Scarlet lipstick has long been a beauty staple, lighting infernos throughout make up bags and party purses for decades. It immortalized screen sirens as icons to emulate, never ceasing to date and forever reinventing itself as the loudest lip of all. Scientifically proven to stop the opposite sex dead in their tracks and fittingly dubbed the ‘sexiest’ lip color in history, the perpetual pursuit of that perfect shade of red lipstick is a hunt we will never cease to abandon.
Statement lips can occasionally seem a little overwhelming, so be sure to handle with care and figure out which shade best suits your skin tone, hair and features to avoid a Joker-esque fiasco! One easy way to determine your undertone is by looking at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If the veins look blue, you're likely a 'cool'. If the veins appear greenish, you're likely a 'warm'. Keeping this big red rule of thumb in mind next time you’re on the pout peruse will keep you on the right track.
1. Marilyn Monroe
Features: Fairer skin tone, blonde, dark brows.
Miss Monroe was a beauty icon in more ways than one and it’s not hard to see why. With her all-consuming curves and buttery skin, the big guns in beauty clamored to get Monroe in their corner. Her signature pout transfixed the world and was supposedly mastered mixing five very different hues of red.
A go-to when time poor was Guerlain’s Rouge Diabolique. Although discontinued, Guerlain has duped this devilishly delicious shade with Rouge Automatique Liu.
2. Elizabeth Taylor
Features: Dark brows, blue/grey eyes and porcelain skin.
Liz was a true advocate for the power of the pout, famously quoted “pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and get over it.” With raven hair and dark, bold brows, experts say a little drama on the lips adds the perfect counter balance. To emulate the iconic Elizabeth Taylor, opt for something equally as punchy, with cool undertones in a cherry or burgundy red, lining the lips with Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Hyde Park.
3. Audrey Hepburn
Who could forget when Holy Go-Lightly exclaimed in the back of the cab “pass me my lipstick would you darling? A girl can’t read something like this without putting on her lipstick.” The role that made Hepburn a household name wasn’t too dissimilar from reality, as she was rarely spotted without her signature spidery lashes or strawberry stained mouth. For a subdued and elegantly understated pop of color, try Benefit Bene Tint.
4. Natalie Wood
Rebel Without a Cause (or a compact for that matter) solidified one of the most scene-stealing moments in film history. In floods of tears, Wood bellowed out “he started rubbing off my lipstick! I thought he was going to rub my lips off!” Natalie Wood dabbled in all shades of the red family with warm medium skin and big brown doe eyes, but was widely admired for her cherry glaze. Try Revlon’s Fire and Ice for an equally edible hue.
5. Grace Kelly
Features: Ash blonde hair, fair to light skin and blue eyes.
Princess Grace had refined red down to a mastered art, often seen sporting a raspberry red from the tennis court to the luxury yacht, reaffirming the perfect shade of matte red can be a faithful beauty signature, whatever the occasion. Dark, deep lip colors with gold undertones brighten up fairer hair and warm skin. Try Stilla Color Balm Lipstick in Ruby - balmy and nourishing enough for all daywear.
6. Lucile Ball
Features: Fair skin and fire engine red hair.
Lacquer up and gloss your heart out! Lucile Ball and her ‘bigger the better’ beauty mantra left many an admirer lusting over her toffee apple glossy lips. With her signature red hair, whiplash brows and ruby red nails, the I love Lucy star was a spokesperson for Max Factor, later updating her lip look and switching to subtle corals to avoid her signature red lip bleeding. Try M.A.C Vegas Volt Lipstick for a peachy burst of color.
7. Rita Hayworth
Rita, Rita, Rita! Without a doubt one of the most preferred pouts, Hayworth was famous for heavily lining her lips prior to slicking on her signature shade. A pioneer amongst screen sirens, it wasn’t long before stars in the masses followed suit. If you’re fairer, opt for a hue that compliments your skin tone and sets off your auburn tresses, the right shade will light up your look and emphasize whatever statement you choose to make. Try Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Colour in La Fascinante for that velveteen old-timely sheen.
Words by Ashley Ropati