When in doubt, wear red lipstick

That phrase that I loathe — "I can't pull that off" — is frequently uttered about red lipstick. We need to remedy this. Even I feared scarlet, but now there's nothing that makes me feel more vibrant and glamorous than a red lip. There are so many options that you would be crazy not to try to search for a great red for you.

Some tips on application:

1. Prep. Any red will look horrible on cracking lips. You can get a lip scrub, use a new toothbrush, apply Vaseline and work it off with a slightly rough paper towel, etc. Once you've exfoliated, put on some lip balm and do the rest of your makeup so the moisture can sink in. Gently wipe that off and apply your lipstick. You can use a lipliner for staying power, but I usually don't have the time. Applying is time-consuming as it is.

2. Go slow. Use a lip brush. It doesn't have to be a fancy one. This will help you with precision. You can build up both the intensity and the shape of your lips gradually with less room for error. Once you get it right, you can blot, add more lipstick straight from the bullet, and blot again.

3. Clean and maintain. Smooth out the edges with the lip brush after applying from the bullet (told you this was time-consuming). Stick your finger in your mouth, close your lips around it and pull it out to remove excess color that could get on your teeth. Be aware when eating that you're likely to transfer lipstick from the bottom lip to your chin when you take big bites, so opt for a fork if possible. To touch up, blot off most of the lipstick and either reapply, or use lip balm over the leftover stain.

With that in mind, here are my seven picks for your consideration, swatched on my lips, plus some alternatives:

Here are some more swatches, plus some descriptions and alternates:

Swatches from left: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Mightiest Maraschino, MAC Red, Kat Von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora, NARS Heat Wave, Lancome Curtain Call, NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg, MAC Diva

The Beginner Red:
A red gloss like Buxom's Candy Apple or MAC Russian Red is a good place to start if you're nervous about rocking crimson. For lipstick precision in a really comfortable, slightly sheered out finish, try Clinique's Chubby Stick Intense in Mightiest Maraschino.

The True Red:
Blue-toned reds make teeth look whiter and flatter every skin tone. My favorite in this category is MAC Red. It has the brand's Satin finish, is intense and opaque and has a bit of a sheen without the low staying power a creamier lipstick would have.

The Extra Special Red:
A new discovery is Kat Von D Foiled Love Lipstick in Adora. It has a golden metallic finish — the perfect, festive red. This is so gorgeous on and lingers forever, leaving behind a pretty, pink stain.

The Orangey Red:
Orange reds liven up complexions (just steer clear if your teeth aren't as white as you'd like — orange can make them look yellow). I think they are beautiful on all complexions and wonderful for all seasons, but especially during the hotter months. Bare Mineral Marvelous Moxie in Live It Up (which I swatched here) is a great option. I wasn't wild about Maybelline's Neon Red, but it's a budget option available to you if you're unsure about the tone. Featured here is NARS Heat Wave. I'm obsessed with the color but loathe the drying matte formula. Carry lip balm for this one.

The Berry Red:
Lancome Curtain Call is a purplish red that isn't as intense as MAC Rebel. You might describe it as raisin. It has a frost finish, sort of the same concept as Kat Von D's Foiled Love lipsticks.

The Watermelon Red:
NARS Satin Lip Pencils are among the most impressive lip products I've tried this year. I did a first impressions post when I tried some on at a Cos Bar and settled on Luxembourg. The shade is not a full-on red. There's a lot of pink in it, but calling it hot pink is inaccurate. It's a really interesting color in a formula that feels nicer on my lips than almost everything. It's flawless.

The Vampy Red:
My friend Luis loves to show off an item of clothing or an accessory (typically something designed for a woman or with Hello Kitty all over it) and ask, "Does this make me look more or less dangerous?" A dark, almost brown red like MAC's Diva is what you wear if you want to look more dangerous. Diva is a femme fatale shade, like grown-up goth, when you get rid of your wallet chains and start wearing neo Victorian corsets. This lipstick will make you feel like you need a corset and petticoats and all black everything.

Do any of these reds sing to you? I hope so! Let me know what your favorite red is in the comments. Make sure you subscribe to my channel for more beauty stuff.


  1. MAC Diva looks gorgeous!

  2. It's such a sexy shade. Wasn't there a similar-colored Revlon lipstick you wrote about? I can't remember whether you loved or hated it, but you should try Diva.

  3. Love what you've done with the place baby! ;) I like the NARS Satin lip pencil the best!!!

  4. I really like your blog! It' s very interesting:) I would like to show you A quick outfit recap of my looks of 2013 year! and If you get a second, I'd love to hear your thoughts on topic my outfits:) I greet:)

  5. You can do so much with PicMonkey, coding links on Google and a sledgehammer!

    There are a lot of beautiful colors in that NARS line. I've wanted another one forever.

  6. I've never actually tried red lipstick...possibly because buying a tube of lipstick feels like such a commitment. I do like a bright fuchsia, though!

  7. I love rocking a red lip! I think more people need to get comfortable with it, as it's a great statement!

  8. There's lots of drugstore reds that are great for the commitment phobic, but fuchsia is a whole other awesome animal! OCC Lip Tar in Anime is a the craziest hot pink in the world and I love it.

  9. Doesn't it pull everything together even if you're having a frumpy day?

  10. I just found your blog from Rachel's blog (random writing Rachel) - and I thought, hey...if she sponsors Rachel, she must be cool! lol. Anyways, I'm excited to be following along on Bloglovin now! and as far as red lipstick goes, I actually JUST wore my first dose of red lipstick to our Christmas banquet for our church. I braved it and went for it! a.) it made my teeth look whiter and b.) well, there is no B....I just loved how it made my teeth look. hahaha. excited to be a new follower! come say hi if you get a chance...I love love love making new friends!

  11. Awesome! I actually found your blog a week or so ago, can't remember through whom, and you're on my Bloglovin feed. The Internet is such a tiny place!

    And I'm so happy you loved wearing red! I like how you called it a "dose" — I'm proclaiming from the rooftops, it has mood-healing powers!