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Love Red Lipstick? A Dozen Fab Spring Picks

There's a shade for every woman.

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3 tubes of red colored lipstick
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There’s something about wearing red lipstick that amps up my confidence. When I decide it’s going to be a red lipstick day, I stand taller, throw my shoulders back and get ready to be noticed. That’s a powerful feeling. But …    

Red lipstick routinely appears on listicles of things women shouldn’t wear past age 40 or 50. These lists — probably curated by a twentysomething — are generally a whole lot of hooey. If you love bold reds, rock them. Don’t let anything you read or hear convince you there’s an age limit. If you’ve never believed you could pull off red lipstick, maybe it’s time to go for it. Red lipstick is a classic, striking choice for spring. Color trends in 2022 offer something for everyone. Vibrant yellows, cool blues and warm olive tones all pair well with red lips. Love basic black? Red is never wrong.     

“There’s a shade of red for every woman,” Audrey Hepburn once said. 


Like the rest of our bodies (sigh), lips change with age. Lips become drier, and lines around our mouths are more prominent. Lipstick can bleed into those lines, which is not the look anyone’s going for. Lips also lose plumpness (more sighing), so lipstick that looked great five years ago might look or feel different now. Red lipstick may also spotlight features we’d rather downplay — like puppet lines, facial hair or tooth discoloration. See also: Life gets busy. Slapping on nude lipstick sans mirror while walking your dog or taking a work call probably won’t be a disaster, but red lipstick isn’t multitasking-friendly and demands your complete attention.

Your best red 

If you’ve ever thought you look terrible in red lipstick, maybe you’re wearing the wrong red. Paler, cool-toned complexions look best in red lipstick with blue undertones. Reds with orange undertones flatter darker or warm-toned complexions.   

While analyzing the relationship between skin tone and lipstick is helpful, sometimes finding your perfect shade involves trial and error or breaking rules. I’m pale and rosy, but sometimes I’ll snag an orangey-red I adore.   

Buying lipstick in a drugstore or online is challenging. It’s hard to know how a color will work for you from looking at packaging or a picture. If you’re venturing into the land of red lipstick for the first time, try a department store or beauty specialty store like Sephora or Ulta. You may be able to try samples and get second opinions to help you choose a red you love. If you find full-on crimson intimidating, dip your toes into the pool with tinted balm or gloss. Sheers are easier to apply and more forgiving. Baby steps.

Additional products

Primer and liner:

Primer and lipliners help combat bleeding, which is one of the biggest red lipstick challenges for mature women. You wouldn’t paint a wall in your house without using primer — same logic applies here. Primer provides a moisturizing base and helps prevent that bleeding.   

Liners make it easier to apply red lipstick and help keep it in place. There’s little room for error when applying bright or dark lipstick. Some women prefer red liner to match red lipstick, while others swear by matching natural lip color. Play with different liners and see what you like. 

Scrubs and masks: 

Exfoliate dead skin with lip scrub to reveal smoother skin underneath. Purchase prepared scrub or DIY it — sugar and coconut oil work great. A lip scrub is a good weekly addition to your routine, but overdoing it can cause irritation.

Makeup educator Donna Mee cautions against relying on lip exfoliants. “They’re very popular, but it’s more beneficial to heal chapped lips with a great lip balm versus making them look better temporarily with a scrub.” Mee recommends balms without petroleum, mineral oil or wax other than natural beeswax. Lip masks are intense treatments usually applied before bed.

The whole picture

Consider your whole look and let your lipstick be the focal point. Mature women can absolutely nail smoky eyes and shimmery cheekbones (although there’s probably a listicle somewhere that warns otherwise), but save those looks to pair with neutral lipstick.   

Certain styles may not complement red lipstick. Subtler cuts and solids best showcase a bold red lip. If you’re wearing an all-red outfit, try a different shade of red lipstick for added depth and less “matchy-matchy.”

Red lipstick paired with intricate prints, patterns or statement jewelry may come off as busy. Or not. Wear what makes you happy and confident.

So, listen to Audrey and discover your own perfect, fabulous red. Here are a dozen to get you started. 

1.     Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, Dolce Vita

2.     MAC Retro Matte Lipstick, Ruby Woo

3.     Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick, Fire and Ice

4.     Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick, Red Carpet Red

5.     Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Lipstick, Pioneer

6.     Covergirl Outlast All-Day Lip Color, Your Classic Red

7.     Rimmel London Provocalips, Play with Fire

8.     NYX Professional Makeup Matte Lipstick, Pure Red

9.     L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipstick, Ruby Flame

10.   Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm

11.   Dior Addict Lacquer Stick, Dark Flower

12.   MAC Love Me Lipstick, E For Effortless