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Top Ten Tuesday – My Favorite Red Lipsticks

Top 10 Best Red Lipsticks

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Even though I’m known for my general distaste for red nail polish, I adore a red lip. It takes a lot of effort to create a perfect red pout but it’s so worth it. When done right, it can light up your whole face.

Since my eyes are not perfectly almond nor round, they’re somewhere in between, I tend to play up my rather voluminous lips when it comes to my makeup routine. And nothing makes me feel more glamorous than a strong, red lip. So in this edition of Top Ten Tuesday I bring you my Favorite Red Lipsticks

I’m not really a gloss girl, I haven’t worn one in years, so I rely on stains, balms and good, old-fashioned lipstick. For day, I opt for sheer reds, stains and balms but when I want to bring on the drama, nothing gets the job done quite like a pure matte, creamy lipstick. And yes, I realize there’s a lot of MAC here but I told you I’m a MAC Fanatic, remember?
Top 10 Favorite Red Lipsticks

Sheer & Glossy Reds

Favorite Red Sheers, Balms, Stains and Glossy Lipsticks
1. Lipstick Queen Medieval ($22) – I was first introduced to the world of Poppy King and her amazing line of lip products by Blogdorf Goodman and immediately fell for Medieval. To me, this is the red version of my beloved Clinique ‘Black Honey’ Almost Lipstick. Perfect to swipe on when you need just a touch of color.

2. MAC Sheen Supreme New Temptation ($17) – I love the smooth, glossy texture of Sheen Surpreme and New Temptation’s cool cherry tone gives just enough coverage without feeling heavy.

3. COVERGIRL Lipslicks Smoochies Lip Balm in Text Me ($3.99) – Smoochies are seriously my latest obsession. I have no fewer than three in my bag at all times and this sheer red is moisturizing, subtle and has a delicious scent.

4. Stila Cherry Crush Lip & Cheek Stain ($24) – Cherry Crush was my first Stila lip stain and it’s still my favorite. It really pinks up your lips and makes a perfect base for anything you layer over top. My lips don’t have a lot of color naturally so applying a layer of Cherry Crush ensures they aren’t naked even if my lipstick/balm wears off.

5. MAC Slimshine in Swelter (discontinued) – Slimshine was the predecessor to Sheen Supreme and even though this product is discontinued, Swelter is one of my fave summer reds. It’s got just enough coral in it to compliment a faux glow. I fear the day my tube runs out.
Best Reds - Sheer, Balm, Stain and Glossy Lipsticks

Matte Reds

Favorite Matte Red Lipsticks
7. MAC Pro Longwear Lipcreme in Perpetual Flame ($18) – I wore my first Pro Longwear Lipcreme to an event two years ago and I was WOWED by the staying power. I barely had to reapply after hours of eating and drinking. They can be a bit drying which is why prep is so important but the wear makes it worthwhile. Perpetual Flame is more of a berry red and a perfect compliment to my pale winter complexion.

6. MAC Pro Longwear Lipcreme in Prolong ($18) – Prolong, on the other hand, is a caliente true red creme. It doesn’t really lean either way in terms of blue/orange which makes it pretty universally flattering. For a less intense look, I’ll dab Pro Longwear’s on with a finger to make them more like a stain.

8. MAC Mattene Lipstick in Classic Dame (discontinued) – I really love the Mattenes and I’m sad they’re gone. They didn’t quite have the staying power of Pro Longwear but they were creamier with just a hint of sheen. Think Sheen Supreme meets Pro Longwear. Classic Dame is a scarlet red and simply stunning.

9. MAC Russian Red Lipstick ($16) – I have a thing for MAC lipsticks, in general. I love the vanilla scent, the range of finishes and the diversity of pigment. While I tend to favor the Lustres, when it comes to red, I gotta go for matte and Russian Red is a stand out.

10. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl ($25) – For the most part, I prefer a lip stick or balm over a pencil but I make an exception for NARS. The smooth, creamy formula never dries out and makes precise color placement a breeze. Plus, it’s ideal for touch-ups since you don’t need to carry a lip brush.
Best Matte Red Lipsticks


If the idea of wearing red lipstick intimidates you, set yourself up for success with my foolproof plan; Prime, Line and Define.

Prime – I start by exfoliating with a clean toothbrush to slough off any dead skin, then applying a hydrating lip primer, like MAC Prep + Prime Lip ($16). Dry lips will kill this look.

Line – My biggest fear with wearing red lipstick is color bleed so I always line my lips. Whether that’s with a clear liner, like Urban Decay Ozone, or colored, it’s a key step.

Define – It’s so old school but blotting really helps keep your red intact. I apply one coat of color, with a lip brush, blot and then apply a second coat. Another trick is to hold a piece of tissue over your mouth and swipe translucent powder over the area with a fluffy brush. Finally, use concealer to correct any application mistakes and crisp up your lines.


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Do you love or fear the red lip? What are your go-to reds? Do you favor balms, stains, glosses or lipsticks? What tips do you have for creating a flawless red lip?

Disclosure: Product samples were provided by reps for COVERGIRL, MAC and NARS, others were purchased by me. Affiliate links appear in this post. When you purchase through an affiliate link, you help support this site. For more info view my Disclosure Policy
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There Are 19 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Lisa N. says:

    Great red picks!

  2. Teri says:

    Great list – sheer & glossy reds are the best!

  3. sara says:

    Those are pretty! I’ve been loving Korres Lip Butter in Wild Rose for daytime (or nighttime… I don’t really wear lipstick at all. Much more of a gloss girl.). It’s super moisturizing which I desperately need given how DRY it’s been this winter!!

  4. Kelly says:

    I totally agree, Perpetual Flame and Prolong are so great! I have a hard time picking my favorite MAC reds because there are so many great ones.

  5. Phyrra says:

    New Temptation looks gorgeous!

  6. Ohhhh good tips for keeping color on!

  7. Chris says:

    I have Dragon Girl on my shopping list. I love Maybelline Colorsensational Vivids in On Fire Red, NYX Xtreme Lip Cream in Absolute Red, Revlon Super Lustrous in Mulled Wine (sadly, discontinued), Sleek Vixen, Rimmel Kate Moss in 09 and 11.

  8. Nikki says:

    Love this post! I must get Russian Red!

  9. Beautiful picks! I’m totally lemming Lipstick Queen now!

  10. I have Stila Cherry Crush and it’s a bright pink on my skintone–funny how that works isn’t it? MAC has some great reds, looks like you have them all on your list!

  11. I’ve never done a red-red on my lips really before. I’d love to try it. I think it looks best with a toned down eye palette. I am stopping by from the SITS Comment Luv group!

  12. I need to put a subtle sign in my bathroom to Prime, Line and Define. This makes so much sense with such gorgeous pigmented lipsticks.

  13. Beth says:

    I love the tips on how to apply- definitely on point for anyone needing a little help with any intimidating loud lip color. I’m surprised there aren’t more colors from other lines and so many from MAC. MAC is a great company but let’s not forget how great the texture is from Bobbi Brown and my personal go to for a cool toned long wearing red lip- Estee Lauder’s Stay Scarlet lined with their doublewear lip liner in red. Estee owns so many companies I’m often surprised to see them off lists for color from the professional bloggers. Great list anyways, love your blog!

  14. Jasmine says:

    Ugh, I FEAR red lips. I my skin tone is tan and the first (and thus far, only) red lipstick I bought was something by Mabeylline. I forget what it was called but I thought I bought a nice, bright red and it turned out to be an ugly red. Well, ugly on me at least.. it was almost a blood red and looked like I got into a fight and had bloody lips. Any tips on what color red goes well with tan skin? I want to pull off a bright but not intense “look-at-me-I’m-in-your-face” red. Thanks in advance! (ps. I love your site!)

    • Elisa says:

      Might be worth going to a dept store and trying on different shades (never hurts to have a least one really pretty lipstick tube for the purse!) until you find what you like. Then take that with you to the drugstore to find a great dupe when you are ready to buy more. Good luck!

  15. Noel Giger says:

    I love a red lip too! Thanks for the great info!

  16. Rachael says:

    I have never been able wear red, I don’t know why but I cannot find a shade that works for me! Maybe one of these would work

  17. I love NARS lipsticks and their reds come in a such flattering shades.

  18. Rebecca says:

    I can never get my hands on the red Smoochies. It is always sold out or someone has opened it, but I really want it since CG discontinued the Lipslicks in Hint of Red.