Rant & Rave: Red Lipstick

Tell us what you love and hate about...

Red Lipstick

Red lipstick is totally classic to me, and I think that you can feel really powerful when you wear the right red. I’d love to see more red lipsticks on the market with a greater variety in finishes.

— Christine


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Kat Avatar

I don’t really have anything bad to say about red lipstick, since it’s such a popular color there’s a big variety at all price points. There’s a flattering shade for everyone, and it’s a no-brainer way to make any makeup look a little more formal. The only bad thing is that it can look really weird smudged onto your face, and that the wrong shade can be unflattering, but that’s true for any lipstick shade!

Raeanne Avatar

I love that you can take your favorite qualities of a lipstick and find your perfect shade and finish. My personal faves are the wine-colored reds that are deeper in tone and lean more mauve or purple, preferrably a satin or matte finish (e.g. UD Manic; Maybelline Divine Wine). I hate how some reds will make my teeth look yellow.

Caroline Avatar

I love red lipstick – I own several, and they always make me feel glamorous. Irrespective of occasion, time of year etc. I wear red lipstick pretty much all the time. The only downside is the mark it leaves on coffee cups πŸ™

Kate Avatar

There’s nothing I hate about red lipstick except, as you said, I’d love to see a greater range of finishes. Too many reds are easily duped and it seems like there are more coming out all the time. However, there are comparatively few that have a pearl finish, few that are deeper that lean cool, comparatively few translucent options… There’s lots of room for variation.

Mimi Avatar

I love red lipstick. I just started buying it a few yrs ago because I thought I could never really wear it or it might look too much for just everyday but was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong πŸ™‚ I would say my only peeve is that it’s not something I can really set & forget when it comes to dinner, lol.

Laura_Lou Avatar

I don’t like that people say that red lipstick suits everyone. I honestly think I look terrible in red lipstick. I’m quite pale with pink undertones and I think red lipstick makes my face look pinky, the brighter the red the worse it looks. But the darker the red the more pale I look. I’d love to find one that suits me because the red lip, black liner pin up style look is really classic and I love it.

xamyx Avatar

Have you tried a mid-tone “poppy” or “tomato” red? Reds that appear too “orange” or warm may end up actually appearing more “red” once worn. Look for shades with words like scarlet, poppy, persimmon, paprika, etc… in the name/description.

Ginny Avatar

Try MAC Viva Glam I. It’s a subdued red with brown and blue undertones. It’s not too bright, not too dark, and not too brown. Suits that retro look very well.

Laura Avatar

I loooove red lipstick, but sometimes I have trouble wearing it. It’s such a bold color, I almost feel like I can’t wear it except for special occasions, despite wanting to be the cool girl who wears it everyday. Also, since it’s such a popular color, I think brands need to really push themselves to distinguish one of their reds from another. Sometimes you can find almost exact dupes within the same lipstick line. Same goes with just thinking out of the box in general. I want more ~strange reds~, like red with an orange shift, or duochrome reds. If indie brands can do it, I want to see bigger brands do it!

Mariella Avatar

I love a really flattering clean red shade (YAY – MAC just made Red Necessity permanent!) – the right shade is magic for anyone (and there is a right red for everyone). What I don’t like is then they wear off unevenly, leaving a bare mouth with a red rim around the edges of my lips.

Tessa Avatar

I think when your skin is VERY pale or VERY dark, so much that it’s not yellow nor pink toned any more, every color of red suits! I fall into this category, and thus my favorite thing about reds is that for me, they’re an absolute no-brainer. Red can be dressed up or down and always makes me feel like a million bucks. I have shades of red I just happen to like more (brick reds are among my favorites), but a red is never going to be a color choice I regret.

Saying that, application wise, some of them need to be babysat more than I prefer. I like to do things with my day, like eat — and drink tea — and talk — and bake, thus licking the batter spoon — and cook, thus sneaking crispy, hot, oily okra bites before dinner — and kiss my boyfriend — and kiss the top of my kitty’s head, or my dogs’ sweet puppy faces… and most reds do make all this a wee bit harder. Especially given that once I’ve smeared red even a little onto a porcelain complexion, it’s stained past hope at least the rest of the day.

Ah, well. Everything is a trade. πŸ™‚

Tessa Avatar

I should also mention that I broke my foot six weeks ago and still can’t walk on it AT ALL. I’ve been basically homebound and not working this whole time, losing my mind and going through waves of feeling frumpy and slobby.

Red lipstick is one of the fastest ways to feeling just that tiny touch more put together — that tiny step away from “gross and in sweats, all day, erry day” — and just wearing it around the house perks more up. Suck it, makeup haters who call my collection vain; it’s for me and my edification alone.

Genevieve Avatar

How awful for you! It must be really difficult for you to “normal” things like bathing, shopping etc. It must have been a bad break and I hope it heals soon. You probably feel like you’re in prison….. Wear some lovely makeup everyday and it could make you feel better.

Tessa Avatar

Yes! It’s been… Challenging. Our laundry is in the basement, and I haven’t been able to wrangle the narrow staircase at all (crutches are… insufficient for this staircase!) … So I’ve sorta trained my boyfriend on how to do all my laundry. He’s been SO patient and helpful as our lives turned upside down. Sigh.

Thank you for the kind words! I’ve mostly used the extended downtime to work on my cooking skills. With a few adjustments to the kitchen (and how I work in it), it’s quite stationary and manageable.

I appreciate the thoughts. I hate feeling dependent or trapped and have gained a more substantial appreciation for the efforts of those who are disabled more long term!

KJH Avatar

So sorry. I remember. I pulverized my calcaneus in an MVA & was NWB for 10 weeks, then toe touch for another 4. OMG bad. I had to go back to work & worked in a nursing home from a wheelchair for ~ 2 more months. Bad. Just wait until you MUST have a tub. The large plastic bag works, but keeping your broken foot up, while you lower yourself into the water is like yoga for the truly stupid, but, boy did it feel good. Good luck with it. The pain isn’t coming until you get to FWB….much later. Then, gradually, it’s ok. Good luck, really.

Tessa Avatar

Bathing is the most terrifying thing I do! The most helpful tip so far, the absolute game changer, is to get a very strong cooler (we got an Igloo one from their “Marine” line) and set that lengthwise in the tub. It’s half the price of shower chairs and WAY more stable. I did have a wee tumble (hooray, ANOTHER bruise) onto it at one point, but it’s so much better than crashing onto the ceramic — and infinitely easier to get in and out.

Katherine T. Avatar

Oh no, sorry to hear about your foot. Hope it heals soon. And I totally agree about how wearing makeup can boost the spirits. When I took 3 months leave to care for our newborn, and was a walking around the house like a zombie from sleep deprivation, I still wore some makeup every day, plus I didn’t want to scare the neighbors LOL

Nancy T Avatar

Red, to me, is as classic and classy as it gets! I own quite a variety of shades of red and various finishes, so there are plenty of choices depending on my mood or whatnot. I think they light up ones face and make teeth appear whiter. There is most definitely a shade of red lipstick for everyone!
My personal favorites are MAC VG I and their LE Maria Moretti from this past spring.

Deidre Avatar

I think red lipstick is a classic. However, I haven’t found many that look good on me (the right color, finish, texture). I pretty much never wear red lipstick but it is always nice to have a classic color in your lipstick wardrobe for those times when you want to wear it. I did pick up a Revlon lip butter in a red shade recently as it looks half decent on me so that will have to work for now as my red ‘lipstick’ shade.

Erin Avatar

I love red lipstick. Formulas vary widely as do feathering in products. The only hard part is finding the right shades in all the right categories and offshoots if you want multiple shade variations. I hate how some reds brighten your complexion but make your teeth look yellow!

Lulle Avatar

I love how feminine and powerful red lipstick looks. Nothing to rant about really, except that it’s kind of a high maintenance color, unless you go for a very sheer option. You also need to work on your base well, otherwise it could make redness in the skin look more prominent.

Anne Avatar

I feel like there is a shade of red that works for everyone, and for every season. I’m loving all the matte reds coming out lately as that’s my preferred finish, but I agree that there could be a greater variety in that department. Also, as a former history undergrad, I find the history of the red lip in human cultures to be FASCINATING.

kellly Avatar

I wear reds occasionally, and lately have been wearing red regularly. I think it really brightens up my face, but I hate that “lipliner” red line that remains after the middle part wears off when I’m too busy to check it and reapply. I look in the mirror and – YIKES! – I’ve got this red target going around pinkish faded lips! Not a good look.
I am OVER.IT. on mattes and prefer a satiny finish and (rant) wish there were more reds that would stick around longer looking good instead of wearing off and looking funky.

Jessica Avatar

I like red lipstick on other people–and I hate it on me! I look like a clown, and I feel like it brings out any blotchiness I might have on my face. I do love very dark red lipstick but my social life rarely calls for such a dramatic look (I’m pretty pale.)

Laura_Lou Avatar

So glad it’s not just me! I find that red lips just emphasis the pinky tones in my skin and I look at myself and think I look mildly sunburnt πŸ™ Yet other people make it look so pretty and effortless.

Ali Avatar

Matte red lipstick makes me feel so powerful. Used to only wear classic, bright reds, but have experimented with darker shades, different finishes etc. Really into the idea of a sparkly red lip for this season.

Momo Avatar

So true about how wearing red lipstick can make you feel powerful, Christine. Every time that I wear my favorite red lippies — MAC’s Ruby Woo & Diva, and Melt’s 6Six6 — I get into this vampy mood, where I’m like, “Yeah. I know you’re looking, boys…but you can’t have any of this.” Hahaha! It triggers my inner bombshell. ?

I’ve really come to embrace wearing red lipstick; especially after learning how to find the right shade for my skin tone and undertone, and remembering to use lipliner to create a flattering balance between my lips and the red lipstick (thanks, Jackie Aina, for that tip!). And it’s so invigorating to break down and annihilate that horrendous myth/fabrication, “beauty faux pas” that has followed me, and many others, ever since childhood, which implies that Black women don’t look good in red lipstick. Who ever came up that idea [long ago] can kick rocks, because there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. There’s a red lipstick out there for everyone!

xamyx Avatar

My issue is finding a red that I like aesthetically, and I can be really picky. I’m so fair & neutral that the undertone of every lip & cheek product is very apparent, and I don’t care for anything that pulls to pink or orange. My current favorites are Milani Confident, NYX High Voltage in Feline, & NYX Snow White. I also prefer my reds to be a bit “subdued”, as I find more vivid reds to look garish on me.

Wednesday Avatar

I always feel retro when I wear a red lip and now with short hair, I love it even more. It works as a ‘look’ for me, but I do feel red lips make me look far more ‘makeupy’.. I usually entirely forego eye products as a result. I like this bare eye versus vivid lip colour contrast on my face because I feel visually overwhelmed by too much colour when I have eyes and lips going on. I absolutely cannot wear warm reds, and stick to classic blue red and I love pink reds as well.

Jess Magnuson Avatar

Love…the boldness
Hate…the glob on your teeth
Love…the decibels
Hate…how the all look the same
Love…long wear reds
Hate…red gloss, way too high maintenance!
Love…how it always looks classic
Hate…how it can look like too much during the daytime.
Love…the amount of reds on the market.
Hate…the lack of variety in finishes, either matte, satin or glossy.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I like a translucent berry red. I don’t think I’m skilled enough to apply moisture solid fuller reds on me. I love them on others though. Grew up in the hippie days when all lips were pale, transparent and glossy.

KJH Avatar

Love, just total love. If I listed the faves, Temptalia would crash! When I was the age of many of your readers, it was beige to wear, when wearing red. Dior Tomorrow’s Beige. (70s). Now, every red: brown reds, blue reds, hot reds…I’m neutral with a tad of cool & love the contrast of the warmer tones. Like black clothes, reds ask for neat & put together clothes, hair. Unfortunately my day job is not particularly a make up place. Most of the workers are direct care. But, that’s only 3 days a week & if I’m not there, at night job or days off, chances are > 90%, it’ll be a red, that echoes the warmth/coolth of my clothes. I can’t escape the 50s! What looks horrid on me is corals…and mid tone warm pinks. Reds rule!

Astrild Avatar

I love red lips. I think that instantly brightens up the face and looks as if you’d spend hours putting your makeup on. Sadly, I always feel worried about smudging and it’s high-mainteinance for me so although I love it, I rarely wear red lipstick.

Victoria Avatar

I feel like that I should wear a little more red lipstick because just something about it makes me feel more confident about myself. My skin tone is flattering to any shades of red wether it may be cool or warm toned. I back off to striking red lipsticks. I’m not into the “in your face” red lipsticks.

The red lipsticks I own are Victoriana by MAC and Bad Blood by Urban Decay. I really want to get F Bomb by Urban Decay and Russian Red by MAC, I tend to lean towards those kind of red lipsticks. But there are a lot of variation of reds that are just gorgeous.. besides the “in your face” red lipsticks. lol

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