Four things stand the test of time: Chanel bags, Colonial architecture, Fleetwood Mac and red lipstick. Red lips demand to be noticed, touched, kissed. A red lip is bold and coy all at once.
Until a few years ago, I thought red lipstick made me look like a little girl wearing her mother's makeup. Over the past four years, I've experimented with enough lipsticks and application techniques to understand I lacked the confidence to pull off having lips that entered a room before I did. I've overcome these notions and have become a red lipstick hoarder. I'll share my favorites and if you don't yet have a squad of red lipsticks, have fun finding your own. I've loosely categorized and updated for my OCD and your reading pleasure.
MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo ($17.5) - This makes lips look like they are made of blue red, buttery suede. But your lips won't fee like butter and therein lies the confounding nature of this lipstick: everyone should own it but not everyone will like it. It takes some effort to wear this - lips in hydrated, flake free condition and a layer of some type of matte lip primer such as Chapstick (I use MAC Prep+Prime Lip, $17.5). The effort is certainly worth it - with one application, this color manages to look saturated and carelessy blotted all at once. For those obsessed with "French Girl Beauty," this goes with the dirty, way hair, cat-eye line and Breton shirt.
Tom Ford Lip Color in 10 Cherry Lush ($54) - A super-moisturizing, blue-based red with a slight glossy finish. If you only have one red and one Tom Ford lipstick, this is the one.
MAC Matte Lipstick in Lady Danger ($17.5) - This is a classic, orange-red I save for the summer season. It goes well with tanned skin and beachy hair. It is a true matte formula that can be drying if you don't prep with a balm before application. I also recommend a nice lip exfoliation for maximum results.
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella ($27) - Described as a lip pencil and lipstick in one, I find this pencil easy to throw in a small purse or perfect for a pared down travel routing. I don't know what it is about this scarlet red color, but whenever I wear it, I get compliments. The formula isn't drying and has won Allure's Best In Beauty Award, which is like the Oscars of beauty, so there you have it!
Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in Napa Vineyard ($8.99) - Again, a handy lip stick in a pencil component never hurt anyone. The story of Burt Shavitz is an interesting one and I highly recommend checking out Burt's Buzz, a documentary on Netflix to learn more about this eccentric man. A co-worker came in one day with wine-stained lips so beautiful, I ignored it was 9AM and alarmingly early to be imbibing. Of course, it wasn't booze but this lipstick and I immediately ran to Duane Reade. I recommend this brick-read applied liberally and then blotted for that look lips get after a few glasses of merlot.
Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Matte Liquid Lip Colour in 154 Experimente ($37) - I'm not "okay" with liquid lipsticks. They make lips look like prunes and they suck the moisture out right out of them. It conjures up horrible Instagram Makeup looks. Reapplication can be problematic and leave sometimes causes these crumbly balls of product to migrate everywhere. But, there are days I want to drink coffee without leaving a lipstick trail and on those days, I choose to wear Experimente. It's a smoky, slightly brick/brown red and if shades of red could have different personalities, Experimente would be a serious, studious, don't touch me and don't you dare fuck with me red. In fact, it could be named Elizabeth Warren Red. Or Ida B. Wells red. Or Rose McGowan Red. Or Katherine Graham red. It's that good and it has credentials (Winner of Allure magazine’s 'Best of Beauty' award for Best Liquid Lipstick, 2017).
Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in Starwoman ($26) - This classic red is so pigmented it stains your lips long after the product is gone and it's so concentrated that one application will be enough to cover lips evenly. The trade-off, and it's minor, is it takes a few minutes to dry so no puckering, drinking or snacking for at least 5 minuted, okay?
Kosas Weighless Lip Color in Electra ($28) - Kosas is a beautiful and thoughtful brand of mostly lipsticks handcrafted in small batches in L.A. They are formulated with active botanicals and are free of preservatives, harmful synthetics fragrances and all products are gluten, egg, nut, soy and cruelty free. The lipstick formula also contains anti-aging skin care benefits such as UV protection. Their website has integrity and they ingredient decks are posted in large font for all to see. I stumbled upon this brand on a visit to Shen Beauty in Brooklyn and was able to meet the founder, Sheena Yaitanes, who was warm, intelligent, friendly and interesting. I scooped up a few colors (as did my friend) and I've been a fan ever since. You can now find the brand in a few more places (Credo, Violet Grey, select Bloomingdales, Goop, The Dreslyn and Revolve) but I kind of love it's indie status. Electra is a moisturizing, semi-matte, neutral red that will work on many skin undertones and colors.
What are your favorites? Please share in the comments!