The best red lipstick

In case you haven’t heard, it’s National Lipstick Day. Since Huda Kattan proclaimed July 29 the “holiday” in 2016, it’s taken on a life of its own as brands clamor to get us to buy lipstick in honor of the occasion. The sales this year are excellent, the options are plenty, and narrowing down which to get could be a job for 10 people. And we do mean that literally—since that’s exactly what we did in order to find the best red lipstick worth buying today.

Why red lipstick? Well, of all the questions we’re frequently asked, “What’s the best red lipstick?” tops the list. It’s no surprise why. Red lipstick has that elusive quality that makes you look “done” in three seconds. There are some so famous they’re instantly recognizable by look or name alone: MAC Ruby Woo, Dior 999, Giorgio Armani in 400 (also known as “Armani Red”), to name a few. But there are also thousands of other reds on the market, many of which are underrated diamonds in the rough.

While the right red can be an instant look-maker, the wrong red can be a disaster. Add personal preference on finish and texture into the mix, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a red lipstick that truly everyone likes. So we decided to put the impossible to the test: We swiped, swatched, and snacked our way through 100 shades to see whether one rose above the rest. Spoiler: We actually landed on a few.


The process

Some people do brackets for sports; we do brackets for lipstick. First we called in a mix of new and classic shades from a range of drugstore to high-end brands. Then 10 Glamour staffers with different skin tones and hair colors (including pink) were given a random assortment of 10 lipsticks a piece. Each of us was tasked with testing our options, then narrowing down the group to the single best red lipstick. We were mainly focused on color, but texture and application were also taken into consideration.

Just a selection of the lipsticks we tried

Bella Cacciatore

After everyone selected a favorite, we had the whole group try the top 10 shades. If even one person didn’t like a color, it was out of the running. From there, we whittled it down to three truly universally flattering red lipsticks and put the number one to a vote.

The results

A bunch of the names in the top 10 probably won’t surprise you, but there were a few standout newcomers. Maybelline came through with three shades in the running: Maybelline Super Stay Ink in Pioneer (which one of our testers confirmed you can, indeed, sleep in it and it won’t budge), along with Ruby for Me and Red for Me, which isn’t too shocking given that the brand actually tested both shades on 50 women across various skin tones to ensure they look great on everyone.

You probably also have these MAC shades committed to memory: Russian Red (an intense matte blue-red our producer Khaliha was obsessed with) and the famous true red-blue, Ruby Woo, which someone on staff generally has a tube of at their desk in case of emergencies.

A bold red lipstick is the ultimate piece of beauty iconography—sharp and gleaming in bullet form, universally flattering on the mouth. Finding that perfect red may seem the impossible task, yet a lineup of flawless options does exist, formulas that fly off the shelves year after year.

Around the world, seven high-impact tubes of MAC Ruby Woo are bought every minute. From the moment the first Dior models strode down the runway in 1953 sporting crimson pouts, the house’s iconic shade has been in high demand, and is now sold three times every hour in the U.S. In fact, many extraordinary reds first found their footing in decades past: Revlon’s velvet-soft Love That Red, to name just one, took off in 1978 and has shown no signs of slowing down since.

Not that crafting a modern day classic is easy by any stretch of the imagination: To create his iconic signature lip lacquer, Giorgio Armani visited the cosmetic lab 96 times in an effort to precisely match the inner petals of a rose—proof that perfection is attainable. Below, 11 of the best-selling red lipsticks of all time, worth dipping into again and again.

NARS Cosmetics Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella

Sephora.com $27 Shop Now

Clé de Peau Beauté Lipstick in Dragon Red

bloomingdales.com $65 Shop Now

Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro in 400

Bergdorfgoodman.com $38 Shop Now

Tom Ford Lip Color in Cherry Lush

nordstrom.com $55 Shop Now

Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in 999

nordstrom.com $37 Shop Now

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Parisian Red

nordstrom.com $38 Shop Now

Maybelline New York Color Sensational Creamy Mattes Lip Color in Touch of Spice

Target.com $5 Shop Now

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in Le Rouge

Seph $37 Shop Now

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Love That Red

Amazon.com $8 Shop Now

Chanel Rouge Allure Intense Long-Wear Lip Colour in Pirate

nordstrom.com $38 Shop Now

MAC Cosmetics Lipstick in Ruby Woo

ulta.com $19 Shop Now

We all love the idea of a red lipstick to wear at night, adding instant sex appeal to any outfit, but in reality it can sometimes look a bit much, or like we’ve tried far too hard (or smudged it all over our teeth). So to makes things simpler we’ve made some hard, fast rules to live by, to perfect your red lip for life.

1. Think about the rest of your make-up

Can you wear a red lip and pink blush? We say yes, as long as the blush is used as a natural flush. Take inspiration from Olivia Palermo with her perfect pink cheeks, red lip and cat-eye liner.

2. Lip liners are not your enemy

Gone are the days where our lip colour rubs off and we’re left with that oh-so-80 line… Use a red liner, but colour in the whole lip for extra staying power and peace of mind. Try this velvet lip liner for a smooth finish.

Our favourite red lip liners

Lipliner Pencil in ‘Jungle Red’ NARS johnlewis.com £18.00 Infallible Lip Liner in ‘Red Fiction’ L’Oreal Paris boots.com £5.99 Ultimate Lip Definer Lipliner in ‘Fun’ BECCA £16.00 Lip Liner Pencil in ‘Auburn’ NYX boots.com £3.50 Panoramic Long Wear Lip Pencil in ‘Raven’ Hourglass johnlewis.com £27.00

3. Let your lip do the talking

If it’s a daytime look, keep your eye make up simple. A smoky eye AND red lip is quite a statement, so probably best saved for the evening.

4. Don’t forget about your whole look

Think about what you’re wearing. And that includes accessories. Often a punchy red lip can be the perfect lift to an all-black outfit and a great statement without wearing eye make-up. We think it’s the perfect accompaniment to a crisp white shirt – even for the office. If you’re wearing red, try slightly clashing it with a different toned red if you don’t want to look too matchy-matchy.

5. Red lips don’t always have to be bold

For a more subtle and natural colour you can apply some balm first, then add lipstick by patting on with your finger starting in the centre and dabbing outwards – this will create more of a stained lip look. So if the colour in the bullet looks bright, you can try it out first with 50% less punch.

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6. Match to your own colouring

Think about skin tone, eye colour – it all makes a difference. Bold brights look great against darker skin tones. Bluey-reds (like the classic pillar box shade) can make your teeth look whiter, while this season’s orangey-reds go great with a tan. Try them all – the right one is the one that brings your complexion to life.

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

7. Texture is important too

If you’re worried about wearing red, try a sheer texture – they feel less like a commitment. Clinique and Bobbi Brown have some really great sheers like the moisturising Chubby Stick lip tints (£18.50 each, Clinique, BUY NOW) and Sheer Lip Colours (£22, Bobbi Brown, BUY NOW), with new shade ‘Hollywood Red’ top of our list.

8. There are no rules if you find ‘the one’

The bottom line is, there really aren’t any rules if you find a shade that you love. And how will you know it’s the right red for you? It will look and feel just right.

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Ali Pantony Ali is a freelance journalist and author of Almost Adults, out in summer 2019.

Red lips are such a classic look, favoured by all of the Hollywood greats, but the look is one that we feel like we’ve used a thousand times. It’s our fall-back look – the easiest one to master. Simply add some black eyeliner, red lips, and lots o’ lashes, and you’re basically good to go. But we’re running out of eye makeup for red lips ideas.

What if you’re looking for something different? What about if you’re looking for eye makeup for red lips with a difference? We think we can help with that, as it’s something we’ve been pondering over a great deal lately. We’ve been in the market for some new ways to wear our favourite looks, and we think we’ve found a few that you might just love!

21 Looks: Eye Makeup for Red Lips

Red lips and cut creases go so well together, we’re actually kicking ourselves for not learning this clever makeup trickery sooner. The cut crease is quite an intimidating look, renowned for being quite difficult to master, particularly for the beginners of the makeup world. (That’s definitely most of us here at the CherryCherryBeauty den!)

There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube that you can watch to get a good grasp of what you need to do, and we’d definitely recommend checking a few out. That’s how we learned most of our makeup tricks here – tutorials found on Youtube and Instagram!

Source: swetlanapetuhova

2 – Simple + Fresh

Just for the record, this total babe is one of our Instagram LOVES right now. We’re obsessed with her posts – makeup, fashion, and travel included, and every time she releases a brand new tutorial on a brand new makeup look, we can’t wait to get started and give it a go for ourselves. Posting both complicated and simpler looks, this one is the latter – a simple way to wear red lips that won’t take too long in the morning.

Simple keep your eyes bare, adding a touch of mascara to make you feel less naked than you do without it, and make sure your brows are on point. A touch of blusher, and only the hint of contouring, and a slather of red lippie later, and what do you have? A red lipped look that won’t take forever, and that’s just fine by us!

Source: baileysarian

3 – Hollywood Glam n’ Sparkle

Isn’t this look really something? We certainly thought so, and the process of putting it all together is actually much simpler than you first may have thought. Throw your base on, whatever works for you right now, and add a regular smokey eye look, as you usually would. Once you’re done though, don’t head straight for the red lips to finish. Throw some real sparkle in the inner corners of your eyes. This beauty has used gold, but you could go with silver also. It adds a little something new to a look you’ve probably already worn a hundred times over. It’s cute too, right?

Just for the record, we’re a little bit in love with the Jane Iredale 24Karat Gold Dust. It literally makes you feel as though you are wearing true gold. What more could you want from your makeup?

Source: jamiegenevieve

4 – Red Gloss Lips + Brown Eyeliner

For those days when black liner just feels a little too severe for your mood, how about throwing some brown to the mix? Brown adds a softer finish than black liner does, and works really well as a daytime makeup look.

It’s not something you’ll probably have considered when looking at eye makeup for red lips, but as you can see, it does work really well. Perhaps try switching black for brown next time you’re getting ready in the morning. Count how many compliments you get! 😉

Just for the record, if you don’t have brown eyeliner to hand, you can achieve the same effect by using a damp liner brush and your regular deep brown shades in your eyeshadow palette.

Source: lustrelux

5 – Red Lips + Gold Eyes

Red lips and gold eyes just work. Okay, that’s the end of the story. The two just work really well together, especially for special occasions. Whether it’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day, your birthday, or just date night, we think this makeup is suitable for almost any occasion. With a bit of practice, it’s actually easier than you may have first thought to put together too.

You work with a smokey eye, but you don’t go too smokey. Keep the smokiness to the outer corner of your eyes, and add a beautiful gold shimmer to the inner corner, working its way into the centre. Using a fluffy blending brush, blend the gold and brown together so that you don’t have a harsh and sharp line between the two. Add a whiter, lighter shimmer right in the inner corner to help widen your eyes, and make you look more awake too. Then add your red lipped finish. It’s a classic for a reason – it just works!

Source: rubina_muartistry

6 – Red Lips + Freckles

If you have freckles, don’t work so hard to cover them over. Most girls would kill for those little marks, and there are even tutorials on how to FAKE them on Youtube! We know because we’ve seen them, and we’ve tried it for ourselves. Okay, we’ll admit it. We’re the girls who wished they had freckles …

Source: ssssamanthaa

7 – Red Lips + Red Lashes

Bold, right? We know! We couldn’t work out if we loved or hated the look when we first saw it. Sorry, but we’re just being honest about that. It was only after we tried to “ignore” the look, that we realise we were more than a little intrigued by it. We tried it, adding a hint of red mascara to the mix, just to see what happens. Go figure, we got a bunch of compliments over our brave new look, and one of the CherryCherryBeauty den even got a date … on the same day! We’re not saying she got the date because of the red lash look, obviously, but it is pretty coincidental, don’t you think? We like to think so. Either way, we’re now a really big fan of this look.

Source: stylistanna

8 – High Gloss Red Lips + Smoky Cut Crease

There’s that smoky cut crease again. We promise you that it is a look you will learn to put together eventually. It’s not that difficult once you’ve learned the blending side of things, and it really is a beautiful look. It packs a punch. This look definitely does!

Source: vanyxvanja

9 – Red Lips + Double Liner

How do you feel about the double liner trend? Have you heard all about it yet? Just in case you hadn’t, it’s pretty much as the name suggests – a double helping of eyeliner.

The idea is to use a different colour eyeliner to add a secondary shade to the thicker line. With this look, classic black eyeliner has been added first. On top of that, the silver liner has been added. It really doesn’t add a little something different to makeup looks you’ve probably already worn a few times the same way.

Source: roseandben

10 – Ombre Red Lips + Barely There Nude Smokey Eye

When you’re going all-out on the lips, with a big and bold red shade, for example, you may find the look easier to wear if you keep your eyes relatively neutral. This is most definitely the case if you would consider yourself a beginner to the world of older and braver makeup. This barely-there, nude smokey eye is a good one to take inspiration from. It’s definitely a look we’ve created and loved!

Source: beautybycassie93

11 – Red Lips + Long Lashes

Red lips and super long lashes just seem to go hand in hand together, especially when you’re looking for a sophisticated, Hollywood glam look. This beaut has the look nailed, and her red lips were achieved using a combination of Anastasia Beverly Hills Strawberry Lipstick, and Urban Decay’s liner in “Bad Blood”.

Here’s another twist on the old Hollywood glam look also – add some gold glitter or shimmer shadow to the bottom lashes. It works really well tholepin make the eyes sparkle and pop, and just takes a few extra moments out of your day. If it’s maximum impact you want, this is definitely the look to aim for.

Source: carlibel

12 – Red Lips + Shimmery Pink Eyes

What do you think about this stunning look? If you’re looking for something a tad out of the box when it comes to eye makeup for red lips, this one definitely ticks all the right boxes. It’s bold, bright and definitely beautiful, working from an almost-gold glitter on the inner corner of the eye, to a darker shade right on the outer corner. You’ll need some good fluffy blending brushes to achieve a look as perfected as this one, and don’t forget to practice. You know what they say – practice makes perfect.

Source: wickedbeautification

13 – Red Lips + Red Eyes

We know it’s a very bold combination, but when it’s done the right way, this is a look that can mean serious business. Things have been toned down a little using that shimmery white shade on the inner crease of the eyelid, moving to a darker smokey-eye look on the outer corner. Add some liner with a razor-sharp finish, and then throw on lashings of lashes, and you have a passionate, fiery beautiful look that every woman will be envious of.

The black liner is none other than Kat von D’s Tattoo Liner, and the lashes were by Hudabeauty. If you check out Gerard Cosmetics, you’ll also find this stunning red lipstick shade. It’s hydra matte lipstick, and the shade is “Cherry Bomb”.

Source: helena_makeup

14 – Classically + Beautifully Red Lipped

It’s so stunning and simple, it could almost be a daytime look for you. But first, you must get your base right. You’ll want a picture-perfect finish to your foundation to pull off the old school Hollywood glam looks, just like this one.

We fell in love with that luscious red shade, and it’s by Colour Pop Cosmetics. It’s the Matte X Lippie, and the shade is ‘Trust Me’. You know, just in case you were wondering. Also, we’re in awe of the razor-sharp finish on this eyeliner flick. It’s time to invest in some tape to get those lines straighter we think … What do you use to get your flicks so sharp?

Source: heathervenere

15 – Flick of White Liner

Another way to update your regular red-lipped, black eyeliner look, why not add a flick of white eyeliner to your lower lashes? Why? Well, it helps to make your eyes appear much bigger and wider, for a start, and it can also help to disguise the tired eyes of partying and hangovers. Not that we’re saying you need that, of course.

Source: carolinebeautyinc

16 – Simple + Chic

If you want a look that is relatively quick and super simple, this simple and chic one is a good one to look towards. Using Amrezy’s Brooklyn liquid lipstick, a touch of sparkle has been added to the inner corners of the eye to help brighten and lighten them. Don’t forget about the highlighter on your lip’s cupids bow when you’re adding it to your nose too.

Source: carlibel

17 – Classically Glam Red

You can’t go wrong with a classic red lip, shimmer eye, and black eyeliner combo, as long as you get all three factors right, of course. If you plough so much makeup on your first, you can barely crack a smile, the effect will be more Rocky Horror Show than sultry and sassy, and we’re sure that’s not the look you’re going for. There are ways to wear bold looks like this without going too far, and we’ve learned a few really good tips and tricks from Youtube tutorials, and also Instagram-famous makeup artists, just like the ones we’ve shown you on this page.

Source: vanyxvanja

18 – Red Lips + Green / Gold Eyes

This look is actually rather festive themed, so think we’re going to reserve the space to recreate this beauty for nearer Christmas time. What do you think though? Would you do red lips with green eyes? Have you already done red lips with green eyes? We think this is a great way to wear the two shades together quite subtly, especially with that pop of gold to bring everything in.

Source: makenziewilder

19 – Simple Thin Line

You don’t need to opt for thick black eyeliner when you’re rocking a red lip. We’ve shown you eye makeup for red lips that covers both ends of the spectrum – lots of makeup with big impact, right the way through to barely-there makeup at all. This look leans towards the latter, but still packs some glam-factor into the mix too. Thin down your liner for a quick way to lessen the drama on your eye makeup. It might take a big of practice, especially if you’ve been doing thick liner for years, but you’ll be surprised by how much your eye shape can change, just from changing that one makeup product shape when its on your face.

Source: loismua

20 – Bright, Big, Bold and Blue … (+ Green)

Wow! What a beautiful look! It’s probably not one that you’d wear whilst rockin’ up to your day job, but if you’re looking for party time makeup with a twist, this chick is most definitely your gal. As we’ve said before, she’s one of our favourite makeup artists on Instagram right now, and this look shows you just why. Mixing really dramatic and colourful eyes with big and bold red lips isn’t an easy task, but she manages it. Beautifully, too! Is this a look you’d try for yourself?

Source: baileysarian

21 – Red Lips + Copper Tones

Back to something a little more subtle, and copper tones on the eyes work really well when you have red lips and black lining backing them up. Rose gold has been one of the biggest colours to hit us over recent seasons, and it’s a shade that is set to stay too. A modern twist on an otherwise classic look, what do you think of eye makeup for red lips like this?

Source: rubina_muartistry

And there you have them – 21 looks: eye makeup for red lips that we think you might just like. Don’t forget to let us know which ones were your favourite, and if there were any that made you tempted to grab your makeup bag (or box) and start getting creative. If you have stunning makeup looks of your own that you want to show off, send them into us! We would love to feature you and your work. You can get in touch via social media, and all of those links are found at the top of this page, and also along the sides. We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with, and we cannot wait to show off the magic you lot create!

Don’t forget to show these wonderful makeup artists some love in the meantime, however. We wouldn’t have anything to gain inspiration from if it weren’t for these beautiful peeps and their creative hands.

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