I make it no secret that I love red lipstick. But it wasn’t always that way. I’d definitely consider myself more of a fashion girl than a beauty girl — I didn’t even know what foundation was until my first year of college — and I’d always been afraid of trying on any kind of lip colour, let alone something as bold as red. I’d always been too afraid to try it, but when I did, it opened up a whole new world for me.
Red lipstick is my go-to way to make a statement, to get attention and to liven up any outfit no matter how simple or glamorous. It adds a certain dramatic edge that gives me confidence and I’ve definitely gotten addicted to the feeling that it gives me. Sometimes, I don’t feel quite right without any on.
Eventually, however, one red lip lipstick wasn’t enough. There were days when I wanted more drama or days when I wanted to be subtle but still have some hint of colour on my lips. I needed more. Soon enough, one red lipstick became a whole range of lip cosmetics in varying shades of rouge.
Here’s a list of the red lip products I currently covet:
1. Revlon ‘ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick’ in Top Tomato
When I’m going out for the night, this is my go-to product. It goes on like a traditional lip gloss, complete with a puff sponge applicator. That is, it goes on as a liquid like the name suggests. This also makes it the trickiest of all my lip products to actually get on since you can’t just smack your lips, tissue and be on your way.
It goes through a range of textures before completely drying into a matted red colour. At first, it’s slippery and liquid then tacky and sticky and then eventually finishes off dry.
I personally carefully fill out the peaks of my cupid’s bow, line the rest of my upper lip and then swipe my bottom lip once before I let it dry — otherwise you get a mess. After it’s dried once I fill out where it’s uneven and it’s good for the rest of my day.
What I love best about this is that it stays on pretty much all night. I can eat, take a few shots and dab with a napkin and it stays on. The only downside to this is because it acts more like a stain than a lipstick colour is that it’s very drying. So I’d recommend pairing it with your favourite chapstick for touch-ups if you’re feeling particularly dry.
When I wear this I generally need to use a lip balm at around the 4-5 hour mark and have gone on to about 7 hours before I’ve had to actually reapply or touch up with another red lipstick.
For the most part, it’s a fairly standard matte red lip product with a smattering of gold sparkles throughout which lends its name to the red/orange tomato for which it’s named. I’d say it tilts to a warmer red than anything, but those sparkles are why I reserve this product for nightwear insead of day.
2. NARS ‘Velvet Matte Lip Pencil’ in Dragon Girl
Similar to Revlon’s ColorStay liquid lipstick, this lip pencil by NARS is designed to eliminate the need for a lip liner and to act as a dual product that retains the precision of a lip pencil, but the all over application of a traditional lipstick.
The colour is described as a “siren red” that’s incredibly intense with a hint of both pink and blue undertones. I’ve had a few of my girlfriends who are heavy MAC users say that Ruby Woo is darker and redder in comparison to Dragon Girl. Depending on your skin tone, I’ve also had people tell me that it appears more pink on them than red. In my experience, I get the majority of its blue base and it comes off as a vibrant cherry red on my lips.
I find it to be a very rich colour that’s completely opaque and creamy. It has the best texture of all the products and is so incredibly smooth and silky on my lips. I love using it for daywear with navy blazers and black pumps or dressing up creamy cardigans and flats.
The product itself is a medium-sized lip crayon and it applies smoothly and opaquely, I generally feel next to no pull on my lips when I apply and there’s a sort of glide or waxiness to the product that leaves it clinging to my lips for about six hours — I’ve gone eight without having to reapply. There’s also next to no transfer and I can sip teas at a Starbucks while I study without leaving a cherry ring on the white lid.
I’ll say that for girls on a budget this product is a stretch — I purchased mine for $35 at my local Sephora. This, coupled with the fact that since it’s a crayon and requires sharpening adds up to me not using it nearly as often as I’d love to since it’s the most consistent and smooth red product in my make-up arsenal.
If you’re a NARS girl and you own the Velvet Gloss Lip Pencils, this pencil is a lot dryer and more firm than those so you lose a lot less product during the sharpening process than you’d normally expect. I’ve found sticking it in the freezer before sharpening really helps to cut down on lost product.
3. Revlon ‘Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain’ in Romantic
How can you tell I’m a Revlon girl. Admittedly, it’s been my go-to drugstore product for lipwear since I find them the most consistent in terms of daily use and shades for my skintone.
On more casual days when I don’t want to go completely opaque or bold in my beauty routine, I pair this balm stain by Revlon with lightly mascara’d eyes, a shimmer shadow and a hint of blush.
It comes in a giant chubby pencil stick that’s a lot thicker than the NARS lip pencil I previously mentioned. Also unlike the NARS lip pencil this balm stain doesn’t need to be sharpened and has a convenient twist-bottom to it.
The great thing about this balm stain is its name and the fact that it is yet another Revlon dual product that acts as both a moisturizing lip balm and a stain that gradually tints your lips a lovely colour over the course of the day.
Speaking of colour, this is probably the most pink-leaning of all the red products that I have since it’s a product whose colour is meant to be filled in gradually over time. In full force with a few layers applied I’d describe the shade as a soft rose colour with a slight golden sheen to it. You can also tell that it’s the least opaque of all my products and is more of a sweet, gentle tinted shine to your natural lip colour.
Another plus: its scent. Rather than having some kind of tacky, chemical or chalky smell these balm stains by Revlon have a slightly minty scent. It’s not too overwhelming like, say, toothpaste, but it’s a subtle and refreshing peppermint smell.
4. Revlon ‘Super Lustrous Lipstick’ in Matte Really Red
I realize now that this is coming off as a giant advertisement post for Revlon products but I’m telling you that Revlon lip products cannot be beat in the drugstore. I’ve found that they tend to have the longest-lasting, highest quality textures and widest range of shades of all drugstore brands I’ve tried.
That being said, their Super Lustrous line is the most superior.
This is probably the most standard lip product that I have in my make-up collection and I feel that, of all these products, this is the product you should buy if you’re a red lipstick virgin. It’s exactly what you would expect from a matte lipstick. It isn’t hydrating nor dehydrating, it features absolutely no scent (powdery, floral, fruity, minty, sunblock-y or anything), it is incredibly opaque (apply with a light hand because that’s all you really need) and it is long-lasting (I generally get about 5 hours with a single application).
It’s a very standard true red that I feel flatters all skintones. There aren’t any trace amounts of blue or pink undertones to this and because it’s matte it’s so long-lasting. It’s the product with the closest texture to the NARS lip pencil so if you’re on a budget, I would highly recommend this one. It’s very soft and supple.
5. M.A.C Lipstick in Chili
I know what you’re going to say. And before the cult audience that follows Ruby Woo or Russian Red gather at my front door, hear me out. While I adore both of those shades, I’m offering Chili as an alternative option to those firetruck, traffic light, vivid blue-reds that you generally associate with the red lip look.
What I really like about this shade is its warm brown pigments which make it more of a relaxed but still bold look to wear. For me, it’s the difference between seeing that flash of blue-red Ruby Woo with magenta undertones across the room and smiling over a cup of coffee the next day with the seductive earthy golden quality that Chili has.
I’d describe it as more of a brick red but, like all MAC lipsticks, it goes on creamy and smooth and finishes with a slight sheen to it (unlike its Ruby Woo red counterpart).
And a fun behind-the-scenes picture following me swatching all those lipsticks during this review: