Red lipstick is synonymous with the holidays for good reason; it just feels inherently festive. And for anyone who’s spent the last few months focusing on the eyes with elaborate eye shadow looks (or ignoring your makeup bag altogether), it’s high time to finally break out a tube of lipstick to just swipe and go — even if it’s just from your office to your dining room.
“People are appreciating the power of a bold lip more than ever,” says makeup artist Christine Cherbonnier. “But whether it’s behind a mask or visible to the world, lipstick still has the power to lift your emotional posture. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls lipstick her ‘war paint,’ and I think that’s a perfect way to describe it.”
Daniel Martin, celebrity makeup artist and global director of artistry and education at Tatcha, agrees: “I’ve had clients tell me they still feel empowered and confident when they’re wearing their favorite lipstick, regardless of whether they’re wearing a mask or not. They’re wearing it for themselves and they feel good doing it. And now in the new age of Zoom, color is that one thing that dresses you up without the stress of picking out an outfit.”
Still, finding the right shade that won’t make you look washed out over a video call isn’t always easy. Vincent Oquendo, who’s worked with celebs like Janelle Monáe, Bella Hadid and Diane Kruger, says to start by looking at your own undertones.
“Think of the color wheel when choosing a lipstick,” Oquendo says. “If you have a cooler complexion and you want your lipstick to stand out, then go for a warmer red, one that has more of an orange base. The same can be said if you have a warmer complexion. If you really want your red to stand out, then go for a blue-based red lipstick like a classic red. Think cherry red, because the contrasting base in the lipstick will make it stand out against your complexion.”
Ahead, we’ve compiled a list of the red lipsticks that these celebrity makeup artists swear by. And while you’re here, check out our hands-on testing piece on the best matte lipsticks.
Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick in Elson 2 ($38; sephora.com)
“The perfect red shade with a modern matte finish that has a creamy soft texture,” says makeup artist Mary Phillips, who works with Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Lopez. “It’s saturated with pigment that delivers vibrant opaque color.
KKW Beauty Red Crème Lipstick in Hot Sauce ($18; ulta.com)
Phillips calls this one from KKW Beauty “a timeless orange red shade [that] delivers a creamy application and adds a bright pop to any look.”
Shiseido Modern Matte Powder Lipstick ($26; sephora.com)
If you’re looking for something with a ton of staying power, Oquendo recommends Shiseido’s Modern Matte Powder lipstick. “Just blot it down for a great lip stain,” he says.
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipstick in True Red ($7.49; target.com)
Dior Rouge Dior 999 ($38; sephora.com)
“For me, the perfect red lipstick is the shade that you can wear both effortlessly with bare skin and dressed up with a full face of makeup and feel equally as confident,” says Martin, who calls this shade “the perfect classic red and gives an easy, polished look!”
Actress Nina Dobrev loves this tube too.
The Lip Bar Liquid Matte in Hot Mama ($12.99; target.com)
“This fire engine red liquid lipstick goes on like gloss, dries matte and lasts all day,” says Phillips.
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in F-Bomb ($19; sephora.com)
Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink Lipstick in Pioneer ($9.99; target.com)
“Maybelline’s Superstay Matte Ink is one of my favorites,” says Oquendo.
Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in 70 Unique ($38; nordstrom.com)
“My client Hailey Benton Gates looks stunning on the red carpet in this perfect neutral true red,” says Cherbonnier, who works with publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Elle UK. If you’re worried about transfer, she recommends wearing a domed mask, like the KN95. “They don’t press against the lip but still create a seal on the face,” she says.
Nudestix Lip Glacé in Nude Cherry 00 ($28; sephora.com)
Phillips likes this gloss, which she says is “glossy and never sticky,” thanks to its “moisturizing gel formula” alone or on top of your favorite lipstick shade.
Tom Ford Lip Color in Velvet Cherry ($46.75 with code FRIEND, originally $55; macys.com)
Tom Ford’s formula “has a velvet matte finish that is richly pigmented,” says Phillips, who adds that it’s “great for a bold polished deep red statement lip.”
L’Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain ($7.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
“This is one that my clients always steal from me,” Sir John jokes. “I used it on Beyoncé. It stands the test of time without feeling like it’s really on your lips.”
Mac Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo ($16.15, originally $19; nordstrom.com)
Sir John loves Mac Cosmetics for its staying power. Try one of the brand’s true cult-favorite shades for a universally flattering look.
Rouge Hermès Satin Lipstick in Rouge H ($67; nordstrom.com)
This deep red shade is one of Cherbonnier’s favorite richer, darker reds.
Tatcha Kyoto Red ($55; tatcha.com)
“This red is an incredibly flattering universal blue-red that can be worn dressed up or thrown on for a last-minute Zoom meeting,” says Martin. “It’s one of Elisabeth Moss’ go-to favorites!”
Honest Beauty Liquid Lipstick in Love ($14.99; target.com)
One of Jessica Alba’s favorites from her own line, Martin says, this is “a super-flattering matte liquid lipstick that stays put without drying out your lips.”
Benefit Benetint ($15.30 with code FRIEND, originally $18; macys.com)
“Benefit Benetint is perfect for staining lips,” says Oquendo. Use it on your lips and your cheeks for a naturally flushed look.
Chanel Luminous Matte Lip Colour in Rouge ($38; nordstrom.com)
Cherbonnier, who uses this shade on model Jenaye Noah, calls it “a classic red satin that can suit anyone.”
Clarins Water Lip Stain ($23.80, originally $28; nordstrom.com)
Oquendo says this lip stain is so good it won’t budge — even under your mask.
Rouge Hermès Satin Lipstick in Rouge Amazone ($67; nordstrom.com)
Cherbonnier loves using this “warm-toned, almost brick red” lipstick shade on Spanish model Blanca Padilla. It instantly brightens the face.