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When it comes to lip color, it doesn't get more classic than red. Dynamic, bold, and confident, the powerful shade has been seen swiped across the lips of fashion icons and influential figures for decades. (Marilyn Monroe, Audry Hepburn, Taylor Swift—you name it.) And while there are certainly lots of red shades to choose from, many of them have become so iconic that you can probably list them by name. From shiny, moisturizing picks like Revlon's Fire And Ice to deeper, Snow White-esque shades like Pat McGrath's Elson, the debate about the best red lipstick has been a long one.
But no matter what shade you consider your holy grail, one thing will always ring true: red lipstick is the ultimate makeup product. You can pair it with a smoky eye for a bold, night-out look, or couple it with simple winged liner. You can go for a smooth, precise look or wear it smudgy and blotted for a French-girl take à la Jeanne Damas. You can go for scarlet, burgundy, or true red, and you can choose from satin, matte, and lustrous finishes. Truly, everyone has their idea of the perfect red.
To help you find yours, we're bringing you a list of the most iconic red lipsticks of all time, complete with detailed color descriptions and even some examples of celebs who love them. Whether you want to splurge or test out some affordable options first, the list below has a cult-favorite red for every color preference and budget.
How We Found The Best Red Lipsticks
If you’ve visited our site before, you know that we take our Top 10 lists pretty seriously. In fact, we use a data-backed approach to find the best products on the internet that factors in reviews, best-seller lists, editor recommendations, social buzz, and more. From ultra-bright crimsons to the vampiest blood reds, scroll on for our definitive ranking of the best red lipsticks of all time.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Lip Liners. Opening image: @diormakeup
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Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick In Red Carpet Red
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Charlotte Tilbury's Matte Revolution Lipsticks are a crowd favorite in all shades, and for good reason. The formula contains 3D glow pigments that make the lips appear wider and fuller, leaving the pout with a just-injected look (in a good way). Plus, it's enriched with Charlotte's secret ingredient and orchid extract, making it super moisturizing even though it's matte.
ABOUT THE SHADE: Not too warm but not too cool, Red Carpet Red is the perfect universally flattering shade. It's on the deeper side—think Old Hollywood red vs. fire engine red—so it's super low maintenance and easy to pull off.
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick In Pioneer
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: According to the reviewers, beauty editors, and celebs that rave about it, this drugstore lipstick is hard to beat. With its 16-hour staying power, super-saturated color, and unique brush that makes precise application easy, the formula performs like a luxury lipstick but costs way less.
ABOUT THE SHADE: A bright, fiery red, one tube of the shade Pioneer is sold every six seconds. Nope, not kidding.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick In Fire And Ice
BEST HIGH-SHINE FINISH
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Created in 1952 and advertised as "the foolproof formula for melting a male," Fire And Ice is one of the most iconic red lipsticks out there. But it's not just the classic, true red shade people love about it—it also has a stellar formula. Infused with vitamin E and avocado oil, it has a super creamy, moisturizing feel that leaves the lips feeling comfortable for hours.
ABOUT THE SHADE: Fire And Ice is a super glam, true red shade that works on all skin tones, but it's an especially flattering choice for those with fair skin.
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick In Elson
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Pat McGrath's MatteTrance Lipstick is richly pigmented and matte yet somehow so lightweight and comfortable. Best of all? All it takes is one swipe for a full-coverage, feather-free finish—no lip liner needed. We can see why reviewers tout it as "the most magical lipstick ever."
ABOUT THE SHADE: Elson is an intense, blue-based crimson that's perfect for winter. If you love MAC's Ruby Woo (#1), you'll love this.
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick In Beso
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Liquid lipsticks have a tendency to suck all the moisture out of your lips, but Stila's is quite the opposite. Formulated with vitamin E and avocado oil, it actually softens and hydrates the lips while you wear it. Plus, the doe-foot applicator makes it a breeze to use.
LOVED FOR: Beso is a true, classic red that can instantly brighten up any skin tone. See it on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for proof.
Dior Rouge Dior Refillable Lipstick In 999
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: You'll be hard-pressed to find a list of the best red lipsticks without Dior 999 on it, and there's a reason for that. Available in both matte, velvet, metallic, and satin finishes, it's full of natural ingredients like red peony extract, pomegranate flower extract, and shea butter that provide hours of comfort. Plus, the tube is refillable.
ABOUT THE SHADE: Dior's 999 has long been touted as a true, classic red that works on everyone, and it definitely lives up to the hype. See it on multiple editors here.
Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Color In Pirate
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Chanel's revamped formula contains concentrated, ultra-thin pigments to deliver intense, long-wearing payoff while still leaving the lips supple, moisturized, and comfortable. It has the prettiest satin finish, so it's perfect for those that aren't into the super matte look.
ABOUT THE SHADE: Made with just the right mix of reds and blues, Pirate is a true classic. In fact, it was formulated to mimic Coco Chanel's signature red lip, and there's a matching nail polish too.
Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil In Dragon Girl
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: In addition to maintaining pristine color for hours and donning an easy-to-use crayon design, this lipstick pencil is versatile beyond belief. You can use it for lining, as an allover lip color, or paired with another lip product for a custom pout pigment.
ABOUT THE SHADE: Ever wonder how Taylor Swift achieves her perfect red pout? Dragon Girl, that's how.
Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color In Uncensored
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: In true Fenty fashion, the entire shade range of this line was designed to flatter all skin tones—red included, of course. The formula features a lip-defining precision wand that deposits rich color that lasts with just one stroke.
ABOUT THE SHADE: The first red lipstick in Rihanna's line, Uncensored is the perfect universal red. Bold and pigmented, the blue-red shade delivers serious color payoff and stays on for hours.
MAC Lipstick Matte In Ruby Woo
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: MAC's matte lipsticks—in all shades available—flatter pretty much any person who wears them. From Ruby Woo to the brand's cult-favorite nude, Velvet Teddy, the formula features high color payoff and a creamy matte finish that can't be beat.
ABOUT THE SHADE: Arguably one of the most famous red lipsticks of all time, this bright cherry red with a hint of blue has graced the pouts of many a celeb. In fact, MAC even released a special version of the semi-matte formula just for Rihanna called Riri Woo.
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