There are few makeup products in existence that have the power of a red lipstick.
Daring, romantic, eye-catching, the shade has a transformational effect with little to no effort required. Whether you opt for a deep burgundy shade or a vibrant orange-cherry hue, there’s a tone to suit all and should play a vital role in your makeup bag.
President and Creative Director of Anastasia Beverly Hills Claudia Soare explains, “Red is a classic, bold colour that looks good on every skin tone, so it’s no wonder it’s a timeless statement shade.”
The simple swipe of a red lip evokes Hollywood glamour, sensuality and was even used as a representative of the women’s rights movement back in 1912 the age of the suffragettes to bring attention to the cause.
How do you find the right shade of red lipstick?
Finding that perfect shade and texture can be hugely personal. Whether you prefer matte or glossy, scarlet, burgundy or true red, the right hue can provide an immediate confidence boost that ups the ante and ties your whole makeup look together.
“I think matte lip formulas in particular will always be essential to a makeup collection”, adds Soare. “A matte red lip is so luxurious and elegant, and a matte formula gives you control in application and containment from the product feathering.”
When finding the shade that best suits, she suggests that “If your complexion has warm undertones, try a fiery shade like the Anastasia Beverly Hills American Doll. For cool undertones, try a shade with a rich, bluish undertone like Royal Red.”
How do you best apply red lipstick?
When it comes to application, a lip liner makes the process foolproof. “For a naturally sculpted lip, select a shade of lip liner that is closest to your lipstick or one shade deeper - get next-level, contoured lips by selecting a shade of liner that is two-three shades deeper than your lipstick.
“Using a sharpened pencil, line lips to create your desired lip shape. For extra fullness, apply the liner just outside of the natural lip line. Next, using the side of the pencil, shade the corners of the lips to contour and add volume. Finish by applying lipstick to the centre of the lips and blend towards the corners of the mouth, layering as desired.”
Shop the best red lipsticks of all time below
M.A.C Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
This may just be one of the most iconic lipsticks in existence. The iconic colour was first launched back in 1999 and remains as popular today as ever. So timeless, so sought-after and so perfect is the red hue that four sell around the world every minute. Here in the UK, five are sold every hour.
As part of M.A.C’s Retro Matte collection, it was created to be long-wearing, transfer-proof and to stand the test of time from day to after-dark. The colour pay-off is intense and immediate, drying down to be completely matte and then staying put until it’s time to cleanse in the evening.
The hue is categorised as blue-red and brings instant sophistication to your look. You will be surprised just how flattering the tone is, while also being bright, distinctive and anything but traditional.
The colourway also comes in different textures and finishes - with zero-shine in the Retro Matte collection, creamy and full coverage as part of the Matte and lightweight, hydrating but buildable in the Powder Kiss.
Buy now £20.00, M.A.C
Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick in Love Bite
Charlotte Tilbury may be best-known for the nude pink Pillow Talk shade, but don’t sleep on the brand’s more vibrant hues. Love Bite is a warm yet luminous red that makes a statement whether you pair with a no-makeup makeup base or a carefully-curated contoured look.
It is created with unique light-diffusing pigments that add to the luminosity as well as extracts to fight against UV damage and keep your pout perfected and hydrated. One of the lipsticks in the K.I.S.S.I.N.G collection sells every two minutes.
Buy now £26.00, Charlotte Tilbury
Armani Ecstasy Shine Lipstick
For those among you who find matte lipsticks too drying, Armani has created the solution. The Ecstasy Shine collection is part-colour depositing, part-balm and leaves a glossy finish. The texture is creamy and it glides onto your pout in one swift swipe.
The high-shine effect is black tie-ready, while the formula - enriched with emollient oils - has plumping properties with eight hours of lasting moisture. It leaves no stickiness behind and feels lightweight once applied. You can also layer it up with ease.
There are two different reds available; 400 and 401, the latter of which is a classic bold red.
Buy now £28.80, lookfantastic
Fenty Beauty Sheer Shiny Lipstick
If you have ever tried a Fenty Beauty lipstick in the past, you’ll know that it just doesn’t budge. You can put it on in the morning and after a long day out and out and a few tequila shots down, when it comes to going to bed in the early hours, the formula is as good as when you started. While this can often result in needing to scrub your lips if you’ve not invested in an oil-based makeup remover, this is the type of lasting power we all need and deserve.
The formula in enriched with hydrating pomegranate butter to make application a breeze and due to the slightly sheer finish, it has maximum impact and is easily buildable. The Tang Thang colour is a red-orange hue, which has a warming effect for all skin tones.
Buy now £20.00, Boots
Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte Lipstick in American Doll
With the bullet tip design of this lipstick, you won’t even need a mirror to get full, even distribution. Follow the contours of your lips and you’ll impart colour like a pro. The texture dries to a matte finish which gives the product the long-lasting effect that is known for.
There are six shades available but the American Doll is the red that we’ve best caught our eye for the striking pigment - and it will stay put meaning there’s no need to constantly reapply. Cue the compliments.
Buy now £21.00, Space NK
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick
From the YSL-monogrammed exterior, to the formula, everything about this lipstick screams luxury - and while you wont need to be constantly layering on the long-lasting product throughout the day, you may just want to in order to hear the compliments that follow when you whip out the attractive packaging.
This is a medium coverage product so there’s a buildability element but that makes it an ideal transitional shade to take you from day to dark, work to the weekend with just a few added swipes. The Rouge Cape hue is a bestseller for a reason, it’s a romantic, daring shade that brings your makeup look to life.
The pigmented product is infused with nourishing oils and hyaluronic acid so that it sinks into lips and leaves them soft, supple and with a glossy sheen. There’s a mango scent too.
Buy now £32.00, lookfantastic
CODE8 Matte Velour Lipstick
There are three red tones in the CODE8 collection to give options to flatter all skin tones. Mambo - a fuchsia-red, Pop Art - an orange-red and Opera - red with blue undertones are all formulated with the same creamy texture that nourishes lips as it goes. It is a matte lipstick but goes against the typical descripter as drying without sacrificing on staying power.
Buy now £28.00, CODE8
Bobbi Brown Luxe Shine Intense - Supernova
Supernova is a burnt orange red that offers vivid colour to your lipstick collection. There are also more traditionally Hollywood red hues available - Red Stiletto with a blue undertone - or at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Showstopper (pink-red) or Wild Poppy (coral-orange), but there is something so immediately eye-catching and unique about Supernova.
It’s a rich colour and the formula is hydrating too with the added bonus of hyaluronic acid and salicornia herbacea extract within the product that gives a subtle shine finish and leaves lips feeling supple and soft. The application is foolproof and long-wearing.
Buy now £32.00, lookfantastic
Gucci Beauty Goldie Red, Rouge à Lèvres Voile Lipstick
The Gucci Beauty lipstick collection takes inspiration from the gilded era of Hollywood with each shade named after a famous face and character. No wallflowers here: the hues are bright, bold and lively and are housed in beautiful floral-adorned packaging, referencing the pieces in the Italian house’s fashion offering and vintage 1950s prints.
The Goldie Red has a sheer finish and the colour is semitransparent, allowing you to get creative with application and forge different looks with just one product. You can also dab onto the cheeks to add rouge where needed. The formula is moisurising and delicately scented with floral-fruity notes and violet at the heart.
Honourable mention also goes to the 500 Odalie Red (vivid red), and 502 Eadie Scarlet (scarlet red).
Buy now £36.00, Gucci Beauty
NARS Powermatte Lipstick
The hunt for the perfect red may have met its match with NARS and the label’s Powermatte Lipstick that comes in 15 shades. Ranging from deep plum (Night Moves), to peachy coral (Free Bird), the line-up also features our personal favourite, a vivid siren red known as (Dragon Girl). The intense colour pigment is imparted onto your pout in one fell swoop and then stays firmly in place for up to 10 hours without budging. The formula dries to a matte finish and remains transfer-resistant throughout the day. This is long-lasting makeup at its best.
Buy now £26.00, lookfantastic