The best red lipsticks tried and tested by our editors

By Josefin Forsberg

Photo: Darrel Hunter

Every month Vogue Scandinavia’s editors put beauty products to the test, trialling new releases and trusted old staples in a bid to find our Vogue-approved favourites. This time, we're sourcing the best red lipsticks – no matter finish or formulation

Devotees of a bold red lip know that there's a vast difference between terracotta, brick and burgundy. That said, it isn't always a walk in the park to determine the best shade for you in what is quintessentially a veritable jungle of vermillion pouts. And that's before we've broached what formulation will give you the finish you're after. Considering the unquestionable confusion when it comes to crimson lipsticks, our Vogue Scandinavia's editors have put an array of red lipstick to the test to find the best across the board.


How do you wear a red lip in 2024?

While pigmented red lipsticks may be daunting at first dab, they are surprisingly versatile. Your result will depend on how you wield your bullet. If you're after a relaxed look, perfect for any daytime parties, you can tone down your red lip by blotting it on tissue and blending the edges with your fingertips. The effect? A soft scarlet smudge that will hold up throughout the day without too much fuss. On the other hand, the sharp-edged evening look may require a steady hand and a lip liner – your best friend for meticulous application.

How do I pick the right shade of red lipstick for my skin tone?

To select the ideal red lipstick, you’ve got to start by determining your skin’s undertone – is it warm or cool? There are three ways to resolve which of the three categories – cool, warm and neutral – you belong to. First, there’s the vein test. If your veins appear blue or purple, you’re cool-toned; green is the mark of a warm undertone, while both denote a neutral undertone. If you’re still unsure, there is the jewellery test: if you suit silver, it may indicate that you have cool undertones, while gold is often equated to warm undertones. Finally, how your skin reacts in the sun can help you sort out your undertones. Those who burn easily most often have cool undertones, those who tan instantly have warm undertones, and those who burn and then tans tend to have neutral undertones.

Generally, it’s best to choose a red lipstick with the same undertone as your skin. This approach ensures a harmonious and flattering match. For example, it is best to select blue-based reds for cool undertones (for example, MAC’s ‘Ruby Woo’) and orange-based reds for warm undertones (Mac’s ‘Lady Danger’). In contrast, neutral undertones are free to experiment (we suggest you try Mac’s ‘Russian Red’).

How do I make my red lipstick last?

To make your red lipstick last all day, start by ensuring your lips are smooth and hydrated. Exfoliate gently with a lip scrub or a soft toothbrush to remove any dry skin, then apply a hydrating lip balm and allow it to absorb fully. This creates a perfect base for your lipstick.

Next, apply a thin layer of lip primer or a bit of foundation to your lips before lining and filling them in using a lip liner that matches your chosen lipstick shade. Not only do these steps help the colour adhere better and last longer, but they also prevent any pesky feathering.

When applying your lipstick, use a lip brush for precision or apply directly from the bullet. Start from the centre of your lips and work your way outwards, ensuring even coverage. After the first layer, blot your lips with a tissue to remove excess product and then apply a second layer of lipstick to build intensity and longevity.

Finally, lightly dust a translucent setting powder over a tissue placed on your lips to set your lipstick. This technique helps to fix the colour in place without altering the finish. Alternatively, you can use a setting spray to lock in the look.


The best neutral, all-around red lipstick


Rouge Dior Lipstick in 999

Via Sephora

While it may be a splurge, Dior’s Dior Rouge lipstick in 999 is a gem in our makeup bags. A comfortable classic – like the little black dress of lipsticks – the crimson red derives its triple nine figure from the first two lipsticks launched by Christian Dior (the 9 and 99). Better yet, it is available in four finishes, depending on your personal preference. Need to dash out for a coffee? Swipe on the velvet finish. Got a date after work? The matte version has got your back.

“It’s the kind of red that turns heads but in a ‘Wow, she’s got her act together’ way,” one of our editors shared. Another chimed in, “I’ve worn it from morning meetings to evening drinks, and guess what? It stayed put, with only touch-ups needed.”

What we like about the product:

  • All-day wear: Lasts through your latte, your lunch, and your late-night laughs.
  • An adaptable red: The neutral shade means it has the potential to suit a vast variety of skin tones
  • Multiple finishes: With an option of satin, matte, metallic and new velvet there's a formulation for everyone

The best cool-toned red lipstick


Rouge Allure in 99 Pirate

Via Chanel

Rouge Allure by Chanel in Shade 99 Pirate had our cool-toned editors raving. "There's something about a classic red lipstick that just feels right, and Chanel's Pirate shade is a game-changer for us cool-toned folks. The moment I swiped it on, it was like it was made for me," an editor shared. “The colour is deep and vibrant, making my skin tone pop.”

One of our editors, a self-proclaimed red lipstick lover, noted, "I've tried a lot of reds in my time, but this is something else. It's not just the colour pay-off, which is stunning, by the way. It's how it makes my lips feel – hydrated, smooth, and just plain fabulous." All thanks to a nourishing blend of coconut and castor oils, leaving lips pampered and protected, not just painted.

What we like about the product:

  • Perfect for cool tones: The shade Pirate is a dream for those with cool undertones, enhancing natural features with its vibrant hue.
  • Luxurious feel: With its melt-away texture, it feels more like a lip treatment than a colour.
  • Nourishing Ingredients: The blend of coconut and castor oils means your lips stay hydrated.

The best warm-toned red lipstick

Yves Saint Laurent

Rouge Pur Couture in 1971 Rouge Provocation

"It's not every day that you come across a lipstick that ticks all the boxes, but YSL's Rouge Pur Couture in 1971 Rouge Provocation does just that," shared one of our editors. The lipstick glides on with creamy ease, thanks to hydrating ingredients, leaving a smooth, satiny finish as comfortable as it is beautiful. And the staying power? It's impressive.

"As someone constantly looking for the perfect warm-toned red, this was a revelation. It's incredibly pigmented, stays put all day, and the best part? No awkward teeth stains! I've tried both matte and satin finishes, and this satin version is a clear winner for me. It feels luxurious on my lips and the fact that it's vegan? That's just the cherry on top."

What we like about the product:

  • Rich pigmentation: Offers bold, warm-toned red with exceptional colour payoff.
  • Non-transfer formula: No worries about colour getting on your teeth.
  • Versatile application: Apply directly for full coverage or blend for a softer, blurred effect.

The best satin finish red lipstick


Joli Rouge satin lipstick in 742

As winter sets in, keeping lips vibrant and hydrated becomes a challenge. Enter Joli Rouge Satin Lipstick, the perfect satin finish red lipstick. "What struck me first was its buttery texture. It glides on so smoothly, leaving my lips feeling pampered and richly coloured," said one editor.

The formula is a standout with 80 per cent natural ingredients., leaving lips that look lusciously satiny, feel deeply hydrated, and are protected against the harsh elements. "As someone with naturally dry lips, I've finally found my match with Joli Rouge!"

What we like about the product:

  • The perfect satin finish: Offers a smooth, radiant look suitable for any setting.
  • Integrated lip care: Hydrates and repairs, a blessing for dry or chapped lips.
  • Natural formula: Packed with 80 per cent natural ingredients for a guilt-free beauty routine.

The best matte red lipstick


Powder Kiss Lipstick in Healthy W

If you think 'matte' means 'dry,' think again. Mac's Powder Kiss Lipstick is a game-changer, with one editor noting that "I'm not a magician when it comes to lipsticks, but this formula is so easy to apply and it doesn't matter whether you manage a sharp edge or wear it blotted on the lips." The best part? It blurs out those pesky little lines and leaves your lips looking flawlessly matte.

Beyond the look, it feels "incredibly moisturising," according to our editors. Nothing like the typical Sahara desert we're used to. "It's the answer for those who love a matte look but hate the dry feel."

What we like about the product:

  • Powdered perfection: Offers a unique powder finish that blurs imperfections.
  • Moisture-rich matte: Unlike many matte lipsticks, it hydrates and softens lips.
  • Artist-developed: Created to allow for soft, blended edges, perfect for a professional look.

The best sheer red lipstick


Tinted daily lip balm in Crimson Lane

Finding the perfect balance between a lip balm and a lipstick can be a real struggle, but RMS Red Lip Balm hits the sweet spot. "It's the kind of product that becomes a daily staple. It gives this lovely, subtle hint of colour, like you've just bitten your lips, while keeping them incredibly hydrated," shared one editor. "What I love most is its lightness – it's flavourless and fragrance-free, so it feels like you're wearing nothing – but better."

Our editor's conclusion? RMS lip balm is a delightful find for anyone who wants a low-maintenance lip product." I've been on the hunt for something that's not as sticky as a gloss but less pigmented than a traditional lipstick, and this is it."

What we like about the product:

  • Hydrating colour: Provides a sheer, natural tint while deeply moisturising lips.
  • Long-lasting wear: Offers up to 12 hours of color and hydration.
  • Clean, nourishing ingredients: Packed with actives that protect and nourish lips.

The best affordable red lipstick

Maybelline New York

Superstay Matte Ink in Individualist 320

In the world of budget-friendly makeup, Maybelline's Superstay Matte Ink is a standout, especially for those who love a long-lasting matte look. "It's the kind of lipstick that defies expectations. With its creamy texture, it glides on effortlessly without pulling or tugging," one editor notes. "Once it sets, it's there to stay. I've worn it from morning to night, and it barely needed a touch-up."

One of our testers shared her pro tip: “For a perfect application, start with the centre of your lips and work your way out. And if you're using a dark shade, be quick to avoid patchiness. Pressing a tissue onto your lips after application removes any excess product, leaving a flawless finish.'"

What we like about the product:

  • Non-transfer formula: Sets to a satin-matte finish that doesn't smudge or transfer.
  • Practical packaging: The angular shape and arrow applicator make for easy handling and precise application.
  • Affordable quality: Offers high coverage and intense color at a budget-friendly price.

The best red lipstick for fair skin

Make Up Store

Matte lipstick in 'China Red'

While we don't like to generalise, those with fair skin do tend to have cool undertones. As such, lipsticks with a blue or purple base will most likely work best for you – think berry reds like cranberry or cherry. Not only do these shades make skin brighter, but give a whiter appearance to your teeth. "It is such a fine line when finding the right red lipstick shade when you're pale," one of our testers shared. "That said, I have found that colder colours work best for me.

Swedish Make Up Store's 'China Red' was the perfect fit for our editors. "It balances the blues so well while still clearly appearing red on me," one editor shared, while another commented on the formulation: "It is a great matte formula that keeps my lips hydrated throughout the day. I may need to reapply more often than I would like, but it beats a patchy dry finish that settles in lines."

What we like about the product:

  • A nourishing formula It won't leave you dealing with crusty lips at the end of the day.
  • The well-balanced colour: It stays true to a blue base while still appearing red.
  • Luxe packaging: The brand's signature black snakeskin looks great in the handbag.

The best red lipstick for olive skin

LH Cosmetics

Fantastick multi-use lipstick in Poppy

If you've got an olive skin tone, you're in luck since you're more likely to have a neutral undertone and – as such – more room for experimenting. With neutral undertones, your perfect red entierly depends on preference. That said, the natural warmth in your skin makes a brick red your best bet.

"I was literally shocked how i finally understood how a red can make me look incredible," one tester commented having tried LH Cosmetics' Fantastick multi-use lipstick in 'Poppy'. This gem is a multifunctional product that is designed to be used, among other things, as a nice blush. "The formula is very light, but still packs a punch."

What we like about the product:

  • A multi-tasker: Perfect for a monochromatic look covering cheeks and lips alike. .
  • That (true) brick tone: It complements olive complexions incredibly well.
  • The lightweight formula: Meant to be multi-use, the formula is light while pigmented.

The best red lipstick for dark skin

Fenty Beauty

Stunna Lip Paint in 'Uncensored'

Via Sephora

While we don't believe in a beauty rulebook, the most recommended shades for darker skin comes in the form of pigmented deep reds. No surprise that Rihanna's beloved brand Fenty beauty leads the charge for the perfect red on deep skin tones with its 'uncensored' shade.

This crimson chameleon shows upp differently on different skin tones, meaning it's truly universal. "It has become my favourite red lipstick. It’s the perfect neutral, mid-tone red that shows up slightly cooler on darker skin." As if boasting the perfect red shade wasn't enough, it is also "super long-wearing" according to our testers. "It stays on all day without drying your lips."

What we like about the product:

  • A crimson chameleon: This true neutral shade adapts to most skintones.
  • Longwear yet lightweight: This will stay on until bedtime, without leaving your lips dry.
  • Truly complimentary of darker skin: Few brands can compete with Fenty.

The best red liquid lipstick

Charlotte Tilbury

Airbrush flawless lip blur in 'ruby blur'

Charlotte Tillbury's Airbrush flawless lip blur in 'ruby blur' may be new on the beauty block, but it is already a favourite among our editors. "Of all the liquid lipsticks I have in my cupboard, I keep reaching for this one," one shared. What sets this liquid lippie apart is its unique blurring effect – perfect for an imperfect smudge – and the easy-to-maneuver applicator.

"While it's a matte, long-lasting formula it didn't dry down too quickly. I still had time to blur the edges," one tester shared. "And I was so surprised at the rich pigment payoff."

What we like about the product:

  • Easy-to-wield applicator: The shape of this wand gave us ultimate control of our application.
  • Pigmented beyond our wildest dreams: You only need a smidge to create the perfect red smudge.
  • Beautiful blurrin effect: While you're able to create a sharp lipline with this lipstick, we preferred it in all its blurred glory.

The best bright red lipstick


Mineralist Hydra-Smoothing lipstick in Energy

If the concept of bold is you beauty North Star, then a bright red lipstick is undoubtedly in your arsenal. Our editors' tried and tested favourite came in the form of Baremineral's Mineralist Hydra-Smoothing lipstick in the shade 'Energy'. But fair warning, this fire-engine crimson colour are not for the faint of heart. "I've never felt as bold as when I wore this colour," shared one of our testers. "It may not be my shade for everyday, but I am absolutely whipping it out for evenings out."

That said, if you dare to don this shade on the daily you won't be dissapointed. "It only consists of 19 nourishing ingredients, so it's really great for frequent wear."

What we like about the product:

  • Beauty-boost your evening: Most looks will benefit from this bold red lipstick.
  • Minimal ingredient list: You only need a smidge to create the perfect red smudge.
  • Beautiful blurrin effect: While you're able to create a sharp lipline with this lipstick, we preferred it in all its blurred glory.

The best dark red lipstick

By Terry

Lip Expert Matte liquid lipstick in 'Midnight Instinct'

Somewhere between mysterious and sexy we find this sultry dark red shade by By Terry. Not only is this a beautiful deep berry colour for most dark skin tones, it makes for a vampy impact on fairer complexions as well. "I was really surprised at how well it suited my pale skin. It kind of made me feel like a flapper from the 1920s."

"The formula and colour was great, but I want to shout out the compact packaging as well," said one tester. "I loved how easy it was to throw in the tiniest of handbags."

What we like about the product:

  • Surprisingly universal: Depending on the look you're after it works well on both darker and fairer complexions.
  • Long-lasting with a barely-there finish: This is the type of lipstick you swipe on and forget about.
  • Compact packaging: The small size makes it easy to bring along for any post-meal touch-ups. .

What is Tried & Tested?

Each month Vogue Scandinavia's in-house team of beauty testers try a new product category, putting old favourites and new formulas to the test. Each product is tested by at least three Vogue Scandinavia employees, helping us form unbiased and informed opinions on each participant with the goal to find the best of the bunch in each category.

Using a standardised testing template designed to focus on what our readers really want to know, our panel helps deliver valuable insights you can't find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands or PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are always our own.

In short, these are product recommendations you can trust.