12 Universally Flattering Dark Red Lipsticks

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Commerce Photo Composite

Byrdie / Lecia Landis

You can quote me: red lipstick will always be in a league of its own. Everyone should own at least one, and it's one of the few beauty trends that will forever be timeless and elegant. I shamelessly own over 200 red lipsticks (yes, I have a problem), but the beauty of my collection is that each and every shade is different. More than half of my collection falls into the category of a "dark" red, and I mean it when I say these rich, pigmented colors look good on everyone. A deep red will take your makeup look to the next level and steal the show. Trust me.

There is a red lipstick for everyone, but we are here to highlight the shades that are universally flattering. The reds that look good on all skin tones and all people, all the time. The reads that will turn heads. Ok, you get the point.

From drugstore gems to luxury picks worth your pennies, keep scrolling for the best dark red lipsticks you need, like now.

Best Overall: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick

4.9
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Vendetta

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Richly pigmented

  • Lightweight

  • Very modern look

What We Don't Like
  • Product dries up fast

Who else recommends it? Cosmopolitan and Allure both picked the Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick.

What do buyers say? 2,300+ Pat McGrath reviewers rated it 5 stars.

Meet one of my favorite reds of all time made by the one and only, Pat McGrath. When I tell you this sultry shade looks incredible on all skin tones, believe me. It was formulated with the fairest of fair and the richest of rich skin in mind, and we personally think they can consider it a success. Plus, a burst of color shows up in just one glide, make application easy and simple. The lip itself is long wear, and touch ups are far and few, but layer nicely on the lip with no uncomfortable or cakey feeling.

Shades: 28 | Size: 0.14 oz. | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

4.7
Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
What We Like
  • Lasts up to 16 hours

  • Easy to apply

  • No transfer formula

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly sticky in feel

This drugstore gem of a lipstick is loved by celebrity makeup artists for a reason: it works. The brick-red shade gives us winter vibes, but when the look calls for it, this lip can be rocked year-round. It has 16-hour wear, but is easily removed when need be. The best part of it all? It's affordable.

Shades: 36 | Size: 0.17 oz. | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Splurge: Tom Ford Lip Color Matte

Tom Ford Lip Color Matte in Velvet Cherry

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Luxurious feel

  • Sophisticated look

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

If you're looking to splurge and invest in a great lipstick, this one is for you. Trust that Tom Ford knows how to make a good red—this one screams "independent woman," in my opinion. The matte lip is a long-wear formula packed with Vitamin C and E for a comfortable wear.

Shades: 11 | Size: 0.1 oz. | Finish: Velvet-Matte | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Matte: Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick

Smashbox Always on Matte Liquid Lipstick in Disorderly

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Weightless

  • Has staying power

What We Don't Like
  • Product dries out too fast

I'm such a fan of this collection of matte shades from Smashbox because they stay on without completely drying out your lips, which is quite honestly magic. If you want your lips to be the star of the show, reach for this red.

Shades: 22 | Size: 0.13 oz. | Finish: Metallic | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Liquid: KVD Beauty Everlasting Liquid Lipstick

4.5
Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Mother

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • All-day wear

  • Very saturated coverage

  • Conditions the lips

What We Don't Like
  • Messy applicator

If there is one thing Kat Von D's lipsticks are known for, it's their long wear. These things could stay on for days (or so it feels). In the 42-shade lineup, this deep crimson color stands out from the pack. The liquid formula is vegan and cruelty free as well, for a guilt-free wear.

Shades: 15 | Size: 0.22 oz. | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Crayon: Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick

What We Like
  • Creates softness

  • Full-coverage shades

  • Defines and fills in one seamless stroke

What We Don't Like
  • Feels too thick to some

Lip crayons are my favorite because they take things back to the basics. You can pop this in your bag and know you have a pretty, brown-based red readily available at all times for a quick slay. Despite its matte appearance, this crayon in particular is a creamy formula that sits comfortably on the lips.

Shades: 11 | Size: 0.035 oz. | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Fall: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Insanity

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Vegan

  • High-impact color

  • Highly hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Less color choices now

  • Packaging could be easier to close

If you don't own an Urban Decay lipstick, you... should. This line offers a rainbow of stunning shades, but I always find myself going back to Bad Blood when fall foliage hits. It's a true red, if you will with a moisturizing and vibrant finish and vegan formula.

Shades: 35 | Size: 0.11 oz. | Finish: Creamy Matte, Creamiest Matte, Super Intense Matte, Metallic | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Winter: Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color

Crushed Lip Color Grenadine 0.17 oz/ 5 mL
What We Like
  • Delivers a just-kissed stain effect

  • High color payoff

  • Rich in vitamins C and E

What We Don't Like
  • Waxy feel

This gorgeous cherry shade toes the line between a true berry and deep red hue. With moisturizing benefits of a balm, it'll help keep your lips hydrated for hours.

Shades: 21 | Size: 0.12 oz. | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Plumping: Sisley Le Phyto Rouge Lipstick

Sisley Le Phyto-Rouge Lipstick in Rouge Miami

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Ultra-silky texture

  • Buildable coverage

  • Very comforting

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Low staying power

This vibrant red, loved by Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue, is your next best secret to the perfect selfie. The formula is full of hyaluronic acid and konjac microspheres, so it has serious lip-plumping powers.

Shades: 24 | Size: 0.12 oz. | Finish: Luminous Satin | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dry Lips: Flesh Beauty Strong Flesh Lipstick

What We Like
  • True to color

  • Buttery feel

  • Magnetic packaging

What We Don't Like
  • May transfer a bit

You might as well call me Flesh Beauty's biggest fan because I can't stop talking about the line. This hydrating lipstick will comfort chapped, dry lips with its balm-like texture. This stunning deep red will make you feel like a bona fide badass.

Shades: 9 | Size: 0.12 oz. | Finish: Satin | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Budget: The Lip Bar Liquid Matte Lipstick in Bawse Lady

The Lip Bar
What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Feels like gloss

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a bit streaky

This vegan, budget-friendly brand does not disappoint when it comes to lipsticks that consistently deliver in the shade category. This ruddy red feels like a gloss at first then settles into your lips with its matte texture.

Shades: 17 | Size: 0.24 oz. | Finish: Liquid Matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Deep Skin: MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo

4.8
mac lipstick in ruby woo

Courtesy of Bloomingdale's

What We Like
  • Gorgeous intense colors

  • Works on darker skin tones

  • Velvety look

What We Don't Like
  • Can stain a bit

MAC has always been known for the most intensely gorgeous color payoff. Sin is a rich red shade popular among women of color for enhancing our deep skin tones. The matte formula gives the lips a perfect velvet look.

Shades: 32 | Size: 0.1 oz. | Finish: Creamy Matte | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"Every single time I put Ruby Woo on, I feel confident and amazing. It’s that hero product I can use when I don’t want to put too much makeup on but want to look put together. Its matte finish and zero shine is the exact texture and finish I love, and the lipstick won’t budge unless you fidget with your lips too much or eat something greasy and messy." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

What to Look For in a Dark Red Lipstick

Undertones

While these lipsticks are meant to look universally good on everyone, it's still important to understand and know your undertones when honing in on the perfect red for you. For those with cool undertones, a lipstick with purple or blue hues will suit your skin best. For those with warm undertones, a lipstick with red or orange hues is the route to go. And for those with neutral undertones, lucky you—a wide spectrum of colors will suit you perfectly.

Formula

Understanding what formula wears best on your lips is another piece of the puzzle in finding the perfect lipstick. If you tend to have dry or dehydrated lips, finding a creamy moisturizing formula will help keep your lips looking supple and luscious. If you're going for a matte look, a matte velvet lip is the choice for you.

Ingredients

Just like any makeup or skincare product, understanding what ingredients work for you is important. For starters, if you have certain restrictions and want to wear only vegan and/or cruelty-free products, knowing what ingredients to avoid is important (in this case, carmine, beeswax, and lanolin would be the top three to flag). Beeswax in particular can also be a skin irritant to some with sensitive skin, so all that is to say, read and understand the ingredient lists before purchasing.

FAQ
  • Who does red lipstick look good on?

    This is an easy answer: everyone. If you're reading this thinking "not me," it simply means you haven't found the perfect red shade for you. Using the tips and tricks from above, combined with understanding your skin tone and undertones, will make finding the right red lip for you easier than you think.

  • Why does red lipstick make my teeth look yellow?

    If you feel like your teeth look more yellow in red lipstick, you technically aren't wrong. Lipsticks with warmer red shades will emphasize the warm tones in your teeth, which in turn will lead to the illusion of a more yellow smile. Wearing red lipstick with a blue base, however, can help make your teeth look whiter.

  • How do you choose the right lipstick formula for you?

    Understanding the skin on your lips will help you understand what formula suits you best. If you're prone to dry lip skin, avoid a liquid or matte lip (or prep with hydrating balm). Understand that a satin will sit most comfortably on your lips, but will have a shorter wear time and will need to be reapplied more often throughout your day and night. If you're looking for a lower maintenance, more natural look, opt for a stain or shine.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The Prettiest Red Lipstick for Your Skin Tone. Allure. https://www.allure.com/gallery/the-best-red-lipsticks-for-your-skin-tone

  2. 23 Best Red Lipsticks of All Damn Time. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/advice/g3384/best-red-lipsticks/

Related Stories