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Bright Lip Ideas — Master the Perfect Red Pout with these 20 Lipsticks

Red Lipstick Selection

 If I learned anything from actress Barbara Mori in the telenovela Rubi — or, for that matter, from  Marilyn MonroeElizabeth TaylorGwen Stefani, burlesque star Dita Von Teese, and the coquettish Betty Boop — it’s that the highway to seduction is a succulent red pout. For Spring/Summer 2012, fashion designers like Jason Wu and Jenny Packham heralded the resurgence of red lips, leaving behind moody gray or lavender shades in favor of the robust hue beloved by old Hollywood starlets. To help you master this look, I rounded up 20 lipsticks in an array of textures and finishes — all in red shades ranging from ruby to crimson, vermilion, scarlet, poppy, and oxblood — all of which you can utilize to help you unleash your inner sexpot. 

Here’s a look at our Top 20 Red Lipsticks (listed in no particular order or ranking), and swatches of each shade so you can find your red hot match.


Top 20 Red Lipsticks Part 1

1. NARS Jungle Red Lipstick ($24 at NARScosmetics.com and Sephora.com)

A dynamic, richly pigmented red with a semi-matte finish, Jungle Red figures among NARS Cosmetics’ best-selling lipstick shades of all time both because of its daring pigmentation, its longevity on the pout, and its non-drying formula. Not only does the shade look great on women with fair, light, medium, and deep complexions, but its semi-matte finish makes it look more sophisticated than some of its glossier counterparts.

2.  Lancôme Rouge in Love Lipstick 170 ($25 at Lancome-USA.com and Macys.com)

Lancôme’s Rouge in Love lipstick range incorporates three sub-groupings, each designed to suit a specific time of day: Jolis Matins, which includes soft and delicate semi-sheer colors for morning use; Boudoir Time, which features on-trend shades enhanced with mother of pearl and designed for cocktail hours rendez-vous; and Tonight Is My Night, which incorporates decadent, full-bodied hues meant to enchant and seduce. The 170N Sequence of Love shade, a fiery red with a slight orange undertone, is among those in the “Tonight is My Night” category, making it succulent and seductive. Here’s how it looks on my lips!

3. Giorgio Armani Rouge D’Armani Lipstick in 406 ($30 at GiorgioArmaniBeauty-USA.com and SaksFifthAvenue.com)

With its decidedly cool undertones, this phenomenally deep red shade is reminiscent of the poinsettia plants ubiquitous during the holiday season, plus its top-notch formula ensures a full 8 hours of wear without any creasing, feathering, streaking, or fading.

4. Illamasqua Box Lipstick ($22 at Sephora.com)

Recently unveiled as part of Illamasqua’s Human Fundamentalism collection, Box (named after Alex Box, Illamasqua’s creator) is a true scarlet hue with a creamy and rich texture that makes it feel that much naughtier. In true Illamasqua form, the Box lipstick is an intense surge of color, richer than a pack of molten red crayons for maximum color payoff.

5. MAC Cosmetics Russian Red ($14 at MACcosmetics.com)

Originally introduced in the 1980s, this blue-based red has risen to cult classic status — in fact, it’s MAC’s best-selling shade of red. The semi-matte lipstick is the No. 1 best-selling MAC lipstick hue period in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Singapore and Venezuela. In May, the shade was released as part of the limited-edition MAC Fashion Sets collection, which featured four best-selling colors in three versions: as a lipstick, lipgloss, and nail polish.

6. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense Moulin Rouge Lisptick ($19 at Sephora.com)

This can-can inspired red delivers quite the high kick in terms of pigmentation, texture, shine, and longevity. Make Up For Ever always gets it right when it comes to adventurous color but, with their Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick collection, they engineered a way to prevent color from fading while keeping the pout hydrated. A mixture of vegetable waxes, candellia, rice, and beeswax, then, help the pigment in the formula adhere to lips, while  ceramide, sterol and nylon powders add moisture, keeping lips feeling plump and comfortable. Here’s a photo of me wearing it!

 Curious about how the initial six shades discussed look when smoothed onto skin? Check out the swatches below:

Moving right along…

Top 20 Red Lipstick Shades


7. Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Vintage Red ($24 at BobbiBrownCosmetics.com)

Formulated for Bobbi Brown’s Holiday 2012 Smoky, Sultry, Smoldering Collection, this lipstick shade was inspired by 1950s Hollywood screen stars. In keeping with this motif, the Vintage Red lipstick is a lustrous fire-engine-meets-old-school-Hot-Rod shade. Check out these photos of me wearing the hue!

8. Covergirl LipPerfection LipColor in Hot Passion ($6.99 at Drugstore.com and mass food and drug retailers nationwide)

When it comes to drugstore brand lipsticks, my top choice — by a landslide — is Covergirl’s LipPerfection Lipcolor. Thanks to a silk moisturizing complex, the lipsticks feel comfortable and they last for as long as eight hours (during which you’ll have to apply balm once or twice at most, I might add). A sizzling red pepper shade, the Hot Passion lipstick will give your look — and your mood — a bit of a kick.

9. Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick ($22 at UrbanDecay.com)

Try and picture the classic Che Guevara poster with his image juxtaposed against a red backdrop and the words “Hasta La Victoria Siempre” printed beneath it — that shade of red, the type typically associated with Marxist paraphernalia, is perhaps most akin to that of this Urban Decay lipstick, which is enriched with vitamins A, E, and C, along with moisture-boosting, surface-plumping hyaluronic acid spheres.

10. OCC Lip Tar in Stalker ($14.50 at OCCmakeup.com)

Anyone who has tried Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ 100% vegan Lip Tars can attest to their magic  — from their light, almost watercolor-esque texture to their rich pigmentation; moisturizing properties (a result of a hemp oil, peppermint oil, and vitamin E blend); wet-looking finish; and long-lasting power. The blue-based Stalker shade verges on crimson — and trust: it’s a color worth stalking!

11. OCC Lip Tar in Reverb ($14.50 at OCCmakeup.com)

Released in Summer 2011, the Reverb Lip Tar has a sanguine feel to it — particularly given the shiny, glossy, wet-looking finish that it retains throughout the day (part of the Lip Tar’s charm).

12. NARS Heat Wave Lipstick ($24 at NARScosmetics.com and Sephora.com)

Though it’s not mentioned as often as NARS Jungle Red, Heat Wave is every bit as worthy of adulation. Like  Jungle Red, it’s moisturizing, long-lasting an boasts a matte finish, but Heat Wave incorporates more orange undertones, so that it’s best described as a vermilion hue or a poppy flower red.

13. Urban Decay 5150 Lipstick ($22 at UrbanDecay.com)

A semi-sheer, coral reed red, Urban Decay’s 5150 lipstick features a luminous, almost glossy finish and hints of golden shimmer, making it a great choice for lipgloss lovers experimenting with lipstick.

14. MAC Cosmetics Ruby Woo Lipstick ($14 at MACcosmetics.com)

Though similar to the brand’s Russian Red offering, the Ruby Woo shade is slightly warmer and brighter, making it arguably more universal (after all, most of the women in the world have warm, rather than cool, undertones). Like the Russian Red, it has a matte finish, but it’s a bit drier and can take a bit more effort to apply to lips.

Here are swatches of the aforementioned shades:

Swatches of Red Lipsticks


Now onto the last batch of riveting reds!

Top 20 Red Lipsticks Part 3

15. Vincent Longo Thinstick Lipstick in London ($27 at BeautyBar.com)

Don’t let the thin tube fool you: the Vincent Longo Thinstick Lipstick is a heavyweight in terms of longevity (partly due to a waterproof formula), moisturizing properties (thanks to heaps of vitamin E), and coverage (thanks to an excellent pigment selection). The London lipstick is a maraschino cherry color with a demure semi-matte finish.

16. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in N45 ($19 at Sephora.com)

If you tremble at the idea of a bold red lip, try easing your way into the look by beginning with a sheer but buildable rouge like the N45 from Make Up For Ever’s Rouge Artist Natural range, the follow-up to its acclaimed Rouge Artist Intense lipstick collection.

17. Napoleon Perdis DéVine Goddess Lipstick in Xenia ($24 at Ulta.com)

This classic red lipstick is enriched with antioxidants and herbal extracts that cool, soothe, and moisturize lips, ensuring that the color stays on your lips for longer and that your pout remains smooth and supple.

18. Lipstick Queen Red Sinner Lipstick ($20 at Us.SpaceNK.com)

This lipstick’s texture alone is worth lauding. Thanks to a high concentration of shea butter, the lipstick glides onto lips effortlessly while simultaneously softening, conditioning, and hydrating them. Thanks to the inclusion of this fatty acid-rich emollient, lips appear smoother, becoming a better canvas. Like all 10 shades in Lipstick Queen’s Sinner range, this one boasts a 90% concentration of pigment, with no shimmer added to dilute the formula or draw attention from the full-bodied, opaque, matte color. A Queen of Hearts red, this lipstick is so desirable you’ll be ready to scream “Off with their heads!” if it means getting your paws on another tube.

19. Maybelline ColorSensational Lipstick in 645 Red Revival ($7.49 at Drugstore.com and mass food and drug retailers)

A traditional apple red, this creamy lipstick will make you feel like a cheeky 1940s Vargas girl pin-up, plus the honey nectar in the formula allow the color to glide onto your pout with greater ease.

20. YSL Rouge Pur Couture Vernis A Levre Glossy Stain in 20 Rouge Enamel ($32 at Sephora.com)

This ground-breaking release combines the best qualities of every lip product on the market, with the pigment payoff of a lipstick, the shiny finish of a gloss, and the long-lasting quality of a lip stain. A slightly slanted sponge tip along the applicator meanwhile, allows you to perfectly apply color along trickier areas like the corners of the mouth or the cupid’s bow. The 20 shade is a pretty candy apple red that’s slightly more sheer than your typical lipstick and, of coarse, boasts a vinyl-like finish.


Take a look at these final six shades:

Which shades do you swear by? Would you add any others to this list?

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