The Best Makeup Tips For Red Hair

How to channel these natural (and not-so-natural) redheads.
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Michelle Villett
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How to channel these natural (and not-so-natural) redheads.
Amy Adams redhead makeup

I've been obsessed with Amy Adams lately, and my Christina Hendricks fixation goes way back. But now, may I share the latest bit of breaking news? It's just been announced that Amy will play Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman remake. I like this casting a lot better than, say, Teri Hatcher... but I'm not gonna lie, that opinion is 100 percent based on her hair colour, which I am once again slowly inching toward. (Although I'll probably stop at the strawberry, since I don't really have the colouring to properly fake it.)

But if YOU can pull off faux red—or if you're lucky enough to be a natural—then this post is for you! While I'm obviously totally jealous of your hair colour, there are definitely some makeup challenges that come along with it.

Here's the q from reader Jessica:

"I'm a blond gone red, and would love some makeup tips. I tend to stay pretty basic—fill in my brows a bit, brown liner, mascara because I love my long lashes, sometimes some lipstick, sometimes liquid liner if it's a special occasion. But I'd love to try some different party looks, and love Michelle Williams' no-makeup looks where the eyes are defined in a way but not obviously, with glowy skin. But I'm concerned with my red hair that I can't pull that off."

Actually? I think you redheads can pull off a wider variety of looks/colours than you think.

Christina-Hendricks-red-lip

This touches on the philosophy that Giorgio Armani's Reza Zaimeche shared with us in this vid, about how he thinks there are no colour rules anymore for makeup. (Your makeup base? Yes. But not the rest.) More recently, celebrity colourist Marie Robinson told me that the same thing applies to hair: you can choose any colour, but it's about finding the tone within that range that works for your particular skin tone.

So that's my first point—be brave! And just try experimenting with colours that you find yourself drawn to.

But of course, I always have a few additional pointers... with helpful visual examples not just from Amy and Christina, but also Isla Fisher, Bryce Dallas Howard and (the formerly red) Emma Stone!

How to prep your skin for makeup if you're a redhead

Isla-Fisher

DO: Make sure you've selected the right foundation colour and have concealed any areas of discolouration, and especially redness (it will fight with your hair).

DON'T: Try to hide your freckles, if you have them. Look for a sheer foundation and match it (and your concealer) to your actual skin tone, NOT the darker freckle tone. Otherwise you'll look silly and kind of like a reverse Eagle. See how Bryce's freckles are showing through, below?

Bryce-Dallas-Howard

DO: Wear a peachy blush. This is especially important if you have brown eyes and your skin is more on the warm side (like Isla's), but even blue-eyed redheads with more porcelain or cool-toned skin (like Christina, Amy and Emma) wear the peaches well. Pink is much trickier—as you can see above, it's giving Bryce a very ruddy-looking complexion and sort of sits on top of her skin instead of blending in. #BlushFail

DON'T: Wear bronzer. Or at least go easy on it. Sweeping generalization here, but to me, it's too close in colour to your hair, and I think what's prettiest about redheads is emphasizing that gorgeous contrast between the hair and the skin.

How to play up your eyes if you're a redhead

Emma-Stone-red-hair-navy-eyeliner

DO: Have fun with colour. As demonstrated by both Emma and Isla, navy eyeliner looks a-MAZ-ing when used to line the lower inner rims. (In fact, I'm not even a redhead and I replicate this look quite often.) But soft browns, taupes, bronzes and even muted greens and purples would also be pretty, in either shadows or liners.

DON'T: Wear black. I just think it's too harsh for most redheads' colouring. See what I mean?

Christina-Hendricks-SAG-Awards

DO: Wear black mascara. Lots of peeps say that redheads (and blondes, for that matter) should stick with browns, but I'm a firm believer that everyone's lashes look better in black.

DON'T: Forget to fill in, or even tint, your eyebrows. Despite what we may have seen on the runways in seasons past, you don't want them to disappear from your face. Nor do you want them to clash with your colour, if you're a faux redhead. Most salons will tint your brows free of charge if you ask while you're getting your colour done. Don't let them do a perfect match, but just enough to cut the ashiness and harmonize with the hair on your head. (Proceed with caution if you tint your own eyebrows at home... it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.)

Amy-Adams-Oscars-2010

DO: Be careful with cool-toned shadows, like Amy is wearing above. (And she's also proving my point about black eyeliner.) Paired with the cool-pink of the lipstick, it's just not harmonizing with her skin tone.

My advice: If you go cool on the eyes, do warmer cheeks and lips to counteract it. Here's another shot of Christina to show you what I mean.

Christina-Hendricks-grey-eyeshadow

She's got grey eyeshadow as well, but does it with a warmer lip.

How to play up your lips if you're a redhead

Amy-Adams-makeup

DO: Make a soft peach or pink lip gloss your go-to. As per the blush, peaches are generally easier—but see how great Amy looks, above, with the barest pop of sheer pink? The lips are still very soft, and the rest of her makeup is warm, so it works. (Also notice the black mascara!)

Emma-Stone-red-lips

DON'T: Be afraid of red. A bright, bold, highly-pigmented red is easiest to pull off if you're working with an darker auburn hair colour like Emma's here. When your hair is closer to the lipstick colour, it's trickier... but if you can borrow some of Christina's beauty confidence, it definitely CAN work...

Christina-Hendricks-Golden-Globes-20101

DON'T: Wear full-blown orange. That's probably the only colour that I suggest you banish from your makeup bag, simply because it's too close in tone to your hair colour. Instead, go for warm reds with a hint of gold, like Amy is wearing here:

Amy-Adams-red-lips

DO: Steer yourself toward berry-pink shades instead of the fuchsias and hot pinks. Like we saw above on Amy, above, such cool colours are harder for redheads to pull off. Going with something in the same pink family, but with a hint more red in it, will improve things times a billion. Check out this lip on Christina and you'll see what I mean:

Christina-Hendricks-pink-lips

And here is one final example on my girl Amy.

Amy-Adams-berry-lipstick

Whew! That was a lot of makeup. And, er, probably enough photographic documentation of Amy and Christina to last the next six months. I'll take a breather from my obsessions for the next little while—promise!

Have your say

Are you currently—or have you ever been—a real or faux redhead?
What is/was your go-to redhead makeup look?
Who's your favourite red-haired celeb?