‘Tis the season to be flawless, and when it comes to making a statement, nothing shouts louder than the perfect red lip.
Whether you’re going for diva, elegant icon, powerhouse or party animal, you’ve come to the right place my friend; my own crimson addiction puts me in the perfect position to run you through your options.
Thanks to the countless different combinations of undertone, intensity and finish, no two red lipsticks are exactly the same—but these are my favourites, and amongst them I have a red for every occasion:
Now, before we get started, I’d like to address a common beauty MYTH: the idea that women of colour, especially dark skinned black girls and those of us with full lips, can’t rock red lipstick. This is nonsense. Red lipstick looks amazing against black and brown skin tones—especially dark skin—and if you have full lips, flaunt them. People pay good money to get what you were born with! ALL of these red lipsticks are 100% suited to black girls, women of colour, dark skinned women—all of us. Plus, of course, every other gender. I’m especially here for guys wearing Monte Carlo…
Anyway, let’s begin! The red to end all reds, some would say, is MAC’s Ruby Woo. If you don’t own it or haven’t worn it, you’ve probably heard of it. It’s a blue-toned true red, and is considered uniformly flattering. It also makes your teeth look hella white, because magic.
However, this isn’t my go-to. 1. Because I’m kind of on a MAC downer at the minute (how you gonna charge £15.50 for a lipstick but you’re still testing on animals?) and 2. Because HELLO, FLAKEY. By which I mean, this stuff will kill your poor lips softly. It’s matte, which is nice, but it is MATTE. Apply this over lip balm and after a gentle lip exfoliation—AT YOUR PERIL.
Personally, I choose to forgo the dry-as-a-bone lips in favour of other, gentler alternatives. Firstly, this mysterious, unnamed Ted Baker red is similar in tone and also matte, but without the Sahara effect. Also, the packaging is cuter.
However, as I frankly have no idea where I even got that, and as it’s Ted Baker and thus probably hella expensive, my ultimate recommendation for a solid, true scarlet is NYX’s Perfect Red. This lipstick, like Ruby Woo, suits all skin tones and gives the illusion of whiter teeth, as well as being satisfyingly matte. Unlike Ruby Woo, however, it actually feels moisturising on the lips—IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! Or something.
And better yet, it’s almost £10 cheaper, which means more money for Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. Yum.
If matte lips aren’t for you, but you’re still feeling this kind of blue-toned red, allow me to introduce you to Urban Decay’s F-Bomb. A classic shade with a glossy finish, I like this lipstick for more fun events and everyday wear. For example, I’ll wear Perfect Red to a staff Christmas party and F-Bomb on Christmas day. (My gran takes makeup at family gatherings very seriously.)
Of course, blue-toned reds aren’t the only reds. Y’ve also gotcha orange reds, and yer…. Uh… um… dark reds… and things. Ahem.
So, orange reds—or perhaps, in the case of NYX’s soft matte lip cream in Morocco, red-y oranges. I’m kind of obsessed with soft matte lip creams—not as hardcore as a liquid lipstick, not a softcore as a regular lipstick, WOO!—and this shade is barely a red, but barely is enough for me, mate.
If you’ve been considering orange lipstick, maybe try this out first to ease yourself in! Or just go straight for the orange lipstick, because orange lipstick looks good on everyone.
A little less orange is this other mysterious Ted Baker lipstick I have. Why do I keep including these, you ask? BECAUSE LOOK HOW PRETTY
Ahem. Anyway. The next lipstick is a kind of… transition shade, I guess. It’s a kind of clay-red, somewhere between orange-toned and dark. It’s also one of my favourites for a few reasons: firstly because it’s such a wearable shade; secondly because it contains aloe and feels super moisturising; and thirdly because it costs ONE POUND. ONE. ONE POUND. UNO. UNO POUND. ONE. JUST ONE.
Just a heads up: this brand is amazing. They make great lipstick for £1… like… come collect your life. Check their website for stockists near you.
So finally, we come to the all-black-everything-and-big-hair type’a reds. The dark reds. THE VAMPY REDS. DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
Now you don’t actually need a whole lipstick for this; some dark brown or indigo lip-liner will take your basic red to the next level.
HOWWWWWWWWWWEVER: if you would like to buy a whole new lipstick (or two), walk this way.
This soft matte lip cream by NYX (again) is a gentler step into vamp territory. The swatch (way, way, way) above doesn’t do it justice so much as the colour it looks in the bottle; it’s a kind of wine red. Burgundy, or claret. Maybe? I don’t drink wine. But it’s chic and autumn/winter friendly!
If you want something reeeaally dark, however, this Kate Moss for Rimmel lipstick is the way to go:
It’s a berry-toned, almost purple-red. I like to wear this one with dark glasses and black heeled boots while stalking the streets for my next victim. It’s a look and a half, I promise.
So that’s it; my breakdown of drop-dead reds (I am loving the internal rhyme opportunities provided by this post). If you’re ever wondering whether or not to wear a red lip, remember the words of our friend Shia and JUST DO ITTTT —because really, I could have replaced this entire post with a single sentence:
there’s no wrong way to go red.
But then, that wouldn’t have been half as much fun!