The best red lipstick to suit all shade and finish preferences

The best red lipsticks of all time, tested by our experts, to help you find that tried-and-true signature red

Collage of three of the best red lipsticks featured in this guide from MAC, Maybelline, and Dior
(Image credit: MAC / Maybelline / Dior)

Finding the best red lipstick that flatters your face and feels great to wear is akin to finding the key to the most versatile and timeless piece of makeup you may ever own.

Yet, despite being continuously touted as a supremely easy makeup look, and jostling for space alongside the best mascara in many women's desert island beauty bags, the red lipstick club can feel a bit... exclusionary. 

We hear about women whose makeup with red lipstick look involves simply swiping on their signature red and, job done. If that's you, more power to you. But for the rest of us, who feel we've never quite got it right, even the best red lipstick can make us feel self-conscious, as if our mouths are screaming for attention. Not to mention the paranoia around smears on our teeth and smudges on our chins (how do they get there?).

So, we're here to help with our expertly-tested edit – because truly, there is a red lipstick for everyone. Our experts have tested dozens of reds in their time in the name of beauty journalism, and therefore know which lipsticks are worth spending your hard-earned cash on. From true reds to blue reds, ahead are their in-depth reviews of the best of the best. 

A selection of some of the best red lipsticks tested for this feature in a vanity case

A selection of some of the red lipsticks tested for this feature

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

The best red lipstick, as chosen by our beauty experts 

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

MAC Cosmetics Ruby Woo Lipstick

(Image credit: MAC Cosmetics)

1. MAC Cosmetics Ruby Woo

Best red lipstick overall

Specifications

RRP: £22 / $23
Shade: Blue-red
Finish : Available in classic matte, soft matte and liquid

Reasons to buy

+
Iconic, true red shade
+
Suits almost everyone
+
Good value – MAC's bullets last for several swipes

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too bold for some

Name a more iconic red lipstick than MAC Ruby Woo... We'll wait. There is a reason this classic product is MAC's bestselling red lipstick. The timeless true red shade suits almost everyone and its blue undertones makes your teeth and eyes appear brighter. While it may not be the cheapest buy on our list, it's far from the priciest. Plus, one application will see you through the night so it's a pretty price-savvy buy too. 

Swatch of MAC Ruby Woo red lipstick

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

The original Retro Matte finish has a fairly traditional, grown-up lippie texture. It makes a statement and while you can feel it on the lips, it isn't overly drying or draggy. More recently, MAC has also cleverly released three other textures to pick from, a creamier Powder Kiss lipstick, plus two liquid lipsticks if you prefer—one as matte as they come, one more hydrating and weightless. Truly there is something for everyone in the Ruby Woo cannon.

Maybelline Vinyl Ink Superstay Liquid Lipstick in Wicked red lipstick

(Image credit: Maybelline)

2. Maybelline Superstay Vinyl Ink Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Wicked

Best drugstore red lipstick

Specifications

RRP : £11.99 / $12.99
Shade: Blue red
Finish: High shine

Reasons to buy

+
Shiny, almost wet look
+
Very pigmented
+
Inclusive range of shades

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite sticky

When Maybelline says "super stay" they really aren't playing with us. The Superstay Matte Ink is already a well-loved favorite of ours for truly budgeproof wear, and this is a bit like it's high-shine sister – vinyl is exactly the word for its effect. Despite its high-shine finish, though, it yields very little transfer, which impressed us when we road-tested it. There are a few reddish tones on offer, but we settled on the blue-red shade Wicked, which would look cool on most if not all skin tones. 

Swatch of Maybelline Vinyl Ink in Wicked

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

The only drawback of the shiny finish is a kind of sticky feeling that we did really notice while we wore this particular number – but it's a small price to pay for something that lasts pretty well with minimal transfer, even when you're sipping on a G&T or icy lemonade. 

Rouge Dior 999

(Image credit: Dior)

3. Dior Rouge Dior 999

Best luxury red lipstick

Specifications

RRP: £37 / $38
Shade: Crimson
Finish: Available in satin, velvet, matte and metal

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra glamorous
+
Several finishes available
+
Skincare ingredients 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Rouge Dior is the French house's classic red lippie, so it won't surprise you to read that the shade is timeless, the packaging luxurious and the finished look sophisticated and grown-up. What you may not have realized is that this particular crimson shade, 999, is available in not one but four finishes. There is sheeny Satin, creamier Velvet, subtly reflective Metal and self-explanatory Matte. Offering their suits-all red lipstick in this pick and mix of finishes is such a canny move by Dior you wonder why more brands don't do it. 

Swatch of Dior Rouge Dior 999 red lipstick

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

That aside, this is on the luxury end of the price spectrum, but the quality does reflect that, with plant extracts of red peony and pomegranate flower offering softening lip care and pigment that sits beautifully on the lips for hours. Extra eco-friendly bonus points to Dior for offering refillable packaging too. 

Charlotte Tilbury Limitless Lucky Lips Berry Lucky

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

4. Charlotte Tilbury Limitless Lucky Lips Berry Lucky

Best ultra-matte red lipstick

Specifications

RRP: £25 / $34
Shade: Rosewood
Finish: Super matte

Reasons to buy

+
Bold pigment 
+
Ultra long lasting
+
Comfortable feel

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too matte for some

If you are a confident red lipstick wearer who wants to make a powerful statement that lasts all day, this ultra-matte high pigment offering from make-up artist Tilbury could be the best red lipstick for you. 

This shade, Berry Lucky, is a sexy and deep reddish-rose that's got nighttime glamour written all over it. We also love the limited edition Love Flame, a burnt orange-red. Like Charlotte Tilbury's universally-flattering nude lipstick, the colour payoff for this product is fantastic, with a modern true matte finish. 

Swatch of Charlotte Tilbury Limitless Lucky in Berry Happy red lipstick

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

Naturally, this does mean that you will feel it on the lips, but as ultra-mattes go this is about as comfy and light-feeling as they come. The slim bullet makes for easy application and, as with all Charlotte Tilbury products, it'll look great when you whip it out of your bag. 

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored red lipstick

(Image credit: Fenty Beauty)

5. Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored

Best universal liquid red lipstick

Specifications

RRP : £22 / $28
Shade : True red
Finish: Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Seriously pigmented and designed to be universally flattering
+
Lasts very well 
+
Matte but not at all flat

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires a bit of a steady hand – some might prefer a traditional bullet

The original Stunna Lip Paint from Rihanna's eponymous makeup brand, this is an incredible universal red lipstick that was designed to suit absolutely everybody (which in our experience, it does). First of all, we have to mention the packaging: reminiscent of a nail polish bottle, it looks seriously cool.

Swatch of Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored red lipstick

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

The formula – which you shake before applying – goes on wet, then dries down to a budgeproof matte (but not too matte or flat) finish. It packs some serious pigment, so your red will be making a statement – it's not for those who want something with a soft effect, so if that's what you're after, look to something like Clarins Joli Rouge. If you're concerned about having to top up your red lipstick, this is a great one to rely on for long days or evenings out. We love it!

Lancôme L'Absolu Rouge Drama Ink in French Touch

(Image credit: Lancôme)

6. Lancome L'absolu Rouge Drama Ink in French Touch

Best liquid lipstick

Specifications

RRP: £27.50 / $28
Shade: Burnt red
Finish: Semi-matte

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable feel
+
Handy application
+
Smudge-proof 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Liquid lipsticks tend to fall into two categories—velvety yet smudgy or inky and a touch dry. This, however, breaks the mould. It paints on and sets down like a weightless ink and offers similar transfer resistance, but has an unusually soft sensation on the lips. This is due to the formula's composition, which Lancôme describes as a water-in-oil emulsion and to us feels like a rare gift—comfortable, high pigment colour that won't quit. 

Swatch of Lancome LAbsolu Rouge in French Touch red lipstick

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

This shade is a little deeper and richer than your average, bright, Hollywood red; making it a good call for glam evening looks. But thanks to that matte-ish texture, it works very well with casual daytime styling too. The teeny-tiny heart-shaped wand makes precision application easy-peasy, and the sweet little bottle is light and spill-proof for your handbag. 

Armani Beauty Lip Power 404 Tempting

(Image credit: Armani Beauty)

7. Armani Beauty Lip Power 404 Tempting

Best all-rounder red lipstick

Specifications

RRP: £32.50 / $38
Shade : Berry red
Finish: Glossy

Reasons to buy

+
Glossy and hydrating
+
Angled bullet for neat applying
+
Long lasting 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

This is a real middle of the pack multitasker, but you'd be wrong to call it a jack of all trades. It lays on a lot of pigment in one or two swipes like traditional full-cover lippies but glides on smoothly like a sheenier, moisturizing formula. 

Swatch of Armani Beauty Lip Power 404 red lipstick

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

Look-wise, this is a fairly rich and seductive berry red, with cool undertones that work on most skins and a nice glossy finish that will flatter thinner or lined lips particularly well. The best thing about this is how comfortable it feels, not just initially but several hours after application. Despite a generous colour payoff and budge-proof properties it won't dry out or travel around your mouth as you eat or drink. Lip power indeed. 

Clarins Joli Rouge red lipstick in Cherry Red

(Image credit: Clarins)

8. Clarins Joli Rouge 743 Cherry Red

Best red lipstick for moisture

Specifications

RRP: Case $14 / $10, refill $23 / £19
Shade: Warm red
Finish: Sheeny cream

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable 
+
Modern shade 
+
East to apply and wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't last all night

The Joli Rouge lipstick has been a firm favorite of ours at woman&home for years, and for 2023 it's had an eco-friendly makeover. Now, you purchase a refillable case and your shade of choice, then when your signature shade has run out, you need only replace the lipstick cartridge. 

If you tend to dislike the heavy, powdery feel of traditional matte lippies, this could well be the red lipstick for you. The new and improved moisturizing formula is packed with hydrating ingredients including camelia oil, shea butter, and candelilla wax. The slippery and soft textured bullet glides on and gave lips a flattering sheen. 

Swatch of Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick in Cherry Red

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

This particular red will really pop on dark or olive skin tones but will look striking on any face; style it with minimal makeup elsewhere and a casual navy jumper for a modern look. As with any sheenier lipstick, we did find that it needed a few re-applications through the day or night – especially after eating and drinking – but it's so comfy and easy to apply that you're unlikely to mind doing it all that much. 

Hourglass Confession Lipstick in Red O

(Image credit: Hourglass)

9. Hourglass Confession Lipstick Red O

Best vegan red lipstick

Specifications

RRP : £35 / $39
Shade: True red
Finish: Satin

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra slim bullet makes for neat and precise application
+
Creamy and pigmented formula
+
Very comfortable to wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Does require topping up

The striking packaging – an extremely slim bullet with a sharp tapered end – catches your attention from the get-go here, but what sets this apart from other reds is the unique pigment that makes this red... well, red. Hourglass has created its own vegan substance, Red O, a pigment that involves absolutely no animal products (unlike many traditional red lipsticks), which we think is pretty cool. Did we mention that the case is also refillable? 

Swatch of Hourglass Confession Lipstick in Red O

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

Then there's the application and wear. The Confession lipstick's slimness allowed for more control and precision when we applied it, and we were impressed with how comfortable it feels to wear – no uncomfortable chalky feel here whatsoever. It lasts fairly well though does require a little topping up throughout the day, but with a lipstick so chic we're sure that, like us, you really won't mind doing so.

Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick in Fire

(Image credit: Victoria Beckham)

10. Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick in Fire

Best clean red lipstick

Specifications

RRP: £38 / $38
Shade: Hot red
Finish: Soft matte

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra luxurious
+
Slim bullet 
+
Clean ingredients

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

We are huge fans of Victoria Beckham Beauty here at w&h. Not just as a hangover from the Spice Girls obsession of our youths, but because the products are genuinely excellent. This lipstick doesn't just have a fun name, it also boasts a deeply nourishing formula packed with plant-based waxes and oils, plus plumping jojoba, and nothing the clean beauty brigade doesn't approve of.

This spicy red has an almost coral tinge that speaks to balmy evenings but works equally well on a dark night teamed with your best cashmere sweaters. Like Hourglass, the slimline bullet makes applying precisely without a brush nice and simple and the colour payoff is excellent for such a soft and moisturizing formula. It would be remiss not to mention how gorgeous the packaging is too—sustainable and ultra-desirable in VBs signature horn print. 

NYX Professional Shout Loud Satin Lipstick The Best

(Image credit: NYX)

11. NYX Professional Shout Loud Satin Lipstick The Best

Best budget red lipstick