The Ultimate Guide to Red Lipstick


Ah, red lipstick. This classic has been around forever, and it’ll never go out of style. Every era has embraced a shade of bold lip, from the dark Flapper look to the orange-red of the 1970s. But how do you find your perfect shade? And how can you wear red lipstick without looking like Pennywise the Clown?

Never fear, Tenth Floor Fashionistas. By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll be a red lipstick expert.

A Red for Everybody

Despite what you might have heard, anyone can wear red lipstick. The trick is finding one that suits your complexion, hair color, and fashion sense.

If you have fair skin with blue or pink undertones, you’ll do best with a blue-red lip.

Complexions with a yellow or gold undertone look fantastic with an orange-red.

Our sisters with olive undertones can rock a brick-red lip.

Tan and brown complexions look amazing with a deeper berry red.

Day to Night

During the day, you canrock a bold red lip. Just pair it with subtle, neutral makeup on the rest of your face. Nighttime can carry a heavier makeup look, but be wary of veering too far into “Marilyn Monroe Impersonator” territory with a red lip and heavy black eyeliner.

During the day, you can also play around with a lighter red from a tinted balm or gloss. Barely-there lipsticks give an “I just ate a popsicle” hint of color without weighing you down. Or smearing off at the worst possible moment.

Matte or Gloss?

The trend has been toward ultra-matte lipsticks (thanks, Kylie Jenner). But matte lipsticks tend to be drying, which makes the delicate skin of your lips look wrinkled. If you go matte, make sure you use a moisturizing primer first. Gloss has issues to, since it can bleed easily and wear off quickly.

Our favorite lipsticks are either satin and worn with a good liner or a long-lasting stain with a glossy topcoat for shine.

Always Exfoliate

Before attempting a red lip, make sure your lips are scrubbed and prepped. An exfoliating lip scrub will get rid of any loose dry skin and re-hydrate your pout. You can make a scrub yourself with a blend of coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and plain ol’ sugar.

Prime and Line

Primer gives you a smooth foundation to build on. After you’ve exfoliated, sweep on a quick coat of primer. Now it’s time to line. Go for a natural look by following the outline of your lips. We like using a lip brush instead of a pencil. Choose a liner that’s close to your natural pigment rather than trying to match the red of your lipstick to avoid that dreaded “dark ring” when the lipstick wears off.

Protect and Set

To protect your teeth from stains, purse your lips around your finger and then quickly pull it out while keeping your mouth closed. (Just wash your hands first, okay?). You can also set your matte or cream lipstick with a light dusting of translucent powder right before blotting.