Cool, Warm, Or Neutral: How To Tell Which Red Lipstick Tone Is Right For You

The very first red lipcolors were made from crushed gemstones, and were sported by people in Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago (via Besame). Throughout history, forms of red lipcolor were worn in countless cultures and time periods, from ancient Egypt to ancient Greece. And while formulations, cultural associations, and opinions of red lipstick have shifted over time, one thing still remains the same: this bold fashion statement still turns heads and grabs attention. 

In allied nations like The United States and Great Britain during World War II, women wore red lipstick as a form of protest against fascism, as it was widely believed that Hitler hated red lipstick. Today, wearing red lipstick can conjure feelings of a retro vibe for that reason. It can also be a fully-modern feeling look, which has lately been sported by pop culture powerhouses like Taylor Swift.

So if you are looking to create a red lipstick look all your own, you have countless brands, formulas, and shades to choose from. How do you decide if a cool, warm, or neutral red will look the most stunning and the most seamless on your face? First, it helps to determine whether your own skin tone is warm, cool, or neutral.       

How to figure out your own skin tone

Figuring out your skin tone might seem confusing, but it's simpler than you may think. The key is to look beneath your skin by noticing what color your veins appear to be when looking at a part of your body where you can see them through the skin, like perhaps on the inside of your wrist (via Good Housekeeping). 

If your veins appear to be blue in color, then you have cool toned skin. If they appear to be more green in color, then you have warm toned skin. And if your veins appear to be both green and blue, or seem to be a bluish green, then you likely have neutral-toned skin. When choosing makeup, it's a good idea to pick colors that have a complementary tone to your skin. Meaning, if you have cool-toned skin, choosing cosmetics that also have a cool tone is likely to help create a look that appears harmonious with your natural face. 

Where it comes to red lipstick specifically, how do you tell if a shade is cool, warm, or neutral?    

Which red lipstick will look best on you

When choosing a red lipstick and trying to determine whether a shade is cool, warm, or neutral, you'll want to notice whether the red leans more toward orange or slightly more toward purple. If a lipstick is fire engine red, for instance, it is likely slightly more orangey in color, which makes it a warm red and a perfect choice for people with warm-toned skin (via Lovely Skin). 

If a red lipstick shade looks just a bit in purple or pink, you are looking at a cool-toned shade, also known as a "blue red." This type of red will likely look best on a person with a cool skin tone. Meanwhile, a lipstick that doesn't seem to lean in the direction of either orange or blue and instead appears to be a "true red" is considered neutral. A neutral red will look lovely on a person with neutral skin tone. Also, if you have a neutral skin tone, you could play up either your cool or warm tones by choosing either a cool red or warm red, rather than a neutral red. 

At the end of the day, however, it's all about the look you want to create! If you are aiming to match your lips to a fire engine red dress even though you have cool undertones, go for it! If you have a warm skin tone but feel like wearing a blue red to herald the coming of spring blooms, do it!