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Best Red Lipsticks

Last month I realized I had lost my favorite red lipstick (Illamasqua Maneater) and when I went to buy a new one I found out Sephora had stopped carrying it. I spent some time trying to hunt it down before finally admitting to myself that I needed to find a new signature red lipstick. Red lipstick is one of my favorite topics so I thought it would be a fun opportunity to do some research and find out our favorites.  We asked for reccomendations on Instagram and Facebook and then went shopping. We tried 40 different lipsticks, everything from drugstore brands to makeup counter brands and even tried a few high-end designer brands. Here is what we found out. Click through for our list of 12 Best Lipsticks


I think the lipsticks can be categorized in three general pricepoint groups. 1. Drugstore $5-$11 2. Mid Range $14-$27 3. High End +$30 I was a little surprised at the quality of the lipsticks compared to the pricetag. Most of the drug store lipsticks weren’t great as expected. It was hard to find really good colors and the application felt waxy and low quality on a lot of them. But we found a few that were really exceptional and were comparable to the higher priced lipsticks.  Most of the ones in the Mid Range Category were good and consistent, they came in great colors and felt nice to wear. In the mid range category we also discovered a few that were really innovative and long-wearing. We only tried 4 different types of high-end lipsticks and while the packaging felt more luxe we didn’t notice a huge improvement in quality compared to the midrange brands like MAC or NARS. I was expecting something special with the higher price tags and at least with the brands I tried they were pretty normal.

Color is a matter of personal preference and what looks good with your skin tone. The shade of red can run the gamut from something with bluish undertones to a brick red or even something kind of orangey. A few years ago my friend was helping me choose a lipstick and she says the key to finding a good one is to go somewhere like Sephora and spend a good 30-60 minutes trying on different colors to find the perfect lipstick for you. My personal favorites tend to run a true red or else have a tiny bit of orangey undertones which feel a little bright and on trend.

We tried lip pencils, lipsticks and even stains. Pencils are nice because they tend to wear longer, lipsticks are really easy to apply and the matte colors usually last longer than non matte colors. There are lots of new stains out right now and we were really impressed by how long they wear.

In general all the Mac and Nars were great colors and predictably good. I think my new favorite might be #1 below. It really stays on the whole day. I even kissed Paul with it on and there wasn’t a trace of it on him. For situations where I don’t want lipstick on all day I think my new favorite is #9 Nars Heat Wave. I also thought #6 and #11 were excellent and both can be found at a drugstore.

Here are our 12 favorite lipsticks we tried. I would love to hear YOUR favorite or if you have recommendations on ones we missed in the comments below.

Best Red Lipstick | Oh Happy Day!

1. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick, Underage Red $19 – Best to Make Out In. This one was really impressive. It applies like a lip gloss (which can take some practice to perfect) but then dries into a beautiful matte color THAT IS EXTREMELY LONGWEARING.  You can kiss your boyfriend without leaving any color on his face. Bonus: no parabens.

2. L’Oreal Colour Riche Lipcolour, British Red $5.99 – Best for a Budget. This one is a great color and applies evenly. But I love that it’s also so inexpensive. You can also pick it up at any drug store which is super convenient.

3. & 4. Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, Cruella & Red Square $25 – Easiest Application. I love these lip pencils because they’re SO easy to apply and don’t really come off after eating or kissing. The colors are also great: Red Square is the perfect bright red and Cruella is an awesome deep red.

5. & 6. Rimmel Kate Moss Collection, 110 & 010 $7.99 – Another awesome drug store option. These came in great classic colors and weren’t too dry or too shiny.

7. & 8. Mac Matte Lipstick, Ruby Woo & Lady Danger $16 – Best Color. You can’t really go wrong with Mac. They’ve got classic colors that aren’t too matte and apply super smoothly. The price is also great for the quality.

9. Nars Lipstick, Heat Wave $26 – Best Texture. I love Nars lipstick – it’s enriched with Vitamin E so the colors goes on smooth and stays in tact. Heat Wave is one of my favorite colors. A+.

10. Illamasqua Lipstick, Flare  $25 – Most Intense Color. I’ve been wearing this color forever. The orange tint feels super fresh. It glides on smoothly. I always keep a stick in my purse.

11. Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm, 210 Unapologetic $9.80 – Most Moisturizing. This one is a mix between a lip balm and lipstick  so it makes your lips feel super soft. The crayon shape make is really easy to apply (plus, you don’t need a sharpener!) and it’s got an interesting minty taste.

12. Bite, Zinfandel $24 – Best Non-Toxic! Besides having awesome color, great texture and easy application, this one is TOTALLY safe enough to eat. It doesn’t have any parabens, sulfates or phthalates.

lipstick11Looking for the Best Red Lipsticks | Oh Happy Day

Photos by Paul Ferney & Alison Piepmeyer for Oh Happy Day. Special thanks to my friend Danielle Curtis for modeling!

  1. Kerry / Paper Dahlia

    September 9, 2014

    LOVE Bite lipsticks and lip balms! I love Kat Von D lipstick too so I will have to try this liquid lipstick! Now if only I had her lips 😉

  2. Kinnara

    September 9, 2014

    Limecrime Red Velvet Velvetine!!!

  3. Loulou

    September 9, 2014

    You really suit red lipstick!

    I recently bought a red one for the first time and since I wasn’t used to the colour on me, I didn’t want to spend a lot. I ended up with the Rimmel Kate Moss one, that I see you liked too. I’ve worn it a few times now and have to say that wearing red is a bit of a shock when you’re not used to it, but now I love it.

  4. Anna

    September 9, 2014

    Nice list! I’m pretty obsessed with obsessive compulsive cosmetics lip tar in a tube as well as maybelline super stay 24 color… that stuff seriously stays on FOREVER. Also kiss proof 🙂

  5. Cat

    September 9, 2014

    I absolutely adore Bite Beauty lipsticks! They feel so creamy and they stay on such a long time. I’d love to try that long lasting Kat Von Dee one now, though.


  6. JR

    September 9, 2014

    If only I could zoom the kisses photo so I could read what you wrote!

  7. Meg

    September 9, 2014

    Oh, I love this entire post. I added a few to my list. I really love Russian Red by Mac. A lot of classic reds makes my olive skin look a little weird & Russian Red is just a tad bit deeper than Ruby Woo. Looove it.

  8. Katrin

    September 9, 2014

    Using Rimmel “Tantrum”, but would love to find a vegetarian alternative. Any ideas?

  9. Heather

    September 9, 2014

    Would love to know where your minty sunglasses are from in photo 7!

  10. Jodi

    September 9, 2014

    Oh man I LOVE red lipsticks! My favourite is the Sephora Cream Lip stain in 01 Always Red. It is the perfect red for my skintone and stays on all day!

  11. Rachel

    September 9, 2014

    Please do a post for pinks!

  12. Sarah

    September 9, 2014

    Your friend is gorgeous! Her smize game is on point.

  13. Jen

    September 9, 2014

    I’ve been looking for a good red lipstick- thanks for the great post!

  14. Laura

    September 9, 2014

    You couldn’t have picked a better model for this. To me red lipstick is synonymous with my beautiful friend Danielle!

  15. Laura

    September 9, 2014

    NARS Jungle Red has been my new go-to. Lasts all day!

  16. Janice

    September 9, 2014

    Loreal #302, Sunset Red, which I can’t find anymore, is my favorite. I think it is a red that looks good on everyone.

  17. Erin @ The Grass Skirt

    September 9, 2014

    You look incredible in red lips! I love MAC Russian Red.

  18. amapola

    September 9, 2014

    all look great, my favorites are 1,5,9 and 12!

  19. Jessica

    September 10, 2014

    I love all the pictures…it’s all so funny how different she looks just be wearing a different lipstick colour!

  20. Nicole

    September 10, 2014

    My college roommate is a chemical engineer who works for L’oreal and she said that in the UK, L’oreal, Clinique, and Shishedo lipsticks were all made in the same factory fom the same ingredients and only the quality of the pigments changed/ improved with price. Sh said that all the big conglomerates work like that so you can often get your fav lipstick much cheaper by looking through the lesse brands in the group. I need to know who does Armani lipsticks- love them, but pricy!!

  21. Sam

    September 10, 2014

    Just curious because I am a lipstick newbie, do you use lip liner?

      • jordan
      • September 10, 2014

      I don’t, but I know some lipsticks really need it. It’s also supposed to make your color longer lasting.

  22. Lauren

    September 10, 2014

    I love lipsticks and am a Mac fanatic, but recently picked up Wet n’ Wild (yes, back to teenage days) Mega Last in multiple colors and it is amazing. I was so shocked. It goes on nicely, dries matte and stays on all day! For the price, I couldn’t believe it! Recommend trying!

  23. Christina

    September 10, 2014

    I just bought a lipstick this past weekend that I’m not crazy about. Gonna go back and find another shade. This was a great post!

    – Christina

  24. Chelsey

    September 10, 2014

    I love this post! and you picked the perfect model because danielle is a babe and pulls off the red lips like no one else!
    Thanks for all the great tips:)

  25. Yolonda

    September 10, 2014

    I have both NARS colors and I love them. Another great red, is Red Revival by Loreal.

  26. Linea

    September 11, 2014

    Love lipstick!

    My favorite is Topshop Rio Rio – it’s matte and it lasts! (not if you eat, but it is so easy putting it on – and I love doing that!)

  27. Kimberly

    September 11, 2014

    No. 17 YSL rouge volupte or No. 97 CHANEL rouge allure look and feel amazing !

  28. May

    September 12, 2014

    I love Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red. I also think Top Shop makes a great lipstick formula, definitely want a lip liner but amazing! I want to try Lime Crime.

  29. Stefanie

    September 12, 2014

    Just wanted to say thank you for a super awesome post! I am a huge fan of Armani lipstick (which is the high end range) – they have a lipstick called Lip Maestro that goes on like a gloss but is totally matte and very long lasting. The colors are really lush and intense.

  30. Laurie

    September 12, 2014

    Oh my! Don’t forget BESAME ! it comes in a beautiful gold vintage looking tube, it is dense and beautifully matte. Red Velvet seems to be the favorite color among our group…it has just a touch of brown but Cherry (with a touch of burgundy) and Besame Red are all so fabulous. If you are a “red lipstick girl” like I am you must check out Besame Cosmetics.

  31. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

    September 12, 2014

    Jordan, try Ebay for your lost lipstick! I was so obsessed with this one Mac red colour called “Miss Dish” that I spent hundreds of dollars buying as many as I could find on Ebay after it was discontinued. Finally moved on to new colours but I know that disappointed feeling of the discontinued colour…! I love lipstick and consequently this FUN post! Red lipstick totally brightens up one’s face and gives it a pop of youthful and chic colour. I recently got my older sister wearing red lipstick and she loves it. I’ve been a red lipstick wear-er since forever – I’m known for being able to wear mine for 24 hours, hehe! Through meals, drinking beverages, even sleeping! I’m programmed to be conscious of not mucking it up throughout the day because I’ve worn it for so many years. I LOVE Mac Ruby Woo, very matte and vintage-look. Mac Red is a satin finish and more shiny and works on so many faces. My other fave is from Sephora, Make Up Forever Rouge Artist Intense #45 (kind of a hilarious name)- a very pretty red with a touch of dark pink. Pretty much loved and used Mac for like 20 years at this point! I want to try some Nars, such vibrant shades!

  32. Ana

    September 13, 2014

    Red looks really great on you! Somehow brighthens up your eyes and compliment your skintone. I would be curious to know if you have some favourite product to use when removing the lipstick? 🙂

  33. Jessica

    September 14, 2014

    Hi Jordan,

    This is a little off topic, but do you know where the vest Danielle is wearing in numbers 7 and 12 is from? I absolutely love the little bit of it that I can see.

  34. Majeak Ann

    September 15, 2014

    You have to try Clarins Red and Russian Red (MAC). Both gorgeous!

  35. Lauren

    September 15, 2014

    I am currently loving Lime Crime’s Glamour 101. Unfortunately I am massively allergic to carmine/cochineal, so can’t wear 99% of red lipsticks, although I love them so. I’ve always wanted to try MACs Russian Red.

  36. Emily

    September 17, 2014

    Your post inspired me to buy my first red lipstick! One day after preschool drop off I had a mom morning : I got a coffee, read the Style section and headed to MAC to find the right red for my skin tone (pale/pink skin and auburn hair)…I came away with Ruby Woo and I LOVE it!

  37. Rachelle

    September 20, 2014

    I love the Revlon Colorburst line and was so excited to try your pick, Unapologetic. After trying it on, I’m so surprised by how pink it is. Looks much different on your model. Strange- just thought I’d share. Great post!

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