"On a bad day, there is always lipstick" - Audrey Hepburn
orget heavy-duty contouring and luminous highlighters. Move over graphic eyeliner and luscious lashes. When it comes to makeup, the only real power play worth your time is a red lipstick. Versatile and flattering, a carefully considered swipe of red has the ability to instantly imbue you with confidence, refine your makeup and truly take things up a notch. Whether matte or shiny, sheer or bold, there’s a perfect red lipstick for every pout – all you have to do is choose your shade.
How to choose the best red lipstick
Fortunately, when it comes to selecting your perfect shade there’s plenty of choice. From blue-toned hues to vibrant orangey reds, your favourite luxury beauty brands have something to suit every skin colour. The first step is to determine your skin’s undertone as this will dictate which shades will be the most flattering. Generally, those with cooler undertones should opt for reds with blue bases, while those with warm skin tones should go for orange and brick-based reds.
How to wear a red lip
The best thing about red lipstick is its versatility: whether you’re running errands or out on date night, a red lip has the power to instantly elevate your look. The general rule for wearing red lips is to leave makeup minimal elsewhere to prevent looking overdone – so no neon eyeshadow or OTT blush – though there are some exceptions to this rule.
Worn with a bare face – comme les Français – a red lip provides the perfect pop of colour for a low-maintenance look. Make yours matte and pair with a classic cat eye and bold brows to evoke Old Hollywood glamour, or try blotting your lip colour with your fingers to soften the edges for a laidback, worn-in approach. To up the ante, prep with a coordinating lip liner then finish with a clear gloss to leave your lips looking luscious and defined. Not into high-octane makeup? Opt for a balm or tint with sheer coverage for a (nearly) natural shade that is much more subtle.
From nourishing balms with the lightest of coverage and grab-and-go bullets, to stay-all-day liquid lips and matte-finish kits, there’s a red for every occasion. Luckily, Luxury London has done the legwork for you: here’s our guide to the best red lipsticks to achieve the perfect pout.
Armani Beauty Lip Power
This satin-finish lipstick is formulated with a blend of nourishing oils for an intense, long-lasting colour that feels as though you’re wearing nothing at all. Bright and bold, this neutral red will suit a plethora of skin tones, both fair and deep.
Carolina Herrera The Lip Liquid
Striking and intense, Carolina Herrera’s velvet-finish liquid lip in shade 580, Orange Affair, is ideal for warm undertones and looks particularly striking on darker skin colours. Ultra-pigmented and moisturising, this vegan, waterproof and smudge-resistant formula dries instantly and promises to last up to 12 hours. To truly make it your own, choose from three gold, animal-embellished caps: the lucky beetle, the turtle and the lioness.
Chanel Rouge Allure L’Extrait
Chanel’s refillable Rouge Allure L’Extrait delivers highly-concentrated colour, nourishment and light-reflecting shine for a radiant red. Shade 854 is a rich, blue-based rouge, ideal for cooler skin tones of any shade, adding a touch of sophistication with its bold satin finish.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution
Charlotte Tilbury’s ruby red lipstick takes inspiration from the starlets of Old Hollywood. Infused with achiote (AKA the lipstick tree) and orchid extracts that nourish the lips, this cult formula contains glowing 3D pigments for a bold matte finish that looks tailor-made for the red carpet.
Infused with jasmine floral wax and natural oils for all-day moisture, Dior Addict delivers punchy, high-gloss colour for up to six hours without budging or smudging. A bold, cherry red, shade 745, Re(d)volution, will complement a wide range of skin tones, both warm and cool. Complete with a chic refillable case, this iconic upside-down lipstick is as unique to you as your makeup is.
Fenty Beauty Stunna
Fenty Beauty’s Stunna liquid lip paint delivers high-impact, long-wearing colour in just one stroke, sitting smoothly on the lips without bleeding or feathering. Chosen for its universally flattering undertones – Fenty is focused on ensuring all skin tones are equally represented in the beauty sphere – and soft-matte finish, Uncensored is the ideal, wearable red for all.
MAC Retro Matte
Beloved by makeup artists, drag queens and supermodels alike, Mac’s Ruby Woo is the cult favourite that put the brand on the map. A vivid blue-red with a true matte finish, this durable, buildable formula is perfect for achieving a retro, fade-proof pout.
Packed full of naturally nourishing ingredients, this high-impact, velvet-finish lipstick delivers bold, full coverage colour in just one stroke. A vivid orange-red, Lana is the ideal shade for vibrant summer looks.
Pat McGrath Labs Lip Kit
When renowned makeup artist Dame Pat McGrath announced the launch of her eponymous cosmetics line in 2015 the beauty world was abuzz with excitement in anticipation of what promised to be a high-performance, top-quality offering. And we were not disappointed. Harnessing her years of experience working behind the scenes at fashion shows and cover shoots, McGrath’s Crimson Couture lip kit is the ultimate fool-proof lip duo. Combining a precision lip pencil in ruby red shade Blood Lust with matte finish, moisturising MatteTrance lipstick in exclusive shade Elson 3, this lip kit is unmatched when it comes to creating the perfect high-impact pout.
Tom Ford Ultra-Shine Lip Colour
A hybrid of the brand’s classic Lip Colour and Ultra-Shine Lip Gloss, Tom Ford’s Ultra-Shine lip colour delivers a delicate, high-shine finish that provides all-day nourishment. Glossy, creamy and understated, Willful is a low-maintenance, buildable red that sits effortlessly on the lips and will suit a wide range of skin tones.
Wonderskin Wonder Blading Peel & Reveal
Combining the comfort of a lightweight tint with the staying power of a liquid lip, Wonderskin’s peel and reveal lip colour kit provides full, pigmented coverage that stays put all day. Perfect for an evening on the town, or date night with your beau, this transfer-proof, waterproof red has the slightest warm undertones, giving a classic vintage-inspired finish.