Astrid's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Red Lipstick - twindly beauty blog
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Astrid’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Red Lipstick

I believe red lipsticks are a classic and every women needs at least to have one perfect shade. Finding one, is always another matter altogether thanks to the multitude of choice out there.

Wearing Giorgio Armani Red Ecstasy in 401 Hot

Wearing Giorgio Armani Red Ecstasy in 401 Hot

Nowadays, a lot of people told me that red lipsticks suited me perfectly. Some even goes on to tell me that it’s my signature look. Looking into my habit and my lipstick stash, there’s definitely truth in that statement. The thing is, I do not always think this way, I used to be afraid of red lipsticks and thought they made me look older.

It wasn’t because I’ve never tried any before, but since the usual approach is like

if (skintone AND undertone) then

perfectShade = someIntensityOfRedWithOrangeOrBlueTone

So easy to get frustrated because sometimes a particular color, no matter how warm/cool/intense it is, I couldn’t seem to believe that it suited me. Trying it in store, with a not so familiar sales assistant who’s just trying to make you buy, is just even more daunting.

That’s why I’m putting my personal guide to choosing the perfect red lipsticks. This is based on my experience, starting from newbie to a red lipstick connoisseur.


The Absolute Beginner


What you want is to build the confidence to wear red lipsticks. I think to most, the scary part of red lipsticks is when you see how prominent your lips going to look. You have to really own it, and do not let the color owns you!

To start off and get yourself used to it, choose a bit less pigmented type.

Burt's Bees Red Dahlia

Burt’s Bees Red Dahlia

  • Sheer lipsticks, like the L’Oreal Rouge Caresse line or Chanel Rouge Coco Shine line.
Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Monte Carlo

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Monte Carlo

  • More transparent lip glosses like & Other Stories’ Byssine Scarlett  or MAC Cremesheen in Double Dare
& Other Stories Lip Gloss in Byssine Scarlett

& Other Stories Lip Gloss in Byssine Scarlett


If you’re already feeling a bit braver or wanting to get to the real red lipstick deal, try out something like the Ellis Faas Milky Lips L201 Red Blood, where you can play the intensity with. Thanks to the type of pigmentation and brush.

You can either apply just a sheer amount to make it look more like a stain (tip: you can also do this with a normal lipstick if you dab it on!).

Ellis Faas Milky Lips L201 Red Blood - Lightly Applied

Ellis Faas Milky Lips L201 Red Blood – Lightly Applied

As you are more comfortable with it, you can increase the intensity (more bang for bucks!). Moreover, this line has this really unique red color which is supposedly adapting to your skintone. It claims to fit all skintones (will look differently, of course), and I actually believe it because the color mimics the color of blood – not to be morbid, it was meant for the skin to look more alive ;).

Ellis Faas Milky Lips L201 Red Blood - Fully Applied

Ellis Faas Milky Lips L201 Red Blood – Fully Applied


Getting Into It


When you are ready to expand a little bit, time to try out that warm red – cool red, what’s my undertone kind of thing. MAC lipsticks are always a good one to start with since they do have a lot of lipsticks to choose from. Classic colors like Ruby Woo, Russian Red, and the iconic Viva Glam I are always a good starting point.

MAC Viva Glam I

MAC Viva Glam I

Another good starting point is L’Oreal Collection Exclusive Pure Reds, because they are featuring a movie star paired with the reds. It’s almost like picking your movie star twins! The Burgundy Book has a really nice review and swatches here.

Don’t be afraid to play around! While it is true that it easier to find a certain fitting tone based on your skintone, but eventually you will also find out that you can make either tone work depending on what other makeup and outfits you wear.

Actually some lipsticks sometimes introduce a more complex combinations. Like the Rihanna’s version of Viva Glam (unfortunately this is a limited edition), it is a blue based red with some (really fine) golden shimmers. Which makes it then slightly warmer cool toned lipstick!   

MAC Viva Glam I Rihanna

MAC Viva Glam I Rihanna

Remember that the lighter your skintone, the more intense the color will look. The darker skintone could basically take the super intense color and make it look absolutely perfect.


Playing With Textures


Once you are more familiar on how the colors work on your skin and personality, you’ll soon realize that you can also play with the texture and opaqueness of the color.

Matte lipsticks tend to look more intense, and matte liquid lipsticks are even more intense.

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon


Glossy lipsticks tend to make the lips look plumpier, and could give a certain playfulness to the color.

Wearing Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy in 405 Sultan

Wearing Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy in 405 Sultan


Things to Watch Out For


Some lipsticks could bleed (aka the Joker look). It depends on the quality and texture of the lipstick. The creamier it is, the riskier it becomes. Especially with liquid lipsticks! This is why sometimes it’s really necessary to use a lipliner.

Most times though, it’s nothing to worry about, especially if you’re just attending events and sipping drinks. Just make sure you have the one which stays put when you’re having ribs!


That’s it! Hope you are enjoying your foray into red lipsticks as much as I do! Tell us about your experience and your favorites :).

For reference, my skintone is warm-neutral dark. MAC NC42-44, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation #8.



Founder / Chief Everything Officer at twindly. Occasionally write on this blog about her beauty obsessions, mostly can be found designing and coding for the twindly application. Sometimes can be found pitching.


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