a matte finish. Try wearing it with a stronger contour and a sweep of gold shadow across the lids, for a mesmerizing look. Get one for you from Sephora!
#12: Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Bond
Available at Macy’s, this is the kind of muted red that is really versatile when you have medium-toned skin. It feels super light on the lips, has a moisturizing, rejuvenating formula, and you won’t have to reapply it for at least 5 hours. Because it’s quite neutral you could wear it with almost any eye look – even a colorful shadow!
#13: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar NSFW
A few years back OCC Lip Tars were all the rage, and we haven’t seen any lip-stain since then that has managed to be simultaneously so light and so long-lasting. A tiny dab of this hemp oil based stain is all it takes for an opaque coverage that’ll last forever.
Available at Nordstrom, NSFW, true to its name, is a smouldering dark red that leans very lightly towards cool. Pair it with a burgundy lip-liner for an ombre effect that, on a medium skin tone, will create some mystery.
Best Red Lipsticks for Dark Skin Tones
The tricky thing with darker complexions is that often red lipsticks don’t necessarily register as red once applied to the lips. However, that doesn’t mean that a traditional red lipstick doesn’t look incredible on women of color! Quite the opposite – a bright red lip looks fun and summery, and a softer red becomes a “my lips but better” color.
However, if you want to get the glamorous effect of a true red lip, some of these red lipsticks will definitely do the trick, despite not looking red in the tube! The lipsticks that will give you that true red effect will usually lean toward a little darker and look a little colder while in the tube.
#14: Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquorice
Available at Sephora, this burgundy-red is the perfect complement to a dark skin with cool undertones. The slight warmth of this lipstick, when offset by a cool skin tone, will actually make it stand out in a very flattering way – something that isn’t always true for lighter skin tones.
Its creamy texture and opaque color make it one of the best red lipsticks out there, when it comes to quality. Another bonus? It’s completely safe of any harmful chemicals (it’s even edible!), and is rich in moisturizing plant oils.
#15: Dior Addict Gotha
Available at Nordstrom, this dark raspberry red shines – literally! It has a moisturizing hydra-gel core that conditions the lips, gives a glossy finish, and protects the lipstick from coming off. Because this red isn’t too “in your face”, you could rock it with some black eyeshadow smoked out in the outer corners of the eye.
#16: Nars VIP Red
Available at NARS Cosmetics, this lipstick is a muted, brick-red. Whereas on someone pale this lipstick might be too grunge, on a darker, warm skin tone it’s astounding! It has all the power and pull of a red lipstick, but with an added sophistication that comes from a hint of brown. Pair it with a bronze highlight, and you’re good to go. It’s excellent for day-to-day, since it has a matte finish and is very long lasting.
#17: Make Up For Ever M500
While this lipstick is described as a wine violet, it’s definitely more of a cool burgundy-red. Available at Sephora, it’ll suit both cool and warm undertones, and is the exact shade that will give someone with a dark complexion that pin-up look that only the best red lipsticks can give. You absolutely must pair it with a 1950s style flick of liner.
#18: Iman Moisturizing Luxury Lipstick Scandalous
Available at Drugstore, this ruby red was made with dark skinned ladies in mind. It has a velvety texture, a neutral-cool undertone, and a semi-matte finish. Iman devotees rave about the smooth, hydrating formula, and strong pigmentation. This color will surely make you stand out in a crowd.
#19: Guerlain Orgueil Rouge G L’Extrait
Whereas the Nars VIP Red is all about sophistication, Orgueil Rouge G L’Extrait is exactly what you should be wearing to the biggest summer party this year. It is a plummy-red that on a warmer dark skin tone will register as bright and festive. It’s studded with bright red micro-shimmer, which brings all the fun to a rich formula that’ll stay on for the duration of the party. Buy one at Saks Fifth Avenue!
#20: Buxom Red Inferno
Available at Sephora, this blue-based red will register as bright and fun on darker skin! The moisturizing feel, and long-lasting finish make it the perfect statement lip for a summer day.
Photos courtesy of @laurabadura, Sephora, Nordstrom