The 10 Best Red Lipsticks of 2023

Is there anything quite as chic as a red lip? Makeup trends change over in the blink of a kohl-lined eye, but red lipstick in all its varied finishes — matte, glossy, just-kissed-smudged — is timeless. 

Celebrity makeup artist Tomy Rivero, who’s glammed stars like Tracee Ellis Ross and Kristen Bell, tells PEOPLE that a red lip is his go-to for instantly waking up a client’s face. “I always reach for a bold red lipstick whenever I need to create the illusion of energy and power,” Rivero says. “If a client tells me ‘I’m exhausted today’ or they have just been working many nights in a row, I love using red lipstick to distract the eyes from dark circles, low energy, and to bring the focus to the lips.”

Finding the right red lippie for your specific preferences is more difficult than it should be, which is why we did the heavy lifting for you by meticulously testing the most popular red lipsticks on the market. The results speak for themselves: The 10 best red lipsticks in a variety of formulas and finishes for any budget, from luxury to drugstore. Our top pick is the Dior Rouge Forever  lipstick for its crisp color payoff, comfortable lip feel, and long-lasting wear. 

Keep scrolling to discover the best red lipsticks, as well as more insight from Rivero.

Best Overall

Dior Rouge Dior Forever Liquid Transfer-Proof Lipstick

The 10 Best Red Lipsticks of 2023


The perfect lipstick doesn’t exi— hold that thought because the Dior Rouge Forever has (against all odds) changed our mind. Not only did this liquid lipstick provide a crisp, clean color payoff with zero bleed or fade, but it was also comfortable. That’s right — a matte liquid lip can actually feel good on your lips after hours of wear.

Even after blotting firmly with a piece of tissue, the Dior Rouge Forever lipstick didn’t budge and surprisingly left behind almost no transfer at all. We even drank from a cup of water and snacked on chips and the lipstick still looked almost as fresh from when we first applied. The color payoff was impressive and looked bright, with crisp lines around the lip that stayed vibrant throughout the testing process. Just one dip of the applicator into the frosted glass tube of product was enough for a full, opaque coat. Perhaps the greatest praise a lipstick could earn: We simply felt more confident while wearing this lippie.

Price at time of publish: $42

Type: Liquid | Finish: Matte | Size: .2 oz. | Shade: Forever Dior

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

Best Long-Wearing

Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick


If we could use only one word to describe Pat McGrath’s Matte Trance Lipstick, it would be velvet. Luckily, we can use as many words as we’d like to tell you all about how this gorgeous product performed through our testing process.  

According to our tests, the texture wasn’t sticky at all, it went on smoothly, and didn’t feel like it stuck onto parts of lips that were drier than others. Despite being a matte formula, this lipstick felt soft and not overly dry, while still feeling velvety, natural, and comfortable.

There was a little bit of transfer of the lipstick onto the lip of the cup during the drinking and eating test, but not much. The tissue dabbing and snacking tests didn’t affect the color of the lipstick, though, and we were impressed by its performance. Even when we were blotting, it didn’t feel like it was coming off — it just felt like it got rid of excess product or pigment. The staying power didn’t compromise lip feel, which was notably comfortable and not drying. 

While the Pat McGrath Matte Trance is practically the perfect red lippie, there are a few small things we would change about it — namely, the lofty price tag. At nearly $40 a tube, this lipstick is one of the most expensive options we tried. But if you’re willing to pay the big bucks for impressive quality and stunning color payoff, Pat McGrath might be your gal.

Price at time of publish: $39

Type: Bullet | Finish: Matte | Size: .14 oz. | Shade: Ellson

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

Best Pigment

Tarte Maracuja Juicy Lipstick

Tarte Maracuja Juicy Lipstick


If a demi-shine, satiny finish is more your speed, then swipe on a coat of Tarte Maracuja Juicy Lipstick. This bullet-form lippie gave one of the most impressive color-payoff performances that we tried in our labs and felt supremely comfortable without being too matte or too slippery.

“This is a very comfortable lipstick that feels lightweight and not cakey at all,” commented PEOPLE editor Erin Johnson after applying one to two swipes of the Cherry shade. “It feels more like a chapstick or balm and is not heavy on my lips.” The Tarte Maracuja lipstick did transfer slightly during the tissue blotting test but still looked “bold and bright” on Johnson’s lips, she noted.

Johnson also noted that the color payoff was so exceptional that it was actually too bright for her taste. So, if you’re looking for a very pigmented, comfortable red lip with a demi-matte finish, this one is a great option.

Price at time of publish: $24

Type: Lipstick-balm | Finish: Satin | Size: .07 oz. | Shade: Cherry

Best Weightless

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Fenty Icon The Fill Semi-Matte Refillable Lipstick

Fenty Icon The Fill Semi-Matte Refillable Lipstick



  • Very light and comfortable feel on the lips

  • Refillable packaging

  • No bleeding or feathering, even without lip liner

Light, comfortable, and stunning pigment — Miss Rihanna did it again (and we never doubted her for a second!). The Fenty Beauty Semi-Matte lipstick was one of the most weightless red lipsticks that we tried. 

After swiping on one coat of the Fenty Semi-Matte lipstick, we were instantly impressed with the color payoff and lightweight feel on the lips. The smooth formula comes packaged in a refillable tube so that when you’re done using every last bit of your new favorite red lippie, you can skip the waste and pick up a refill of the product. 

One of the more difficult aspects of achieving the perfect red lip is avoiding the dreaded bleeding and feathering of product at the edges of the mouth, but we found that the Fenty Semi-Matte didn’t bleed at all, even sans lipliner. The product does come scented, which can be a pro or con, depending on your personal preference.

Price at time of publish: $20

Type: Bullet | Finish: Semi-matte | Size: .14 oz. | Shade: MVP

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

Most Comfortable

Sunnies Face Fluffmatte Weightless Modern Matte Lipstick

Sunnies Face Fluffmatte Weightless Modern Matte Lipstick

Sunnies Face


  • Soft, powdery feel on the lips

  • Matte finish but not drying

  • Great price point

This red lipstick from indie beauty brand Sunnies truly lives up to its name and imparts a soft, powdery, fluffy feel on the lips. The finish is matte but not drying, and it was one of the most weightless products that we tried. 

We didn’t expect such an impressive color payoff from such a lightweight formula, but somehow Sunnies Fluffmate delivered just that. The product left our lips feeling softer but also transferred a bit onto the cup during the drinking test, though it didn’t remove much pigment from the lips. The color stayed put without bleeding or drawing attention to any dry patches. If you’re someone who’s previously been matte-averse to the traditional drying, heavy feel, this lippie is a weightless, comfortable introduction to the wide world of lipstick formulas.

Price at time of publish: $16

Type: Bullet | Finish: Matte | Size: .11 oz. | Shade: Hot Sauce

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

Best Liquid

Makeup Forever Rouge Artist For Ever Matte 24HR Longwear Liquid Lipstick

Makeup Forever Rouge Artist For Ever Matte 24HR Longwear Liquid Lipstick


Applying a liquid red lipstick is usually about as daunting as walking a tightrope without a net — okay, so it’s not quite as scary as that, but it’s still hard! It was before the Makeup Forever Rouge Artist liquid lipstick hit the scene, at least. With a cleverly designed doe-foot applicator that hugs the contours of your lip with one curved end and fills your lips in with bright, punchy color with the other, this is one liquid lip that’s — dare we say — easy to use. 

With just one dip of the applicator wand into the tube of product, we were able to outline and fill in the entire lip. The appearance was instantly smooth, even, and bold, confirming that the uber-pigmented lipstick is as saturated as it promises to be. This lipstick did transfer slightly, with a bit of feathering on the cupid’s bow and outer corners of the  lips, but it was not very noticeable. While the moisture reading test did show that the lipstick left the  lips slightly drier than they had been before application, we noted that the lipstick did not feel or look dry.

Price at time of publish: $25

Type: Liquid | Finish: Matte | Size: .17 oz. | Shade: Constantly On Fire

People/Tamara Staples

Best Refillable

Guerlain Rouge G Customizable Lipstick

Guerlain Rouge G Refillable Lipstick


Packaged in a palm-sized customizable tube comes one of the most comfortable lipsticks on the market. The Guerlain Rouge G Refillable Lipstick isn’t just a beautiful red lipstick — the lipstick bullet is compatible with a travel-ready case that opens to reveal two compact mirrors (perfect for touchups). 

The lipstick goes on incredibly lightweight and creamy, and applies so easily that we’d feel comfortable applying this lipstick even without a mirror. It layers on very smoothly, almost like a lip balm, but thicker and with great pigment. We also noted that this creamy lipstick left had a blurring effect that looked akin to the elusive, effortless French-girl makeup look.

In terms of transfer, we definitely noticed product on the tissue and drink cup during those trials but noticed that the color still remained intact on the lips. 

Price at time of publish: $34

Type: Bullet | Finish: Creamy | Shade: Brick Red

Best No-Transfer

Melt Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick

Melt Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick


With just one swipe of the Melt Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick, we achieved a super bold red lip that, shockingly, didn’t transfer at all. After two minutes of dry time on the lips, this baby stayed in place through eating, drinking, and wiping.

We found the formula to be silky and not super drying, despite being a matte lipstick, and it didn’t appear to settle into lip lines. This liquid lippie felt comfortable and soft during our wear tests, and the pigment remained bright and opaque. This formula did occasionally cling onto dry lip patches, so it might be a good idea to exfoliate your lips before applying. Overall, we’re impressed with the lightweight, comfortable feel and transfer-proof color that can last through all day at the office or all night at the party. Dare we deem this lipstick kiss-proof?

Price at time of publish: $19

Type: Liquid | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.11 oz |  Shade: Immoral

Best Drugstore

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick



  • Long-lasting color

  • Precise application tip

  • Great price point

This lipstick proves that you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to achieve a sharp red lip. The Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink lipstick has a matte finish that’s truly long-lasting — no ifs, ands, or buts. The applicator wand has a pointed tip for sharp application, making it easier to draw a crisp line around the edge of the lips.

The Maybelline SuperStay really did exactly what it said it would do — it stayed. Even after eating, drinking, and licking our lips, no lipstick came off. The pigment was deep and rich and moderately opaque. Though it had a slightly sticky finish,  the SuperStay’s long-lasting color and precise application tip make this matte lippie worth a buy. Plus, at just under $12, this budget pick won’t break the bank.

Price at time of publish: $11.49 

Type: Liquid | Finish: Matte | Size: .17 oz. |  Shade: Exhilarator

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

Best Blue-Toned Red

MAC Original Lipstick

MAC Original Lipstick


Ever wonder how the Hollywood old-glamour red lip was achieved — and why you just can’t seem to quite nail it? The perfect blue-toned red is the key to that glamorous, true-red, crisp look, and the MAC Original Lipstick is one of the best out there. The rich formula glides on for a smooth layer of intense color, and the small bullet is easy to control with the fingers. 

After our testing, we finally see that the hype behind MAC’s iconic Ruby Woo shade is real. It’s a gorgeous universal blue-toned true red that makes us feel glamorous from the first swipe. Though this is technically a matte lipstick, we found it to be very creamy and comfortable without settling into fine lines. 

This lipstick stood up to all of our tests, leaving a slight impression on the napkin but otherwise staying bright and intact on the lips. The one downside was that the formula could have be a bit more hydrating, but we otherwise loved this MAC lippie.

Price at time of publish: $21

Type: Bullet | Finish: Matte | Size: .1 oz. |  Shade: Ruby Woo

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

Things to Consider Before Buying Red Lipstick


One of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right lipstick for you is your desired application method, which is highly dependent on the formula of the product. While bullet lipsticks with pointed tips might be easier for some to control, they can also dull over time and become slightly more difficult to apply. Liquid lipsticks, like the Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Longwear Liquid Lipstick, can create highly pigmented and precise lip looks, but also require a steadier hand for application. 


The three main finishes that red lipsticks on the market offer are matte, satin, and glossy. Matte lipsticks often have superior staying power, but are also more likely to feel drying on the lips. Glossy lipsticks can look gorgeous for a night out, but might lead to more product transfer due to their sticky nature. Creamy satin lipsticks like our top pick, the Dior Rouge Forever lipstick, are a great option for both their comfortable feel on the lip, and impressive staying power. 


When it comes to finding a great red lipstick, you really don’t have to break the bank. “There are great formulas now available at pharmacies and affordable makeup brands that have just as much lasting power as the high-end lines,” says celebrity makeup artist Tomy Rivero. We recommend the Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick as the best drugstore lipstick.

PEOPLE / Tamara Staples

How We Tested

We started by measuring the moisture level of our clean lips using a moisture reader. We then used a makeup wipe to clean the lips and remove any potential residue before going in with each chosen lipstick. Once our lips were completely dry, we used small applicator brushes to dip into our chosen lipstick and then outline the edges of our lips. We then filled in the rest of the lip with the lipstick using the tip of the lipstick and following the natural shape of our lips. 

After giving the lipstick 10 minutes to dry and settle on the lips, we again measured the moisture level of our lips to compare to the original reading. Then, we used tissues to blot our lips to see how much product was removed. We ate snacks and drank from a paper cup of water to see how well the lipstick lasted on the lips. After snacking and drinking, we continued to wear our lipstick without retouching it for the next 30 minutes. Each lipstick was rated for its comfort, pigment, transfer resistance, and wear.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the best way to apply red lipstick?

    Celebrity makeup artist Tomy Rivero tells PEOPLE his step-by-step process for achieving the perfect red lip: “Start with the lipliner and create the shape and volume you want,” Rivero says. If you don’t have a lip pencil handy, you can also use a small brush and dip it into your desired lipstick, then carefully drag that along your lip line until you achieve your desired shape. If you want to make your lipstick last extra long, Rivero recommends then using a piece of tissue to blot the lips before applying your lips with lipstick. 

  • How do I choose the right red lipstick shade for me?

    The best way to find the right lipstick shade for you is to try them on — but, if that’s not an option, Rivero recommends swatching them on your inner wrist. If you’re purchasing a lipstick online, think about the undertones of your skin and the lipstick your choosing. If you have warm-toned skin, lipsticks with more orangey undertones might be more complementary. If your skin has cooler undertones, a blue-toned lipstick might suit you best. 

What Is People Tested?

We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.

But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

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