Makeup » How to Wear Red Lipstick

How to Wear Red Lipstick

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There are no strict rules when it comes to makeup, but there certainly are some guidelines. Since red lipstick is such a statement, you need to be careful and keep the rest of your look balanced. A swipe of red lipstick is never an afterthought – it will always be the focus of your makeup. No matter who you are, you can rock red lipsticks as long as you follow our guidelines!

In this article:

What Makeup Goes with Red Lipstick?


For all but the very soft red lipsticks, it is better to keep the eye understated. You can rock winged liner and neutral eyeshadows for that perfect 1940s look, but a hint of tightlining or smoked out brown eyeliner can be classic choices that also work.


As far as eyeshadow is concerned, remember that red is a strong primary color that is very easy to clash with. While I have seen some cool looks that incorporated colored eyeshadows and red lipsticks, they were often done by expert-level makeup artists that were able to balance the look (or simply get away with the clash because the blending was so clean).

For warm red lipsticks, a copper eyeshadow could look lovely. Color blocking with burgundy/ berry tones and yellow eyeshadow can also work. Neutral shades and warm metallic shades like champagne, taupe, beige, gold, and bronze are safe bets no matter the type of red lipsticks you like, or your skin tone.

Be very careful working with blues, purples, greens, or pinks. If you really crave colored eyeshadows, stick to jewel tones.


Your eyebrows must have a presence to balance out a red lip. If they’re not naturally dark, you should absolutely fill them in, although the style doesn’t matter too much. From messy and bushy to super groomed, anything works. Just make sure to choose a shade that is a couple shades lighter than your hair, and fill in as you like.


Contour and highlight can really elevate your red lipstick look, by giving your face extra dimension. If you’re wearing a warm red lipstick, opt for golden highlights, and keep the cool-toned highlights for blue-based red lipsticks. Avoid overly bright blushes, and opt instead for neutral, toned down colors.

How to Match Red Lipstick to Your Outfit

Since red is such a strong primary color, wearing it with different styles and shades will create a totally different effect on your overall look. Here are the best ways to style outfits when your lips are painted a seductive red!

How to Match Red Lipstick to Your Outfit


All neutral outfits go well with red lipsticks. Whether you’re a fan of the all-black uniform, or you like serene whites, you can interject glamour and brightness into any of these colors with a red lip. The same is true for browns and grays.


So you want to wear red with red? This can be difficult to pull off well, but if you can make it happen the result is very attractive. When pairing red lips with red clothing items you absolutely must have a perfect match.

A warm red lip with a blue-based red dress will look off, for example. If you go this route, make sure to add some neutral or metallic accessories to break up the color.

Color Blocking

A primary color like red is absolutely perfect in color-blocked outfits! To do this perfectly you can take note from style icons like Sasha Velour.

Wearing a complementary color or split complementary pattern with red lips would likely be too much, but adding two analogous colors like orange and red or magenta and purple can look great.


Just thinking about a slinky gold dress paired with a sexy red pout and lush loose hair makes me shiver. All shades of metallics work well with reds, much the same way neutrals do.

Golds and metallic blacks go well with all shades of red lipstick, silvers pair better with cool reds, and coppers are perfection with a warm red lip. You can also simply accessorize a more neutral outfit with your favorite metallic jewelry.

Retro Patterns and Styles

Since red lipsticks instantly make us think about the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, it only makes sense to pair them with vintage patterns and silhouettes, like vintage jeans. Wear your cool red lipstick with a 1950s-style hoop skirt and bright colors, while you can reserve your true red lipsticks and warm reds for a more subdued ‘40s dress or a rockabilly look. Polka dots, sweetheart necklines, and bustiers are highly encouraged!

Casual Looks

Red lipsticks are the makeup equivalent of kitten heels. They instantly dress up any outfit you might wear. While red lipstick won’t really work with your yoga pants and Uggs, it can definitely look lovely and appropriate with a pair of jeans and a solid cotton T-shirt in a neutral or color-blocking shade.

When Can I Wear Red Lipstick?

For me personally, it’s really hard to wear red lipstick for anything other than special events. It just seems like too much – too fancy, and not casual enough. On the inside, I know I’m wrong, because I always admire my more adventurous friends when they rock their red lip at the mall, in the office, or even when we just hang out at their apartments.

If you’re like me, and you don’t feel comfortable wearing a true red to anything other than a wedding or party, that doesn’t mean these reds are totally unavailable to you the rest of the time.

On my list of the best red lipsticks, I also suggest some subtle berry reds and orange reds that can work beautifully in daytime, especially when their finish is not too loud, like a satin or a matte. Reserve the brighter, lighter shades of red lipstick for summertime, while opt for brick reds and mattes for the fall and winter.

When do you like to wear red lipstick? Do you have your own favorite red lipsticks? Share your thoughts with us!

Photos via @evelinekarlsen, Instagram