We all have our own ways of transforming our everyday selves into our more sophisticated alter egos. While some of us rely on a curling iron and sea salt spray to add some sex appeal, others craft a seductive smokey eye. But if there's one thing that's truly universal when it comes to feeling like our most exciting selves, it's a big, bad red lipstick. Swiping on such a bold color can have real mood-boosting effects, and takes any makeup look up a chic notch.
What shade of red lipstick should I wear?
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There are a lot of people who insist that they just can't wear red lipstick. And to that, I say: You sure as hell can. It's just a matter of finding the right shade, finish, and method of application. Finding the red shade for your skin tone means the difference between looking like a silver screen siren and like you might still have ketchup on your face from dinner. Once you've nailed that, the opportunities are endless: Add a matte to your cart for a classic look that lasts all night, and keep a satin finish on hand for a touch of glossiness that looks pitch-perfect for daytime.
As fate would have it, July 29 is National Lipstick Day, which means you have an excuse to stock up on as many shades as you want! Here, a mix of the most iconic shades to hit the market and our newer favorites to satisfy every mood, event, and whim that comes your way.
MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Russian Red
For Fair and Deep Skin Tones
Ruby Woo gets all the hype when you think of MAC's iconic red lipsticks, but we're partial to Russian Red, which has blue undertones that look flawless on fair and deep skin tones (plus, they make your teeth look whiter).
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red
For Fair Skin Tones
The Hollywood sign comes to mind when we think of this red. It's classic and glamorous, and looks particularly flattering on fairer skin tones.
Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick in Red Velvet
For Dining Out
This is a TikTok favorite, and for good reason. It's the color of cherries, stays put through dinner and drinks, and feels weightless while you're wearing it.
NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Dragon Girl
For Cool Skin Tones
This creamy pencil a staple for cool girls of every tone thanks to it's poppy red finish and the fact that it won't budge through dinner, drinks, and the like.
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Individualist
We're not sure what dark magic Maybelline conjured when it came to whipping up this formula, but we're believers: this stuff doesn't move until you want it to. The formula dries down to a gorgeously matte finish, and it's un-budgeable.
Byredo Lipstick in Red Armchair
It's chic, it's metallic, and damn, is it pigmented. This matte option glides on as smoothly as a gloss, but leaves a sumptuous matte finish. Added bonus: you'll save money on home decor, because this is practically a mini sculpture.
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso
For the Office (or Congress)
It's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' go-to red, and that's good enough for us! It also happens to have 6 hour wear and is infused with vitamin E and avocado oil to help lips soft.
Dior Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick in 999
For White Outfits
You've see this iconic shade before, but never like this. Dior's newest liquid formula is nearly weightless, but has immense color payoff for a bold, bright pout. And once it's one, it's on—we're comfortable declaring this one as transfer-proof. But our favorite thing about this release? The pointed applicator, which helps you create a perfect vermilion line with the precision of a liner.
Violette_Fr Petal Bouche Matte
Beauty icon and makeup artist Violette has been inspiring the masses with her French girl beauty tips for years, and now, she's given us her signature red to keep. This liquid looks as beautiful dappled on with your finger as it does applied precisely, and it dries down to the hue of a red rose petal.
Besame Cosmetics Classic Color Lipstick in Besame Red
For Any Occasion
This shade was inspired by the 1920s and its flashy flappers, and its tube would look gorgeous in any shelf. And it's semi-matte finish means it's versatile, so you can wear it with sweats or silk.
Clove + Hallow Lip Creme in Blooming
For Dry Lips
If you tend to avoid bold shades because your lips have cracks and dry patches, this is the choice for you. It's formulated with jojoba, castor, and sunflower oils to keep your pout hydrates while you rock it.
Rituel de Fille Forbidden Lipstick in Fortune Teller
For Fair Skin Tones
If you're on a vampire movie kick and feel like cosplaying, this creamy formula provides sexy, bloody berry hue that follows suit. Apply multiple coats for a bold lip, or smudge it out with your finger for a subtle stain.
Covergirl Outlast Ultimatte in Wine O Clock
For A Long Weekend
Wine lips aren't always a bad thing! This liquid glides on to produce a deep, dark, Merlot hue, and it lasts for—wait for it—24 hours. That's a bender we can get behind.
Deck of Scarlet Threeway Solid Lip Oil
For Parched Lips
Sure, it might sound like this is strictly for subtle looks, but only if you want it to be. This nourishing option is totally buildable, so you can keep it simple with one swipe or layer it on for a glossy, full-coverage finish.
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson 2
For Warm Skin Tones
For ladies with warmer skin tones, the fiery orange undertones in this matte will add an extra glow to your complexion.
FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored
For Precise Application
Rihanna said she'd give us a universal red, and damn, did she deliver. But the best part about this scarlet option is the applicator you apply it with, which is shaped to provide extra precision on your vermillion line and the "m" of your top lip.
Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate
The French Classic
We'll call this a French red: Effortless, chic, and suited for both formal and fun situations.
Tom Ford Lip Color Lipstick in Scarlet Rouge
A Vampy Red
Tom Ford's formulas are creamy and comfortable, and this red is the vampiest of the bunch. Even after it wears away, it leaves a sexy stain that stays put.
By Kilian Le Rouge Parfum Scented Satin Lipstick in Heaven Rouge
The Scented Red
As if this hot red lipstick couldn't get chicer—look at that case—it also happens to be subtly scented with one of Kilian Hennessy's most intoxicating fragrances.
Hermes Rouge Hermes Matte Lipstick in Rouge Casaque
The Warm Red
It only takes one coat of this warm red shade to give you a warm red pout, but the precision tip is what makes this the perfect addition to your on-the-go kit. (And the casing is pretty enough to leave on your sink for the indefinite future.)
Christian Louboutin Velvet Matte Lip Colour in Rouge Louboutin
The Luxe Pick
You know that chic blood red shade you see on the soles of Christian Louboutin's iconic shoes? Now, you can have the same color on your lips for a big night out.
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Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.
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