Valentine’s Day is coming up and wearing red is one of my favorite ways to celebrate… but red can be a scary color to wear. So many people tell me that they love the color red… wish they could wear red… but can’t wear red because it just doesn’t look good on them.
When women tell me they can’t wear read, it’s because they’re wearing the WRONG red. Red is simply a hue. A name of a color. There are a lot of shades of red. Red is such a simple word, but when you start to look around, you’ll discover that the word “red” isn’t enough to determine if the color will look good on you.
I’m here to tell you that EVERYONE can wear red. Yes. Even you.
Let me be more specific… Everyone can wear true red. This is the red on the color wheel that is a true neutral red with no yellow or blue added to it.
As soon as you add yellow to red, it becomes a warm red. Or if you add blue to red, it becomes a cool red. This is important when trying to understand which red looks best on you.
So, what shade of red will make heads turn… and have people exclaim, “Wow! You look fantastic!”
Yes, this includes lipstick colors.
When trying to figure out if a color looks best on you, there are 3 things to take into consideration.
1. The Color’s Brightness or Softness
You, personally, have a natural level of chroma. A level of saturation. Your best shade of red will be in perfect alignment with your natural coloring and tone. So, if you have soft tones, then soft reds will look best. If you have brightness or high contrast, then brighter reds (not muted) will look better on you.
How saturated a color is the chroma. Clear chroma colors have no grey added to them. They can be light or dark, just not greyed or muted. Muted colors have grey added to them… muting them and softening them.
If you can actually find a true, neutral red, then focus on whether you should be wearing a bright red or a muted red. In my opinion, that’s the most important factor when deciding if a color is right for you.
Below is an example of a soft red. True red that is softened a bit by grey and white…
And here’s an example of a bright red…
If a color is too bright for you, it will wear you. A person will notice the color first. “Whoa, that’s quite a color you’re wearing there…”
If the color is too muted for you, it will drain you. People may ask you if you’re tired today.
So, it’s really important for you to understand if your overall coloring and tone is soft or bright. You can learn more about this concept of soft vs bright here. There are also some really fun online tools in my Style Club that will allow you to see your face in different color wheels to determine if you bright or soft. This is going to make the biggest difference for you when choosing colors for yourself.
2. The Color’s Temperature
Is the red you’re looking at warm, cool or true?
True red can be tough to find. Most of the time, you’re going to find reds that have some yellow or blue added to them.
If you have warm undertones, then reds with yellow added to them will be perfect on you. Tomato red. Salmon. Orange-red. These are warm reds.
If you have cool undertones, then reds with blue added to them will be perfect on you. Blue-Reds. Magentas. These are cool reds.
Watch this video I created that explains the color theory behind what shade of red will look perfect on you…
Take a look at the bright reds in the image below. These are reds that do not have any grey added to them. They are clear in chroma. The starred column is your neutral red. This means that it doesn’t matter if you have warm undertones or cool undertones. Anyone with bright chroma can wear these reds. As you add yellow to the red, the color gets warmer. If you have warm undertones, then salmon and tomato red will look great on you. As you add blue to red, the color gets cooler. If you have cool undertones, then hot pink and magenta will look great on you.
Now, look at the soft reds in the image below. These are reds that have some grey added to them. They are muted in chroma. The starred column is your neutral red. This means that it doesn’t matter if you have warm undertones or cool undertones. Anyone with soft chroma can wear these reds. Just like in the bright reds in the image above, when you add yellow to the red, the color gets warmer. When you add blue to red, the color gets cooler.
If you would like a printable color sheet of these reds, you can download it for free here.
So, let’s recap. The perfect shade of red for you needs to:
1. Align with your natural chroma. Soft or bright?
2. Align with your natural undertones. Warm or cool?
3. The Color’s Depth
There’s one more thing to think about when deciding what shade of red is perfect for you. How dark you should go with your red? I’ve only talked about the chroma and hue. Should you be wearing a bright tomato red or a soft magenta. But what if you don’t want to wear the brightest version of that color? What if you want to wear a lighter color or darker color?
When you look at the images above, you’ll notice that the third row is the brightest of that color. No black or white has been added. Going up, white is added to lighten the color. The fourth row has black added to darken the color.
The rule of thumb is: Never wear a color that is darker than your darkest feature. This is when a color can become too harsh. This is why someone who is very fair can’t really wear super dark lips and why someone with dark hair and fair skin looks amazing in a dark lip.
Now that you have an idea of what shade of red looks best on you, answer these questions in the comments:
- Are you bright or soft?
- What shade of red looks best on you?
- Which shade of red looks awful?