Not everyone thinks they call pull off red lipstick, but we’re here to tell you you’re wrong. There’s a shade of red to suit every complexion, and a way to wear it that will complement your style, too. If you want to look instantly dressed up with minimal effort, red lipstick is your go to item. Whether you want a classic Marilyn Monroe look, or something more sultry and vampish for fuller-looking Angelina Jolie lips, there’s a shade and type of red lipstick that can help you achieve your desired look. The best red lipsticks won't bleed into the lines around your mouth, will hold their bold colour hue for hours and won't smudge either. Keep reading for our top picks.
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There are a few things to consider before you go storming off to buy that pillar-box red lipstick and slathering it on. Picking the right shade of red for your skin tone is key to making sure you don’t look like the Joker or, I don’t know, Ronald McDonald or something. Generally if you follow the rule that cool undertones should opt for a blue-hued red, which generally tend to be darker, and those with warm undertones should opt for a red lippy with an orange base, which tend to be brighter, then you should be okay.
Then there’s the texture of the lipstick, which really does make all the difference to your final look. Matte is on-trend right now, which will give the lip a fuller, more voluptuous look, and it tends to stay on longer than gloss. If you want a little bit of shine, then a satin finish can be good to add a touch of sparkle that still stays put.
We’ve picked out some of the best red lipsticks from some of the most popular designer and high street brands to suit all skin tones and styles. From ruby reds to rouge and retro red shades, which one will be your favourite?
1. Mac Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
A long-lasting matte lipstick for cooler skin tones
Best for: Long-wearing | Finish: Matte | Undertone: Cool
Mac is known for their plethora of lipstick shades, and Ruby Woo is one of their most popular shades. Designed for ladies with a cooler undertone, this red lipstick with a blue hue is said to be perfect for making any look pop. It has a matte finish which users love as it lasts a lot longer, but some do find it to be quite drying on the lips. If you suffer with chapped lips then make sure you apply a lip balm before this lipstick for a much easier application.
2. Tom Ford Lip Colour in Cherry Lush
A velvety lipstick for a smooth application
Best for: Smooth application | Finish: Matte | Undertone: Warm
This Tom Ford Lip Colour in Cherry Lush is a much softer red, almost a pinky colour that would be well-suited to warmer tones due to its orange pigment. Those who have used this lipstick love the creamy texture which is said to apply very smoothly. Some with a lighter skin tone tried this lipstick but said it did not suit them, however since it is so subtle, it could work well for a range of skin tones. Customers said it does need re applying throughout the day but this is much better than a lipstick that dries and cracks the lips.
3. Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate
A Classic rouge from Chanel
Best for: Traditional red | Finish: Satin | Undertone: Cool
If you want to be daring, then this Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Pirate will definitely make your lips pop. It is a vibrant and luminous colour with cool undertones that is said to give that classic Marilyn Monroe look with ease. The formula itself is infused with a blend of sweet almond oil and green tea, which adds moisture to the lips and gives them a natural shine. The satin finish is easy to apply and users say it only requires a thin layer on the lips which gives this lipstick a barely-there feel. As it’s such a bold colour, those who wanted to add volume to their lips found this lipstick to work incredibly well.
4. Dior Rouge Dior in 999
A densely pigmented colour that suits a range of skin tones
Best for: Pigment | Finish: Satin matte | Undertone: Medium
Another bold entry from Dior is this Dior Rouge in 999 lipstick. The best thing about this shade is that it is suited to both warm and cool undertones and may love how this shade looks bold, but is incredibly complementary to a lot of skin tones. If you’re not sure whether to go for a bright red or a darker shade, then this is a good place to start when it comes to experimenting with the best red lipstick for you. It has a satin matte finish so it’s designed to moisturise as well as stay on all day.
5. Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Colour in Retro Red
Moisturising,with a classic, bold colour
Best for: Moisturising | Finish: Matte | Undertone: Cool
It can be ever so frustrating when your lips are so dry that the colour cracks and peels halfway through the day. However, Bobbi Brown have created this lipstick formula that glides onto the lips and adds a touch of moisture to keep this colour looking fab all day. Retro Red has a classic, cool undertone, but warmer tones can also rock this look if they really want to make a statement. Perfect for everyday wear.
6. Estee Lauder Pure Colour Envy in Impassioned
A bright and bold colour for all skin tones to brave
Best for: All skin tones | Finish: Creme | Undertone: Medium
Wanting to brave a bold red but not sure where to start? Reviewers are raving about Estee Lauder’s Pure Colour in Impassioned Red. it is said to be a nice creamy texture, but one that doesn’t fade easily when eating and drinking. If the texture isn’t for you, you can always top with a gloss for a more glam look, or keep it how it is for a bold daytime look.
7. Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips in Tell Laura
Fuller, plumper, healthier lips
Best for: Healthy glow | Finish: Matte | Undertone: Warm
If you need a summer shade for your upcoming holiday, then users say the warm orangey-red hue of this lipstick compliments a tan very nicely. The great thing about this lipstick is that it has light-diffusing pigments which are designed to create a multi-dimensional finish, making your lips look fuller and plumper, and it also has UV protection making it the ideal holiday lippy.
8. Rimmel Kate Lasting Finish Lipstick in #001
The ideal budget buy for anyone experimenting with red lippy
Best for: Budget buy | Finish: Velvety matte | Undertone: Cool
Experimenting with lippy is very much trial and error, so if you don’t want to splash too much cash the first time round, then this Rimmel lipstick by Kate Moss is a good place to start. Affordable, and a classic deeper red for those wanting to try a vampy look. Users found it to stay on well, but did note it can get a little dry throughout the day.
Got dry lips? Check out our recommendations for the best lip balms to keep your lips soft all year round.