What was once a mark of luxury is now commonplace in casual beauty; is this the redefinition of red lipstick? Emma Gunavardhana explains

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Red lipstick was, until recently, something of an extravagance. There was, undeniably, something quite formal about it in the main. But where it used to be reserved for red carpets and award ceremonies, it seems the crimson tide has turned.

No longer do celebrities cite lipgloss and mascara as their running-to-the-shops make-up;  these days it’s not uncommon to see an off-duty celeb headed for an early morning java-jolt wearing nothing but a fire engine red lip.

Maybe Gwen Stefani is at the root of the trend that is reaching critical mass. Rarely seen without a statement red lip whether in red carpet garb or sports gear, she was the style-signpost that gave the green light to the ‘red goes with everything’ trend we’re seeing right now.

Celebrities can’t get enough of them. Just recently we’ve seen Nicole Scherzinger, Ashley Roberts, Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow set aside their favoured glossy nudes and reach for the potent red. All we need is for Kate Middleton to join the rouge crew and red lipstick sales will go into total meltdown.

Max Factor Make-Up Artist Caroline Barnes  says advances in lipstick are the reason why red has become all the more wearable in recent years: “Textures, formulas and pigmentation have really progressed. They are denser with a strong colour pigment, and balmy in texture that grips to the lips and doesn’t slip.” A ruby red lip, says Caroline, “is so popular because it’s easy to apply and adds that instant touch of glamour to any look.”

However undone it may look there are some tricks to nailing the red trend, says Revlon Global Artistic Director Gucci Westman: “It’s all about keeping the skin very sheer, luminous, and fresh looking — don’t use a lot of powder or foundation. Try to make it all about the eyes and lips, leaving the skin super fresh and natural. The contrast needs to be there.”

Finding a red lipstick is a notoriously tricky affair, with deeper reds flattering one skintone and yellow and blue based reds favouring others. Make-up artist Bobbi Brown has a fool-proof guide for finding a signature shade: “A red lipstick in a shade that looks good on your face when you are wearing absolutely no make-up is the one for you. This is the magic colour that will make your skin, hair and eyes look their best.”

If you’re new to a red lip or just a bit wary of something too bright, now is the perfect time to experiment. Winter outfits are screaming for a bit of colour and the party season is the best excuse to explore the more dangerous end of the lipstick spectrum.


To assist you on your quest to find your new statement lip, we’ve searched far and wide for the six best on-trend signature shades to suit every taste and every skin tone. Here are our top picks of the best red lipsticks, glosses and stains:

Cool skin tones

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Swarovski in 189 Rouge Étincelle , £25

For cooler, paler skin tones, corals, true reds and those with a blue undertone are better suited over more orange-based variations. Our favourite has to be this limited edition Swarovski-encrusted rouge from Lancôme which boasts great intensity, amazing colour pay-off and a lovely creamy texture that glides smoothly onto lips - a head-turner in every sense of the word.

Warm skin tones

Sensai by Kanebo The Lipstick in 09 Tsuyabeni,  £40

For those with olive and deeper skin tones, you’re lucky as pretty much any red will look great on you! That being said, reds that are more golden in colour will look particularly eye-catching whether it’s a rich tomato or a ripe plum that you pick up. Our choice is this hydrating, anti-ageing lippie from Sensai by Kanebo which contains Golden Phyto Extract to improve microcirculation and Golden Silk Powder to reflect light and reveal a velveteen sheen. Used by make-up artist Naomi Donne on Skyfall, it also has the Bond Girl seal of approval too. We’re sold.

Dark skin tones

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope in Entourage , £35

Rich berries, warm rubies and deep burgundies look amazing on darker skin tones and they don’t get more glamorous than the new Velvet Rope collection from Lipstick Queen. Inspired by the golden years of Hollywood, this clever lip colour boasts a lightweight silky texture, contains natural waxes to allow the colour to stick and conditioning vitamin E and apricot oil to leave a matte finish with a subtle peppermint scent. It’s the red carpet treatment your lips have been waiting all year for.

The stain

Topshop Beauty Gloss Ink in Relentless , £8

Mega shine meets mega staying power with this innovative slick stain from Topshop. Rich, non-drying and super silky, we seriously can’t get enough of these foolproof inks this party season for helping keep our pouts primed, prepped and party proof all winter long.

The gloss

AERIN Lip Gloss in Vibrant , £24

For a luxurious, highly pigmented gloss that looks great either worn alone or on top of your favourite cerise of choice, look no further than this lavish lacquer. Delicately scented combined with a satin smooth formula to provide vibrantly light-catching shine, it’s the perfect finishing pop of colour to any woman’s stand-out power pout this season.

The balm

Giorgio Armani Rouge Ecstasy Rich Lip Colour in 400 , £25

This intelligent CC lipstick merges colour and care in one high impact, compact bullet. Just twist, swipe and blot for a dose of butter-like comfort to parched lips that doesn’t compromise on pulling power.