how to find the perfect red lipstick
Beauty, Makeup

Finding The Perfect Red Lipstick For You

how to find the perfect red lipstick

Finding the perfect red lipstick can be a daunting task, with multiple shades, finishes, and brands to choose from. There are lots of “rules” out there, but the truth is that it all comes down to preference. However, there are lots of helpful ways to find the perfect red lipstick, and I turned to a couple of pros for their tips. Here, Glamsquad‘s director of makeup artistry, Kelli J. Bartlett, and M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal give some helpful advice on how to find the perfect red lipstick for you, and I highlighted seven red lipstick recommendations in various shades and finishes. And p.s. if you are shopping for red lipsticks (or any makeup, skin, or hair care!) this is the last day to get 15% off your entire purchase at Sephora, if you’re VIB! Use code ROUGESPRING.


“Finding the perfect red lipstick is basically the holy grail of beauty! One of my favorite ways of testing lipstick is to swatch it on the back of your hand and hold it up in front of a mirror in front of your smile. This way, you get a great sense of how the color enhances your eyes.” – Kelli J. Bartlett, Glamsquad‘s director of makeup artistry.


finding the perfect red lipstick: nars heat wave warm matte red lipstick

NARS “Heat Wave” lipstick: Described as a “semi-matte” finish, this bright lipstick has orange undertones and full coverage in one swipe. I love warm reds for Spring and Summer. As you can see, I am pretty pale, but this shade looks amazing on bronzed skin.

Though I am a believer that anyone can try any shade of red — there are no rules — some shades will be more flattering than others. When in doubt: “Get a foundation match. This will help you know if you have more of a cool or warm undertone in your skin. Finding the ‘perfect’ red lipstick starts here because a bold red will look its best when it’s aligned with your skin tone. ” – M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal.


finding the perfect red lipstick: bite beauty red lipstick gazpacho

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick in “Gazpacho”: This cool red lipstick has a satin finish and blue undertones, which make your teeth look whiter! A satin lipstick will have a more comfortable feeling, for those who find matte lipsticks too drying. The key to a perfect red lip? Perfect the edges to keep it from looking sloppy. Using a matching (or clear) lip liner will keep it from bleeding beyond the edges.

“Be brave – wear it out! The best way to try red is to really try it! Once the color is applied perfectly, give yourself some time to adjust to the color. Your first time trying red will feel super dramatic so I would recommend wearing less makeup. Take a selfie, look in different lighting and ask a good friend before you decide. ” – M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal.

finding the perfect red lipstick: mac russian red lipstick

MAC “Russian Red” lipstick: This is my all time favorite red lipstick. It’s matte, but more comfortable / not as dry as the cooler toned “Ruby Woo.” Pair with a lip primer and it will last you all day without drying out your lips.

 “Russian Red is right in the middle of cool and warm, which is pretty perfect for most.” – M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal.

“Retro, very matte lipstick looks amazing on everyone.” – Kelli J. Bartlett, Glamsquad‘s director of makeup artistry. (I agree!)


finding the perfect red lipstick: glossier zip generation g sheer matte red lipstick

Glossier “Zip” Generation G sheer matte lipstick: Glossier started with skin care, but their makeup products are not to be missed. This sheer matte lipstick can be layered for a more intense color (this is just one swipe), if desired. If you’re just dipping your toes into the red lipstick pond, this sheer matte finish is the perfect way to start.


finding the perfect red lipstick: kat von d adora metallic red lipstick

Kat Von D Studded Kiss metallic red lipstick in “Adora”: This metallic red lipstick is truly unique. The finish is striking, but not so intense that it can’t be worn in the daytime. Perfect the edges with a matching lip liner for a perfectly polished, slightly edgy lip.

“Glitter, metallic, matte and glossy are textures that you can use to make it your own!” – M∙A∙C Cosmetics Senior Artist, Regan Rabanal.


finding the perfect red lipstick: lipstick queen eden glossy red lipstick

Lipstick Queen “Eden” glossy apple red lipstick: A semi-sheer, juicy apple red can be flattering on any skin tone. This particular formula is hydrating, with ingredients like olive and sunflower seed oil, shea butter, and vitamin E. Due to its semi-sheer, glossy finish, this is a swipe and go kind of lipstick — no liner needed!

finding the perfect red lipstick: marc jacobs beauty miss scarlett dark red lipstick

Marc Jacobs Beauty “Miss Scarlett” Le Marc Lip Creme: A vampy red can be equally gorgeous on fair or darker skin tones. Some darker reds can be streaky, but this deep ruby shade is evenly pigmented and goes on like buttah.

Do you have a favorite red lipstick? How about a favorite finish? Let me know! And don’t forget that this is the last day for 15% off your entire purchase at Sephora, if you’re VIB! Use code ROUGESPRING.

top photo by Amy Schneider.

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  1. Kailey says:

    This post is so helpful and you are a DREAM! <3

  2. Beth C. says:

    I totally second the “walk around with it for a day before you decide how you feel about red.” advice. When I first started wearing red lipstick regularly about 5 years ago it took me a while to realize a big part of why it was so hard to find the “perfect” one was because I really just wasn’t used to such a bold lip in general. Once I got used to it I realized the three I had that at first felt “almost right” in the store actually looked really great.

  3. yuene says:

    I personally love Jeffree Star’s Unicorn Blood. Works great for tanned skin, doesn’t dry my lips out, and the colour could survive a deluge! The only downsides: the cap isn’t very secure, and the colour rubs off when it touches oil, so no oily food!

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      Oil is the kryptonite of all liquid lipsticks! But also the best way to take it off:)