The 14 Best Red Lipsticks of All Time, According to 9 Makeup Artists
Red lipstick on Meghan Markle? So elegant. Red lipstick on us? Total clown vibe. We’ve always been drawn to the classic but bold makeup look, but we can never seem to pull it off. Which is why we brought in the big guns. We asked nine makeup artists to share their favorite red lipsticks of all time, and they delivered. From the blue-based shade that works on (pretty much) every skin tone to the darker rouges that are preferred by their celeb clients, here are their picks for the best red lipsticks of all time.
1. MAC Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
It should hardly come as a surprise that MAC’s cult favorite was recommended by five of the artists we reached out to. It all boils down to the fact that this blue-based shade is so universally flattering. “I have yet to try it on someone and have it not look good,” shares makeup artist Megan Lanoux, who works with stars including Julianne Hough and Sienna Miller. Multiple artists added that this particular shade has the unique power to make your teeth look extra white. Yes, please.
2. Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Color in Pirate
“The packaging makes you feel like you’re treating yourself, and the color is divine,” Lanoux notes, adding that she not only uses it on her clientele but it’s also stocked in her own personal makeup bag. If it’s good enough for a professional, we’re game to try it.
3. Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored
Prefer liquid lipstick? We’ve got you covered. Tim MacKay, the genius behind the faces of June Diane Raphael and Nastia Liukin, declares this formula from Fenty Beauty his all-time fave. “It dries very fast, but when it’s wet, it glides perfectly, giving you pure color payoff in one quick coat. It also wears for a very long time without cracking or looking flaky,” he says. We’re also fans of the strategically shaped precision wand, which is compact and pout-hugging, making for a particularly easy application.
4. MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour in Feels So Grand
MacKay is also a fan of this true red from MAC. He notes that this deep, classic red is his favorite to use on clients. “It looks stunning on everyone I have ever put it on, regardless of skin tone or age,” he explains. The fact that it has an eight-hour wear time doesn’t hurt either.
5. Vapour Beauty Lip Nectar in Coquette
We’re not always in the mood for a heavy matte formula, which is why we’re rather obsessed with beauty expert Jenny Patinkin’s recommendation: a highly pigmented balm from Vapour Beauty. “Matte reds can be very drying and accentuate flaking on the lips, while satiny or glossy reds can melt into the little vertical lines around the mouth,” she points out. “Balms are hydrating and have more glide; they tend to feel more comfortable and they’re lower maintenance to apply.” Glide on and go? We’re all about that life.
6. RMS Beauty Wild with Desire Lipstick in RMS Red
“I only reach for clean beauty,” Patinkin adds. That explains why her other favorite red comes from RMS Beauty—and it’s more luxe than you might expect. “These lipsticks are super long-wearing and have just the right amount of sheen. And they photograph really beautifully.” She uses the shades RMS Red and Rebound when she’s creating a bold look.
7. Clé De Peau Radiant Liquid Rouge Shine Liquid Lipstick in Red Currant
Desirae Cherman, whose clients include Kristen Bell, Zoey Deutch and Lili Reinhart, names this orangey red as her current go-to: “It can be used as a stain with your fingertip or applied directly for a bolder look.” That versatility helps us justify the steep price tag.
8. Tom Ford Lip Color Matte in Ruby Rush
Looking for a red that’s a total classic? Glamsquad artistic director and makeup artist Kelli J. Bartlett recommends Tom Ford’s Ruby Rush to help you achieve that Old Hollywood feel. “It has the perfect depth of a true red—which features a balance of blue and orange—so it’s seasonless and universally flattering. I love that it is a traditional creamy matte formula, in a classic bullet with sumptuous packaging,” she explains. Watch out, Marilyn Monroe.
9. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso
Date night calls for something kiss-proof. Try Stila’s Stay All Day formula, which has been a mainstay since its debut almost ten years ago. Bartlett recommends it to all of her brides-to-be who are hoping to rock a bold lip on their wedding day.
10. Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson
According to Mary Irwin, professional makeup artist to brands like Badgley Mischka and Tory Burch, there’s a lot to love about this lipstick. “It’s a slightly cool red, which brightens up skin and teeth, and the matte formula never gets dry. It feels lightweight but goes on easily and stays for hours,” she says.
11. Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Mysterious Red
“What I love about the Nars Velvet Matte lipstick pencil is that it’s essentially a jumbo pencil, so there’s no lip liner necessary,” proclaims Robert Sesnek. He’s worked on celebs such as Sophia Bush and Vanessa Hudgens, and he created Rose Leslie’s look for this year’s Golden Globes, so we really trust him. This chubby Nars stick is enriched with vitamin E and emollients, which explains the creamy texture and hydrating effects. Just make sure to use a large sharpener after every use so you can keep the lip lining up to par.
12. KVD VEGAN BEAUTY EVERLASTING LIQUID LIPSTICK IN SANTA SANGRE
Channel your inner Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union or Elizabeth Banks. Fiona Stiles uses this Kat Von D liquid lipstick on all three ladies, especially when they have to be in front of the camera for hours. “It’s bulletproof. My clients can eat and drink all night and I know the lipstick won’t smear or smudge,” she explains. Stiles is partial to Santa Sangre, a vampy “poison apple red” shade.
13. NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Jungle Red
Although he likens choosing a favorite red lip to Sophie’s Choice, James Vincent, director of education and artistic relations for The Makeup Show, was able to narrow it down to the aforementioned MAC Ruby Woo and this semi-matte one from Nars. It contains a blend of moringa and passion fruit seed oils that enhance color vibrancy while conditioning the lips. As for the hue? It’s just as classic and dramatic as the Meryl Streep film.
14. KEVYN AUCOIN MOLTEN MATTE LIQUID LIPSTICK IN JULIA
Nick Lujan, global director of artistry and education for Kevyn Aucoin, dubs this Kevyn Aucoin “the perfect red.” “Because it’s a liquid, I know I can apply it sheer as a tint, or layer it up for full intensity,” he notes. Plus, Lujan notes that it works on all skin tones.