makeup for redheads: everything you need to know

Makeup for Redheads: 8 of the best beauty tips

Everything you need to know about makeup for redheads (And other pale people…)

Makeup for redheads is one of those subjects that’s inexplicably much more complex than it really needs to be. I mean, hands up if any of these sound like you:

01. You always go straight for the palest foundation on the shelf – and it’s normally STILL too dark.

02. Your eyelashes are so pale, you look like you don’t have any.

03. You have so many freckles they can almost pass as a “sun tan”. Speaking of which…

04. You don’t tan. Ever.

05. There are approximately two shades of lipstick and one colour of blusher that actually suit you. They’re all discontinued.

06. When it comes to eyeshadow, your choices are brown, light brown, or … that’s it, really.

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these, then congratulations: you’re either:

a) ME.


b) Someone who looks a bit like me in terms of colouring: so, pale skin, red hair, non-existent eyelashes – you get the picture.

If so, these tips are for you…


makeup for redhead red hair makeup


Many redheads have eyelashes so pale they’re practically translucent, creating an odd, lash-less look. Mascara is all well and good, but you might not want to wear it all the time, and even when you do, you can still find yourself left with blonde roots. To prevent this, I’ve been dyeing my own eyelashes for years (If you’ve never tried it, you’ll find my tutorial here), and swear by it: I still wear mascara every day, but the fact that I don’t have to try to cover up blonde/translucent lashes every time I use it makes it easier to apply, and appear more polished when it’s on. Oh, and if I don’t want to wear mascara, at least I look like I actually HAVE eyelashes!


Brown eyeliner still emphasises the eye, but looks more natural, and less harsh against pale skin/red hair, than a jet black liner will.


I know a lot of redheads who think they can only wear brown mascara (or even clear, which is as close to useless as a beauty product can be). Actually, once it’s on your lashes, there’s not a huge amount of difference in colour between brown and black mascaras: I personally use black, because I like to exaggerate my lashes as much as possible, and I don’t think it looks odd, so don’t be afraid to give it a go – makeup for ginger hair doesn’t ALWAYS have to mean brown!


Pale skinned people can’t afford to go without sunscreen, especially during the summer, or if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. For years, I settled for whatever drugstore brand offered a high enough SPF – and inevitably ended up with a face like an oil slick, which was even whiter than before, thanks to the thick, gloopy formula. A few years ago, I was sent a tube of Lancome Genifique Soleil to review, and it was a complete game changer, because it applied like a regular moisturiser (and didn’t leave that tell-tale white residue behind!), but had a high enough SPF for my pale skin. It’s since been discontinued, and I’m on the hunt for a replacement: when I find one I love, I won’t hesitate to buy it, even if the price tag makes my eyes water – it makes such a difference to my skin and red hair makeup that it’s totally worth it!


If you’re pale, you know the search for foundation is never-ending – and even when you find one you think works, all it takes is a few days of sunshine, and your skin has changed colour just enough to make it unsuitable again. There’s no substitute for the perfect colour match, of course, but if you’ve yet to find it, a few drops of pure white foundation (MAC and Illamasqua both sell it) will allow you to dial down the shade of any regular foundation, to make it pale enough. You might not use it every day, but it’s a handy thing to have in your makeup bag for whenever you need ut,


Brow pencils generally come in brown or blonde, with not many brands producing a wide range of readhead makeup. This is a shame, because redheads have brows that need filling in too, and we don’t want to look like we drew them on with a sharpie. I always buy brow products aimed at people with blonde hair – it’s much closer to the colour of my natural brows, and can be topped up with brown eyeliner/eye shadow if necessary.


Red hair and freckles go hand-in-hand, and one mistake a lot of redheads make is to attempt to cover their freckles with foundation and/or powder, resulting in a very un-natural, caked-in-makeup look. Freckles are natural, though, and constantly attempting to fight your natural appearance will only make you even LESS happy with the way you look, so don’t worry about freckles showing through your foundation – they’re supposed to.


When you have red hair, you constantly find yourself being given “rules” about what you should and shouldn’t wear. Don’t wear pink, always wear coral, blue undertones look best – and so on and so forth. Actually, though, makeup for redheads isn’t that complicated – sure, it can be harder to find colours that works with your hair and skin tone, but it’s not impossible, and sometimes it can help to just ignore all of the so-called “rules”, and try some colours you’ve been told to avoid – the great thing about makeup for ginger hairis that it washes right off again if you don’t like it, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little: you might just like it.

It’s also worth remembering that all redheads are different, just as all blondes and brunettes are, so there’s really no “one colour suits all” solution. I’m constantly hearing people say that “redheads look great in X” or “redheads shouldn’t wear Y”, and I just think, “What, ALL of them?” Not all redheads look the same, so what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another: don’t be put off trying something because you’ve been told you “can’t” wear it, and don’t feel you have to wear something else because it supposedly looks good with your colouring – it might not!

What’s your favourite makeup for redheads?


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  • Catherine


    Hi Amber, it must be really satisfying to blog from your bedroom now it’s finished. It looks lovely, really fresh, and your dressing table is the perfect backdrop for a post like this.

    June 5, 2015
  • Jo


    Yup, that’s me described to a tee! As well as my lashes, I also dye my eyebrows, otherwise I look like I don’t have any of those either. After years of searching – and basically going for the palest available – I’ve found Boots No7 foundation in Calico is an excellent colour match for me, plus it’s SPF 15 – bonus! I just hope they don’t discontinue it, ever!

    June 5, 2015
  • That’s me!

    June 5, 2015
  • Ken Courtice


    Amber, I have to say that I am totally impressed with the quality of info you display here, but also the professional and stylish manner it is presented. As a former owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacy In I know about the beauty department . I have hired many beauty advisors for my business, I would rank you at or very near the top. Your readers should listen to you !

    June 5, 2015
  • Hi Amber, I will have a go on all these tips (even if i’m not a redhair) except for the eyelashes dye, something about having dye around that area (so close to the eyes) doesn’t sit well with me.

    June 5, 2015
  • Definitely with you on the sunscreen. I’m not a natural redhead, though I do dye my hair various shades of red / orange, but I’m naturally really pale so I daren’t go anywhere without it. I always buy moisturisers and foundation with SPF in it.

    June 5, 2015
  • Daisy


    I’m brunette but actually paler than the redheads in my family so all the pale skin stuff here is relevant to me!

    My favourite sunscreen is one of those really white ones actually, but as I’m so pale anyway I don’t think it makes any difference to my skintone (as long as I make sure it’s rubbed in!) – La Roche Posay Dry-Touch Gel Cream in SPF50. This is the 2nd suncream EVER that I’ve found doesn’t result in sticky skin. Considering the other one was Piz Buin and my face reacted into millions of tiny pus-filled blisters which didn’t go away for weeks, I’m pretty smitten with the La Roche Posay! Horrendously expensive but, like you say, you really appreciate the good ones when you find them.

    I’ve recommended Calico to you in the past too! Be interested to read your review, if and when you get some.

    June 5, 2015
    • Liz in Paris


      Another shout-out for LRP Dry Touch SPF 50. We (hub & I, both very pale) have been using it for ages and love it! It’s not that expensive here (France), although we get through the small tube fairly fast so I usually make sure I’ve got a backup one (or two).

      June 6, 2015
  • Pretty much the reason I don’t own foundation :/

    June 5, 2015
  • I am not a redhead, but I definitely have the same problem with foundation, almost everything is too dark.

    June 5, 2015
  • Pihla


    MAC has two rather good eyebrow pencil shades for redheads! Strawberry Blonde is the lighter one, and it looks great even on extremely pale brows.

    June 5, 2015
  • I have the eyelash issue being blonde, I dye them every 4 weeks

    June 5, 2015
  • June 5, 2015
  • Katarina


    This post is really helpful and I loved the pictures of you – you look absolutely stunning.

    Since I also have red hair and fair skin I can’t be outside a lot during the summer. For many years I have disliked using sunscreen as it always left my face feeling sticky and last year I even got pimples and other skin problems. This year I have been using Vichy’s Idéal Soleil with SPF 50 and it’s a wonderful product! It doesn’t feel sticky, nor does it leave and kind of residue. It’s almost like the skin sucks it up and it just makes the skin really smooth. I am very satisfied and I recommend it dearly. You should try it Amber – I think you would love it!

    Loads of love,

    June 5, 2015
  • My hair is not naturally red, but I have red highlights, and red is in the family. So, I have many of the issues gingers typically have, and I even have true ginger friends who acknowledge me as a ginger, even knowing that I’m not truly one. Plus, I steal souls… 😛

    June 5, 2015
  • Pretty much except for a have a light dabble of freckles. And I’d make a polar bear look tanned

    June 5, 2015
  • As a fellow redhead I love that you’ve laid out such a basic primer! Great stuff that I wish my teenaged self had known about.

    Anastasia Beverly Hills is forever on my naughty list for discontinuing their Strawburn shade, which was the only natural-looking redhead brow shade ever.

    Batiste has also discontinued their dry shampoo for redheads, which was such an amazing find and now… gone! Cosmetics companies sure love to break our hearts.

    Did you ever try the Nars blush in Sex Appeal? It’s a great matte shade for redheads and I love it!

    By the way, your vanity looks amazing and you look stunning in that dress!

    June 6, 2015
  • Trudy


    You are so right about people lumping all redheads in one group together. It’s stupid, really! As if all blondes are the same shade, or even the same eye colour or skin tone. I have a friend who has red hair, and so does her sister, but they are both different shades of red (my friend more orangy-red, her sister a beautiful deep red), and different eye colours (my friend has blue, her sister dark hazel green), and they both suit completely different colours. I always say try whatever you feel like – if it doesn’t work you don’t have to do it again!

    I am on the hunt for a decent sunscreen as well. Any moisturiser with sunscreen in it makes me breakout, so I finally got one I liked from Trilogy that doesn’t have sunscreen, and am trying to find a sunscreen I can wear under it. I have heard great things about gel sunscreens, maybe I should give them a go!

    June 6, 2015
  • Ok, I’m not a redhead but I am a very fair brunette who also ends up going for the palest foundations. I never knew there were white ones – where have I been?! I definitely use the blonde eyebrow product trip – suff for brunette a is either too dark or too red for me, or both. I think there’s actually few shades that suit anyone perfectly, but the lack of red products is such an oversight!

    June 6, 2015
  • I have red hair and don’t really abide by any rules when it comes to make up. Apart from the white foundation to mix obvs because orange skin and auburn hair is not a good mix.
    I’ve also found it really hard to find good brow products for my ginger eyebrows so I’ll be looking into some blonde products!

    June 6, 2015
  • Sephora has a nice auburn red brow pencil and so does Anastasia. It looks amazing topped with Anastasia’s caramel tinted brow gel

    June 6, 2015
  • Claire


    Sunscreen wise- the french pharmacy brands tend to make good suncreams (intended to be worn daily as opposed to the english ones which always assume you’re at a beach and are therefore happy to looks like you’re slathered in white grease!) I really like La Roche Posay Ultra light fluid x

    June 7, 2015
  • Manisha Bhadana



    June 10, 2015
  • I swear by brown eyeliner – I wear it every day! There are times though, of course, when I want something a little more dramatic, so I whip out the old black liquid liner!
    I used to always tint my eyelashes when I was at school (and we weren’t allowed to wear make-up!) but I just wear mascara pretty much all the time now anyway. I do get my eyebrows tinted though – makes the world of difference!

    October Eleven

    June 17, 2015
  • Paula


    It’s the eyebrows that annoy me, I hate looking like I have none because they are so light, it’s probably the thing that annoys me the most, along with the other things that come hand in hand with having this hair colour.

    June 18, 2015
  • As you know I’m not a natural redhead but I do have quite pale skin, so all of the foundations I’ve tried are usually too dark, and I have freckles in summer. Brown pencil looks indeed much better than black, and I’ve started using brown more and more.
    All really great tips, and once more I need to say how much I LOVE your vanity table. I’m so jealous!

    June 25, 2015
  • I followed your tip for adding a bit of white foundation to get the shade right – in my case, the Illamasqua skin base one to Clinique’s redness solutions palest shade, and it worked a treat. Thanks for sharing! (My pale skin is complicated by rosacea, so it’s real fun trying to get the red parts matched to the white parts…)

    August 7, 2015
  • Helen


    If you’re still looking for a new sunscreen, I can really, REALLY, recommend La Roche Posay’s Antihelios Anti-Shine. That stuff is amazing – gets rid of shine, doesn’t break me out, and works really well under make up.

    October 16, 2015
  • Great tips Amber! My red hair has darkened considerably as I’ve aged (it looks brunette in a lot of light now) but my brows and eyelashes have stayed very light and sparse – I dye my brows as well as pencil them in. I also find with a more active lifestyle that I no longer need the palest foundation, even with SPF I get a light tan doing the gardening. This is great as it’s so hard like you say to find a decent pale foundation. Dita Von Teese recommends a few in her beauty book: L’Oreal true match soft ivory N1, Chanel Vitalumiere 001, Dior beauty capture totale 0101, Guerlain lingerie de peau, and Suqqu frame fix cream N102. Not sure if you’ve tried all those xx

    May 14, 2016