Beauty Wednesday: The Everyday Red Lipstick

red-lipstickAfter years of choosing either mauve lipsticks or MLBB tints,* I’m now looking for An Everyday Red Lipstick. I’m still on the hunt for one that I like — it’s a project to find one that has the trifecta of a) color, b) comfort, and c) longwear. By which I mean a) I want the perfect color for my skintone, b) one that is comfortable to wear and doesn’t dry the heck out of my lips, and c) one that doesn’t transfer to glasses (or my teeth, or my boys), one that doesn’t fade unevenly (I haaaate the ombre lip look).  (Pictured: a few of the ones I’ve sampled: 1) MAC Pro Longwear in Extended Play — I liked the comfort/wear of this one the best, but they’re apparently discontinuing the line.  BOOO.  2) Too Faced Melted in Berry — not my favorite on any of the 3 prongs — and 3)  M·A·C ‘Mineralize’ Rich Lipstick in Lush Life — my second favorite in wear, but just a touch too bright in color.) I’ve also tried M·A·C Prep + Prime Lip (my favorite thus far) and Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer.)

I was surprised a few years ago at a few legal conferences to see the women speakers wearing the red lip, considering the challenges to finding the perfect color — but the red lip has historically been the power lipstick perhaps because it takes confidence to wear it.  At the same time, though, I like that you can look “done” with relatively little other makeup.

In terms of HOW to find it: while I’m really open to a drugstore lipstick (some of my favorite lipstick-that-stays-put is from there), finding the RIGHT shade is so important that it seems a lot less expensive to go some place (like Sephora) where I can try the lipstick on my lips and see how it wears, how it fades, how it looks in different light, etc.  So that’s my plan…

We’ve also talked about the appropriateness of red lipstick at work in years past — what are your thoughts, ladies? Is an every day red lip too bold of a fashion statement for the day, best left to the occasional holiday party?  Which brands or colors are your favorites for red lips?  How often do you check it up after you put it on?  How many visits to Sephora or the like did it take before you found YOUR red?

Further reading:  Growing Up Meant Learning to Wear Red Lipstick [New York Magazine] and I’m a Grown-Up Lady [Huffington Post].  Hilariously, I forgot the title of the second one, so I’m surprised to see that it also is about growing up.  Do you associate red lipstick with being a grownup?

* MLBB = My lips but better.  We’re actually working on a whole page of Corporette vocabulary and acronyms — let us know which additional ones you’d like us to include.


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  1. Lorelai Gilmore :

    It may not be red enough for you, but I love NARS Gipsy.

    • Seconded.

      • I LOVE Gipsy! But I use it as a lovely, safe, everyday kind of color. When I want to I wear red, I wear RED. Estee Lauder Rich Red, to be precise. I reapply maybe twice a day before client meetings.

  2. Amelia Earhart :

    NARS Dragon Girl

  3. Diana Barry :

    I used to use Prescriptives Intriguing before they discontinued the whole line. Now I have NARS Cruella (pencil, v dry so I layer another one under or over), and NARS Red Lizard.

  4. I’ve been wearing Bobbi Brown sheer lipstick in Cherry Pink lately, which is a good rosy color (not quite a true red) if you have dark hair and fair, cool-toned skin. It’s not quite as moisturizing as I would like, but I have very dry lips.

  5. I’ve heard good things about Revlon’s Really Red. Sadly, my favourite red has been discontinued so I shall be looking for a replacement at some point in the future.

    The red shade from Revlon’s Matte Balm line is great as a red tint – it’s called Striking/ Spectaculaire.

    I highly recommend No7’s red lip liner, though.

  6. I actually like a drugstore/supermarket lipstick, the Maybelline Super Stay 14-hr brand. It really will stay on all day, especially with a trick I learned from Sean Penn as a rock star in the film “This Must be the Place” : I apply a very light layer of powder, then lipstick, then repeat both.

    I am fair skinned and dark haired, with green eyes. My daily color is a berry shade called Fuchsia Forever and the best MLBB shade I’ve found is Till Mauve Do us Part.

    I have two reds that I love and wear when I’m going out in the evening or during the day when I am wearing red, either a red suit (I am of a certain age) or red tops or jewelry, when berry or mauve would not work. The truest red, contrary to the name, is Continuous Cranberry. A very slightly darker and more muted red that I also like a lot — which an opposing party complimented me on last week in the women’s room during a break in a hearing — is Timeless Crimson.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I think I use the same brand. Mine says “24 Hour Color” on it though. Its more of a stain with a chapstick on the other end. I have a couple of colors. I can’t remember what the red is called but it has a blue undertone and is the perfect red for me. I haven’t worn it to work, but that is because I rarely wear any makeup to work. I wear it out sometimes and plan on wearing it for my wedding.

      • I think that one might be Cover Girl, and I agree it’s great — it does last a long time, I did an infomercial for it once for the other women who were working with me on an election-day legal hotline, when the lipstick I put on at 5:30 a.m. was still looking pretty good at 6 p.m. — but I switched because I personally didn’t like the shininess of the Step 2 gloss.

    • Mountain Girl :

      I like the Maybelline Super Stay 14 Hour brand as well. BY FAR, my favorite drugstore lipstick.

  7. GoFugYourself just did a post about this:

    For me, I feel like my skin and teeth are never perfect enough for a really bold red lip (if I break out, it tends to be along my chin and I drink way too much coffee and red wine; it’s not a requirement, I’m sure, but it’s in my head as one) so I tend to stick to more muted tones but I love the look of very minimal makeup and a bright red lip on others.

    • A Nonny Moose :

      +1 to your second paragraph. I feel like red lipstick really makes my acne pop. Don’t have that problem with other shades. I

    • Maybe it doesn’t help to not highlight acne, but red lipsticks with blue undertones can actually make teeth look whiter. My fave is stoplight red by WetNWild (yes, super cheap drugstore brand, but their quality is really great). However, it’s a red that’s far too bright for most work environments. Still fun for a night out!

  8. pale lips :

    I should be one to want red lips because my natural lip color (especially in winter) is especially pale. Combined with lips that look less like jolie’s and more like two little sticks, I tend to look like I have a nose, some teeth and a chin, with nothing between.

    I can’t stand lipstick (stains, ombre, drying), so I tend to stick more with tinted balms. Recently, I’ve loved Burts Bees lip shimmer in Fig & Rhubarb. I also use their tinted balm in Rose.

    I also really like the NYC 16H Lip Stain. It’s like a felt-tip marker with liquid color. It seems to stick really well to dry lips (don’t prep in any way), and then I pat a regular balm on top.

    • For those who prefer balms, NYX makes some really great tinted balms. I use their red color on a regular basis, as well as several of the pink/peach shades. I also like Maybelline Babylips and Revlon Colorbust lip butter.

  9. Gail the Goldfish :

    I think we need to add Ellen to the vocab and acronym page as “our resident troll.”

    • I think we should add Ellen to the vocabulary list as “one who brings comedic levity to our postings.”

  10. Baconpancakes :

    A great red that’s moisturizing, subtle-ish but still definitely red, and doesn’t do the ombre because it’s almost more of a gloss so it fades very naturally, is Lipstick Queen’s Medieval. I love it. It’s sheer enough to work on most skin colors, but doesn’t wipe off immediately, either.

    I’m also still interested in any red suggestions that work for really pale ladies. I have super blonde hair, and vampire white skin with yellow and pink undertones.

  11. TO Lawyer :

    i really like the too faced “I want candy”
    It’s more of a coral-red but seems perfect for daytime.

    My HG daytime lipstick is a YSL lipstick. It’s the only lipstick I’ve ever bought a second tube of.

  12. Try Medieval from Lipstick Queen. Good stuff.

  13. Rosemagilly :

    Oh no! My go to red is Mac Pro Longwear in Prolong. Are they discontinuing just the Extended Play shade or the whole Pro Longwear line?!?!

    • I think they’re discontinuing the entire line — at least when I asked about other colors they said they were out and not restocking. Stock up if you can find it!

  14. I love Bite luminous creme lipsticks. They are so comfortable to wear, and very long lasting.

    My go-to red is the Apricot shade. It’s a muted, orangey-brick red. It’s bold without being bright, so I find it works well in most professional settings.

  15. Clinique’s “A Different Grape” is my absolute favorite color. (My skin tone is very fair.) It doesn’t have great staying power, though.

  16. I’m excited for Younique’s new lip stain to come out! It was definitely kissproof (for the hubby and kids in the morning) and eatproof during client/work lunches and the one that I have is a berry red color!
    Here’s a pic of me showing how ‘eatproof’ it is:

  17. I really like Ecco Bella’s flowercolor lipstick in Rosewood. I have fair, cool-toned skin, and it’s really wearable. Also moisturizing and fairly long lasting.

  18. I’ve had good results at a very low price point:
    – moisturize with Trader Joe’s mint lip balm
    – outline with NYX lip pencil
    – fill in with Burt’s Bees lip gloss or an Ulta lip crayon
    I’ve been going for bright berry (Burt’s) or berry/pink (Ulta). Works with my pale-but-sallow-undertones skin, dark eyes & brows, graying hair and general desire to look Finished rather than Made Up.
    I used to wear blush, but now I do eyeliner instead (NYX black-brown and gray). Nothing else. I can’t bear wearing foundation.

  19. I really, really love Maybelline Colorsensational line- the red revolution is the shade I’m wearing today. The lipsticks are creamy and moisturizing, and stay nicely over about 4 hours.

  20. I love MAC Ruby Woo.
    I have to remember to moisturize/ exfoliate in the evenings or the matt finish looks cakey. But if I do that then I am good to go.

  21. Two thumbs up for NARS on color tone, saturation, and wearability. Their gloss colors make a great addition to add shine or a hint of another color to blend to the perfect shade, day and day to evening.

    I am also a huge fan of Tom Ford. They are pricey but great long lasting so makes it more economical.
    Channel also has a couple of formulas, one for dry lips, and the color palate and wearability are also excellent.

  22. FormerPhotog :


    Seriously the best lipstick I’ve ever used. Noir red is vampy and delightful, and the Black Licorice gloss is a perfect shade for me.

    Red Velvet is currently super hot, because it’s what Haley Atwell is wearing on Agent Carter.

  23. Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet

  24. My 2 favorites are Laura Mercier’s Truly Red (a nice red without being too in your face) and NARS Cruella Velvet Matt Lip Pencil (a bit brighter, but super long wearing, but make sure your lips are exfoliated). I would also Second NARS Dragon Girl, it might be a better match for your skin. I also love the NARS Audacious line. If you buy one red lipstick and find a match, I would say it’s worth it.

  25. For south-asian/indian skin, try Bobbi Brown’s art stick in Cassis. Can be layered, and is simply great as an everyday red – can also be dressed up for evening, though.

  26. OnceAQueen :

    White lady with Silver Hair, brown eyes and a very cool complexion. For me the best red ever was the very blue-red called Cherry Freeze by L’Oreal – discontinued now. Cranberry Cream, Different Grape by Clinique are nice and have the much needed (by me) blue undertones but not true classic reds. Trying the Clarins lip balm red ($23) but it doesn’t compare to the Cherry Freeze ($7) which I wore all day, every day – powerful but not stagey or overly made up. Will try some of the suggestions above but have thrown a lot of $$ away trying to find a substitute formy lsot love “Cherry Freeze”!

  27. I won’t recommend a color since that’s a personal preference and based on skin tone… but I would recommend a particular product for you to check out: Stila all day liquid lipstick. It really does stay on very well.

  28. Check out Laura Mercier’s Healthy Lips. Perfect, moisturizing red for everyday use. I wear it to work all the type in a business casual office and also outside of work. Flexible and great for night and day. I find it especially flattering for my light olive toned skin because it has nice warm undertones.

  29. Late to the party, but adding my 2 cents in case anyone’s still checking the comments section:

    I can only wear stains due to a couple topical allergies, but I really like the new red lip stain at The Body Shop. Not exactly a go-to when I’m going for the pinup look on a Friday night, but definitely a nice shade for the office. I think it’s around $10. Only drawback is that the color does fade, so you may need a touch-up or two during the day.

  30. I really like the red Revlon Balm Stains (the originals, not matte or glossy) for this because they wear very evenly and, being a stain, can stand up to having some lip balm on top. They also STAY PUT, no transfers onto cups or smears on your face. I would recommend the red Lip Butters from them as well but I believe the real red-reds were just discontinued.

    One of the ways I work in red when I’m not able to deal with touching up a full on opaque red-red is to use a really dark lip color (MUFE Rouge Artist Intense #44 is my most common one) and sort of pat a very small amount on and then apply a clear or red tinted balm over top. My lips tend to be very dry so I sometimes just throw on a thin layer of Aquafor just sort of blended in with a little of the lipstick pigment. You get a stain-like result without the drying that comes with stains and you can do sort of a bolder color in a lighter way.

  31. Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet is a great red for people who usually cannot pull off red.
    Clinique Angel Red is another very wearable red.

  32. The Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Adore is my go-to. It’s more of a brick color instead of a bright red, so I think it’s definitely appropriate for office settings. I’m fair skinned with blue eyes and blonde hair, and the blue undertone of this stain is great. It wears for a long time, though it does fade somewhat unevenly if you’ve been eating/drinking. Whether it dries my lips out or not seems to depend on the season- obviously in winter everything is more prone to drying out.

  33. Anonymous :

    I’m pale with yellow undertones and Wet n Wild Dark Wine is my go to everyday red lip. It’s great because it fades evenly, and isn’t at all drying. Though I should say that I use MAC’s prep+prime underneath everything to make my lipsticks last longer and stay moisturized.

    ETA: It can be layered to resemble the color in the tube more closely, but I just apply one layer. Another benefit of MAC Prep+prime is that it makes the first layer look lighter, so you can be very picky about how much you want to apply.