I don't know if it's the old Hollywood films that I've been watching since I was a child, my deep affection for all things vintage or just the colour; but I love a red lip.
Red lipstick is the equivalent of a well-made pair of shoes. Its ability to elevate an outfit can't be overstated. A red lip has saved me on the days when I've had a quarter of my usual makeup application time. It's saved me when it's laundry day and I have a date. It's saved me when I've had 5 minutes to get from workwear to event wear.
Speaking of, I feel like magazines told us we'd be going from "day to night" and need the makeup and transitional outfits to suit way more than has actually happened in our adult lives. But, I can say that a red lipstick is probably all you need for that.
I have an extensive lipstick collection, and until my recent exploration into nude lipstick, it consisted largely of reds and berry tones.
I decided to try all the red lipsticks on the market because this shade can be a bit intimidating to wear. There's nothing to hide behind with a red lip. It's bold, in your face and there's no room for application mistakes.
That's why great shades and formulas are a must as all reds are not made equal, my friends. There's also more flattering shades of red for each skin tone, so I wanted to share my favourites for dark skin too. Keep scrolling for my findings.
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson
I wanted to call off the entire experiment once I tried this lipstick. It glides on with ease and leaves the most buttery, soft, velvety texture that wears into a gorgeous matte finish. This cool shade was my perfect match and I've been attached to it ever since.
Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges
I really didn't want to like this lip palette because it's £78, but by the time I saw the packaging, it was game over, as sleek doesn't even do it justice. I opened it up and there are four shades of wonderfully pigmented red, pink, berry and purple. I mixed some of the shades to create this lip and it was love at first blend.
The formula is quite frankly ridiculous. I wore the colours for a few days and ended up with so many different looks that were tailored to my skin tone. If you're going to make an investment, this is the way to go. It's probably the only lip product you'd ever need to buy in these shades.
ByMe RichGlide Cream Lipstick in Valentin Hot Red
One of the creamiest lipsticks I ever did feel. This shade had a pink undertone, which is warmer than I usually go for, but I very much enjoyed its face-brightening skills on a rather dull day. An incredibly comfortable formula that wears well and doesn't scrimp on pigment.
Morphe Mega Matte Lipstick in Dominate
That awkward moment when you're applying lipstick and someone yells out "Are you okay in there?" because you audibly expressed your love for this lipstick to yourself. Yes, that was me. Not embarrassed about it either, as this lipstick is such a treat. I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that it's under £10 and it's one of the best lipstick formulas I've ever used.
Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored
What you're seeing is the 25th photo I took, because I was really feeling myself after applying this. It's bright, stays put and the colour payoff is unrivalled. The smart applicator helps to create a precise lip, but as it's a liquid lipstick, you'll need to go slow and use a steady hand. It's well worth the effort, though.
Ted Baker Sicilyy Matte Lipstick in Teds Red
A true red in the most stunning packaging. I obnoxiously took the lipstick out of my bag for unnecessary re-application just so I could show it off. I had so many uncomfortable experiences with the matte lipsticks I tested, but this was one of the few that didn't dry my lips out.
Yves Saint Laurent Tatouage Couture Matte Lip Stain in Black Red Code #8
I knew I was onto something good with this one when I kept reaching for it every time I was rushing to leave the house. It's so easy to apply and feels like a balm on the lips but with a punch of colour. This moody dark red is high on my list of flattering shades.
Bobbi Brown Luxe Matte Lip Colour in Red Carpet
I don't give out full marks easily, but this lipstick is a worthy winner. The packaging deserves its luxe name but the weight of it also lends a helping hand for application. I received so many compliments on the punchy shade, but my favourite aspect of this product has to be the formula. Mattes aren't my go-to, but the powdery and lightweight texture sticks to the lips without overloading them.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red
I can now confirm that I've joined the legions of Charlotte Tilbury lipstick fans. The colour was smooth to apply and I got all the coverage I needed in one swipe. The next day, I blotted my lips some more to get more of a stained effect. The signature rose-gold packaging also made my retro actress dreams come to life.
Becca Ultimate Lipstick Love in Garnet
Have you ever overapplied a product just because you enjoyed how it felt? Don't leave me hanging here—I know you've done it. I've definitely slept with too much face oil on my skin just because it felt so good and my pillowcases have suffered as a result. This is the only lipstick I've done that with. I swiped it on once, couldn't quite believe how silky the formula was, and kept on swiping. If you're into creamy lipsticks, get every single shade of this.
Surratt Lipslique in Rubis
I've been manifesting a lipstick/gloss/balm hybrid for a while now. Yes, it's on my manifesting list, and I knew it would come into my life. The only word to describe this product is juicy. The finish is sheer, the texture is like a lip mask and the shades are spot on. Obsessed.
Maybelline Color Sensational Made for All Lipstick in Red for Me
You have to try a red lip now, as this is one of the best for under £10. You really can't go wrong here. I adore everything about this lipstick—from the vibrant rich shades that look great on every single skin tone to the lip-softening formula. It even smells good.
Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Rouge Tentation #169
This lipstick needs an entire playlist dedicated to the feeling it gave me when I wore it. It's one of two products to receive first place from me. I don't even want to take this lipstick out with me in case I lose it/break it/drop it. That's how much I cherish it. A tad dramatic, I know, but once you get this wash of satin on your lips, you'll know exactly what I mean.
Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in Sultan #405
"Go bold or go home" should be the tagline for this intense liquid lipstick. I wanted to show you just how pigmented it is, but it does dry down into more of a matte finish without losing any of the colour. I don't love liquid lipsticks, but this one is a firm favourite.
Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Lipstick in Fire Starter
Outside of the products featured here, I tried a lot of red lipsticks, and they didn't make the cut. I really dislike liquid lipsticks, as they're too matte for me and start to crack during the day. However, I know that some of you live for a super-matte lip, and this is one of the best affordable ones that I tried.
L'Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Liquid Lipstick in I Am Worth It
As intended, I was repeating the affirmation and shade name of this lipstick "I am worth it" when I wore this. It gave my lips a dose of matte colour that lasted long and gave me a confidence boost. Exactly what you want from a red lip.
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN LOUBILAQUE LIP LACQUER IN ALTRESSA
I'm into gloss in a big way and while I wanted to make an effort for some Zoom events, my lips were in need of a big helping of colour but without the discomfort of a matte formula. This gloss is rich in both pigment and shine and I blotted it a bit to make it a tad more work appropriate.
I must admit that I wasn't expecting to find many new additions to my lipstick collection. I also thought that they'd all end up being pretty similar. Yet there were definitely some standouts that are truly excellent products that I'll keep returning to. Chanel and Bobbi Brown came out tops and are not even the best red lipsticks I've ever tried, but the best lipsticks in general. Closely followed by Pat McGrath Labs, Morphe, Maybelline and Becca.
I'm still not convinced by super-matte liquid lipsticks, but I am more open to playing with different shades of red, and I hope you are too!