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This Is How To Find The Best Clean Red Lipstick For Your Skin Tone

For cool undertones.

“For people who have cool undertones, blue-based red shades tend to look best,” says makeup artist Sandra Saenz, a global veritas artistry ambassador for KVD Beauty. See, cool undertones give the skin a pink, blue, or red hue, so pulling from those colors will help you nail down your go-to shade. (A bonus: Blue-based reds can neutralize any yellow tones in your teeth, which makes them look cooler and whiter.) Wine- and berry-laced shades will look divine, or find a true red below with slightly cooler tones.

Kjaer Weis

Kjaer Weis Red Edit Lipstick$ 30


ILIA Color Block High Impact Lipstick$ 28

For warm undertones.

“People with warm undertones tend to look best in red lipsticks with peachy and orange undertones, as it will not wash them out,” says Saenz. Although, warm undertones can vary quite a bit. While these folks generally have a base of yellow, gold, or peach in their skin, some people’s tones can read way more pink, others more yellow or golden.

If you align with the former, you might want to select a shade that leans more apricot or orange. “It will bring overall balance to the complexion instead of exaggerating the pink tone,” makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at Credo, previously told mbg.

Well People

Well People Optimist Lipstick$ 16


Axiology Peach Lip-to-Lid Balmie$ 15

For neutral undertones.

As the name suggests, those with neutral undertones have a mix of hues within their skin–and they can generally rock any type of red. “Because of their neutral undertones, they are able to wear red shades with blue undertones or orange undertones, as either will complement their skin tone,” Saenz says. Crimson, rust, brick, or cherry–take your pick.

KVD Beauty

KVD Beauty Everlasting Hyperlight Vegan Transfer-Proof Liquid Lipstick$ 22

Sunnies Face

Sunnies Face Fluffmate Matte Lipstick$ 16

For olive undertones.

Olive and warm undertones can typically find success with the same lipstick hues, just know that olive undertones often give a green or gray, sometimes ashen hue to the skin. To brighten up the complexion, “I love an orange-based red for people with olive undertones, including shades of coral and poppy,” notes Saenz.

Merit Beauty

Merit Beauty Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick$ 26


Chantecaille Lip Chic$ 48

Extra tips.

Undertones are important when picking out your go-to red, but it’s by no means the only factor. “Skin tone is something else to consider when you’re looking for your perfect shade of red, and ultimately, the level of contrast you’re looking to achieve when you put on your red lipstick,” Saenz explains. You’ll want to find the right depth of color to achieve the most intensity of pigment–or if you’re gunning for a more subtle look, feel free to select a sheer lippie.

Of course, the formula itself matters, too. Is your red creamy or matte? Is it buildable? Does it provide long wear? All are important criteria to mind as you browse. If you’re looking for a versatile liquid option, Saenz personally adores the KVD Beauty Everlasting Hyperlight Liquid Lipstick collection: “It has a lightweight yet long-wear finish that doesn’t budge when it’s dried down,” she says.

In terms of application, prepping the lips is key. Ensure a clean, even surface by exfoliating away flakes, then layer on a moisturizing lip balm; let those hydrating ingredients sink into the lips for a beat so that your color glides on effortlessly. Then dab your red lipstick in the center of your top and bottom lips, using your finger to diffuse the pigment (that will give you a lighter red tint). “When I’m looking for serious color payoff, I’ll follow with a second layer,” Saenz adds.


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The takeaway.

Fancy a red lip for the holidays? You can, of course, snag any shade of red that speaks to you, but it does help to find one that suits your personal undertones. It’s a general rule for any lipstick shade (not just reds): Match the underlying hues peeking through your complexion, and your glam will look expert-level.


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