If you struggle with how to pair makeup with red lipstick, you're not alone. It can be intimidating to figure out how to balance that attention-commanding color.
But don't let fear stray you away from the best red lipstick – there's a way of wearing it that'll suit everyone that's as out there, or as toned-down, as you like. Whether you're looking for a festive feel with Christmas makeup, or want everyday eyeshadow looks for something more subtle. "The nice thing about red lips is that you can let them do the talking," says makeup artist Ruby Hammer. "Think beautiful, naturally glowy skin, a hint of blush, brushed-up brows, and nothing on the eyes." She continues, "It’s totally about the look you want to achieve and when you’re wearing it – a red can look great with a smokey eye and heavy eyeliner but would be better suited to an evening event rather than day-to-day."
Global Senior Artist for MAC Cosmetics, Dominic Skinner prefers to take the minimal route. "The best thing about wearing a red lip is that everything else can be pared right back. A red lip with a fully loaded lash always looks chic whether you wear it with jeans and a t-shirt or your LBD." There are no real rules when it comes to any makeup look, but there are always fail-safe combinations that you can rely on. Scroll away to find the ultimate inspiration for makeup with red lipstick.
14 ideas for makeup with red lipstick
1. Classic cat-eye flicks
Red lipstick is one of the beauty world’s true classics, so what better way to complement it than to lean into the timeless feel with liquid liner flicks? This potentially-retro combination is modernized with a fresh, glowing base and a perky blush. Gorgeous.
KVD Vegan Beauty Tattoo Liner | RRP: $23/£19
Tattoo by name, tattoo by nature. This is one of the most long-wearing, best eyeliners I've ever tried, and I'm especially fussy when it comes to liquid liners. They need to not drag, give sharp lines, not smudge and last all day. This ticks all those boxes.
2. Soft smokey metallics
Some of the easiest tones for makeup with red lipstick are metallics, and Sofia Vergara combines a bronze, radiant base with elements of glint and gold around her eyes. These complement the caramel and toffee tones in her hair beautifully, giving a glamorous, Hollywood look.
3. Notes of navy
Navy is an underrated shade when it comes to eyeshadow. I suppose it’s not the obvious choice when it comes to makeup with red lipstick, but really it’s a gorgeous, grown-up tone that will compliment cool-toned reds especially well. Andie has added navy liner on the upper lash line, which pairs beautifully with the stone eyeshadow she also wears.
4. Gold shimmer shadow
This look is not strictly just for Christmas, but there’s something so festive and joyful about the combination of gold glitter and a bright pillarbox red. Taylor wears a few different shades of gold on the lid but adds a touch of sparkle with gold shimmer on the lower lash line.
5. Bright, light neutrals
When you’re using a show-stopping, shiny red like Rihanna has, you may want to balance things out by opting for a lighter, more understated eye. Rather than a neutral beige, she’s chosen to brighten things up with a fresh light cream shade, as well as some liquid liner and false eyelashes.
Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 Palette | RRP: $29/£26
Urban Decay do neutrals so well, and this compact version of the iconic Naked palette will be one of your most-used buys. They blend together beautifully, and the lighter, brighter shades will especially come in handy to complement vibrant lip colors.
6. A pop of pink
I am a sucker for the combination of pink and red. When paired together it just sparks real joy in me, and that’s clearly the case for Reese too - note the dress. It makes sense why this makeup with red lipstick look works - opting for similar tones of the same color (pink, after all, is just a lighter version of red) makes matching easy and helps the look feel cohesive.
7. Minimalist, to the max
She’s the queen of that understated, cool-girl look, so if you want to pair makeup with red lipstick the Alexa way, keep the rest of your make-up relatively bare. A natural base, a subtle, pinched blush and nearly-nude eyes is all you need to complete this look.
Glossier Lash Slick | RRP: $18/£16
For those days when you don't want full-blown va-va-voom volume on the lashes, this is the perfect everyday option. It gives definition and hold, while still looking quite natural. Glossier has also launched this in a brown shade, for an even more understated look.
8. Silver swoon
When you’re wearing an orange-toned red, you can neutralize it with a cool tone like silver. Maya’s opted for a shimmery silver, which looks so stylish with her super-light, sheer base. When it comes to one-tone eye colors, how you apply it can really transform the look - treat it like a liner and go for a minimal swipe, or go all over the lid and combine with kohl for a more intense hit of color.
MAC Dazzleshadow Extreme Eyeshadow in Discoteque | RRP: $23/£18.50
Sticking to just one shade is a simple, impactful eyeshadow trick, and it works especially well when it's a slightly shimmery silver. You can apply this in a few different ways. Tap with your fingers for a sheer look, or sweep it on with a brush for a more iridescent look. For a highly-pigmented extra shimmery finish, apply with a damp shadow brush.
9. Fresh, dewy skin
According to Skinner, Helen Mirren's look could be the ultimate makeup with red lipstick trick for a youthful vibe. "If you wear a red lip with fresh dewy skin and a wash of mascara, it could take years off you." Sold. Helen's light, radiant base gives her look a glow that pairs beautifully with her cherry-red lip.
Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser | RRP: $46/£33
This is one of the best tinted moisturizer options out there. It's breathable, flattering, and gives that perfect 'your skin, just better' finish. Pair your favorite red lippie with this base for laid-back weekend plans, to give it an elevated feel.
10. Wearable browns
Dial down the intensity of a vibrant red by pairing it with neutral browns and bronzes. Kelly shows us how it's done by balancing a high-shine lip with a matte mix of chocolate and toffee tones, picking a warm blusher and bronzer combo to tie it all together.
11. Smudgy kohl
If you find kohl scary, I understand. There can be a fine line between cooly undone smudgy and ‘I didn't take off my mascara last night’. Take the liner along your lid to make this look more intentional, and avoid the water line if it starts feeling a bit too gothic for you. I happen to love that goth vibe, but I get that Wednesday Adams isn’t for everyone.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Satin Kajal Liner in Black | RRP: $26/£20
The eyeliners are the real hero in Victoria Beckham's beauty line. Gorgeously soft, wearable, and the ultimate accompaniment to your smokey eye. The smudger at the end is especially handy to diffuse the color, for that perfectly 'done-undone' finish.
12. Wearable gray tones
Dove grey is a gorgeously understated color, so it’s a great choice for makeup with red lipstick for every day. Sandra’s given the single shade more definition by adding a sleek swish of eyeliner and false eyelashes.
Bobbi Brown Soft Powder Matte Eye Shadow in Heather | RRP: $25.50/£23.50
I have a thing for single eyeshadows - I just find them so useful. Big palettes are great but you almost never wear all the shades. Bobbi browns’ singles are soft, silky, and easy to apply, and this is the most gorgeously understated heather gray.
13. Soft purples
Purple may not be your first thought for makeup with red lipstick (I admit if someone had suggested it to me blind I would slightly wince with fear) But actually, seeing how Viola’s styled it makes it feel very wearable and pretty. It’s subtly done, but it works beautifully against the cool blue tones of the red.
IT Cosmetics Superhero No-Tug Eyeshadow Stick in Epic Amethyst | RRP:
Eyeshadow sticks mean you can apply any color in a flash, and this kind-to-eyes buy is one of the best eyeshadow sticks in my kit. It doesn’t drag, gives a nice amount of pigment, and comes in the perfect, non-scary everyday shade of purple.
14. Party jewels
For an all-out party look, take inspiration from Emma Stone and jazz up your cat eye flick by swapping black for sparkly silver. She's upped the ante with some jewels, which is extremely extra, but in the best possible way. This may not be an everyday look for popping to the shops in, but it's a gorgeously striking idea for makeup with red lipstick.
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Rhiannon Derbyshire is the Senior Beauty Editor for Woman & Home and other publications.
She started interning for glossy magazines while working alongside her Fashion Journalism degree. There, she was lured to the beauty desk, seduced by matte lipsticks, posh shampoos, and every skincare product imaginable. 10+ years into her career, she can confidently tell you why the best mascaras are always high street, and why SPF is a non-negotiable all year round. Ask her about her curly hair routine, skincare minimalism, and how to find the exact right red lipstick