How to choose the perfect red lipstick

Tamara Hinson

This winter, a red lipstick is the ultimate accessory, whether it’s a slick of deep burgundy or a show-stopping brick-red affair.  The bad news is that red is one of the hardest lip colours to wear - there’s little room for error if you’ve got a less than perfect pout.

Start by buffing away dead skin with an old tooth brush or lip scrub – Clarins’ Extra Firming Lip and Contour Exfoliator (£18, Boots) is especially suitable for those with sensitive skin. Next, slather on a hydrating lip treatment such as Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant (£19, Boots).

Colour conundrum


Now comes the hard part – choosing the ideal shade.  If you’re blessed with a fiery mane, there’s good news in store – bright, show-stopping reds will all look fabulous, and can also help to keep skin looking fresh and radiant. “Crimsons, brick reds and deep reds will all suit natural red heads, especially those with fair skin,” says the Body Shop’s international make up artist Chase Aston.

“These bold hues compliment the vibrancy of red hair and stop the complexion from appearing washed out.” Those with darker skin should look to deeper shades of red. “Orangey reds, wine reds and deep reds will all compliment warmer to dark skin tones, working well with the yellow, red or blue undertones of the Afro-Caribbean skin type and hair colour,” says Chase.

Loud mouths


Blondes can wear most shades of red – with blue-based reds being especially useful when it comes to perking up pale skin - whilst brunettes should opt for deeper shades of red, steering clear of corals.  “True reds, deep reds and oxblood reds will always compliment those with brown hair,” explains Chase. “These shades will balance the lips against brunette hair hues, without the lips appearing too nude. Avoid using orangey reds and purple-hued reds, as these shades can clash with the natural undertones of brown hair.”

The good news for those of Asian and Indian origin is that there’s no better skin type for carrying of this autumn’s penchant for deep, berry-red hues. “Deep reds, wine reds, and reds with blue undertones will compliment both Asian and Indian skin tones,” says Chase. “However, it’s best to avoid reds with pink or orange undertones as these can appear wishy-washy and jarring on these skin tones.”












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Take your time

When it comes to hunting down the perfect lipstick, don’t be scared of asking counter assistants for help – many will be more than happy to provide miniature lipstick samples to take away, allowing you to get a real feel for the shade in question.  “My best advice would be to try as many shades as possible until you find the one you’re happy with,” says make up artist Jemma Kidd. “If you can’t try the lipstick directly on your lips, try it on your fingertip, look in a mirror and hold your finger up next to your mouth. The skin there is most similar in colour and texture to your lips and will give a fairly close representation of the effect.”

No matter what your skin type, there are a few final rules to bear in mind when it comes to finding the perfect lipstick, and red is one of the most high-maintenance shades around.  If you’re planning on an all-nighter, invest in a lip liner to prevent lipstick bleed and to help colour stay put – Halloween might be just around the corner but a lipstick-smeared face is never going to be a good look.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that wearing darker lip colours becomes harder as we get older, due to the fact that deeper, bolder shades can make lips look smaller. When it comes to finish, those with more mature skin should also steer clear of sparkly high sheen finishes, although a touch of shimmer can work wonders.  “In general, a lighter, slightly shimmering finish will make thin lips appear fuller, whilst dark colours and matte textures will make overfull lips seem smaller,” explains Jemma Kidd.

The perfect red lipstick for…

Afro-Caribbean skin tones: Colourglide Lip Colour in Soft Red, £9, The Body Shop
Olive skin: Mac Cremesheen Lipstick in Dare You, £13.50, Mac Cosmetics

Brunettes: Rimmel Moisture Renew lipstick in Rose Passion, £6.29, Boots

Blonde: Burberry Lip Cover Soft Satin Lipstick in Brick Red, £22.50, Harrods

Asian skin tones: Hourglass Lipstick in Femme Rouge, £22, Liberty

Red heads: Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick Collection by Kate Shade 12, £5.49, Boots