Different shades of red for each skin tone

Classic red lips or nails will never go out of style

Your beauty collection is incomplete without a solid red lipstick and red nail polish. This classic hue will never get old and the good news is that it looks good on everyone. For those who are not in the know, there isn’t just one shade of red – in fact, there are hundreds! Leading make-up brands like MAC, Maybelline, Revlon, Clinique and Smashbox create a wide array of lipstick shades on a monthly basis, so we won’t run out of new colours to try, and wear!

The trick to wearing red on your lips or nails is to use the correct shade and wear it with confidence. Keep in mind, one colour is not a steadfast law. The only reason why different shades are recommended for different complexions is to show off the colour and enhance your features. Red lipstick or red nail polish is defined in two ways, warm and cool. Warm tones are orange-based and the cool tones are blue or pink-based.

Here is a quick guide to use as reference categorised by skin tones.


Very few people can pull off very cool reds, and dark skin tones are the perfect canvas. The balance between the skin tone and the nail polish or lipstick, makes the red standout as a strong feature. Warm reds look gorgeous as well, but try to move away from brick-coloured shades if you’re looking for a pop of colour.


Warm reds play up beautifully on caramel skin, which also has warm undertones. This skin tone can get away with wearing colour in more than one place, for example, if you’re wearing a strong red lipstick, you can also wear a bit of metallic eyeshadow without it looking like costume make-up.

Tawny & Olive

Two of the most versatile skin tones are Tawny and Olive. You can get away with wearing extreme versions of both cool and warm reds because the skin undertone is a mixture of cool and warm. Play around with berry shades and brown shades and find out which one works for you, it’s a matter of personal preference.


Lighter skin favours cool-toned reds. Any red colours you choose will stand out! Be careful of wearing brown tones because it will compete against, as opposed to complementing, your natural complexion. The aim is for your overall look to be beautiful, not just showcase one feature.

Bisque & Fair

With lighter tones there is more chance of red looking overwhelming. You don’t want to feel overpowered by the shade of red you choose because ultimately it will show in your expression and body language. Coral and pink reds look stunning on this canvas as it highlights the skin as a feature and it shows off the pretty colour, perfectly.


This light skin tones works best with cool reds and some berry tones. What’s great about this complexion is that any colour you choose will be a focal feature. On the other hand, you have to be careful not to wear too many other colours with it because it risks looking too bold.

Whatever colour you choose, wear it with confidence and be the best you!

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