If there’s one thing the beauty world can agree on, it’s that swiping on a red lipstick is always fire. But navigating through the sea of shades, formats, and finishes to find your perfect red lipstick can be overwhelming to say the least. So to help you narrow down all your options, I tested and reviewed hundreds of red lipsticks—including long-lasting waterproof lipsticks, glossy red lipsticks, lipstick stains, and classic red lipstick bullets—to come up with this highly curated list of the 11 best red lipsticks of 2024. Here’s a sneak peek:
Celebrities’ red lipstick choices are as diverse as they are, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things they generally agree on. According to celebrity makeup artist Emily Amick, “When it comes to red carpet glam, celebs usually opt for a long-wearing lip formula.” She adds that they also prefer one with enough pigment to shine bright under the relentless flash of approximately a zillion camera bulbs. And MAC’s Ruby Woo—our best red lipstick overall— is a regular favorite among celebs like Taylor Swift, Angelina Jolie, Tracee Ellis Ross, and more.
What shade of red lipstick is best for you isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Before grabbing any red lipstick from the beauty aisle (virtual or real), you should research. After all, your skin’s undertones, lipstick preferences, and budget all play a role, which I’ll break down in more detail below:
Determine your undertones.
Check out the veins on your neck or wrists. Are they blue or purple? If so, you likely have cool undertones. According to Amick, that means your red lipstick should be pink, cranberry, or blue-based. Now, if your veins are more green, that means you probably have warm undertones. In this case, Amick suggests a red lipstick with hints of brown or orange like “brick red” or “burnt orange.” Your veins could also have a mix case of both colors, in which case, you have a neutral skin-tone. And lucky for you, that means any shade of lipstick will look like it’s tailor-made for you.
Decide on your ideal finish.
On the hunt for a red lipstick that’ll stay put through hours or eating and drinking? Or perhaps you’re leaning towards something soft and comfy with a little shine? These are the questions Amick suggests mulling over before tossing any random red lipstick into your real or virtual shopping cart. “If you want an intense, opaque lip that lasts all night, you’ll probably want to go for a lip liner-lipstick combo,” she says, adding that a red lipstick with a matte finish is typically the way to go for longevity. On the flip side, she suggests a formula that’s easy to swipe on, like a balmy red lipstick if your biggest concern is comfort.
Commit to a spending cap.
Before you start shopping for red lipstick, take a beat to set your budget. That way, if you’re clicking through online shops, you can set your price range in the search preferences. Whether you’re heading to your local drugstore or to Sephora (both red lipstick treasure troves, as our list proves), keep this in mind: the price tag doesn’t always tell the full story. Just because one red lipstick is pricier doesn’t automatically make it better, and vice versa. Then, from a selection of red lipsticks that align with your budget, you can zero in on the perfect red that aligns with your wants and needs.
- Emily Amick is a makeup artist based in New York, NY. Amick’s portfolio spans a diverse range of accomplishments, including everything from high-fashion editorial shoots and to working with celebrities for red carpet appearances and events.
Marisa Petrarca is a contributing beauty writer for Cosmopolitan with over five years of experience researching and writing about makeup, skin, and hair, ranging from from skin-tightening cream to non-comdeogenic foundations. For this piece, she discussed red lipstick with makeup artist Emily Amick and dove into reviews, research, and her makeup stockpile to recommend the best products.
Marisa Petrarca is a contributing beauty writer for Cosmopolitan.com. In the rare case that she’s not working on a story, you can find her testing new makeup, skin, or hair launches, binge-watching bad reality TV, or diligently working (but failing) to get her inbox to zero. Her work has appeared on The Zoe Report, POPSUGAR, and GRAZIA USA, among others. Follow her on Instagram for corgi photos and shameless self-promotion.