Best red lipsticks 2023, according to a beauty editor

Few beauty products offer the boldness of red lipstick. But whether you keep it for best, like many a celebrity red carpet moment, or prefer a red pout rather regularly, finding the right one can feel incredibly rewarding.

Picking the perfect tone and texture can be quite tricky, so we sat down with make-up artist Louise Hall (who has worked with the likes of Victoria Magrath, Leonie Hanne, Bulgari and Valentino) to talk us through all of the different types.

“There are so many different shades, textures and formulas at our fingertips it can be overwhelming making sure you have the right shade for you,” Louise began. “To keep it simple, you want to pair your undertone with the same undertone in red lipstick. Orange reds will compliment an olive or warm complexion the best [like the Il Makiage dirty talk lipstick and Elf’s O face satin lipstick in shade spicy]. If it turns pink when you try it on, you need to reach for a deeper shade of red. While blue-based reds will complement cooler complexions [like Mac’s retro matte lipstick in shade Ruby Woo and RMS Beauty wild with desire lipstick] and will make your teeth look whiter too.”

“When it comes to texture, matte lipsticks will last longer, making them a great option for someone who doesn’t want the hassle of topping up lipstick throughout the day. Glossy lipsticks have a high shine payoff and are usually a little sheerer in texture, perfect for someone with a drier lip who wants a subtler shade. And satin lipsticks sit somewhere in the middle with a creamy texture that’s non-drying with a good colour payoff”.

“When it comes to applying, preparation is key,” finalises Louise, stressing the importance of getting rid of all flakiness with a good lip scrub before outlining with a lip liner. And now we’ve heard from the expert, let’s take a look at the best red lipsticks to buy for every budget, texture and skin tone, as tried by our tester.

How we tested

A selection of the best red lipsticks that we tested for this review

(Lauren Cunningham)

Following Louise’s tips, we set out to test as many different tones and textures of red lipsticks as they could find, from bargain buys such as Elf to luxury labels including Chanel. Looking at how long each one lasted, how easy it was to apply, how it felt on the lips, and, most importantly, how lovely it looked, below are our tester’s favourite finds, rated out of five for easy decision-making. And, to keep all lipstick tests even, each one was applied to bare lips, with no lip liner or gloss included.

The best red lipsticks for 2023 are:

  • Best red lipstick overall – Mac retro matte lipstick: £22,
  • Best budget red lipstick – Essence 8H matte liquid lipstick 07 classic red: £2.99,
  • Best glossy red lipstick – Bare Minerals mineralist hydra-smoothing lipstick: £22,
  • Best matte red lipstick – Vieve modern matte lipstick: £23,