The tried & tested red lipsticks to get you through the party season

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 or burgundy. In the jungle of red pouts, it can sometimes feel daunting to determine your best shade or to find the right formulation to fit your preferred finish. Fret not, Vogue Scandinavia's editors have put an array of red lipstick to the test to narrow down the best – just in time for the holidays.


How do you wear a red lip in 2023?

A staple on the runway – and particularly appealing during festive times – the red lip can be worn in various ways. For a relaxed daytime look, tone down your red lipstick by blotting it on tissue or blending it out with your fingertips to achieve a soft, blurred effect around the lips. For a sharply-cut evening look, lip liner is your best friend for meticulous application. Our favourite way to sport a red lip for the festive season? Take the French approach by pairing red lipstick with a minimal, natural face.

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

Identifying the perfect red lipstick for your skin tone is an unparalleled experience. Whether matte or glossy, dark or bright, a dash of red can be transformative. In fact, a striking red lip can be surprisingly easy to wear, provided you choose the right shade. To select the ideal red lipstick, determine your skin's undertone – is it warm or cool? Generally, it's best to choose a red lipstick with the same undertone as your skin. This approach ensures a harmonious and flattering match.

How do I make my red lipstick last?

To keep your lipstick looking great all day, here's a nifty trick: after applying your lipstick, lightly dust some translucent powder over it. This little hack sets your lipstick without changing its colour. And remember, the smoother your lips, the better the lipstick will look – so exfoliate and moisturise regularly.


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.

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.