The 10 Most Iconic Shades of Red Lipstick

Words by Harper’s Bazaar Staff

These must-have favorites stand the test of time

The best red lipstick shades aren’t just beautiful—they’re a makeup staple that somehow always feels fresh, no matter the decade.

Hardcore red lipstick fans can spot the difference between scarlet, brick red, and true red. They also know that these coveted shades are holy-grail favorites that deserve to be swiped on again and again, to expertly complement a subtle eye or luminous skin.

If you’re already a red lipstick fan or are looking to find a new tube to complete your signature makeup look, reviewing our curated list is exactly where you should start. Some of our favorite shades are so iconic, you’ve probably memorized a few of them by name: from Dior’s 999 to MAC’s Ruby Woo and NARS’s Dragon Girl. (The latter two are rumored to be Taylor Swift’s go-tos.)

Each of our picks look great on just about anyone, and they all have the added bonus of lasting all day without smearing or smudging. Although, isn’t half the fun of wearing one of the best red lipsticks leaving a little trace of it wherever you go?


Chanel Luminous Intense Lip Colour

red Lipstick

There are a dozen perfect red shades in Chanel’s arsenal, but Pirate is by far the most fun to say. It uses sappan wood to keep lips smooth and hydrated, with a satin finish that’s not overly shiny.

Customer review: “I have long been a fan of red lipsticks so when Chanel introduced this new formula and I saw the gorgeous array of reds, I just had to give some a try! Passion is truly a drop dead beautiful red and good for any time of the day. Pirate is a bit darker and for some might be more of a evening color. Coromandel is a warmer bright red and very wearable. Palpitante is a delicious creamy feeling red with a fuschia cast – quite flattering and ladylike! If you are looking for a high quality lipstick, this formula and color variety will not disappoint!” —Tropical Traveler


MAC Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo

red Lipstick

Arguably the most famous red lipstick shade, MAC’s semi-matte is well loved by celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross. Its culty formula was even spun off into a version made just for Rihanna, aptly named Riri Woo.

See also
Baftas 2018: 8 Stunning Beauty Looks

Customer review: “Love the color. Mac products stay on longer and the lipstick is creamy and keeps lips moist longer!” —Cheryl


Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in 999

red Lipstick

Dior’s iconic 999 lip shade has had its fair share of celebrity fans over the years. It also helps that the lipstick looks beautiful on every skin tone, and happens to last up to 16 hours per wear.

Customer review: “I love everything about this lipstick. Wears wonderfully all day. Creamy, smooth, luxurious.” —MickellsMom


YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in 1966 Rouge Libre

Over 900 Sephora customer swear by this signature crimson shade from YSL. You’ll need only a few swipes of the satin finish lipstick to make a bold makeup statement that lasts up to six hours per wear.

Customer review: “Very pigmented and stays on all day. Doesn’t transfer to your teeth, which I have a problem with sometimes. I have the matte version too, but this one stays on longer and feels better to wear. Most pigmented lipstick I’ve had.” —clarrisse


Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Uncensored

red Lipstick

Rihanna’s first red lipstick under her Fenty Beauty label is not only universally flattering, but also, once you swipe it on, the matte formula will last until you decide to wipe it off at the end of the night.

See also
How To Get Rid of Acne Scars—Forever

Customer review: “I love this! I only have to apply it once and it never budges! Wear it all day, eat, drink and never have to reapply. I always get compliments when I wear it. Color is beautiful, my favorite!” —ErwinK


Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Obsessed!

Fans of this orange-red lipstick swear it’s the best matte formula ever made. In addition to featuring a creamy, smooth formula that never feels drying, it’s also nicely formulated for one-stroke coverage.

Customer review: “This is one of the best lipsticks, I’ve ever bought. The rich color and texture makes for a nice matte finish with a vibrant color that lasts.” —Ininih


Gucci Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick in Goldie Red

Although a newer formula than others on this list, once you jump for Gucci’s signature red—especially in this gilded tube—you’ll never look back. The ultra-soft matte color can be blurred on your lips for a just-there red, or layered on for an opaque pop.

Customer review: “Love this lipstick. The formula feels soft and doesn’t dry out your lips but looks matte. The Goldie red has such a beautiful payoff. The packaging is also very beautiful. I never right reviews but was very impressed. Can’t wait to wear this out!” —TheyCallMeStacC


Beauty Bakerie Matte Lip Whip in Bowl Of Cherries

Beauty Bakerie’s smudge-proof Matte Lip Whip is a favorite among makeup enthusiasts, since it stays put all day—even after eating and drinking.

See also
Wedding Day Countdown: The Ultimate Beauty & Body Plan

Customer review: “Salad with vinaigrette, pasta with cheese sauce, dessert, wine, coffee – nothing and I mean NOTHING budged this stuff! When you first put it on, you have a few minutes to fix mistakes but once it dries it will never do you wrong. And – my lips didn’t end up cracked the next day. I’ll be getting more shades for sure!” —Christina


Hermès Rouge Hermès Satin Lipstick in 64 Rouge Casaque

It’s only natural to envision the color orange when you think of Hermès, but the brand has a nice range of other kinds of red lipstick options, too. Bazaar editors reach for their Rouge Casaque shade the most, a radiant red inspired by garments worn by professional jockeys.

Customer review: “Beautiful luxury lipstick! I love how it looks on me (yellow, cool tone). It is not drying but it is not long-lasting. I’m a makeup collector so this is a perfect addition to my collection. The box and packaging is lovely!” —Mimiloveswreslting


NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

red Lipstick

Here’s an unapologetically bright color from NARS that falls somewhere between classic red and vibrant pink. It’s no wonder Dragon Girl’s unique’s shade is a favorite of the red lipstick queen herself, Taylor Swift.

Customer review: “The Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are a staple in my pro artist kit. I’ve had them for years. They are quite literally one of my ride or die products. They are ALWAYS the first product I reach for when doing lips and they are perfect for sanitizing and having in the set bag without mess.” —Crazypretty

This article originally appeared in