Your Guide to The “Perfect Red”

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That’s right: this beauty must just got a whole lot more attainable. You’ve enviously eyed it as the gurus strut by. You’ve dreamed about stumbling into Sephora as it magically appears on the first shelf you see. You’ve searched high and low for the secret formula that no one wants to share.

Well, guess what– we’re sharing it. And it’s not as hard as you thought.

In fact, it’s as simple as complimentary colors… because that’s all it is. Remember this from elementary art class?


In case you need a refresher, to find complimentary colors, all you have to do is look directly across. For example, red and green are complimentary colors (way to go, Christmas!), as are blue and orange, yellow and purple, etc.

If we apply it to the world of makeup, it becomes a quick and easy chart to help guide your lipstick-looking.


Just find your complexion and follow the corresponding lips. It’s an “opposites attract” kind of deal. Here’s the breakdown:

Pale/Cold Complexion (Blue Lip Area)

You’ll want to look for a moderate red, even something on the orange-y side. Take a page from the always lovely Ann Hathaway.


See how she has a cooler complexion and the lipstick is a little warmer? That’s why it works. Also it’s Ann Hathaway.

Try: Milani Color Statement LipstickMatte Passion ($5.79, Walgreen’s)

Fair/Warm Complexion (Yellow Lip Area)

You might still be on the paler side, but your skin is a little pinker as opposed to translucent. The warmer undertones in your skin makes a more purpley red perfect for you!


Thanks for setting a fab example, Uma!

Try: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick, Cherry Blossom ($7.99, Walgreens)

Olive/Medium Complexion (Green Lip Area)

You can stick with the truer reds that can border on having a purple hue, but a real tried-and-true red is definitely for you.


If Jessica Alba can wear it, so can you!

Try: MAC Retro Matte Lipstick, Relentlessly Red ($16, Nordstrom)

Dark/Cool Complexion (Purple Lip Area)

If you have deeper skin tones, you can definitely pull off the brighter reds. The hotter the red, the hotter the you! 


I mean, who doesn’t want to look like Kerry Washington?

Try: NYX Cosmetics Matte Lipstick, Pure Red ($5.99, Ulta)

Basically, the chart should help you if you (1) find the description of your complexion, (2) notice the colors the words cover, (3) look across to the see the lips that same color, and (4) find a red lipstick with the tones of the underlying colors. Cooler tones will want warmer reds, and warmer tones will want cooler reds. Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t pull off a different temperature red– the color wheel helps you find the red lipstick that looks most natural for your face. If you’re going for shock factor, you can still wear a dark or bright red if it’s working for you! No matter the lipstick, the real secret to rocking red lips is having the confidence to match– and I know you can handle that.

What’s your signature red?

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Angelina Hoidra

Beauty Editor: A college senior in DC trying to find the balance between Whitman and Wilde and stopping at Sephora along the way.

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