Back in our Fall Makeup Forecast, we called out crimson lips as being big for fall, per the runways of Gucci, Cavalli, and Proenza. Like the season’s glamour curls and profusion of proper accessories, red lips impart the sort of magnetism associated with sirens like Rita Hayworth. But, as this is a major makeup statement, many women fear the red lipstick (understandably so). However, it’s a classic look that can work with a multitude of different styles, from fashionistas in their Fendi sunglasses to average Jane’s in their smart skirt.
We’re sure everyone’s tried on the wrong shade at some point, so you know how quickly this classic look can go crummy. To save you from a beauty version of the “mean reds,” we called up Kayleen McAdams, the delightful and talented makeup artist, and got her to divulge the best colors for everyone. Yes, everyone.
While there are lots of guides to picking your best red, we think it’s easiest to go by the undertone in your skin: pink or yellow. If your complexion has pink (cool) undertones, McAdams suggests picking a lipstick with similar undertone. “Look for a berry, brick red, or plum,” she says. “These shades can look really pretty if there’s a slight shimmer in them, like Chanel’s Red Dream.” Another smart option (especially if you don’t want a super bold look) is NARS Lip Stain Gloss in Indian Red. “While the color is pretty intense, the product isn’t, so you can apply a light coat and get a sheer look,” McAdams says. “Just add a few layers if you want a stronger color.” Women with yellow (warm) undertones look best in red lipsticks that are orangey, brownish, or yellow-based. A few of McAdams’s favorites include Spice It Up! by MAC, Real Red by Shiseido, and Red Premiere by Dior (a WWWD favorite).
Of course, we’d be remiss if we neglected to tell you about true reds—the universal shades that work on almost everyone. “These reds are “pure,” meaning they don’t show any noticeable undertone,” McAdams says. So, if for some reason you are unable to tell what color your skin’s undertones are (or just don’t care), pick a true red. McAdams also thinks these true reds are the best choice for fair-skinned ladies, regardless of skin undertones. “People with pale skin look great in true reds, so if you want to be safe, pick one of these rather than a pink or yellow-based lipstick,” she says. Some of her most-used shades include Jungle Red by NARS (a shade she used on her sister/client, Rachel McAdams, recently), Passion by Chanel, and Sabrina by Scott Barnes.