I Believe in Red Lipstick

Yesterday was National Lipstick Day, and what a perfect time to do my red lipstick post! I wish I’d gotten a picture of my full outfit, but at least I got a couple photos of my accessories and outfit details. I wore my lipstick print dress by Bernie Dexter, my lipstick brooch from Erstwilder, and of course my new pin from ban.do. Because above all, I believe in red lipstick!

Detail of my Bernie Dexter dress

I’ve realized I’m never going to stop searching for the perfect red lipstick. I’ve been wearing red lipstick for almost ten years now, and I never get tired of trying new ones. I’m also a sucker for beautiful packaging, what’s better than a gorgeous red dressed in black and gold opulence? As of writing this I own 26 red lipsticks. I have a couple of pinks and purples in my collection, but I very rarely wear them. I’m actually much pickier about which pink lipsticks I buy than I am about reds.

Lipstick brooch and pin

My ideal reds are either blue-based, or a very true, vivid red. I have a few deep burgundy reds as well. I’ve discovered I really don’t like how orange-reds look on me, I own one and I almost never wear it. I just think orange doesn’t suit my skin tone (I can’t wear orange clothes either). As for the debate between liquid lipsticks and those in a tube? Honestly, I love them both. There’s something so beautiful about a classic tube of red lipstick. In her beauty book, Dita Von Teese even talks about how sensual, even erotic, a tube of red lipstick can be. I do love liquid lipsticks too though; some of the most vivid, pigmented reds I’ve tried are liquid lipsticks.

Von Teese – MAC

As for texture, matte wins for me every time. I’m not a fan of lipgloss, it reminds me too of middle school. I do think a rich, glossy red can be stunning in a photoshoot, but I can’t stand it for everyday. I own one red lipgloss, and it is solely for photoshoots. A few of my lipsticks have more of a creamy/shiny finish, but I find myself going back to the mattes again and again. With the popularity of matte lipsticks skyrocketing over the past couple of years, it’s easy to find a gorgeous matte at every price point.

Fair warning about matte lipsticks: they’re going to be drying. They just are. It’s a good idea to exfoliate your lips and apply lip balm before you apply a matte, and again after you take it off. The high maintenance is worth it to me, the pigmentation and color payoff of mattes are unparalleled. They are also less likely to transfer when eating or drinking, and you don’t have to reapply often (depending on the formula and brand, you may not have to reapply at all). If this sounds like too much to worry about, try a lip stain, or a cream/satin finish lipstick. Cream and satin finishes will help keep your lips moisturized, but you will need to reapply.

The brand I go back to again and again is MAC Cosmetics. I love their lipsticks because of the high quality, an abundance of colors, and I think the mid-range prices are reasonable. MAC was the first brand I bought a lipstick from that wasn’t from the drugstore. I’ve also come to love another mid-range brand over the past few years: Bésame Cosmetics. Bésame is a vintage girl’s dream: all of the colors are exact recreations of popular colors from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. My favorites are the 1940s reds, like Victory Red and American Beauty. Bésame lipsticks are described as semi-matte, so they don’t dry your lips out as much as a traditional matte. The packaging is to die for as well: golden bullets with scarlet script and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with ordering from Bésame. The lipsticks themselves are shaped differently than modern ones, so it did take me some time to get used to applying them. They’re also coming out with a Snow White themed cosmetic line this fall, I can’t wait!

The most luxurious lipsticks that I own are Kyoto Red by Tatcha, and Elson by Pat McGrath Labs. Tatcha is a skincare line inspired by Japan and the skincare rituals of the Geisha. They created the perfect, Geisha-inspired red, in some of the most beautiful packaging I’ve ever seen. The lipstick itself is faceted to look like a gem! It also contains silk extracts, so it quite literally goes on smooth as silk. The makeup artist Pat McGrath just released her new line of matte lipsticks, MatteTrance, and they’ve already sold out on her website. They’ve just been released on Sephora’s website however, so if you want one, snag one while you still can! The tubes are a shiny black accentuated with Schiaparelli-esque gold lips. When I opened it (it just arrived yesterday), the packaging took my breath away. Not only is the lipstick beautiful, but it comes in a bag filled with gold sequins!

Kyoto Red – Tatcha

Finally, a note on lip liner: to me, it is as indispensable as red lipstick itself! I use the same one for almost every red lipstick I own, Rimmel London’s Exaggerate Full Color Lip Liner in Red Diva. It’s a twist up pencil so you don’t have to sharpen it, and it’s only $5.99 on Amazon! Since it is a twist up, you have to be careful not to break it by twisting too much product up, I’ve broken several that way. I actually wore Red Diva as lipstick for my high school senior picture, I filled my lips in with it.

Here are my all-time favorite reds:

Budget (under $15)

Wet n Wild – Stoplight Red 911D ($2.49)
Maybelline – Red Revival ($7.49)
Revlon – Love That Red ($8.49)

Mid-range ($15-25)

MAC Cosmetics – Ruby Woo ($17)
MAC Cosmetics – Russian Red ($17)
MAC Cosmetics – Von Teese ($17, but no longer available)
Bésame Cosmetics – 1941 Victory Red ($22)
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick – Beso ($24)

High End (above $25)

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance – Elson ($38)
Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro – 400 ($38)
Tatcha – Kyoto Red ($55)

Lipstick unicorns (currently on my wish list):

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick – American Doll ($20)
Christian Louboutin Velvet Matte Lip Color – Rouge Louboutin ($90)

All 26 red lipsticks I own

Do you have a favorite red lipstick? Let me know in the comments!

-Violet