close-up of woman's lips with a red lip color and a finger to her lips
Photo: Amir SeilSepour

Remember that time Taylor Swift sashayed onto the stage at the Grammys, crimson lips blazing, a single tear catching the spotlight? That, my friends, was a power move. A red lip isn't just a color; it's a declaration. It's the difference between a whispered "please" and a commanding "yes." It's the confidence boost that transforms a shy smile into a captivating smirk.

And you, yes you, deserve to wield that power. But red lips, like Taylor's Grammys performance, require a little choreography. One wrong step and you're left with a smeared mess and a bruised ego. Fear not, fellow lipstick warriors! This guide is your backstage pass to mastering the art of the red lip, from daytime chic to nighttime glam. We'll explore the secrets to finding your perfect shade, applying it like a pro, and making it last longer than a standing ovation.

So, grab your boldest bullet, channel your inner Taylor, and get ready to paint the town red (without the smeared lipstick drama). The spotlight awaits.

Taylor Swift at the 2023 Grammys wearing a red lip look
Taylor Swift at the 2023 Grammys wearing a red lip look.

Best Red Lipstick Shades for Fair Skin, Olive Skin, Dark Skin (and Everything in Between!)

Red lipstick is a chameleon, adapting to various skin tones. Fair-skinned individuals often shine with light, rosy reds like cherry or strawberry tones. Those with olive complexions can embrace warmer, coral-based reds or even venture into deeper, brick-toned hues. Darker skin tones flourish with rich, deep reds like burgundy or bold, true reds without leaning too cool or warm.

  • How to Find Your Most Flattering Red Lip Color for Your Skin Tone

Determining your undertone is key. Cooler undertones pair beautifully with blue-based reds, while warmer undertones harmonize with orange-based reds. A neutral undertone allows flexibility with both types. Experiment with different shades to discover what complements your skin's undertones best.

  • Neutral Red Lipsticks: These versatile shades suit almost any skin tone and undertone. Consider universally flattering shades like a true red with balanced undertones to effortlessly enhance your look.

  • Blue Undertone Red Lipstick: Known for making teeth appear whiter, blue-based reds create a classic, sophisticated look. Look for shades with cooler undertones, such as raspberry red or crimson.

  • Orange-Red Lipstick: Vibrant and warm, orange-based reds breathe life into warmer undertones. Opt for hues like coral-red or terracotta for a fresh, summery appeal.

  • Deep Red Lipstick: Embrace the depth and drama with deep reds. Shades like burgundy or oxblood add an edge and flatter darker skin tones beautifully.

Photo: Dids

How to Apply Red Lip Color?

Step 1: Prep Your Lips Before applying red lipstick, ensure your lips are smooth and hydrated. Exfoliate the skin of your lips with a soft toothbrush or lip scrub to remove any dead skin. Follow up with your favorite hydrating lip products to moisturize and create a smooth canvas.

Step 2: Choose the Right Lip Liner Select a lip liner that matches your chosen red lipstick shade or is a shade darker. Outline your lips carefully, starting from the cupid's bow and working outward. Define the shape of your lips and fill them in slightly to create a base that helps the lipstick last longer and prevents feathering.

Step 3: Apply the Red Lipstick

Direct Application: Using the lipstick directly, start applying from the center of your upper lip, following the natural curve of your cupid's bow. Then, move towards the corners. Repeat the process on the lower lip, starting from the center and moving outwards.

Use a Lip Brush: For precision, use a lip brush to apply the lipstick. Dip the brush into the lipstick and outline your lips, then fill in the color evenly. A brush allows for more control, especially around the edges.

Step 4: Blot and Set

After applying the lipstick, take a tissue and gently blot your lips to remove any excess product. This helps in setting the color and prevents smudging. If needed, reapply another thin layer of lipstick for more vibrancy.

Step 5: Clean Up Any Mistakes

Use a small brush or a cotton swab dipped in makeup remover to clean up any mistakes or to perfect the edges. This step ensures a crisp and precise red lip look.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

For a professional finish, take a small concealer brush and apply a touch of concealer around the edges of your lips. This helps to define the lip shape and gives a clean, polished appearance.

collage with 9 best red lipsticks on the market

What Are the Best Red Lipsticks?

When it comes to the best red lipsticks, a few standouts make their mark with unparalleled quality and diverse shades. Brands like Fenty Beauty offer a wide range of red hues, from classic reds with blue undertones to fiery oranges that suit various skin tones. Pat McGrath's Elson 4 is another favorite, celebrated for its luxurious formula and its ability to flatter a spectrum of complexions. Urban Decay's lipstick collection boasts intense pigmentation and a creamy texture, making their red shades a go-to for many makeup enthusiasts.

For those seeking these coveted lipsticks at affordable prices, exploring wholesale cosmetics channels might uncover these gems at a more accessible cost, providing the opportunity to indulge in high-quality products without breaking the bank.

  • Classic Red:

MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo: This iconic blue-red shade is universally flattering and boasts a long-lasting, comfortable matte finish.

Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in 999: This timeless cherry red is slightly sheerer than Ruby Woo, making it perfect for daytime wear. It has a satin finish and feels luxurious on the lips.

  • Blue-Red:

NARS PowerMatte Liquid Lipstick in Walk This Way: This deep, cool-toned red is perfect for those with fair skin and pink undertones. It has a high-impact matte finish and serious staying power.

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored: This vibrant blue-red is Rihanna's signature shade and looks stunning on a variety of skin tones. It has a creamy matte finish and is surprisingly comfortable to wear.

  • Orange-Red:

Tarte Juicy Lipstick in Chili Pepper: This warm-toned red is perfect for those with olive or golden skin tones. It has a hydrating balm-like formula with a subtle sheen.

Maybelline SuperStay Ink Crayon Lipstick in Ruler Maker: This affordable drugstore option is a true orange-red with a long-lasting matte finish. Apply matte lipstick for comfortable wear that won't break the bank.

  • Budget-Friendly:

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Cherry Skies: This vibrant blue-red has a velvety matte finish and incredible pigmentation for its price tag.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire & Ice: This classic drugstore lipstick offers a beautiful cherry red shade with a creamy finish and comfortable wear.

  • High-End:

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson: This deep, cool-toned red is a favorite among makeup artists for its rich color payoff and long-lasting wear. It feels surprisingly lightweight and comfortable on the lips.

Tom Ford Beauty Lip Lacquer in Crimson Noir: This luxurious liquid lipstick delivers a high-shine, vinyl finish in a stunning deep red shade. It's long-lasting and feels surprisingly comfortable on the lips.

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick: Known for its creamy texture, Urban Decay's red lipstick range includes diverse shades with intense pigment and long-lasting wear.


Red lipstick is definitely more than just a makeup product – it's a symbol of empowerment and self-expression. Finding your perfect red involves understanding undertones, exploring shades, and embracing the versatility it offers for day or night looks. With the right shade and application technique, anyone can rock a red lip, feeling and looking confident, leaving a lasting impression wherever they go.