Red lips are a perennial classic and we mean perennial — the earliest cosmetic cases date back to Ancient Sumer, circa 3,500 B.C. Back then, social mores dictated who could and couldn’t wear (red) lipstick, which was made from such questionable ingredients as sheep sweat and crocodile excrement in Ancient Greece. (In Ancient Rome, formulas were even shadier: lip dye typically contained a potentially deadly amount of toxins. Yum.)
These days, we’re free to flaunt our red lipstick without fear of poison — though it’s always a good idea to check those ingredient labels — or prosecution. Now, our list of lipstick concerns is fairly basic: Will this shade flatter my skin tone? Will the color fade? Will it end up on my teeth? Will it magnify any telltale crust on my lips? We’re also obsessed with keeping our red lip looks current. (While red lipstick is far too enduring to be considered a “trend,” the way people choose to wear it certainly is.)
That’s where the runways come in. For Spring 2018, models at Chanel, Helmut Lang, Max Mara, Sonia Rykiel and more sported cool (not to be confused with cool-toned), modern takes on the classic red lip. Learn all about them in the slideshow below, internalize them, rock them at all your upcoming holiday parties. Hint: this season, it’s all about blurred edges, high-shine finishes, ombré fades and wearing virtually no other makeup.
Being the bonafide shopping addicts that we are, we’ve also included 10 of our current/all-time favorite red lipsticks, all of them high-quality/low maintenance.
With Barely-There Makeup
PSA: Less is more. It looks pretty ridiculous when you have a full face of everything on — especially when red lipstick is involved. With that in mind, pair a bold matte red lip with fresh skin, deliberately "unkempt" brows and just a hint of liner on the lower lids.
Blumarine Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
With a Totally Fresh Face (and Big-Ass Earrings)
...or skip the liner.
(Note: subtle metallic shades complement silver and gold-tone jewelry nicely.)
Badgley Mischka Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
"Orangey-red feels fresher than a pure red — and everyone looks good in it," affirms makeup legend Tom Pecheux, the lead artist on this look. To replicate it, apply your orange-tinged liquid lipstick with a brush, then take a cotton swab and blur the edges for a modern, lo-fi feel.
Max Mara Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
With a Black-and-White Outfit
It appears orangey-red, intentionally blurry lips are #trending. We suggest you slip on a black-and-white top before trying this soft-focus lip look. That way your lip color will really pop, fading be damned.
Sonia Rykiel Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
With Smudged Smoky Eyes
Try a poppy hue with an über-glossy finish; team it with a smudged-out navy blue smoky eye. (If you dare.) Bonus points if you wear something vinyl to complement your patent pout.
Chanel Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
The Old Hollywood Way
Go old school — pair gorgeous red lips with a classic feline flick.
Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
With Dramatic Brows (and Strands)
Use (shiny) red lipstick to assert your femininity: team it with power brows and a power chop. Be sure to keep your lines sharp and your liquid formula of choice on hand for touch-ups.
Haider Ackermann Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
With Soft Highlights
Deliberately askew brows, subtle highlights and a touch of peach eyeshadow further soften a post-make-out pout.
Marco de Vincenzo Spring 2018; Image: Imaxtree
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna
Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color, $24 at Sephora
Just in time for the holidays, Rihanna blesses us with the perfect bright red liquid lipstick — it's got a blue base and is formulated to flatter every skin tone. "The perfect red is hard to get right, and it's really hard to find your red that works on your skin tone," said the singer-turned-designer-turned-beauty mogul in a statement. She also promises 12 hours of wear without feathering: "I wanted a lipstick that wouldn't budge — even as you eat, even as you make out."
Pat McGrath Labs
LuxeTrance Lipstick in Major Red, $38 at Sephora
From Mother McGrath's first permanent range, a creamy lipstick with intense color payoff and a subtly shiny (but not glossy) finish. (Those with a yellow, golden or olive hue to their skin might prefer McGrath Muse, a warm red.) Also recommended: the makeup guru's newly released matte-finish LiquiLust 007 lipstick in Revelation Red, the perfect true (blue) crimson.
Rouge Dior Lipstick #999, $35 at Sephora
Meet Bella Hadid's "favorite red!" While the Dior spokesmodel is more than a little biased, the house's iconic shade (est. 1947) has been in high demand since long before Bella walked the Earth/runways. It's bright red, with a creamy consistency and satin finish.
Giorgio Armani Beauty
Lip Magnet Liquid Lipstick in Four Hundred for All, $38 at Sephora
Great color payoff, with a smooth, silky texture. Your lips will never gets dry, crusty or flaky, even after hours of wear. If red-orange is more your thing, try MAC Cosmetics' Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolor in Quite the Standout (the exact shade Pecheux used at Max Mara).
Le Rouge Lipstick in Mandarine Boléro, $36 at Sephora
This moisturizing, semi-matte lipstick gives a great dose of (orangey-red) color and (per reviewers, five to six) hours of wear.
Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, $27 at Sephora
A vivid, hyper-saturated matte red favored by Taylor Swift, Blake Lively, Jamie King and Olivia Munn, among others. Pro tip: the creamy, long-lasting formula can also be used as eyeliner (see: Thakoon's Fall 2011 show).
Maybelline New York
Color Sensational Lipcolor in Red Revival, $5.59 at Walmart
An A-plus drugstore option that doesn't compromise on color payoff. Applied traditionally, you're left with a deep, not-quite-burgundy lip that's very Old Hollywood. For a subtle stain, tap it on.
Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow, $8.49 at Ulta Beauty
One of Revlon's best-selling shades, this cheery cherry red has warm pink undertones and a flattering satin finish.
Red Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $14.88 at Nordstrom
A MAC classic (and one-time Rihanna favorite, before she went and made her own perfect red), Ruby Woo is bright cherry shade with cool undertones. Like Stunna, it plays well with all skin tones.
Kat Von D
Farm Sanctuary Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Thumbelina, $20 at Sephora
Nab a cult favorite and give back. For every tube of "Farm Sanctuary" Everlasting Liquid Lipstick sold, Kat Von D will donate five dollars to — you guessed it — Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit that rescues, rehabilitates and provides refuge for factory farm animals. You get a creamy, long-lasting, high-pigment, vitamin E-infused matte lipstick; sheep, chickens, cows and pigs get the life they deserve.
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