My name is Alex, and for years I feared red lipstick.
There are a whole lot of reasons for this. Some of these issues could be resolved simply by finding the right lipstick – like a shrubbery it has to be a nice one, not too expensive – but others I just needed to get over (like being noticed and taking up space and wearing things because I like them and not because it’s expected, or not, as the case may be). Anyway, I now have a few red lipsticks that I love, and that do not generate The Fear, and I thought maybe they might help those who also face internal reticence about being brazenly scarlet-lipped in public.
Some of these I actually use and swear by myself; others are on my to-try list and I look forward to any comments telling me your thoughts if you’ve already dared to branch out.
Tried & Tested
So, this is barely a lipstick and more of a sheer lipstain. It’s like a gateway drug to hardcore red lipsticks, but thoroughly addictive in and of itself. Plus, being a sheer colour that you can layer as brightly or subtly as you like, it suits practically everyone and basically just deepens your natural lip colour, with a hint of shine. Lipstick Queen is not particularly affordable, with shades like this at about £20-25 a pop (and Velvet Rope – more on this in a moment – at a squeak-inducing £35), but I found a trio of their finest for £20 on Amazon and snapped them up while I was feeling flush.
My first go-to red and for a while my only red (hence looking a little battered). It’s a pure pillarbox shade without a hint of orange, which is just as well as I tend on the very pale olive side with dark hair – which means I generally need to tread carefully with olive. I’ve seen this look great on a variety of girls with very different skin tones to me, so I think it’s a bit of an all-purpose winner. And at £9.95 and available in any Boots, much easier to try and / or buy.
Having just said that, this is one of the few shades with a hint of coral I’ve found I’ve been able to pull off – even though my skin tone is some distance away from Eva Longoria’s (it’s the one in the photos of us gurning). A brick-ish red which tends to last; after a good 10-hour run I did find it was starting to bleed slightly though it was still clinging on well for the most part. An astonishingly bargainous £6.99, and if there’s a 3-for-2 type offer, J-Lo’s nude shade is also very lovely.
I haven’t yet made the jump to spending £35 on a lipstick, but I’m working up to it. My fine and very beautiful friend Jen recommends it as the go-to, badass, effortlessly light, moisturising and incredibly persistent lip colour she goes back to any time she wants to basically take on the world and win. I can’t really argue with that.
This is one I’m definitely going to try as soon as possible – just waiting for it to arrive from another country after a friend kindly picked up some for me when it sold out for a while here. A vintage-inspired shade, it’s the very lipstick used on Hayley Atwell in Marvel’s Agent Carter (hence selling out) – which gives you a pretty good idea of what a pure, deep red it is. Also, there are few entertainment-related things on this earth I love more than Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. And if you happen to have similar colouring it should give you an idea how it will look (not as cool as her because no-one possibly could be, but close enough). 30EUR ordered direct from Besame’s European site; best to try and nab some before season 2…
Beloved of vintage hounds everywhere and recommended by this ‘ere sultry temptress, this is apparently near immovable and a very true red. I’ve always found MAC stores to be a bit overwhelming, but many of my beauty-loving friends swear by a whole host of their products. Also, they’ll famously swap you a brand new lipstick for free for every six empties you return for recycling. Maybe I need to try more than one shade… after all, I’ve heard good things about Lady Danger, too. £15.50
If there are any more than should go on my list, I’d love to hear about them – so please do comment away.
No disclosure needed; no gifts or PR samples included here. L’Oreal has worked with my employer, but I have never worked on that account.