Red lips are sexy, classy, timeless, retro, elegant and edgy all at once, which means you have absolutely no excuse not to rock them at least once. Looking to add a little spice to your classic, muted button down for a meeting at work? Red lips. Feeling a little bold the night of your favorite band’s concert? Red lips. Going to a black-tie event? RED. LIPS. Still, finding the red lipstick that speaks to you specifically can be difficult in the endless sea of options. That’s where we come in.
Whether you’re headed to the beach or getting ready for a night out on the town, having these 10 red lipsticks in your beauty arsenal will keep you covered.
10. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in ‘Dragon Girl’
Stars like Blake Lively, Olivia Munn, Jaime King and Amber Valleta are all fans of this Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil – not to mention the queen of red lips herself, T Swift. Cue the chorus of “Style.”
It may have a classic matte finish, but it feels creamy when you put it on so you never have to worry about dry lips. Plus, the fact that it’s a pencil and not a tube makes it super easy to apply, especially when you’re on-the-go (but it’s so long-lasting you probably won’t need to reapply it anyway.)
9. MAC Matte Lipstick in ‘Russian Red’
If “Russian Red” feels iconic, that’s because it is. MAC Cosmetics created the color for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition World Tour in 1990, a year after her ‘Like a Prayer’ album came out. Even crazier? MAC had only been founded six years before. Clearly they didn’t go for second best from the start.
It’s a fail-safe winter red for cold days when brighter colors may feel out of place, but still doesn’t skew too far from the classic red lipstick. So go channel your inner Madge. Express yourself!
8. Clinique Different Lipstick in ‘A Different Grape’
If “Russian Red” wasn’t dark enough for you, try “A Different Grape.” It’s nearly purple, but stops right at the edge so you can rock the perfect deep, dark red of your dreams. Expect countless compliments and questions about where you got it. It’s part of the territory.
Clinique’s Different Lipstick also has a satin finish, meaning it’s a bit shinier than your classic matte lip if you feel like deviating from the trend.
7. Colour Pop Ultra Matte Lip in ‘Mama’
Alright, you’re sitting here thinking that all of these lipsticks are more than $15. We heard you. That’s where Colour Pop’s Ultra Matte Lip in ‘Mama‘ comes in. It’s $6.50. Yes, you heard that right.
It may look a bit orange-y in the tube (and it definitely does have some orange undertones) but it’s still a red lipstick at heart. Slick it on for a uniquely bright all-day lip that won’t smudge or hurt your wallet. Score.
6. Bésame Cosmetics Classic Color Lipstick in ‘1946 Red Velvet’
Bésame Cosmetics is a luxury vintage makeup brand that releases new lipsticks in colors that were popular decades ago. We know. So freaking cool.
Bésame was created by artist, cosmetic historian and designer Gabriela Hernandez, who replicates shades released in a given year to add a little history and depth to your red lipstick choice. There’s not a shade for every year (we wish), but there are options ranging from 1920 to 1970.
This shade specifically was worn by Marvel’s Agent Carter on the ABC TV show, so if you’re headed to Comic-Con any time soon, you’d better pick this one up.
5. Stellar Metallic Moon Lipstick in ‘Disco Moon 02’
“Disco Moon 02” may look a little intimidating when you first open the tube, what with the metallic sheen and all the glitter. But when applied, it goes on silky smooth and has a subtle shimmer that will make you feel like you’re hitting an 80s night club instead of your 8th grade dance.
Pink undertones add to the color’s fun, flirty vibe – and it looks amazing when you catch the light just right, which means lots of twirling is in order.
4. Dior Rouge Dior lipstick in ‘999’
If you’re looking for the perfect color to give you a quintessential red lip, this is it. “999” is rumored to have been worn at Christian Dior’s first runway show back in 1947. (Back then it was called “9,” and “99” after that.)
“999” gives you the bright red lip you’ve come to associate with Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball, plus a satin finish to make the color even more classic.
3. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in ‘Fire & Ice’
The “Fire & Ice” shade was first released by Revlon in 1952 as part of a red lipstick-nail polish duo advertised by early modeling icon Dorian Leigh. The ads at the time included a full-page quiz for the reader to determine if she was “the 1952 American Beauty, with a foolproof formula for melting a male!”
Don’t you want it already?
In 2010, Revlon re-released the color and re-created the iconic ad, with Jessica Biel posing as Leigh and the slogan “the legend lives on”: classic and nostalgic.
Okay, we know, you can’t wait any longer. Go buy it. After all, it’s not even $9.
2. Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in ‘Elson’
The brainchild of legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, Pat McGrath Labs is aiming to make the most of “the golden age of makeup” – so even though this lipstick is the most expensive one to make our list, it’s well worth it.
And if you’re a red wine drinker, “Elson” may be the perfect red lipstick for you – and not just because it’s a long-lasting matte. The shade is a blue-based red, meaning it makes your teeth look whiter, and therefore you can have as many glasses of pinot noir as you please during your night out. You’re welcome.
1. MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in ‘Ruby Woo’
“Ruby Woo” is the kind of the queen of all red lipstick. It’s a bright cherry red that, like Pat McGrath’s “Elson,” has a slight hint of blue to make your pearly whites extra white. And just like NARS’ “Dragon Girl,” it really does look good on everyone.
Since it launched in 1999, celebrities from Lauren Conrad to Rita Ora to Sia to Rihanna have become known fans of “Ruby Woo.” Rihanna even launched a limited edition of the color with MAC called “Riri Woo” in 2013. (Unfortunately, there’s pretty much no way you could get your hands on one. They sold out in three hours.)
But okay, I know, we’re at the end of the list and maybe your wallet can’t afford another $20 red lipstick after all of the online shopping you just did. e.l.f. Cosmetics sells a $3 matte lip color that looks nearly the same as “Ruby Woo,” but don’t tell anyone we told you. Check out e.l.f.’s “Rich Red.” You can thank us later.
Now that you’ve freshened up your lip game, want to try something new on your eyes? Check out our favorite eye makeup looks to make you stand out in a crowd.