Best red lipstick

Lip Makeup

The first lip colors were used more than 5,000 years ago by people in the Indus Valley, who crushed gemstones to apply color to their lips.

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Which red lipstick is best?

Red lipstick is one of the most iconic beauty looks. It’s classic but still stands out with a timeless appeal. But choosing the perfect red lipstick can be daunting, with endless different finishes and undertones available. These are our favorite classic matte lipsticks in red. The top pick for the best red lipstick is the MAC Russian Red, an intense bluish red that’s one of the most popular shades of red lipstick available. 

What to know before you buy red lipstick


If you’re a die-hard fan of one particular makeup brand, you may want to look for a lipstick from that specific brand. However, be conscious of the type of product you have in mind, as some makeup brands excel in one area over others. Drugstore brands provide great color at a lower price, though generally won’t have as much coverage or be as long-lasting or nourishing as higher-end brands. 


Once limited only to lipsticks, lip color is now available in a wide variety of formats for different situations.  

  • Liquid lipsticks: Liquid lipsticks usually come in liquid form, packaged in a tube. They’re known for being long-lasting and mattifying but can be drying. Still, their long lifespan often makes up for the side effects. Liquid lipsticks are perfect for nights out, as they’ll survive for hours, even while eating or drinking.
  • Lipstick: Lipstick is the most classic, old-school format for lip color and comes in various finishes. It’s easy for day and nightwear, and though it won’t last as long as a lip stain, it’s easier on the skin of the lips. Lipsticks come in a variety of finishes.
  • Lip gloss: Users apply lip gloss from a tube for maximum shine. It’s often sticky and sometimes glittery, and it doesn’t usually have a very long lifespan, often needing reapplication for the dewiest lips.

What to look for in a quality red lipstick


  • Matte: This is the most common type of lipstick, which dries to a smooth, unshiny finish. Matte lipsticks are usually longer lasting than other finishes but can be drying, particularly those in darker colors.
  • Satin: Satin finishes are another popular lipstick finish, setting to a slightly shinier, less matte and less opaque finish. They’re great for a more subtle look or one you don’t plan on wearing as long.
  • Metallic: Metallic lipsticks give lips an otherworldly, glittery finish. Look for a high-quality metallic lipstick, as cheaper options can be drying and unwieldy. 
  • Sheer: Sheer lipsticks are, as the name implies, mostly translucent. They lend a hint of color while letting a more natural look shine through. Sheer lipsticks are generally moisturizing, more like tinted lip balms than lipsticks.


All skin, regardless of shade, generally has undertones that lean either cool or warm. Red is a universally flattering color, but getting a sense of your skin’s undertones can allow you to pick a shade that will look best on you. Traditional advice has those with cool undertones wearing bluer reds and those with warm undertones wearing oranger reds. Most skin tones fall along a spectrum, and anyone can wear any color, but if matching your coloring is important to you, keep this in mind.

How much you can expect to spend on red lipstick

Lipsticks vary in price depending on brand and quality, but you can find high-quality red lipstick at every price point. Most lipsticks usually cost $9-$30, although some are much cheaper and some are more expensive.

Red lipstick FAQ

How do you find your skin’s undertones?

A. There are several easy ways to get a sense of your undertones. If you can see the veins in your wrist, their color (bluer for cool undertones, greener for warm undertones) can give you a sense. If this is unclear, it’s also possible to guess your undertones based on what color families look good on you. If you generally prefer warmer or cooler tones in clothing or other cosmetics, this may be an indication of your skin’s undertones.

Are lipsticks vegan? Are they cruelty-free?

A. It depends on the brand. None of the lipsticks here are cruelty-free or vegan. Although Sephora’s in-house brand does not directly test on animals, it allows animal testing where required by law. Many lipsticks commonly include ingredients such as lanolin, beeswax and carmine for color.

What’s the best red lipstick to buy?

Top red lipstick

MAC Russian Red

MAC Russian Red

What you need to know: Along with the equally famous Ruby Woo, this is one of MAC’s most popular shades of red lipstick, and it is a true, blue-toned red that’s incredibly moisturizing for a matte lipstick.

What you’ll love: It’s a full-coverage matte red with decent staying power and good hydration in a classic shade. It has a pleasant vanilla scent.

What you should consider: It’s not cheap, and it’s not as long-lasting as some other options.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty

Top red lipstick for the money

Sephora #LIPSTORIES Lipstick in A Little Magic

Sephora #LIPSTORIES Lipstick in A Little Magic

What you need to know: From Sephora’s in-house brand, this is a quality, affordable red in a neutral toned shade.

What you’ll love: It’s very moisturizing and doesn’t feel heavy on the lips. The price is low for the quality. 

What you should consider: It’s not very long-lasting, so you may find yourself reapplying frequently.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora

Worth checking out

NARS Inappropriate Red Lipstick

NARS Inappropriate Red Lipstick

What you need to know: This is a solid matte lipstick in a slightly orangier poppy red. 

What you’ll love: Long-wearing and high quality, this is a great option for those who want all-day wear in a warm-toned red.

What you should consider: Some reviewers found it to be slightly drying. It’s also expensive.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora


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Arabella Matthews writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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