5 Timeless Red Lipstick Shades For Every Occasion

Updated on February 9, 2024
Garreth Aspeling By Garreth Aspeling
Garreth Aspeling

Writer, Exercise Addict, and Men's Health & Wellness Enthusiast

Table Of Contents

    red lipstickPIN

    5 Timeless Red Lipstick Shades For Every Occasion

    Red Lipstick is as timeless as a desire for beauty, pleasure, and perfection. And we want no less than flawless lips from the lipstick we use. Red lipstick is ripe for any occasion. You may even feel drawn to darker or lighter red lipstick shades depending on your mood. In this article, we talk about red lipstick shades and offer tips for

    1. Choosing the best red lipstick for your skin
    2. How to apply red lipstick properly
    3. What you can expect from a matte, cream, or gloss

    Finally, if you’re curious which lipstick can give you a whiter smile, scroll on!

    Red Lipstick Texture

    Do you want smooth and creamy or light and glossy? We’re talking about red lipstick texture, or lipstick finish, which includes what it looks like and how it feels after it’s applied to the lips.

    So, here’s a sneak peek at what’s behind various types of red lipstick.


    (high to low shine)

    Feel Color Intensity
    Glossy Oily, hydrating, and super shiny. May be intense or opaque.
    Sheer Oily and some shine. Opaque, buildable.
    Creamy Balanced wax to oil, subtle shine, smooth, buttery feel. Rich color intensity
    Satin Waxy, little to no shine, soft and natural feel. Higher pigments, buildable color, staying power.
    Velvet Waxy, mostly no shine, liquid matte. High pigments, staying power, lighter than matte feel.
    Matte Waxy, no shine, matte stick, drier feel. Highly pigmented color, good staying power, and full coverage.

    Does your lipstick feel light, cakey, comfortable, or slick? The texture you’ll find most satisfying depends on what you want from your lipstick, such as

    1. Aesthetic preference (obvious!) Do you love the way it looks on you?
    2. Goals (coverage, shine, lasting power) Do you mind reapplying, or need it to last all day?
    3. Comfort (sticky, uneven coverage) Does it feather or melt into your skin seamlessly?

    Textures make red lipstick appear balmy, wet, flat, or smooth. That’s the power of texture.


    Matte lipstick is

    • Highly pigmented
    • Shine-free
    • Typically full-coverage
    • Velvety finish

    Matte lipstick is great when you want to cover slight imperfections because the pigment-rich formula works like a full coverage foundation, veiling your lips with lovely color. But that’s not why we’re attracted to a matte texture. A matte textured red lipstick, especially red, has a sultry vibe. And when you use a high-quality matte red lipstick, it also feels surprisingly weightless and non-drying.


    Glassy, slick, or polished are typical textures of glossy red lipstick. Ultimately, when you want glossy lips, you don’t want them to feel sticky. The best quality gloss stays on

    • Sleek
    • Feels hydrating
    • Never sticky or doughy

    Glossy red lipstick is the most hydrating. It can save your lips if you live in a dry climate like Arizona or Nevada! For a nice, glossy finish, opt for a red lipstick with a built-in gloss like NYX Shine Loud liquid lipstick in Rebel Red. The color is a warm red with a high-shine gloss you can glide on top of the red color for ultra-glossy lips. The glossy top coat isn’t sticky, and it won’t fade or bleed.

    Sheer or Satin

    Go for sheer or satin textured red lipstick when you prefer a smooth finish over medium color. For color-intense red lips, go for a red lipstick with a satin finish. For soft shine and a hint of color, opt for sheer. Sheer red lipstick tends to offer a base that you can layer or wear alone. The color tends to be more opaque.


    Creamy red lipstick is hydrating with just a touch of shine. Because of the higher degree of wax to oil, creamy lipstick tends to stay put without the need to frequently reapply it, although that largely depends on the brand. Also, to prevent a creamy lipstick from bleeding, try gently dusting loose translucent powder over your lips once the lipstick is applied to help keep it in place.

    Lip Stains or Tints

    Red lipstick textures such as lip stains or tints give your lips a bright, medium burst of color. Can’t decide between lip stains or lip tints? Check out some pros and cons below!

    Red Lipstick Texture Pros Cons
    Lip Stains Long-lasting

    Vivid color

    Can build upon it

    Won’t bleed

    May be drying

    Harder to remove

    Dry-pen applicator may be uncomfortable to use

    Tints Easily glides on lips

    Usually hydrating



    Color is often too subtle

    Tends to fade quickly

    May drip or feel too thin

    Lip stains essentially stain your lips for lasting color. Although a lip stain can make your lips feel dry once the color sets, so it’s a good idea to apply a hydrating lip gloss throughout the day to keep your mouth happy. They are low-maintenance and perfect for anyone who wants a bright burst of rich color that doesn’t smudge or fade. A lip tint tends to feel more oily compared to a lip stain and offers just a touch of color. The downside is that it may feel a bit watery.

    Frosted or Metallic

    Doing a frosted or metallic texture is tricky, so it’s okay if you haven’t gotten there (yet!). Luckily, red lipstick is pigmented already. So adding some frosted or metallic, icy sparkle to your lips becomes less of a guessing game. You can find frosted lipstick with an icy shimmer finish, or apply a neutral frosty lip gloss on top of your red lipstick as icing on the cake! Metallic lips are less shimmery yet more lustrous. Metallic lipstick is highly pigmented and may look two-toned at different angles. A copper-tinted shine on red lipstick, for instance.

    Tinted Lip Balm

    Tinted lip balm is usually waxy, moisture-rich, and has a soft gleam. Typically though, tinted lip balm doesn’t compare to red lipstick if you’re going for fiery red lips; quite often, tinted lip balm is too opaque. Which works if you just want a wisp of color.

    Finding a red-tinted lip balm that lasts throughout the day and keeps your lips juicy is key, moisture being an obvious benefit. Sometimes, tinted lip balms tend to smudge and bleed over the lip line or fade rather quickly, as well. But, there are exceptions.

    Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Red Dahlia adds a lovely hint of red color to the lips. Also, you can expect your lips to feel hydrated throughout the day. You can get Red Dahlia on Amazon.

    Zohna Tip

    The oils in lip balm are great for keeping your lips dewy but not so great for your lipstick's staying power. Instead, opt to use lip balm on top of lipstick to lock in the color, instead of underneath it.

    Red Lipstick Shades

    All skin tones, from fair to deep, have an undertone that’s warm, cool, neutral, or a combination. Like your skin, red lipstick shades may be warm or cool. Generally, the best red lipstick shades will have underlying colors that match the undertone of your skin.

    Here’s a simple guide for the best red lipstick shades based on your skin’s undertone.

    Skin Undertone Best Red Lipstick Shades
    Warm Red-copper, red with gold tint, coral-red or red-orange.
    Cool Deep reds with blue or purple undertones, cherry red, or wine-red.
    Neutral Berry, pink, or dark red.
    Neutral & Warm Combination (unique to olive skin) Red lipstick with a yellow or orange base like coral, crimson, or poppy (red-orange).

    Red Matte Lipstick

    Red matte lipstick comes in a variety of rich red colors, from light warm shades to deep cool reds. When you need your lipstick to last at least 6 hours without touch-ups, red matte lipstick will make it happen. Matte red lipstick colors include

    • True red (pure red)
    • Neon red (brightest red)
    • Poppy red (bright red, yellow base)
    • Rosewood (burnt red)

    Brick Red Lipstick

    Spicy hues of warm red, burgundy, or brown are what give brick red lipstick its name.  Shades range from light, peachy red to dark, reddish-brown. You can try a long-lasting brick red lipstick like Maybelline’s Super Stay Matte Ink in Hustler for an intense reddish-brown color perfect for everyday wear.

    Zohna Tip

    Want to try on a particular red lipstick but don't feel like stepping out of the house? Many brands' websites (like Maybelline, Loreal, or NYX) allow you to try different lip products and shades virtually. You have the option to use a photo or live cam to try on lipstick colors and finishes.

    Blue Red Lipstick

    Many details can make a particular shade of red lipstick look strange on one person and great on another. However, when red lipstick makes your teeth look slightly yellowish, it has to do with the lipstick’s base color. Red lipstick with warm colors like yellow or orange tends to highlight any yellow discoloration in your teeth.

    On the flip side, using blue and red lipstick, blue being the opposite color of yellow on the color wheel, cancels out any tints of yellow. Therefore, blue-based red lipstick actually makes your teeth appear whiter!

    Cherry Red Lipstick

    Cherry red lipstick is a bright and cheerful red with a darker twist. Much like the color of an actual cherry, cherry red lipstick is a deep, cool, saturated red with subtle pink undertones. Wear it at your desk, on the road, or on your couch, the color is amazing for any occasion, especially for those who typically gravitate to red lipstick as their go-to color. Let your cherry red lipstick be the main attraction. Downplaying or minimizing makeup on the eyes and cheeks gives you a casual, confident, and professional look.

    Orange Red lipstick

    If your skin has a warm undertone then orange red lipstick might be your new flame. Orange red lipstick also looks incredible on medium to dark skin tones as well as olive. Bright red lipstick with an orange base is fun, bold, and exciting. But can it reflect our mood in turn? It’s possible.

    Best Red Lipstick Brands

    When you’re in the mood for scoping out the best red lipstick brands consider some of these features to help you on your quest

    1. The brand aligns with what you value, you like what they’re about.
    2. Even color that glides on smoothly, lasts and moisturizes.
    3. Various shades of red to choose from and options for different skin types.

    Physicians Formula Healthy Lip Liquid Lipstick

    Try a pretty brick red lipstick like Physician’s Formula in Fight Free Red-icals. You can get it along with other vivid shades of red for long-lasting red lipstick with a velvety finish. It glides on smooth and gives your lips a rich burst of highly pigmented color. It also won’t dry out your lips. And did we mention it lasts long?

    NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream

    One of the best red lipstick brands by far for the color accuracy, staying power, and light feel is NYX. Try their vibrant red lipstick shade in Amsterdam. It’s similar to cherry red but with deeper undertones. It’s a liquid matte formula that glides smoothly. Plus, all colors in this line are named after different cities around the world, giving this particular line of lipstick a playful touch.

    Buxom Full Force Plumping Lipstick

    It was crushing when Buxom discontinued their Full On Plumping Lipstick line (goodbye, Dolly), but they’ve since made up for it with this new one. Try Baller for juicy red lips with a satin finish. It’s a full-coverage lipstick with a creamy application and subtle tingle. The rich formula quenches your lips with hydrating oils and hyaluronic acid.

    Bite Beauty Matte Lip Crayon

    Bite Beauty is a special makeup brand known for its clean beauty products. They’re vegan, gluten, and cruelty-free. Their lipstick feels lightweight and they have a large range of red lipstick shades to choose from. Try Brandy, a high-pigment, medium brown-red shade with a matte finish. What’s special about this brand is their Lip Lab where you can create your own custom shade of lipstick. Sadly, after ten years of business, Bite is closing its doors at the end of the year. So check them out while you still can!

    Fran Wilson Moodmatcher Color Change Lipstick

    For the best shade of red try Moodmatcher lipstick in red, black, or gold. Color-changing lipsticks have got to be one of the most convenient, beautiful, and personalized lipsticks out there.

    Once Moodmatcher lipstick is applied, the color changes to suit your specific skin tone according to your body chemistry. For instance, the gold shade will apply as a light gold color, but then after several seconds the color shifts into a gorgeous orange-red. What’s great is these lipsticks are seriously long-lasting, they’ll make it through lunch, a kiss, and a workout session!

    How To Apply Red Lipstick Perfectly

    1. Prep Lips

    Use a lip scrub or a soft brush to (very!) gently scrub away rough spots. Prepping helps exfoliate your lips, resulting in a polished canvas for applying red lipstick.

    2. Moisturize

    Okay, so we know we mentioned not to use moisturizer under your lipstick. But we don’t want dry lips either, that’s definitely not how to apply red lipstick perfectly. The key here is to use a bit of moisturizing lip balm and then wait. Wait for it to soak in before continuing to step 3. You can also use a lip plumper in this step that both moisturizes and plumps your lips.

    3. Apply Primer

    Once you’ve allowed the moisturizer to set, apply a lip primer. A lip primer helps to

    • Smooth fine lines
    • Prevent bleeding and feathering
    • Keeps lipstick from fading and creasing over time

    Good quality lip primers also help moisturize, so if you’re using one that does the task you can skip step 2. Also, if you don’t have a lip primer you can use a tiny dab of foundation or concealer.

    4. Apply lip liner

    Choose a shade that’s closest to the natural color of your lips, or one that’s one to two shades darker. Begin at the center of your top lip by tracing the cupid’s bow and continue to trace your upper lip down toward the corners. Then do the same for the bottom lip.

    5. Apply lipstick

    Apply the first coat then blot away excess pigment. Repeat the process with a second coat.


    • Best Red Lipstick On Brown Skin

      The best red lipstick on brown skin will have a base color that matches your skin’s undertone. Brown skin can have undertones that are cool in addition to warm or neutral.

      Red lipstick with a cool undertone combines red and blue pigments and underlying shades of blue, green, or purple. So brown skin with a cool undertone will look amazing in cool, light or dark red lipstick like magenta or violet (a mixture of red and purple).

      Red lipstick with a warm base combines red and yellow pigments and has underlying shades of orange. So the best red lipstick for brown skin with a warm undertone tends to look best in warm red lipstick shades like coral, copper-red, or scarlett.


    You have so many red lipstick options to choose from and we’ve given you our best handful. While you can rock any shade you wish you can find one that will complement your natural look by choosing a red lipstick to match.