Red lipstick is my not-so-secret weapon when I want to feel powerful and confident. It's like armor—an accessory I swipe on to embolden myself before a meeting or activity that holds weight. That's not to say anyone needs makeup to be a force; it's just nice to have when I want it.
That being said, lipstick can be expensive. Applying it whenever I want (and reapplying over and over, as the case may be) means I go through tubes like candy. So it's nice to have a few drugstore favorites in the mix to ease my purse strings. Below, find Byrdie editors' favorite drugstore red lipsticks and why we stock up whenever we can.
"This is my go-to drugstore red. It's a true red with bluish undertones, and I love that one swipe of it instantly makes me feel more polished. The texture is what really gets me though. It's a velvety matte formula that feels hydrating when you apply and doesn't dry out. If I want just tint of color on my lips, it's also really pretty when you pat it on with your finger instead of applying directly from the bullet." — Faith Xue, editorial director
"If you're in the mood for a subtler, lower-maintenance red lip that you don't have to worry about drying out, getting on your teeth, or smudging everywhere, I highly recommend Burt's Bees Satin Lipstick in Scarlet Soaked. Its formula is not only made with 100% natural and cruelty-free ingredients, but it's also genuinely one of the most comfortable and moisturizing lipsticks you'll find thanks to all the moringa and raspberry seed oils. In terms of look, it's more of a creamy sheer red, not a high-impact statement red, but it's definitely buildable and thus versatile for day-to-night.
I'm a fan!" — Amanda Montell, features editor
"Matte formulas won me over from the jump—there's something so practical about applying your lipstick once and not having to touch it for hours on end. It's even better when the formulation has a smooth, creamy texture like this $10 gem that feels so comfortable on my lips I forget that it's there. The plush, velvety applicator makes my lips feel pillow-soft. I'm not the easiest to please when it comes to finding the right red. I love blue-based undertones against my dark complexion. And I found my match with this bold red that makes me feel put-together even on my worst days." — Maya Allen, assistant editor
"This was one of the very first matte lipsticks I ever tried, and it's still one of the best drugstore formulas out there in my opinion. It's a true matte matte without any hint of sheen and doesn't really budge after you apply. I love this orangey-red shade; it reminds me of summers in L.A." — Faith Xue, editorial director
"I'm also partial to Nyx's Matte Lipstick, only I gravitate more toward a truer, bluer red. It's called Perfect Red because, well, it is. It glides on creamy but matte, stays put without drying your lips, and I'd argue the color is absolutely universal—the blue undertones make it such that it can complement so many different skin tones. My friends and I all wear it and joke it's the 'traveling pants' of lip colors. Plus, it's $6 and can be bought in bulk on Ulta." — Hallie Gould, senior editor
"I'm decidedly over the super-matte lip look. I was a big proponent of it during its peak because as someone who guzzles coffee and water all day long, lipstick typically doesn't stand a chance against the cups, food, and beverages it encounters. As a result, I've been on the hunt for a satin-finished, creamy lipstick that still deposits a ton of color and will last through lunch. Revlon's Super Lustrous Lipstick in Certainly Red is a strong contender for a bright, cherry-red lip that doesn't make me look like the Joker by 3 p.m. I love to tap it on my lips, then pat it in with my finger for more of a stain, and if my lips are particularly dry, I'll layer lip balm over it.
(Doing so still doesn't lead to bleeding and fading, which is amazing.)" — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor