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The Classic Red Lip Reinvented

The powerful effects of a classic red lip dates back to prehistoric times. And since then, iconic women have painted their pouts red through the ages. This timeless shade demands attention, seduces onlookers and boosts the confidence of every women who is willing to push her look with a standout hue. From old Hollywood glamour to modern day starlets, a classic red lip is ultra chic.

This statement-making color has taken on a whole new modern edge, from vibrant shocks of fiery orange-red to deep shades of burgundy and bordeaux, with sheer, matte, stain, ombré, or high-octane wet shine finishes. A red lip is extremely versatile and can add the finishing touch to every fashion choice.

Finding that signature red can be immensely overwhelming whether you’re a risk taker ready to revamp your pout or like playing it safe and are easing into this classic look. Whatever it might be, we can help you find the best shades of red to compliment every skin tone.

The color of the skin surface is somewhat transparent, but the skin also carries a subdued underlying color know as the undertone. The combination of the two can help you identify if a cool versus a warm tone red will best enhance your overall look.

East Asian skin is typically considered to have yellow undertones. However, this can be misleading and cause East Asian lipstick wearers to automatically gravitate towards warmer red tones. East Asians can actually have cool or warm undertones depending on the skin’s surface tone. In general, the lighter the surface tone the more likely the undertone will fall into the category of cool or cool to neutral. The darker the surface tone the the more likely the undertone will be warm or warm to neutral.

South Asian ethnicities have a golden/olive hue to their skin. Depending on the surface tone they can be olive to cool, olive to warm or neutral toned. Darker skin tones carry more yellow to red undertones and very dark skin tones can have red, blue or olive undertones.

Knowing your skin’s undertone can act as a guideline to a rainbow of complimentary colors. But if you’re unsure, no need to fret, the following is a cheat sheet to the fashion industry’s most coveted lipstick colors.


Red Lip Inspiration Board

Surface tone - Light-Skinned

UndertoneCool/Cool to Neutral

Red TonePink, Rose, Berry & Blue Reds

  • Chanel Rouge Allure – Passion 104
  • Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy – Hot 401
  • Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipstick – Sunny Red 313
  • Tom Ford – Crimson Noir
  • Burberry Lip Velvet- Fuchsia Pink 309

Surface toneMedium-Skinned

UndertoneWarm/Warm to Neutral

Red tone - Orange, Orange-Brown and Burgundy Reds

  • Chanel Rouge Coco – Gabrielle 444
  • Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy – Teatro 402
  • Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipstick – Vivid Rose 311
  • Tom Ford – Scarlet Rouge
  • Burberry Lip Velvet – Hawthorn Berry 312

Surface toneDark-Skinned

UndertoneWarm to Olive

Red toneCrimson, Deep Plums or Bordeaux Reds

  • Chanel Rouge Coco – Etienne 446
  • Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy – Downtown 403
  • Cle de Peau Enriched Lip Luminizer – Dark Berry 212
  • Tom Ford – Black Dahlia
  • Burberry Lip Velvet – Bright Popp 311

Surface toneAll


Red toneTrue Red

  • Chanel Rouge Allure – Pirate 99
  • Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy – True Red 400
  • Cle De Peau Enriched Lip Luminizer – Deep Red 211
  • Tom Ford – Cherry Lush
  • Burberry Lip Velvet – Military Red 310

Makeup application is an artistry with no true rules. Though there are general guidelines, the boundaries can always be challenged. Experiment in creating your own modern-day equivalent of this ever-so-chic classic red lip that has stood the test of time.

Dawn Vetter is a makeup artist and licensed medical esthetician with over two decades of experience in the cosmetic and beauty industry. She has worked with some of the most influential forces in beauty, including Shiseido, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown and Armani. Dawn concentrates on the health of skin and continuously researches the latest skincare treatments.   

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