#TuesdaysWithLarry: The Right Red Lipstick For Your Skin Tone

Expert tips on how to master the classic makeup look


Ah, the Red Lipstick. What some are afraid to wear, and others guilty of wearing too much. Coupled with a beautifully filled-in brow, a clean eye with a thin eyeliner, and loads of mascara to balance it all – that’s what makes a fantastic, polished made-up look. 

Yes, the above-mentioned combination is required to balance the bold red lip. Too much eye makeup and blush will make you look like an IG wannabe with that look-away-in-the-distance look. The key here is to look polished, and not like we are ready to stand outside Orchard Towers or working/partying at BRIX or Attica.

If you have thin lips, it is best to keep the lip colour sheer or wear it as a stain. If not, you'll risk looking like you have a piece of dried chili padi where your lips should be.

All of us can rock a red lip. Why be afraid of the colour? It’s just makeup, not a lip tattoo. Now, let's talk about how to choose the right red for your lip.

Look At Your Original Lip Colour

Take a look at your natural lip colour. What do you see? Did the years of smoking stain your lip with a bluish, tar-induced hue? Did excessive tanning at Tanjong Beach over the past year make your skin slightly darkened around the lip line? Is your lip colour consistent, or do you see freckles?

Here are two options you can use to counter uneven lip colour:

1 Use a full coverage lip liner

Just follow the lip shape and fade it into the inner parts of the lips. How to choose the right lip liner colour? Pick one that is closest to your lipstick colour of choice.

MAC Lip Pencil, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil and Chanel Precision Lip Definer are a few amazing examples in the market. 


2 Use a lip tint to even out your lip colour before applying lipstick

Clinique Pop Lip Colour and Primer can help to remove any greyish lip line or uneven lip colour, while also moisturising the lip before you apply your lipstick. This will help to create an even lip tone without applying concealer or foundation over your lips.

You will know the colour is right for you when you apply a thin layer, blot away the excess with a tissue and all you get is one consistent, natural lip colour. You can even use it as an everyday colour on its own.

Check Your Skin's Undertone

For people who have blotches from rosacea, or flushed skin, use your foundation to create an even skin tone before using red lippies. This allows your lipstick to pop without enhancing the redness on your face.

Tired skin tend to have a grey undertone. Correct it by using a slightly warm foundation or use a primer with a pink/peach/apricot undertone (like MakeupForever Step1 primer in Cool Pink, Yellow, Peach and Caramel).

Once you use the right colour to mask the under-eye circle, your face will have a brightness and clarity that will allow your makeup colours to shine.

No, that orange-red lipstick worn by your favourite K-pop star isn’t for most, it brings a yellow sickly sallow skin tone out. And no, it will not make you look brighter. It makes you look like you have been suffering from diarrhea for the past week. #OhYesISaidIt

If you need to use a lot of blusher and bronzer to amp up skin tone, you're using the wrong foundation colour - EVEN OUT, not #WashedOut

Determine Your Skin Tone

For colour consistency and also to create an easier guide based on skin tone, I will be referring to MAC’s foundation chart in the NC range. You can check out the swatches here

Starting from the palest skin tone, it is best that you use a blue-based or cooler-hued lipstick. As we move to Light to Medium tone, neutral reds pop well on your skin tone. The warm hues of Olive and Honey skin tones work great with orange to burnt reds. Walnut and Ebony skin (with redder melanin hues) will appreciate berry reds to an almost-black plum red.

Here are my recommendations for red lipsticks, sorted by skin tone:



A classic red that works generally well for Light to Walnut skin is MAC Viva Glam 1 (especially for those who have no idea where to start). Those who want to try reds but need to take baby steps, check out Chanel Rouge Coco in Arthur 440 or Lipstick Queen in Eden for a more transparent wash of starter reds (pictured below).


People often believe that using a blue-toned lipstick can make your teeth look whiter, but this depends on how yellow or stained your teeth are. If you have badly stained teeth, using a cooler-toned red lipstick may emphasise the yellowness and bring even more attention to the discolouration.

Now go forth and try red lipsticks. It’s just makeup, you can wipe it off anytime! Go play with it! And don’t worry - if I see you on the street with the wrong red lipstick, I will whip out my baby wipes and wipe it off your face. #SavingTheWorldOnePersonAtATime

For more from Larry Yeo, check out #TuesdaysWithLarry: Let's Talk About The Contouring Craze and #TuesdaysWithLarry: The Truth About Anti-Pollution Skincare.

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