Red. A classic color of beauty, passion, and desire. It is a color that we often turn to enhance our appearance, attract lovers, and create a sense of power and authority. Red is a color that cannot be ignored and like fire, it can inspire action and draw attention to you when you want to be seen. My mother was an English teacher and taught grammar school for kids ages 5 to 10 years old. And she said that when she first became a teacher one of the first pieces of advice she got from her peers was to wear red lipstick so that the children would pay attention to her instructions and what she had to say. It worked!

Before purchasing the first red lipstick that you see, it is important to note that not all shades of red are created equally. Certain skin tones will be much better served and shine brighter by certain shades of red than others. There are cool ruby reds and then there are fiery orange reds. And while you could just get a neutral true red for every skin tone or pick out the first red lipstick that stands out to you, why not get the most optimal shade of red to truly complement your specific skin tone?

This article is here to help you find the perfect red lipstick so that you have the most flattering shade to take on the day with! For an added bonus, the lipsticks that I suggest below are all cruelty-free and chemical-free!

Yellow Skin Tones (yellow undertone)

If you have a yellow skin tone like many Chinese, Japanese, Caucasians, going with a red-violet or purplish red will be your best bet. The complementary purplish tones will make the warm yellow tones glow next to each other.

One to try:

Red Violet Lipstick: Addictive Cosmetics Lipstick in Walk of Shame $14.99 for full-size, $4.99 for mini size.

Red lipstick for olive skintones
Olive Skin Tones (greenish yellow undertone)

For people of Italian, Spanish and some Southeast Asian descent, the olive skin tone is probably one where a solid true red can be in its finest form. A true red on an olive skin tone is like mistletoe on Christmas Day. Wearing this hue may even make the people around you want to give you a kiss or two!

One to try:

True Red Lipstick: Sugarpill Cosmetics Liquid Lip Color in Nurse $18


Tangerine Skintone red lipstick
Tangerine Skin Tones (orangey undertone)

For people with warmer golden skin tones like those from Latin and African cultures, a cool bluish rosy or cherry red will be the perfect shade to enhance their glow. Kind of like how the deep sapphire blue of an ocean looks even more dazzling against the golden light of a warm sunset.

One to try: 

Cool Red Lipstick: Ilia Beauty Lipstick in Strike It Up $26


Red lipstick for reddish undertones
Reddish Skin Tones (reddish undertone)

For people with reddish skin tones like the First Americans, Alaskans or Indians, a deeper brownish-red will offer beautiful depth. This shade of red is super wearable and would even be very appropriate shade for daytime in the workplace. It is authoritative without being intimidating.

One to try: 

Brownish Red Lipstick: Kjaer Weis Lipstick in Adore $56

Best lipstick for cool skintones
Cool Skin Tones (bluish/pinkish undertone)

For those who either have the deepest ebony cool tone like indigenous tribes of Africa and India, or Aboriginals in Australia or the lightest ivory tones like the Irish, French, Scottish, and Russians with flushes of pink of on their cheeks, a fiery orange-red will brighten up their skin tone and the contrast will be striking and exciting!

One to try: 

Fiery Red Lipstick: Ilia Beauty Lipstick in Wild Child $26

In the end, we all have the freedom of choice to wear whatever shade of red speaks to our heart. And although these are the most optimal shades of red for these particular skin tones based on science and color theory, there’s no better wait to test it out then trying it for yourself! Have fun exploring the beautiful spectrum of reds that are out there!