Best Red Lipsticks for Fair, Medium, and Dark Skin Tones (2018)

By Skin Tone

Best Red Lipsticks

Have you ever wondered what red lipstick would work best for your skin tone? With over 650 recommendations made to-date (and we invite you to share your own recommendations at any time!), here are the most recommended red lipsticks readers have made grouped by skin tones!


Best Red Lipsticks for Fair to Light Skin | Top 5

It’s no surprise to see so many MAC red lipsticks dominate the top five red lipsticks for fairer skin tones–they really do some fabulous reds!  There’s a good mix of really cool, blue-based reds and some warmer, more orange-based reds, though it definitely seems like the most recommended shades are cooler-toned when it comes to fair skin.

The list below features products recommended by readers with complexions that are: fairest, fair, fair-light, or light.  You can always go to our recommendation page for Best Red Lipsticks and refine by as much (or as little) as you want–like down to a specific skin tone and undertone and price!

Best Red Lipsticks for Medium Skin | Top 5

Again, MAC lipsticks reign supreme along with cult classics by NARS.  I remember the first time I wore MAC Viva Glam I, a classic, slightly warmer red, and feeling so powerful in it!  Over the years, I’ve seen so many readers recommend it across skin tones and undertones.  Bonus: buying it donates the full selling price to a great cause!

The list below features products recommended by readers with complexions that are: light-medium, medium, medium deep, or medium-tan. You can always go to our recommendation page for Best Red Lipsticks and refine by as much (or as little) as you want–like down to a specific skin tone and undertone and price!

Best Red Lipsticks for Tan to Dark Skin | Top 5

More MAC Lipstick domination with classics like Ruby Woo (very blue-based, very matte) and Russian Red (slightly blue, more natural matte).  I know I’d appreciate it greatly, but I’m sure many readers with deeper skin tones would also be thrilled to see more recommendations by those with similar complexions, so if you have a medium-dark to deep skin tone, please help us add recommendations!

The list below features products recommended by readers with complexions that are: tan, dark tan, deep, deep dark, or deepest dark. You can always go to our recommendation page for Best Red Lipsticks and refine by as much (or as little) as you want–like down to a specific skin tone and undertone and price!

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Oh goodness, I don’t even know where to start because I love so many reds. Here are my favorites. I can’t narrow it down to one because I keep hopping from one to the other.

MAC Chili, Lady Danger, Ladybug, and Russian Red
Chanel Pirate
ColourPop London Fog
Guerlain Rouge G #21

I just bought a red by MUFE, but I haven’t worn it yet, so it hasn’t made the list.

Most reds turn pink on me. I’m not sure exactly what that says about my coloring (color theory is deceptively confusing), but Cruella, for instance, definitely is pinkish on me. Does anyone who has this issue have a recommended red that will actually stay red? I’m fair but not extremely so (like NC15-NC20).

Yep, I have that problem with red lipsticks too – nearly all of them turn pink on me. I am the same NC 20 shade as you too.
MAC Fresh Moroccan and Clarins Jolie Rouge Red Terra do not change colour on me at all.

This happens ro me too. We are too warm/yellow. You have to buy orange reds such as Nyx Pure Red and Colourpop Trust Me. These are truly bred on me. Look for warm reds too.

I am NW10 probably (never actually checked) and I find most reds look pink on me too! It’s annoying. I’ve found Mac Lady Danger is great, maybe because it’s quite orange it somehow ends up looking more of a true red on me. I also love Chanel Pirate, it’s a bit darker of a red but it’s very red on me – no hints of pink. Another great one is Nars Power Matte in Don’t Stop. I also like Nars Audacious in Annabella but it’s too yellow for me, however it could work on your warmer skin tone and might be less likely to look pink.

Same here. Clinique Almost Lipstick Black Honey, Dior Rouge Baume 760 Garden Party and Mac Viva Glam I don’t turn pink on me.

Maybe Nars Audacious lipstick in Rita (or another warmer red from the same line, i def recommend checking them out). It’s very opaque, and I find that the pinkyness effect tends to come from formulas that have some transparency.

My guess is that you’re a ‘blonde’ or lighter brunette. You might want to try a true red.
True red is a primary color so it has no blue or yellow in it. I think Chanel has one and Chanel lippies stay pretty true on me. I tend to turn most cool lipstick shades even more blue. So, between Christine’s suggestion and mine, you might get closer to your solution. (EL may have a true red, too.)

Being super fair I love my reds. I have all but 2 of the lipsticks on all 3 lists. Maybe a bit excessive but I do love my reds. I have Ruby Woo, Viva Glam 1, Cruella, 714, Russian Red and Fire and Ice. I also love Red Door Red by Elizabeth Arden and Ilia 99 Red Balloons which is a blue based red and I really love both the color and the formula. A few of these reds are very matte formula’s and can be uncomfortable to wear without a lot of lip prep and balm. I can wear Ilia 99 Red Balloons without having the discomfort associated with many matte reds.

I don’t know how I forgot to mention Fenty Beauty Stunna! Love the shade and the formulation and is a red that my daughter can wear and love also and she has a much deeper complexion and more neutral in undertone than myself.

Red is not a color that I can wear easily, but I can’t go wrong with besame red velvet or bite beauty cayenne.

This is such a cool idea!!! To add to this, I’m very muted and I find that mid-toned, warm, non-white-based shades tend to look the best on me. Like Bite’s new Crushed Chili…absolutely love!

I have got to be very careful with red lipsticks that they don’t turn pink on me – so I have gone through quite a few red lippies in my time.
I have recommended MAC’s Fresh Moroccan as one and Clarins Jolie Rouge Red Terra as another.
My skintone is in the fairest category.

I have warm/yellow undertone and all of these reds turn pinkish on me because they are all neutral or cool reds. I.love Nyx Pure Red. Colourpop Trust Me is my HG red.

Medium here, neutral to olive undertones (Native American & Mexican). My top favorite reds are: Fenty Stunna Fluid Lipcolor, Maybelline Creamy Matte in Siren in Scarlet, and KVD Chula – a deepened orange-red which is not my favorite formula but I love the color. I’ll be looking up a dupe for Chula soon. Unfortunately, my other favorite red was a limited edition from NARS, Hell Gate, in the lip cover formula from Spring 2018.

I’m blond, brown eyed with light to medium skin with warm undertones. I own about 6 red lipsticks but every single time I wear Guerlain Rouge G #21 I get compliments. It’s perfect for me.

Great list! I have been intimated by reds I’ve tried, as I’m quite fair (NC10) and the few I’ve tried don’t quite work. I can do a stronger pink, coral, plum but so far not a red. Not sure why. With this list in hand, I’ll have somewhere to start looking again.

Have you tried Nars Dragon Girl? I’m about an NW10 and some reds can look way too intense on me but Nars Dragon Girl is my go to! It is slightly more pinky-red but beautiful. Another great one is Mac Lady Danger (orange-red) and Mac Relentlessly Red (another pinky-red). Those are my favourite for very fair skin.

I’m a NW13 girl in MAC’s skin tones. From permanent range (of brands that arrive here in Brazil), my favorites are MAC’s Russian Red (I don’t like the feel of Ruby Woo), Urban Decay’s 714 and Nars’ Mysterious Red (I like it better than some more famous ones, such as Cruella and Dragon Girl).
From MAC’s limited editions, there are my all time favorites: Opera, Perfect Score and Salon Rouge.

I find makeup lists by skin depth are rarely accurate. Colors selected for fair skin are almost always too light and chalky on me, too muted, or don’t show up for me at all. Ultimately, finding the right colors is not about looking at the surface but determining what color properties are A+ on you.

As a very fair skinned person who needs a lot of brightness and contrast in my colors, some of my favorite reds are L’Oreal Julianne’s Red, NYX Amsterdam, Sephora Rouge Lip Stain in Red, Revlon Fire & Ice, and ABH Punchy Red.

As a FYI, these are all submitted by those with that skin tone – so they’re recommendations by real readers with [insert skin tone] 🙂 I hope you’ll consider submitting your recommendations to our database so others can find them!

My favorite reds, in addition to the Russian Red, are:
Relish of Heaven by Rouge Bunny Rouge (sheer)

Turn me Dior by Dior (it is a slightly pinker red)

Fearless res by Nars (LE and an amazing formula)

I have a fair skin tone.

Ooh, red! I am Latina and have warm/olive tan skin and black hair
I love red lipstick but have to be in the mood.
Pat McGrath Venom 1
Pat McGrath Blood 1
Chanel Pirate
MAC Dubbonet (more brown)
I also have an old Dior limited edition little lip palette and it has a pretty red that is in 3 different formulas

My favorite “anytime” red is MAC Brave Red. Super comfortable and moisturizing, very red but not too bright. I’m very fair but I would recommend this across all skin tones, as its undertones are not too strong in any direction (if you sheer it out it has more of a coral base rather than pink) and it won’t look chalky on deep skins.

Very interesting. Reds don’t turn pink, but I do experience other color changes, mostly leaning purple…UD En Fuego and Mac Deeply Rooted are examples. For most, they are browned red and brown…on me, both clearly purple. I have virtually all these shades, but clearly need to check out Chanel Pirate! Reds rule. A sheer I like is LQ Medieval.

I do love all those MAC lipstick shades, but except Russian Red no color looks like a true red on me.
MAC Chili on me as some dark orange / brick vibes, Viva Glam I seems almost burgundy, Ruby Woo oddly looks quite pink.

For reference, I’m fair to light (NW15-ish)/ with neutral to cool undertones and I’ve always struggled with finding a red lipstick that looks good on me. I think that aside from the skin’s tone etc. an important factor to be taken into account is the lip pigmentation and colour. I’ve seen persons with the same skin tone as mine but with pigmented lips/medium pink-purplish lips/light pink lips/super light lips etc. and the same lipstick looks different on each of them.
On me a lipstick like Nars Cruella is dark and ages me. The vast majority of the pure reds don’t look good on me (too dark/brownish/ purple) and while I can rock a light fuchsia, just a bit darker and it looks terrible.
So, I submitted my two recommendations in terms of red lipstick:
YSL Rouge Pur Couture – Le Rouge 1
Dior Rouge 999 Matte.

Deep Dark with neutral undertones CoverFx N110, NW50. My favorites are Pat McGrath Major Red, Nars Charlotte, and Anastasia Sarafine

I’m fair (NC15-20) with yellow undertones and dark hair. My favourite reds are Ellis Faas in Ellis Red 101 (the demension on this colour is like nothing I’ve ever experienced — it’s meant to mimic the shade of blood and I think that’s accurate) and Icon from Hourglass. The latter is a darker blue-red — very chic. I think both would flatter all skin tones!

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