Hair & Makeup

The best red lipsticks – and how to get a perfect finish

Whether you want to add glamour to holiday dinners at home or feel more polished for your video calls, take pleasure in the joy of wearing red, says GEORGIA DAY

Cindy Crawford, 1990

An instant mood booster and an excellent accessory to everything from an LBD to a classic white tee, there really is a red lipstick for every skin tone and every occasion. When it comes to choosing your shade, pale and dark complexions tend to work well with reds containing cool, blue undertones, while olive and medium skin tones suit orange-based red lipsticks. That said, choose a color you love and feel confident in, and a red lipstick will always look good. Here’s our pick of the best, most versatile reds and the makeup essentials to use with them…

Best smudge-proof lipstick Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red

Wearing a face covering means you have to choose your lipstick a little more wisely. This clever formulation has all the comfort of a satin lipstick with the long-lasting convenience of a matte texture, so it won’t transfer or smudge when you move your mask. The brick-red shade is widely flattering but looks especially striking on pale skin tones – plus, the bullet has a square tip that mimics the shape of a lip brush for better control. For added staying power, blot after application with a layer of finely milled translucent setting powder.

Best for fool-proof application Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges

If you find applying lipstick straight from the bullet messy, look for formulas that can be easily applied with a small brush instead. This compact palette is small enough to be popped in your purse for quick touch-ups and is designed for use with a brush, meaning you can apply it using small strokes and without worrying about a steady hand. Choose a brush with firm bristles and a flat or narrow tapered head for maximum precision, such as Tom Ford Beauty Lip Brush 21. The mix of shades means there’s something for everyone, or you can mix you own bespoke color.

Best for a perfectly defined lip line Tom Ford Beauty Lip Sculptor – Dominate 13

The triangle-shaped tip of this lip pencil lets you line the lips precisely, with no feathering or bleeding. It’s double-sided, with a square-tipped lip brush, so you can paint on the rest of your liner or touch up your lipstick with precision. It will quickly become a handbag essential.

Best for non-lipstick wearers Chantecaille Lip Tint Hydrating Balm in Madeira

If you’re not a regular lipstick wearer, start sheer and opt for a tinted oil, balm or gloss instead of an opaque block color. Easier to apply and much more forgiving than their creamy counterparts, tinted formulas such as this gel-balm are often extra hydrating, thanks to nourishing butters and waxes. This vermillion shade is universally flattering, but its sheer formula means you can build the intensity as you like; simply opt for more or fewer layers, depending on your desired finish.

Best long-lasting lipstick for eating and drinking Huda Beauty Liquid Matte in Heartbreaker

Opting for a liquid lipstick may seem counterintuitive if you’re looking for a formula that stays put, but this innovative matte lipstick ticks all the right boxes. It offers comfortable longevity without losing its pigment, so is ideal when you’re flitting between appointments (or Zoom calls) without much time for a touch-up. Despite its pink undertones, this velvety matte shade is vibrant enough to suit everyone, while the doe-foot applicator makes for application easy.

Best lipstick for making a statement Gucci Rouge à Lèvres Satin in Goldie Red 25

A bold lip color such as this is perfect for any kind of occasion, but it does require neat edges. Use a lip liner like Pat McGrath Labs’ PermaGel Ultra Lip Pencil in Living Legend to line the outer edges of your lips first. Rest your pinkie finger on your chin and your elbow on a flat surface before you start, then trace the pencil a fraction outside the outer edges of your lips to enhance your natural shape. Fill in your lips with the lipstick, turning the bullet to a slight angle so you can use the tip for the corners of your mouth.

Best lipstick to make your smile look brighter Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Lipstick in My Icon Is

For a whiter-looking smile, avoid orange- or yellow-based reds and, instead, look for a red with cool-blue undertones, which will bring out the whiteness of your teeth. This slender lip color by Hourglass is a beautifully bold, blue-based red that contrasts nicely against both pale and dark skin tones, making it a bit of a crowd-pleaser. The slim shape of the bullet also allows for easy, lip-liner-free application, as its curved shape hugs your natural lip line.



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