Red lipstick is kind of like the scrunchie or long underwear—nearly every girl owns them, whether they use them or not. If we know anything about beauty though, it’s that red lipstick gets a lot of play and can be deemed appropriate for almost any occasion, especially the ones where you’re not feeling 100% and want a bright color on your face to pull your look together or to just be your look. Bright red lipstick is that one simple and commanding color.
While you may associate the old guard of cult red lip colors as something your mother would wear, or that “universally flattering” claim falls short when Revlon’s Cherries In The Snow is just way too pink for you, or you find that a tube of Dior 999 is just out of your budget, don’t you worry. It’s cool, as there’s never a shortage of red lipstick on the market. So much so that some clear top winners have resurfaced as the new school of cult red colors. Lauded for the formula, shape-shifting abilities on different skin tones, or even the plum versatility of the product itself, any lipstick lover may already own at least a few of these colors. If you don’t, they’re definitely worth a swatch.
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KAT VON D EVERLASTING LIQUID LIPSTICK IN 'UNDERAGE RED'
This red hot lip color recently came under fire due to the name which caused a bit of controversy amongst some people who found it a bit "suggestive." Already a favorite of Kat Von D's collection, the color gained even more interest after the comment-board sound-offs. A name is a name, but a color is something else all its own, and we find that this one is an unapologetic true red, bordering on neon fire. Kat puts it best herself: "'Underage Red' is not a girly, pink shade. It is not a sophisticated, deep red either. It is an unapologetic, bold red. To me, 'Underage Red' is feminine rebellion."
(Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in 'Underage Red', $20, Sephora)
LIME CRIME VELVETINE IN 'RED VELVET'
There is a reason these are called "velvetine," Lime Crime's take on the liquid lipstick gives you a suede-like texture on a budge-proof formula with really opaque matte color. Red Velvet lies somewhere in between a cool and a warm red, making it one of the top sellers for its vastly flattering effect.
(Lime Crime Velvetine in 'Red Velvet', $20, LimeCrime.com)
MAC LIPSTICK IN 'RUBY WOO,' 'RUSSIAN RED,' AND 'LADY DANGER'
This is the triumvirate of cult reds from MAC, the brand who incidentally makes a LOT of cult makeup that beauty fanatics horde. These three reds are often give plenty of lip service from makeup artists, celebrities, and even people who don't fuss too much over makeup but own a few choice items. From left to right: 'Ruby Woo' is pretty much that—a bright ruby color that pops off the lip like a retro red. The super matte formula only helps to bolster that claim. 'Russian Red' is a cool red. In the tube it appears almost like a brick red, but worn on the lips, it balances out to somewhere a bit cooler than that. 'Lady Danger' is the bold neon red of the bunch. It's an orangey-red that truly pops on your lips.
(MAC Lipsticks, $16, Maccosmetics.com)
MAYBELLINE COLOR SENSATIONAL LIPCOLOR IN 'RED REVIVAL'
As one of Maybelline's best-selling reds, this is a bright true red with a creamy satin finish. Some folks like to claim that it's a dupe for MAC's Ruby Woo, except the finishes are quite different. You can pick up a tube at your drugstore and find out for yourself. If you love this true bright red color but need something moisturizing for your lips, this would be a good pick for you.
(Maybelline Color Sensation Lipcolor in 'Red Revival', $7.79, Drugstore.com)
NARS VELVET MATTE LIP PENCIL IN 'CRUELLA'
NARS is legendary for their lipsticks, but the real star (for some) are their Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. They're small enough to fit in a clutch, and apply super smooth with a matte finish that stays put. 'Cruella' is a very scarlet red that imparts a deep yet vibrant shade on your lips. It falls a bit on the cool side, but because of its brightness, it works with almost anyone's lips. This is one of those gateway lip pencils that, if you love the feel, gets you hooked on lip pencils (well, at least from NARS). Only catch—make sure you have a large pencil sharpener.
(NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in 'Cruella', $26 at Sephora)
RIMMEL LASTING FINISH LIPSTICK - KATE MOSS COLLECTION IN '001'
Another drugstore lipstick for the win! This Rimmel lippy is a real cherry red lip color—it's even cherry-flavored so you really can't help but associate it with that imagery. While it may taste like candy, the color is super creamy and sits comfortably on your lips. Perhaps it's 001 because red lipstick is Kate Moss's #1. But in all honesty, who would disagree? Not the folks who are apparently making this shade sold out in drugstores most of the time, that's for sure.
(RIMMEL LONDON Lasting Finish Lipstick-Kate Moss Collection '001', $5.49, Drugstore.com)
TOO FACED MELTED LIPSTICK IN 'MELTED RUBY'
Liquid lipstick is great for getting full coverage in just one swipe. This one from Too Faced hangs on like a stain but has the finish of a matte lipstick. 'Melted Ruby' is a bright red that's some place in between cool and warm. It's a longwear formula, but it feels super light, almost like you're not wearing lipstick. It's like a stain without the drying effect. The velvet-tip applicator is great for getting that perfectly blurred line so the edges of your lips don't look TOO done.
(Too Faced Melted Lipstick in 'Melted Ruby', $21, Toofaced.com)
TOPSHOP LIPSTICK IN 'RIO RIO'
If you haven't dug into TopShop's beauty line, what are you even waiting for? 'Rio Rio' is a warm festive red that's gotten lots of props from the likes of Alexa Chung and Liv Tyler. So, you know, you and 'Rio Rio' are not in bad company at all. As Topshop's best-selling lip color, 'Rio Rio' has a semi-matte finish but still feels like satin on your lips. The color is SO bright red, it's like a beacon of light on your face. This is a bold red with a warm tone that borders on but doesn't veer into orange territory. The reviews on the site are enough to convince you of how many girls with different skin tones love the way this lip color looks on them. In the words of that Men's Wearhouse Spokesman, "You're going to like the way you look."
(TopShop Lipstick in 'Rio Rio', $12, topshop.com)
WET'N'WILD MEGALAST LIP COLOR IN 'RED VELVET'
For less than a latte, this red from drugstore mainstay, Wet'n'Wild, is serving up a red lip color that will last through that latte and more. It appears semi-matte, goes on like a cream, and sticks to your lips for hours. There's even vitamin A and E for moisturizing and smoothing lips. The popularity of this color has a lot to do with that long-wearing formula but also its morphy, not-quite-cool red looks so vibrant on most skin tones that one could argue that it's neither a cool or warm-toned red. Most users rave about the staying power of this color but also how comfortable it wears and how it doesn't feather at all. Not bad at all for less than a Lincoln, huh?
(Wet'n'Wild Megalast Lip Color in 'Red Velvet', $2.29, Drugstore.com)