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The 12 Best Red Lipstick Shades for Every Skin Tone

Scarlet, oxblood, and everything in between.

red lipstick
Edward BerthelotGetty Images

We all have our own ways of transforming our everyday selves into our more sophisticated alter-egos. While some of us rely on a curling iron and volumizing spray to add some sex appeal, others craft a seductive smoky eye. But if there's one thing that's truly universal when it comes to feeling like our most exciting selves, it's a big, bad, red lipstick. Swiping on such a bold color can have real mood-boosting effects, and takes any makeup look up a chic notch.

That said, there are a lot of people who insist that they just can't wear it. And to that, I say: You sure as hell can. It's just a matter of finding the right shade, finish, and method of application. Finding the red shade for your skin tone means the difference between looking like a silver screen siren and like you might still have ketchup on your face from dinner. Once you've nailed that, the opportunities are endless: Add a matte to your cart for a classic look that lasts all night, and keep a satin finish on hand for a touch of glossiness that looks pitch-perfect for daytime. Here, a mix of the most iconic shades to hit the market and our newer favorites to satisfy every mood, event, and whim that comes your way.

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For All Skin Tones
Rouge Dior Lipstick in 999
Dior sephora.com

To say this shade is a classic would be an understatement. It's been a red-carpet clutch staple for years, and for good reason: its creamy matte finish looks fab on just about everyone. 

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For Warm Skin Tones
MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson 2
PAT McGRATH LABS sephora.com

For ladies with warmer skin tones, the fiery orange undertones in this matte will add an extra glow to your complexion. 

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For Precise Application
Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored
FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna sephora.com

Rihanna said she'd give us a universal red, and damn, did she deliver. But the best part about this scarlet option is the applicator you apply it with, which is shaped to provide extra precision on your vermillion line and the "m" of your top lip. 

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For Cool Skin Tones
Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Dragon Girl
NARS sephora.com

This creamy pencil a staple for cool girls of every tone thanks to it's poppy red finish, and the fact that it won't budge through dinner, drinks, and the like.

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For Fair and Deep Skin Tones
MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Russian Red
MAC Cosmetics nordstrom.com

Ruby Woo gets all the hype when you think of MAC's iconic lipsticks, but we're partial to Russian Red, which has blue undertones that look flawless on both fair and deep skin tones (and they make your teeth look whiter.) 

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The French Classic
Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate
Chanel nordstrom.com

We'll call this a French red: Effortless, chic, and suited for both formal and fun situations. 

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For Deep Skin Tones
Rouge D'Armani Matte Lipstick in Lucky Red
Armani Beauty sephora.com

This electric cherry shade will pop on deeper skin tones, and will last through even the longest date night. 

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For Fair Skin Tones
Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red
Charlotte Tilbury amazon.com

The Hollywood sign comes to mind when we imagine this red. It's classic and glamorous, and looks particularly flattering on fairer skin tones. 

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A Vampy Red
Lip Color Lipstick in Scarlet Rouge
Tom Ford sephora.com

Tom Ford's formulas are creamy and comfortable, and this red is the vampiest of the bunch. Even after it wears away, it leaves a sexy stain that stays put. 

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The Scented Red
Le Rouge Parfum Scented Satin Lipstick in Heaven Rouge
By Kilian sephora.com

As if this hot red lipstick couldn't get chicer—look at that case—it also happens to be subtly scented with one of Kilian Hennessy's most intoxicating fragrances. 

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The Warm Red
Rouge Hermes Matte Lipstick in Rouge Casaque
Hermès https://www.neimanmarcus.com

It only takes one coat of this warm red shade to give you a warm red pout, but the precision tip is what makes this the perfect addition to your on-the-go kit. (And the casing is pretty enough to leave on your sink for the indefinite future.) 

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The Luxe Pick
Velvet Matte Lip Colour in Rouge Louboutin
Christian Louboutin sephora.com

You know that chic blood red shade you see on the soles of Christian Louboutin's iconic shoes? Now, you can have the same color on your lips for a big night out.  

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