Which Shades of Red Lipstick Work Best on Pale Skin Tones

Crystal Schwanke
How to Wear Red Lipstick

As with almost all makeup, which shades of red lipstick work best on pale skin tones depends upon the type of undertones you have. Pale gals with warm undertones will not look as vibrant in lipsticks better suited to their cool-toned friends and pale girls with cooler undertones won't be able to choose the same lipsticks as their warmer sisters and get the same results. Wearing the wrong red lipstick is more obvious, of course, than wearing the wrong nude or pink, so you'll want to choose with care.

The Red Lips and Pale Skin Combo

If you're wondering which shades of red lipstick work best on pale skin tones like yours but you're not even sure you can wear red lipstick, rest assured that you can. In fact, pale girls pull off red lips like no one else for an easy dramatic look. Think of Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera. Are they striking with their signature red lips or what? Red lips are the flawless path to retro glam and a quick way to look "done" without spending ages applying and blending your eyeshadow.

Which Shades of Red Lipstick Work Best on Pale Skin Tones: Cool

If you're a cool-toned girl, meaning you look best in pinks, blues, teals, purples, black, pure white, and so on (mainly jewel tones), you'll look best in reds that are similar in tone. Blue-based reds-and those that even veer to the fuchsia side-are best for you. Don't worry, the blue doesn't show up; it's just a slight undertone that makes your red most flattering for you. One bonus to the blue undertone is the tendency to make your teeth look whiter.

Pale girls can get away with red lipsticks from light to dark, bright to muted, sheer to bold, as long as the undertone is correct. For a dramatic red lip great for night (or day, if you're brave!), try MAC's Dubonnet. For something sheer and pink-red, try Cover Girl's Continuous Color in Really Red lightly tapped and blended onto your lips for a stained look.

Red Lipstick for Pale, Warm Girls

Warm-toned girls, those who look best in earth tones like mustard, terra cotta, coral, olive green and rust, look most vibrant in shades of red with yellow or orange undertones. While these don't have the tooth-whitening effects of blue-based reds, they shouldn't make your teeth look dingy. What they will do, is brighten your face overall.

As mentioned above, you can get away with wearing all depths of red-you can wear a sheer, bright red like MAC's Ladybug or you can err on the side of drama with an opaque brick red or bright red like Revlon's Matte Lipstick in Really Red. Skip reds marked "berry" because they will most likely be too cool for your skin tone. Also, though brown lipsticks are often seen as "warm," stay away from reds that fall too far into the brown category. A hint of brown is fine, but if your lippie looks more brown than red, it just might wash you out.

Exceptions to the Rules

Some girls have a fairly neutral skin tone that only slightly leans to the cool side or the warm one. In these cases, as long as you coordinate your eyeshadow and blush accordingly (warms or cools to match your lips), you can rock the lip color from the "other side."

A pale girl with ash brown hair and blue eyes would normally be considered a cool, for example, but as long as her skin isn't too cool, she can wear a yellow-based red lipstick, neutral-warm brown shadow in the crease, neutral shadow on the lid and brow bone, and a peach or coral blush. Similarly, a redhead with green eyes could sport a blue-based red as long as her shadow and blush fell in the neutral-cool palette.

Striking Shades

Pale girls get to have all the fun with red lipstick. Red lips of any shade or depth are so striking against light skin regardless of hair and skin color. If you're pale, never think you have to stick to pale glossy pinks and peaches again!

Which Shades of Red Lipstick Work Best on Pale Skin Tones