The 10 Best Red Lipsticks of 2023

Our top pick is Dior's Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick for its bold pigmentation, lightweight feel, and staying power.

In This Article

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three red lipsticks

Real Simple / Kristin Kempa

There's nothing more classic in beauty than bold red lipstick. But when it comes time to pick out a specific red lipstick that best suits you, there are a number of factors to consider, from the shade of red (don't forget to match warm or cool undertones to your skin tone) to the finish (satin, matte, glossy)—not to mention any added benefits like being transfer-proof or extra moisturizing. 

To find the best red lipsticks, we researched an assortment of lipstick across all formulations, shades, and price points. For expert tips on how to choose a red lipstick, we interviewed makeup artists Andrew Velázquez and Fiona Taylor.

"My personal motto is, 'When you're having a tough day, put on your red lips,'" says Taylor. "I personally love the way wearing red lipstick boosts my mood. It can make you feel like you can take on anything that comes your way." 

Our top pick is the Dior Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick for its rich pigmentation and weightless feel on the lips. Keep reading for more of our favorite red lipsticks.

Best Overall Red Lipstick

Dior Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick

4.6
Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick

Macy's

Who it’s for: People who want to select from many shades of red to match all skin tones.

Who it isn't for: People who want a budget-friendly red lipstick.

Is it any surprise that Dior has a classic red lipstick that can be a go-to for all occasions? As its name suggests, this liquid lipstick has an ultra-pigmented formula that promises not to fade or smudge after application. (The brand claims the lipstick lasts up to 12 hours, based on tests by 22 lipstick wearers.)

The lipstick has a matte finish, but don't fear if you have slightly dry lips—the formula includes peony extract for moisturization, which adds to its barely-there feel. The one thing to note is that since this is a liquid lipstick, you should use a lip liner before application to keep the pigment in place. Also, the lipstick takes at least five minutes to dry. But once the formula dries, you can spend the day without worrying about smudging. As for picking the right shade of red, you have a slew of options, from Dior's iconic cherry-red 999 Forever Dior to the orange-toned 741 Forever Star to the fuchsia-tinted 760 Forever Glam. 

Price at time of publish: From $42

Product Details:

  • Finish: Matte
  • Key Ingredients: Red peony extract, jojoba oil
  • Number of Shades: 28

Best Drugstore Red Lipstick

Maybelline Color Sensational Ultimatte Slim Lipstick

Maybelline Color Sensational Ultimatte Slim Lipstick

Ulta

Who it’s for: People on a budget looking for impactful pigmentation.

Who it isn't for: People who want all-day wear, as this pick is not transfer-proof.

For classic red lipstick at an affordable price, opt for this bold, pigmented formula from Maybelline. It has a matte finish that feels lightweight and creamy on the lips. While we love the soft formula, keep in mind that this is not a transfer-proof lipstick, so you need to be ready to reapply it after a meal. Though the instructions say you can apply this lipstick directly to your lips, we strongly suggest using a lip liner and a setting powder to help keep the pigment in place. Still, the rich color lasts for several hours of wear if you're not touching your lips to anything—and the budget-friendly price point makes this a win in our book.

As for colors, there’s a classic cherry red with slightly cool undertones called More Ruby, but if you're looking for something a little warmer, try the orange-tinted More Scarlet. For a soft red, opt for More Rust, which, as its name suggests, has a rusty, muted look that's still hyper-pigmented for full coverage.

Price at time of publish: From $13

Product Details:

  • Finish: Matte
  • Key Ingredients: Sesame seed oil, beeswax
  • Number of Shades: 20

Best Splurge Red Lipstick

Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Color

4.8
Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour

Chanel

Who it’s for: People seeking high pigmentation with a moisturizing and long-lasting effect.

Who it isn't for: People who want plenty of product at a low price point. 

Chanel’s red lipstick has intense pigmentation with a satin finish that helps your lips appear both lustrous and soft, bolstered by the ingredients of sweet coconut oil and sappan wood, which moisturize and protect your lips. Despite this creamy formula, the lipstick is surprisingly long-lasting and stays on through meals. It will likely fade throughout the day, but it's nothing that a very quick touch-up can't fix—you won't need to totally reapply.

To apply the lipstick, Chanel suggests using a lip brush or applying directly to the lips. In both cases, we recommend applying with a light hand to build up the color intensity. While you don't necessarily need a lip liner, given that this lipstick is pretty smudge-proof, the brand does have matching liners for all 24 shades. There are neutrals and pinks in its hue lineup, and a solid eight lipsticks in the red family, from the cool-toned cherry red 99 Pirate to the warm 135 Énigmatique with a shimmery frost finish.

Price at time of publish: From $42

Product Details:

  • Finish: Satin
  • Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, sappan wood
  • Number of Shades: 24

Best Hydrating Red Lipstick

Ilia Color Block High Impact Lipstick

4.3
Ilia Color Block High Impact Lipstick

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want flexibility in color intensity.

Who it isn't for: People who want a one-swipe lipstick for bold color.

Ilia claims that this lipstick formula has four times the pigmentation intensity of the brand's other lipsticks, which means the color certainly packs a punch—but that's not the only reason it’s one of our favorites. It's all about hydration—those intense pigments are milled in organic castor seed oil and blended with apricot seed oil and mango seed butter for the ultimate moisturizing formula. The texture is smooth and creamy, and the lipstick spreads evenly across your lips. You can even layer the product to your desired opacity. While the lipstick does transfer (be careful when wearing white shirts!), the color on your lips won't fade. 

The 15 shades range from nudes to berries and include a handful of reds, including a darker shade named True Red, a brownish red called Tango, and a vibrant orange-red called Flame. Since the lipstick has buildable coverage, you can make any of these colors look more subtle on the lip via a light application, or you can go for the full pigmentation power with a few swipes of the tube.

Price at time of publish: $28

Product Details:

  • Finish: Satin
  • Key Ingredients: Apricot seed oil, castor seed oil, mango seed butter
  • Number of Shades: 15

Best Matte Red Lipstick

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick

4.8
default image

Who it’s for: People who prefer a matte finish.

Who it isn't for: People who are looking for a matte liquid lipstick.

Forget everything you thought you knew about matte lipsticks, and by that, we mean the idea that they dry out your lips. This lipstick is matte and hydrating, so there's "no drying, flaking, or feathering," according to Real Simple editors, who named this one of the best beauty products. Our editors also praised the square tip, which allows wearers to apply the lipstick with precision as if they were using a lip brush.

The Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick has a unique formula with pigments that add an ever-so-soft cashmere iridescence to your lips. The effect is a very subtle sheen that traditional matte lipstick wouldn't offer, though the final look is still, as far as lipsticks go, quite matte. You can expect this lipstick to stay put for up to 10 hours, according to the brand. In terms of colors, there are far more nudes, berries, and pinks than reds. For a true red, opt for Red Carpet Red, a cool-toned ruby.

Price at time of publish: From $34

Product Details:

  • Finish: Matte
  • Key Ingredients: Orchid extract
  • Number of Shades: 16

Best Satin Red Lipstick

Merit Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick

Merit Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick

Merit Beauty

Who it’s for: People looking for a lightweight lipstick.

Who it isn't for: People who want blue undertones in their red lipstick.

Merit is a newcomer to the beauty scene, but the brand is making waves with its products, including this lightweight lipstick. If you don't love full-coverage lipstick, this sheer, satin-finish product is for you. The formula contains squalane and sunflower seed oil for hydration and raspberry oil for a pleasant, subtle fragrance. This lipstick is kind of like a tinted lip balm, but with far more color. The stick glides smoothly over your lips, allowing you to layer up to your desired pigmentation intensity.

The line is limited to eight colors, which includes two reds: the brick-red Tiger and the orange-red Cabo. Both have a warm tint, so if you're seeking something on the cooler, bluer side of the spectrum, opt for another selection on our list. (It does come in a few berry shades, though.) As a bonus, we also love the striking tube the lipstick comes in, which is made with 30 percent recycled plastic.

Price at time of publish: $26

Product Details:

  • Finish: Satin
  • Key Ingredients: Plant-derived squalane, sunflower seed oil
  • Number of Shades: 8

Best Liquid Red Lipstick

Melt Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick

4.6
Melt Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want low-maintenance liquid lipstick.

Who it isn't for: People with dry lips.

This product has everything you want in a liquid lipstick: easy application, a quick-drying formula, bold pigmentation, and absolutely no smudging, transfers, or feathering. Simply apply one layer of this matte liquid lipstick with the doe-foot brush for a bold and beautiful color on your lips that lasts all day. 

But, as with most liquid lipsticks—especially those with a matte finish—the product is a little drying. While you won't need to do any lipstick maintenance throughout the day, you absolutely should do some pre-application care to keep your lips smooth and moist. We suggest an exfoliant to remove any dead skin.

The lineup has several red hues—Immoral is a punchy cherry red, Breathless is its warm-toned sister, and Bellastona is a vibrant red that almost veers into Barbie-pink territory. 

Price at time of publish: From $19

Product Details:

  • Finish: Matte
  • Key Ingredients: N/A
  • Number of Shades: 14

Best Long-Wearing Red Lipstick

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want bold, long-lasting pigmentation in solid lipstick.

Who it isn't for: People who like subtle, minimal packaging design.

Legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath knows a thing or two about lipsticks. The MatteTrance formula has a loyal following that praises its intense pigmentation, velvety application, and lightweight, powdery finish. But as with all matte lipsticks, it does err on the dry side as the day wears on, and it might settle into the creases of dry lips. (One solution: Pat the pigment deep into your lips with your fingers.) But there's no denying the pick’s staying power. You won't lose much pigmentation throughout the day, even through meals. 

When it comes to color selection, you have quite a range to choose from. There are a number of red shades, from the "ultimate classic red" Forbidden Love to the warm Obsessed! to the blue-toned Elson. This is not a subtle lipstick, both in wear and packaging design—it comes in a campy lipstick tube emblazoned with a pair of gold lips.

Price at time of publish: $39

Product Details:

  • Finish: Matte
  • Key Ingredients: N/A
  • Number of Shades: 38

Best Plumping Red Lipstick

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Fenty Icon The Fill Semi-Matte Refillable Lipstick

4.2
Fenty Icon The Fill Semi-Matte Refillable Lipstick

Sephora

Who it’s for: People who want lipstick that contains plumping ingredients.

Who it isn't for: People who aren’t interested in a refillable tube.

As a semi-matte lipstick, this Fenty Beauty selection has a long-lasting, smooth texture that feels light as a feather on your lips—and isn't as drying as a full-matte lipstick. The formula includes lip-plumping hyaluronic acid and is rich in vitamins C and E for hydration. Plus, Rihanna added her favorite scent, vanilla peach, to the lipstick.

We also love that this is a refillable lipstick. The case and the fill are sold separately, so after the lipstick is used up, it's easy to pick a new shade to test out. Though there are two reds in the lineup of 13 hues, the top dog is undoubtedly The MVP red shade. It took nearly a year to develop this specific blue-tinted red, which the brand says works on all skin tones. If you want to go in a warmer direction, Grill Mast'r has you covered.

Price at time of publish: From $20

Product Details:

  • Finish: Semi-matte
  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, amino acids
  • Number of Shades: 13

Best Transfer-Proof Red Lipstick

stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, Beso

amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a moisturizing lipstick that stays on their lips—not their clothes.

Who it isn't for: People who struggle with liquid lipstick application.

Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to this liquid lipstick. It comes in 28 shades and has three finishes: matte, shimmer, and sheer. That means there's something for everyone in the collection. The formula isn't too drying—notably within its matte range—thanks to ingredients like vitamin E and avocado oil, which moisturize the lips. 

But if you have dry lips, consider sticking to shimmer or sheer finishes, as those lipsticks are typically more hydrating than matte options. But where this lipstick really stands out is its long-lasting, transfer-proof properties: The brand claims it can last for up to 12 hours. When it comes to red, in particular, Stila excels at saturated pigmentation. Its Beso hue is a classic red lip that recalls 1930s Hollywood glam. 

Price at time of publish: From $24

Product Details:

  • Finish: Matte
  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, avocado oil
  • Number of Shades: 28

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick because it has an ultra-pigmented formula that feels absolutely weightless on your lips. As its name indicates, it's also transfer-proof, which translates to all-day wear with minimal touch-ups. Plus, the formula is incredibly moisturizing, thanks to peony extract.

How to Shop for Red Lipstick Like a Pro

Type

Lipsticks typically fall into one of two main types: a cream-based stick that you apply directly to your lips or a liquid applied with a wand. There are also high-impact, long-lasting lip stains that provide bold color with low maintenance and lip glosses, which add pigment with a high-shine finish.

Finish

Alipstick’s finish is its end look and texture. Most lipsticks are glossy (high shine), matte (no shine), or satin (creamy with a subtle shine). Satin finishes are the easiest to use, as they're relatively low-maintenance and forgiving on dry lips. Glossy finishes can rub off easily, which means you may need to reapply regularly, while matte lipsticks are long-lasting, but can be more drying and uncomfortable than their glossy or satin counterparts. 

Benefits

Lipsticks can provide added benefits beyond pigmentation, which depend on their formula. Some lipsticks are hydrating, combined with oils and balms that moisturize your lips when worn. Others are transfer-proof and safe to wear when you're dressed in white, dining out, or on dates that might end in a kiss. There are even lipsticks designed to make your lips appear plumper (at least temporarily).

Questions You Might Ask

How do I find the right red lipstick shade for me?

To narrow down the selection, decide whether you want a subtle look or a bold one. "If you are venturing into wearing red lipstick for the first time, start with a soft red,” says Taylor. “One that has a muted look will be easier to step into. This would be a red that has an earthy or dusty appearance. On the other end of that is a bold, crisp red if you are looking for a poppy eye-catching look."

Then it comes to matching a lipstick's undertones to your skin. Red lipsticks typically have either warm orange or cool blue undertones. "If you have more of an olive skin tone in the cool family, I would suggest a warmer brick-mahogany red, even with a bit of orange in it, as this will complement your olive skin tone and the red lipstick will be intensified," says Velázquez. "If you have a warmer skin tone with red or pink undertones, I would suggest a cooler red, such as the cherry or 'Dorothy' ruby red slipper red as this will complement your warmer skin and intensify the cherry red lipstick."

How do you make red lipstick stay on?

To ensure your red lipstick stays on, prep your lips before application. Start by exfoliating to remove any flakey skin. "I recommend a light exfoliation with a honey and sea salt mixture to remove dry dead skin cells,” says Velázquez. “This can be applied with a toothbrush.”

Then, apply a lip conditioner or balm. "Allow the balm to penetrate while you apply makeup to other features of your face and be sure to wipe it off before applying lipstick,” says Taylor. “For the best results, having your lips blotted dry will allow the lipstick to adhere to your lips better. Lipstick applied on top of a wet or emollient surface causes it to slide around and come off easily."

As for the actual application of the red lipstick, Velázquez suggests first using a waterproof lip liner, then applying a base layer of a liquid or matte cream lipstick. 

Finally, it's time to set your lipstick. While Velázquez uses a matte red powder blush or eyeshadow to set cream lipsticks, Taylor opts for translucent powder. "You can either lay a tissue on your lips [or] load a powder brush [and] dust the translucent powder on top or go straight in with the powder to your lips directly," says Taylor. "If you want to go the extra mile, setting it with a longwear setting spray will enhance its wear and lessen smudging."

Can you wear red lipstick if you have dry lips?

In general, lipstick is harder to use on dry lips. Velázquez and Taylor recommend moisturizing your lips before applying red lipstick for the best effect. But if you want your lipstick to be long-lasting, don't slather your lips in balm and apply the lipstick directly on top of the moisturizer. As Taylor suggests, wipe the balm off before applying lipstick so the color won't slide off.

Take Our Word for It 

This article was written by Stefanie Waldek, a contributing writer for Real Simple with nine years of writing experience and four years of experience reviewing products. To come up with these recommendations, Stefanie spent hours researching red lipsticks and ultimately narrowed down the list based on type, function, and ease of use. She also tapped makeup artists Andrew Velázquez and Fiona Taylor for their expert tips and recommendations.

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