If you haven’t done so already, the holiday season is a great time for you to foray into bold red lipstick. However, if you’re feeling cautious, don’t worry; your perfect shade is out there! There are a few ways to approach finding your best red lipstick: your coloring (mostly the undertones in your skin rather than your hair and eye color), your age, and your comfort level when it comes to bold lips.
If your undertones are warm — yellow or golden — you’ll look best with orange-toned reds. If you have pink or blue undertones, you’ll look best in blue-toned reds. If in doubt, try a happy medium — a red that doesn’t veer too far into orange or blue territory. The balance of undertones will be flattering on most skin tones.
The depth of the color depends on the vibe you want. Fair skin tones can pull off the brightest red to the richest burgundy for a range of looks from pin-up to goth. Medium skin tones look amazing in brights and bolds, but very dark shades may not be the best fit and could drain the color from the skin. Dark-skinned ladies can rock burgundy and wine shades but shouldn’t shy away from brights, either; they’re shocking in the best possible way and will ensure a completely contagious smile.
In your 20s, you can experiment as much as you like. Even going against your undertones can give you a quirky look. As for glossy, shimmery reds? Yes. Don’t shy away from the brights, the bolds, or the ones that catch the light and don’t let go. If those aren’t your style, you can choose from mattes, creams, sheers—the world of red lipstick is yours for the taking.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and you should experiment no matter what your age to find your best texture, shade, and opacity, but once you hit 30, you’re probably not going to want too many glittery red shades. Also be more careful of the undertones and check your lipsticks in several lights before deciding which red seems to have been made just for you. You can still go for creamy lip shades in your 30s, 40s, and 50s (and beyond), but as you age and develop fine lines around the lips, you may notice more of a need for lip liner (red or clear) to keep bleeding at bay, or you may decide to choose more matte shades because they tend to stay put longer. Adding gloss to the center of your lips will add back some of the shine that will perk up your face the way a good red lip should.
Your Comfort Level
This is something most ladies who want to wear red struggle with. Going from only neutral or pink lip balms or glosses to a red lip can make you feel like you’ve got a big flashing sign on your face. Never fear. You can work up to strutting your stuff in public with red lipstick on. Wear it around your house until you feel at ease. Make sure to look in the mirror often so you’re used to seeing yourself with red lips. Eventually, you’ll feel comfortable enough to wear those lips out at night, and then eventually during the day. Yes, you can wear red lipstick with everyday clothing a lá Gwen Stefani.
Another way to ease into red is to choose a stain or a sheer lip gloss first. If you’re extremely hesitant to wear red, you may even feel like wearing this product at home first. A cherry red stain will brighten your face without being noticeable from yards away.
If your concern comes from wondering if your lipstick will smear as the day goes by, try a long-lasting or matte formula like MAC Ruby Woo or Stila Long Wear Liquid Lip Color in Fiery.
Get out there and experiment with a wide range of reds. If you’re unsure, visit a department store cosmetics counter for a second, third, or even fourth opinion on which red is right for you. Check those shades out in the sun and indoors just as you would a foundation to make sure that you’re committing to the right shade. Any woman can wear red; it’s all about finding “The One.”