Here's How To Determine Which Shade Of Red Lipstick Is Perfect For Your Skin Tone

Red lipstick is one of the most timeless elements of makeup. A prime part of pop culture and history, red lipstick formed the center of several recognizable looks, from Marilyn Monroe's red pout to Madonna's MAC Russian Red. With how iconic this makeup essential is, it's only natural for everyone to want to own some red lipstick of their own. The only problem is that not all shades of red lipstick look the same on everyone. A bright red shade that works well on someone else might not be as flattering on you, and vice-versa. But you don't have to worry because there are ways to find your perfect red, and it all starts with a little something we like to call your undertone.


Undertone, according to Beauty Bakerie, is the subtle color underneath the surface of your skin that determines your overall hue. It's important to note that while skin tone and undertone sound similar, they are not the same thing. The difference is that your undertone is underneath your skin's surface, and your skin tone, as explained by colorescience, is the amount of melanin in the outermost layer of your skin. Undertones are essential because applying a shade of red that has a different undertone from yours will cause a mismatched look that's too dull or too bright for you. So here are a few ways to find your undertone.

How to determine your undertone

There are three main undertones: warm, cool, and neutral undertones. As Max Factor explains, a great way to find your undertone is by looking at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If your veins look green, your undertone is most likely warm. If your veins appear blue or purple, L'Oréal Paris says you have a cool undertone. And if your veins are green in some parts and blue or purple in others, you most likely have a neutral undertone.


You can also find your undertone using jewelry. For example, you have a cool undertone if silver jewelry looks nicer on your skin tone. If gold looks more flattering on you, you're likely to be of a warm undertone. And if both look good on you, SkinKraft Laboratories confirms that you have a neutral undertone.

Now that you've found your undertone, here's what it means when it comes to your perfect red. According to LovelySkin, people with warm undertones should wear warm red lipstick with gold, orange, or brown undertones. If you have a cool undertone, go for cool-toned lipsticks that Clinique says are bluish-red or pinkish. And neutral undertones should go for neutral red lipstick shades, which contain a combination of warm and cool undertones. Here's how to match your lipstick shade to your undertone and skin tone.


The perfect reds for fair and light skin tones

Like undertones, of which there are three main types, there are four classes of skin tones: light, fair, medium, and deep or dark (per Sole Toscana). Skin tones have a corresponding undertone, meaning fair skin can have a neutral or warm undertone, while dark skin tones can be cool-toned. Either way, do not conflate undertones with skin tones, as any skin tone can be cool, neutral, or warm-undertoned, even those in the deep/dark range.


Maybelline New York suggests going for bold burgundy or berry red lipstick shades if you have a light or fair skin tone with a cool undertone. These shades of red work well on light skin tones without not looking too harsh or bright. An example is the Tom Ford Lipstick in F*ckin' Fabulous, a bold and vibrant red color.

And if you have light or fair skin and warm or neutral undertones, go for bright orangey red lipstick shades like the Clinique Pop Reds in Red Hot to accentuate the warmth of your skin. Just be sure to have minimal makeup on the rest of your face to prevent a too-full makeup look.

The perfect reds for medium and dark/deep skin tones

If you are in the medium skin tone range and have a cool undertone, Mademoiselle Lash says to try shades with a bluish undertone like the L'Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain in I Am Worth It (color 426). Medium skin tones with a warm or neutral undertone have more leeway than other subsets. You can try almost everything, from an orangey red to a dark burgundy mix (per Maybelline New York).


Blue-based red shades are the go-to for those with a dark skin tone and a cool undertone. However, for a more visible red tint, L'Officiel says to use darker red shades like burgundies or berries. And if you have a warm or neutral undertone on darker skin tones, try anything from bright oranges to peachy reds like the Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored.

Finding your perfect red can seem daunting, but with some shade matching and patience, we promise you'll be rocking yours in no time.