Most Overrated & Underrated Red Lipstick

Over & Under: Most Overrated & Underrated Red Lipstick

There are always products that receive endless raves, but they don’t always live up to our expectations or work out as well as they do for others.  Share your picks for most overrated and underrated RED LIPSTICKS.  Don’t forget to share your whats and whys as to your choices!

  • Most Overrated: [answer]
  • Most Underrated: [answer]

My Picks

  • Most Overrated: MAC Ruby Woo — SOOOOO dry!!
  • Most Underrated: I’d say either MAC Viva Glam I, which is a fab retro red, or Chanel Dragon — hey, it was DISCONTINUED. Surely if it was super popular they’d have kept it!! 🙂
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!


Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Most overrated red lipstick : dead drop red from Two Faced ( not drying but the shade is not so pretty as expected )Most underrated : fire down below from Nars, a true blood red really amazing

Over-rated:  I can’t think of anything that I think is subject to truly unwarranted hype. All the famous red are famous for justifiable reasons, imo. But I do think some reds crowd out the attention that could or should go to compatriots in their own brand. For example, MAC’s Russian Red. It’s gorgeous and I love it (though it is a wee bit drying on me). But do I love it above MAC’s Red? No. Why doesn’t Red get any fuss? I will grant you that I think Ruby Woo gets an inordinate amount of love. But I disagree that Viva Glam (I) doesn’t. I think it’s legendary, and for good reason. Under-rated: NARS’ reds get very little attention as compared to MAC (or Chanel). In particular, I almost NEVER — EVER — hear any love for Vesuvio, one of my HG reds. A simply stunning garnet and the velvety, silky pure matte texture is lovely. Similarly, I never hear any love for Scarlet Empress, a blue-vermilion crimson that is (imo) a thousand times sexier than more rust-blood colours like Viva Glam.  No attention whatsoever goes to Red Lizard or the dusky rose-red Transeurope Express (which is my most recent infatuation).  For the latter, it’s because Sephora doesn’t carry it, so I get that. But Scarlet Empress & Vesuvio? Red Lizard? Even Fire Down Below or Jungle Red which get a tiny bit of talk don’t have anything comparable to the degree of fuss over similar MAC reds. And to me, NARS’ reds last longer than Chanel ones, don’t dry the lips and are cheaper, so it saddens me that they are the red-headed stepchild of lipstick brands. (Pun intended) 

Kate MacDonald  I’m so glad someone else thinks it’s outstanding! 🙂  Have you ever tried Scarlet Empress? And there is no such thing as a “too large” red collection. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. 😉  (Hey, I need to rationalise things *somehow*! LOL!)

Kafka I want to love NARS lipsticks, but I don’t.  I bought Sexual Healing and one other colour which I’m stimmied..can’t remember.. Casablanca?? and I found them far too drying even right out of the tube.  I’m sorry 🙁  I am going to give the Pure Matte lippie a go soon!  I’ve got Amsterdam on order as we discussed a couple of weeks ago.  There are a fairly large number of colours in this formula I am very attracted to..and personal favs in this formula?

wwendalynne  Sexual Healing is a sheer and Casablanca is a Satin, and if you found those drying, I don’t know if you will find the semi-matte or pure matte lines better. It doesn’t seem likely. Do you have very sensitive lips or lips that need a lot of hydration? Do you have find mattes to be drying in general? As for my personal favorites, are you asking for specific recommendations?  My personal, all-time favorites are Vesuvio (pure matte) and Scarlet Empress (semi-matte). The latter is a dark wine, vermilion red that looks a lot like Guerlain’s Gigolo in colour.  Vesuvio:     It was hard finding images that accurately capture the depth of Scarlet Empress but this might be one, though it’s a bit paler on her than it is on me:  

Kafka I do have problems with lipsticks and I’m not sure why since I keep my lips in good condition.  I do not usually have problems with matte lipsticks. I do have problems with satin and frost finishes.  Perhaps I have a sensitivity to a specific lipstick ingredient of which I am unaware because some just do not want to apply to my lips smoothly..even though the surface is smooth.  They ball up on my lips and feel really waxy YSL comes to mind and I had the same problem with Nars and Givenchy.  Illamasqua is a bit tricky on me too in formulas other than matte.  I see with the Nars mattes, they’ve added mango butter for hydration.  One DS brand which has a great formula on my lips is Rimmel, but I have not purchased a Rimmel lippie in quite awhile.Thank you for the links!  I love every colour to the right on Karla’s picture for the Matte formula..all the darker shades are so sultry.  Scarlet Empress is super lovely, but I will check out the Matte formula and see how that works for me first.  :)Oh, and I won’t be running out to buy another Chanel Rouge Coco in the hydrating formula as it will not stay on my lips, particularly on the edges.  It doesn’t bleed, it just sheers out and disappears.  Too bad because the Caractere colour is so pretty..the formula is not a keeper for me.  I ended up applying MUFE HD powder on top of my get it to stick and have any staying power.  Weird, huh?  

wwendalynne  Don’t discount Scarlet Empress out until you try the pure matte line out first.  Check out the colour which, to my eyes, is absolutely identical to this Guerlain one on Christine:   Just to make sure, I went and put Scarlet Empress on now.  EXACT same colour on me. Plus, I find it creamy (for a semi-matte) and it stays on like glue. *Glue.*  Truly one of my 2 HG reds.  But seriously, check out that colour. I know the review is for Guerlain’s Gigolo, but that is the best and truest representation of Scarlet Empress that I’ve seen anywhere. And, for me, it’s a colour to die for!

Overrated: MAC Russian Red – seems like everyone has this but it doesnt look all that special.Underrated: I agree with MAC VG1! It was my very first red and I love how its not too bright on me but not too deep either. And it makes my teeth look super white. I recently bought and started using NARS Trans Siberian. I like this one, too, it’s less drying than VG1 and I love how its lesser known so not a lot of people have it :).

I do not think it is underrated but, Guerlain G Garconne is so freaking outstanding and gorgeous and I agree with Christine’s overrated comment on MAC Ruby Woo even though I really love this colour too.  It is very drying..cement lips in a couple of hours!!!

I can’t name one I find underrated because I have never tried many internationally famous lipstick brands as they are very expensive here in Brazil. With the exception of MAC, all other brands I use are of local brands.As far as overrated goes, I would say all MAC lipsticks. I have a lot of those with several types of finishes and to be honest none of them make me 100% satisfied. Some are rather drying while others are just so difficult to achieve an even application that I end up rarely wearing them. MAC surely has the best range of colors, but I’m not sure their lipsticks have that much quality to justify all the mac maniacs out there and the hype. 

Overrated: I have to say MAC Ruby Woo, as well. Though I won’t say anything in terms of formula, I have to say there’s nothing spectacular about the shade, IMO, so I don’t get why so many are excited over it.Underrated: I never read or hear much about NARS Mascate or Fire Down Below. I don’t actually own either, *yet*, but they are both incredible shades of red that would suit any skin tone/coloring. I’m actually torn between the two, so I’m waiting until I can afford to buy both at the same time.

I swatch it and admire it *every* time I walk into Sephora. The one time I was prepared to buy it, along with Mascate, it was out of stock. Then, there was the ebay auction that I lost, LOL. I’m seriously addicted to eyeshadow, so I always give them top priority, but I think I’ll make an effort to pick it up this week.

xamyx I’ve already mentioned my issues with the colour named “Fire Down Below”..  LoL  It just says STD or OMG I’ve got the trots from hell…  neither an attractive choice.  *grin*

The STD reference was the first thing that popped into my brain, as well, LOL. I have a thing for red lipstick, and because I have so many, I try to look for something that has a unique quality, which is difficult with primary reds. It’s not something I can describe in words, but there really is something special about FDB.

Underrated: Vasanti USA! It’s a wonderful true matte red that doesn’t budge, smells wonderful, and never dries out my lips. LOVE. <3

Under rated- estee lauder “Spanish red” the lipstick case is golden colour and so classy. Its such a dream to apply. So ooo creamy and opaque, feels like silk on my lips.

overrated: completely agree about ruby woo, it’s is a HG for so many people and i don’t get it. it almost seems like it’s the cool thing to say you wear it 🙂 it is impossible for me not to break the actual lipstick when applying from the tube because it is so stiff and dry! however, i do love russian red. even though it is also a matte finish like ruby woo, it isn’t nearly as drying and stays on me amazingly well. underrated: for sure most of nars velvet matte pencils or semi-matte lipsticks. i adore red square even though it has a bit of an orange hue. and jungle red is stunning! as far as a lower price point goes, the covergirl lip perfection lipsticks are pretty great for the price. i have tempt and flame and they are beautiful. my favorite part is that they leave a stain on the lips for hours(which i guess some might hate!)

I’m honestly not sure why it would be “cool” to say you wear this- I’m not being sarcastic in the least. I just genuinely adore the color and never ha problems with the formula.

revlon’s cherries in the snow is such a gorgeous red it’s my favorite and i would gladly pick it over mac ruby woo or russian red

jenny08  Red Lizard is definitely under-rated. Hell, I don’t think most people have even *heard* of it, despite the fact that it *is* carried at Sephora, unlike a number of NARS’ reds. Such a pity, because it’s a stunning colour. 

Most overrated: Mac Ruby Woo and Russian Red. There are plenty of colours that have the intensity and retro look of Ruby Woo without that painful texture and while I own and like RR, it’s just not *that* special. Underrated: There are soooooo many! Nars has some beautiful options that just don’t get enough love, but since many of them have been mentioned here already, I’ll list some others…Chanel RC Rivoli- As much (deserved) love as Chanel reds get, I never see anyone mention this one. It’s cooler and a bit deeper/ plummier than some of the most popular reds, but it’s stunning.Too Faced Drop Dead Red- This is my ultimate pinup red.There are a bunch of reds in the range that Bite Beauty has available that are gorgeous and I adore their formula.Mac Mystic- A more understated plum-red that got discontinued last year. It was my #1 lipstick for many years and although the Cremesheen “Party Line” is similar, it’s missing a little something that made the original a perfect combination of sexy and classy.

Over rated: mac russian red!!! I can find a red that looks exactly the same anywhere else!!!!Under rated: ultra flesh they have such a variety of reds that suit any skin tone and all colors come in either a sheer or opaque option so you can have one to suit the finsih and color you want!!!

t_zwiggy — I’m with you. I’ve never seen red lipstick on anyone, at any time, that I thought looked as good as the wearer seemed to think it looked. Way overrated.

Most Overrated: is there such a thing as an overrated red lipstick? NOT in my mind! I love Ruby Woo& Russian Red! But I also love Chanel Pirate and Matador, Dior Graffiti & Roulette, NARS Red Lizard, Scarlet Empress and Jungle Red. Maybe Besame is overrated among other retro loving’ ladies? Maybe NARS Afghan Red is overrated?Underrated: Revlon has some really fun, reasonably priced reds.

Overrated: Not really sure.Underrated: Any of the Illamasqua reds, I’m thinking. They also have a good range of reds, something for virtually everyone, and it doesn’t seem like they get a ton of attention. (I recently got Illamasqua Sangers; I think it’s gorgeous.)

Overrated: Most MAC reds are overratedUnderrated: The NYX red lipsticks. I know the NYX lipsticks are very creamy maybe even too creamy but applied correctly they last a pretty long time. My favorite would be NYX Snow White round lipstick

wow to me Ruby woo is the best, most unique and wearable bright red in the whole universe! so judging form this thread in my opinion Ruby woo is the most underrated%))))) along with Chanel rouge allure velvet 38 La Fascinante, overrated, I’m sorry, Christine, I know its your fave red, but its Guerlain rouge G garconne 25, its just not my cup of tea al all, too generic for me. I know it may seem strange that I write how goos Ruby woo is and how bad garconne is, but its not connected, just a coincidence, I guess we just happen to have the opposite tastes in red lipsticks 🙂

Yes ! I love La Fascinante! The Rouge G’s just don’t work for me at all and I believe Ruby Woo deserves her diadem. Hallelujah! No problem with a difference in opinion. Although I can’t conceive of red lipstick itself being “overrated”- too many screen sirens and personal anecdotes refute that assertion 😉

I luv MAC Ruby Woo and its not because of the hype.  I love it because it suits my deep skin tone for I have searched for a  red for so long before even trying Ruby Woo.  I love matte lipsticks so if its a little drying just add a little moisturizer to your lips then apply.

Overrated: I am a MAC lover but Russian Red is overrated.Underrated: I absolutely love Smashbox’s reds, Legendary is my perfect red and Mandarin is my “daytime” red, as it’s a red-tangerine.

I only own two reds, and I adore them both – one is Guerlain Garconne, which is like…classic, pure red, so amazing. The other is a new product, Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RD607, Nocturne. It’s not a “true” red, it’s a dark red, but it’s amazing on me and the formula is fantastic. I recommend checking out the product even if you don’t like the color 🙂

For me the most underrated are Mac Hot Tahiti which is a sheer dull red, but still a red.  And Wet n Wild Coraline in their matte line.  I haven’t used enough to say what I think is overrated.  But I think people look over the MAC glazes because they’re sheer, and while pretty much everyone likes Wet N Wild shadows now, these lipsticks are good too and worth trying (for $2!!)

Most overrated: MAC Ruby Woo; I really want to like it but it’s far too dry and it comes off really fast. The same goes for ‘Lady Danger’ and ‘You Say Tomato’ .Most underrated: MAC Cockney; it’s a beautiful warm shade of red, it goes on sheer but it has great color pay off.

I tried quite a few reds when I was looking for the perfect color for my wedding.  Here are my findings…Overrated:  Mac Ruby Woo.  I actually thought that the texture wasn’t too bad.  I liked the matte finish.  It didn’t transfer very much and I like the way the matte finish photographed.  However, on me it didn’t look like a true red.  For some strange reason, I looked like a fushia lipstick on me. I also though Stila lipstick in Fiery was terrible too.  The formula was awful although the color wasn’t that bad.Underrated:Revlon Fire and Ice.  This is what I ended up wearing.  It is a beautiful red.  Even though I have warm undertones, I didn’t want anything too orangey. Fire and Ice worked out perfectly because the undertones weren’t too blue or yellow.  

• Most Overrated:   »  “MAC Ruby Woo — SOOOOO dry!!”. — AH, I 100% AGREE!!!•Most Underrated:    »  I don’t know if it’s too vampy to fit “red” category, but Face Atelier Revenge is my favorite and I rarely hear other people wearing it. “Chanel Dragon — hey, it was DISCONTINUED. Surely if it was super popular they’d have kept it!!”. — Again, I 100% agree…

I agree about Russian Red; I’d heard repeatedly that it was “The Best Red,” but it looks more maroon than red, on me.
Dubonnet, another very popular “red” from MAC, is also a fail on me. It looks much more brown than red.
BUT, MAC Powerhouse (discontinued) is the very first red lipstick that ever looked RED, not deep pink, on me. t has a very special place in my heart.

Overrated: MAC Lady Danger; sits on the surface and dries to a chalky texture, which is a shame as it goes on smoothly and creamy to start with. Underrated: NARS Heatwave; similar colour to Mac Lady Danger but not so scarily bright or chalky, more comfortable on lips and i can wear it for work without feeling it’s too bright.

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!