One of the trickiest makeup products to find is the perfect red lipstick.
So, I decided to try multiple lipsticks in various red hues from different brands, at various price points.
I tried red lip products from the following brands: Pat McGrath, Lancôme, Makeup by Mario, Tata Harper, Tom Ford, Glossier, Fenty Beauty, Make Up For Ever, Yves Saint Laurent, Bobbi Brown, ILIA, Rose Inc., Charlotte Tilbury and Kilian. I also tried brands you can shop on Amazon and at local drugstores, such as COVERGIRL, NYX, L'Oréal, Revlon and Maybelline.
For example, I tried Glossier's G Suit Soft Touch Lip Creme, Make Up For Ever's 24-hour Power Last Liquid Lipstick, Lancôme's L'Absolu Rouge Drama Ink with a semi-matte finish and more. Some lipsticks dried matte, others were balmy, some included shimmer, and so on.
I quickly realized that there wouldn't be just one perfect red lipstick. Some shades would, of course, suit my skin tone and eye color more, but the texture and finish I'd prefer would greatly depend on my mood, the season, or the occasion for which I'd hope to wear it.
Similarly, based on your personal preferences, the right red lipstick probably depends on the ways in which you intend to wear it. For example, you may need a long-lasting, matte red lipstick to be photo-ready at a wedding. Or, you may prefer something more balmy and moisturizing for a day spent outside or in a dry office.
If you, too, are shopping for red lipsticks, there are several worth trying. For the purpose of trying out each lipstick on its own, I did not use a lip liner. Here's what happened!
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If you're looking for a long-lasting red lipstick
If you're looking for something long-lasting, try Make Up For Ever's Rouge Artist For Ever Matte Power Last Liquid Lipstick. This 24-hour wear "weightless" lipstick boasts a "power load" applicator that "effortlessly distributes the formula for the boldest matte finish." It also claims to be transfer-proof and smudge-proof while leaving your lips smooth.
I certainly agree with the "weightless" nature of this lipstick. The lightweight formula almost felt like water when applied to my lips, but it did not smudge or drip on my lips during application. I used shade "402 Constantly On Fire" and was impressed by the bold color payoff.
After leaving the product alone to dry on my lips, I tested if it would transfer by kissing the back of my hand -- and zero product came off.
I wore one coat of this lipstick through lunch and dinner, and while there was some natural wear -- mainly on the inner part of my lips -- it did not affect the overall integrity of the look. It would also be very easy to add another layer of the product on top without feeling like you've layered too much product. The lipstick remained on until I washed it off at the end of the night.
MAKE UP FOR EVER Rouge Artist For Ever Matte 24HR Longwear Liquid Lipstick, Constantly On Fire
If you're looking for a semi-matte red lipstick
I get it: Sometimes you don't want something too matte, but you don't want a glossy finish either. Cue Lancôme's L'Absolu Rouge Drama Ink semi-matte lip ink. This boasts a "bare lips feel" with full pigment color that's long-lasting, too.
I tried the color "525 French Bisou." It is a cool-toned cherry red color that is bold but approachable for an everyday look.
I applied the lipstick with its curved applicator. Its unique tip allowed me to apply it with precision, without too much effort. I really enjoy this lightweight formula and how quickly it settled without feeling too dry. It's soft and elegant and certainly one I could wear all day long.
If you're looking for a go-to drugstore red lipstick
I really loved L'Oréal's Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick. For under $15, this bold and beautiful product provides great color payoff and a powdery matte finish.
I tried the color "245 French Kiss." It's a pinky red and it was easy to apply. I wasn't expecting it to feel so weightless -- it doesn't really feel like you have anything on your lips.
I noticed that it was pretty hard to remove this product with the makeup wipes I had on hand. I really had to scrub it off! That's definitely a good thing if you're looking for something with staying power.
L'Oreal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick, French Kiss
If you're looking for a bold, red lipstick with "wow" factor
Fenty Beauty's Fenty Icon Velvet Liquid Lipstick left me speechless. The product description claims that with one swipe, you'll achieve full-coverage color with a velvet-matte finish… and that's exactly what I got.
I tried shade "01 The MVP" and swiped one layer across my bottom lip. When I rubbed my lips together, it transferred onto the top lip with ease, coating it without requiring any further product.
This is certainly a bold, full-coverage pop of color that makes a statement. It has a luxurious, velvety texture that lends to its overall comfortable wear. Not to mention the tube itself is stunning (a perfect gift!).
Fenty's MVP is ideal for those looking for that classic red lip.
If you're looking for a matte red lipstick
First, try the Makeup by Mario Ultra Suede Lipstick. It's a thicker formula than some of the previously-mentioned lipsticks, but I like how comfortable and (for lack of a better term) suede-like it feels on the lips. I tried the color "Kiana," another cool red, but there are also two other reds to choose from: "Alicia," a warm red, and "Nikki," a muted brick red.
According to the brand's website, this lipstick has rosehip and passionfruit seed oil to soften the lips for a "non-drying, ultra-comforting feel." It has "blur filtered technology" where smoothing gels and texturizing powder create "a smooth matte, soft-focus appearance."
I certainly noticed its "ultra-comforting" quality. I love how bold (yet soft) it is in appearance. It is also a formula that you can easily manipulate; I patted it with a paper towel to remove a bit of product and it left behind an effortless, lived-in look.
Second, if you're open to splurging on a red lip, try the Kilian Le Rouge Parfum matte lipsticks.
This special product is infused with a Kilian signature scent making for a unique lipstick experience. The matte formula has a powderly velvet finish, which I found to be very comfortable to apply and wear.
Try color "257 Crazy Rose" for a not-so-intense, rosy red color you'll wear year-round.
If you're looking for a shiny red lip
If you're looking for a lip product with a shiny finish, try the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine Oil-in-Stick lip color. I used the color "127 Rouge Studio" and found it to be the perfect intersection between a red lip balm and a traditional lipstick.
This product applies with ease and there's no need to be too perfect or precise when you apply it.
It's one you could add to your on-the-go makeup bag and reapply as needed. I tried applying it without a mirror and had no issues!
If you're looking for a lip cream
Glossier's Soft Touch Lip Creme is a great choice for those looking for full-coverage, bold color. I tried the shade "Jet," a true blue-red. I think it's an ideal color to reach for as we approach the fall and winter seasons.
Pair it with barely-there eye makeup and your favorite blush and you're all set for a special occasion.
If you want a more diffused lip cream, try Rose Inc's new product: the Lip Cream Weightless Matte Color.
This has a "whipped, cashmere-soft" feel that you can build depending on your personal preference. If you're looking for a fiery red, "Mortal Flame" is the one to try.
Both of these products are easy to apply and touch up throughout the day.
ROSE INC Lip Cream Longwearing Matte Liquid Lipstick with Squalane, Mortal Flame