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Red lipstick is, has been, and always will be a beauty staple. Just look at the legendary Hollywood bombshells, rock-and-roll queens, and famed characters that prove this powerful pout is truly timeless. From candy apple red gloss to matte burgundy lips, check out which moments topped our list of the most iconic red lips of all time.
Betty Boop (1930)
It was 1930 when wide-eyed Betty Boop and her ferarri-red lips made her first appearance in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes (opens in new tab). The character, inspired by singer Helen Kane (opens in new tab), has continued to be a popular sex symbol (and Halloween costume) that has transcended generations.
Marilyn Monroe (1953)
There’s no doubt this sultry, blonde bombshell knew how to work a red-hot lip. This famous photo of the American actress wearing her notorious crimson shade was taken on the patio outside her Hollywood home in May 1953.
Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy (1955)
Lucy may have had some splainin’ to do, but no one ever questioned her vibrant candy red lips. Although the beloved sitcom was filmed in black and white, all of her publicity and behind-the-scenes shots were taken with her radiant carrot-colored hair and a matching ruby lip.
Elizabeth Taylor (1955)
“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together,” proclaimed the famous Hollywood actress—and that she did. Taylor was always dressed to impressed with a full face of glamorous makeup, including a pop of pink-red color.
The Rolling Stones Logo (1971)
The Rolling Stones debuted their iconic red lip logo on their Sticky Fingers (opens in new tab) album in 1971. The art was actually created by Royal College of Art student, John Pasche, for £50. The band loved the logo so much they gave Pasche a bonus of £200 and the rest is history.
Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The red lips of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (opens in new tab) sure do make a statement! The berry red lips kick off the introduction of this musical/scifi/comedy/horror movie with an overdubbed male voice. The iconic red lips set the tone for the androgynous movie.
Ursula in The Little Mermaid (1989)
We’re jealous that Ursula can rock that wicked red lip underwater without even a smudge! Despite her villainous character, we will forever love her bold beauty look.
Madonna needed a sassy hue to match her seductress style on her Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990. Rising makeup brand M.A.C. came to the rescue and created their iconic Russian Red matte lipstick (opens in new tab) for the starlet. The shade went on to become a best-seller that still stands strong today.
Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990)
We all know the feeling when you swipe on a powerful pout and become a brand new woman—just like Julia Roberts in her transformative scene in Pretty Woman (opens in new tab). Then again, who wouldn’t feel like a star in an opera “red-to-toe” ensemble and a stunning diamond necklace gifted by Richard Gere.
Cindy Crawford (1990)
Cindy Crawford is already an unforgettable woman, but with those sexy red lips and that little red dress at Revlon’s Unforgettable Women of 1990 awards, this look tops her archive as one of the most iconic.
Anjelica Huston in The Addams Family (1991)
There are retro sirens and then there are brooding babes—enter Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (opens in new tab), played by Anjelica Huston The blood red shade and sharp definition...goth has never looked so chic.
Michelle Pfifer in The Batman Returns (1992)
Queen catwoman Michelle Pfeiffer’s purrfect rhubarb red pout was the cherry on top of her sultry feline look in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (opens in new tab). The glossy finish matched her latex catsuit creating a captivating look that had the audience entranced.
Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (1994)
No one does a vampy red lip quite like Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic, Pulp Fiction (opens in new tab). In 2014, Urban Decay even paid tribute to Thurman’s siren red smirk with a limited edition makeup collection. If you missed it, no worries, you can still pick up a Mrs. Wallace vice lipstick (opens in new tab) today.
Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge (2001)
What would Moulin Rouge (opens in new tab) be without Nicole Kidman’s promiscuous red-rouged lips? With unparalleled costumes and set design, its no wonder the 2001 film racked up the awards.
Gwen Stefani (2001)
Gwen Stefani is known to pair her punk rock looks with a fierce red pop of color. At the VH-1 Music Awards in 2001 Stefani rocked a risqué red top and a fiery red lip to match.
Rachel McAdams in The Notebook (2004)
McAdams dawned almost every shade of red lipstick in our girls-night-in favorite, The Notebook (opens in new tab). In the film, Allie, played by McAdams, wore a variety of deep berry red shades that were used to emphasize her '40s-era flair.
Christina Aguilera (2006)
Christina’s fire engine red lips are anything but basic on the cover of her Back to Basics (opens in new tab) album. Inspired by her retro idols from the ‘20s – ‘50s, the singer’s album was a soulful mix of jazz and pop. Here, Aguilera mimicked her album cover’s style at her launch party in 2006.
Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Who can forget about Anne Hathaway’s—or shall we say Andrea Sacks’—en-vogue red lip when she finally left the covetable position of Miranda Priestly’s assistant at Runway magazine. Hathaway’s role in The Devil Wears Prada (opens in new tab) was her biggest commercial success grossing over $300 million worldwide (opens in new tab).
Angelina Jolie (2012)
*That* lip with *that* leg...enough said. Angelina Jolie slayed this show stopping look at the 2012 Oscars. The style strikes the perfect balance of classic and sex appeal.
Rihanna has killed the bold beauty game ever since she first came on the music scene. Who can’t forget young Riri in that stunning Azzedine Alaia gown and long luscious locks at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
Adele set fire to her lips with this look, worn when the singer won Best Oscar Song for Skyfall, the first Oscar for a Bond film in 47 years. A matte red lip always pairs perfectly with Adele’s winged eyeliner and flawless porcelain skin—and she knows it and rocks it.
Taylor Swift (2016)
Even as Taylor’s style evolves, her classic red lip will always remain—or at least we hope so! Swift swiped on this orange-red color for the 58th Grammy Awards in February 2016 in Los Angeles.
Janelle Monae (2016)
An ode to both femininity and masculinity, Janelle Monae exuded fire and grace at the BET Honors in March 2016. The star of music and film never fails to disappoint with her signature scarlet lip color.
Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad (2016)
Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad (opens in new tab) transformation turned the red-lip-is-sexy stereotype on its head. Her character, Harley Quinn, sported a smudged scarlet lip that matched her deranged personality.
Emma Stone (2017)
Emma Stone embodied every bit of Hollywood glamour with this brick red lip at the 89th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood in February 2017, when she won Best Actress.
We couldn’t help but feature this bad gal a second time. Rihanna shook the beauty world with this striking portrait for her Stunna lip paint (opens in new tab) shade announcement on Instagram in November 2017.
Christina Hendricks (2018)
Everyone went mad for this bodacious babe and her raspberry red lips on Mad Men (opens in new tab) for seven seasons straight. Christina Hendricks took cue from her character, Joan, and swiped on this shade at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in January 2018.
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