Love Red Lipstick? These Are the 12 Best Ones You Can Buy—At the Drugstore

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red lip sticks

There’s arguably no single makeup product that possesses more power than red lipstick. One swipe can instantly make you feel more put together and more confident, a truly transformative experience. And the great news? There’s no need to shell out big bucks for a great, high-quality red lippie. The drugstore aisles are home to a wide variety of options. “Drugstore red lipsticks are affordable and a great way to experiment with new colors, shades, and textures,” says Robert Sesnek, Celebrity Makeup Artist and CATRICE Cosmetics Ambassador. “For the price of a cup of coffee, you could find your new favorite drugstore red and wear it over the next few years.” We’re most definitely here for that.

Ahead, the best drugstore red lipsticks.

Best Overall: L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Original Satin Lipstick in True Red

L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Original Satin Lipstick in True Red
What We Like
  • Looks great on many skin tones

  • Satin finish

What We Don't Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

This checks all of our drugstore red lipstick boxes, and then some. The creamy formula (which boasts hydrating ingredients such as argan and sesame seed oils) has an amazing, middle-of-the-road satin finish, neither too matte nor too shiny. There’s a nice variety of reds to choose from among the 52 available shades, but this classic red, with the right amount of both cool and warm undertones, looks great on all skin tones.

 Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Matte: NYX Professional Matte Lipstick in Perfect Red

NYX Matte Lipstick in Perfect Red
What We Like
  • Very pigmented

  • Comfortable matte texture

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviewers say the color can transfer

It’s easy to find a matte lipstick at the drugstore, but it’s not so easy to find one that actually feels comfortable on your lips and never looks dry or chalky. This particular option fits this bill with a feel that’s almost hydrating despite the beautiful matte finish. It’s deeply pigmented, stays nice and opaque, and also never feathers, according to happy reviewers. Plus, this aptly-named hue is a top-notch dupe for another iconic red hue of another (much more expensive) lipstick.

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Moisturizing: Flower Beauty Perfect Pout Lipstick in Snapdragon

Flower Beauty Perfect Pout Lipstick in Snapdragon
What We Like
  • Very hydrating and comfortable

  • Makes teeth appear whiter

What We Don't Like
  • Color isn’t quite as pigmented as others

Lip balm fans, listen up. This lippie is so hydrating that if it weren’t for the beautiful color it delivers, you could easily mistake it for a balm. Speaking of, this red is rich and vibrant with the subtlest touch of blue undertones that can actually help make teeth appear whiter. And because the formula is so creamy, it also makes the color (which is easily buildable, by the way) look naturally shiny.

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Liquid: Wet n Wild Mega Last Liquid Catsuit Lipstick in Missy & Fierce

Wet And Wild Mega Last Liquid Catsuit Lipstick in Missy & Fierce
What We Like
  • Angled doe foot applicator

  • Complete and pigmented coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Sets quickly

Sesnek is a fan of this liquid lipstick, calling the pigment it delivers “unparalleled.” It’s a slightly cooler-toned red that looks great on those with cooler undertones in their skin and delivers “full, bulletproof coverage,” he says. FYI, it goes on glossy but quickly dries down to a matte finish.

Type: Liquid | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Runner-Up, Best Liquid: Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Addiction

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Addiction
What We Like
  • Angled doe foot applicator

  • Yummy scent

What We Don't Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Another great liquid option, this touts all kinds of features that users love. There’s the plush applicator, which is specially curved to hug even the smallest contours of your lips and make precise application a breeze. There’s the yummy mango and vanilla scent that is, in a word, amazing. And of course, there’s the wax-free gel formula that feels super lightweight, not always the case with liquid lipsticks. The saturated, berry hue (which skews towards the pinky-red end of the spectrum) is just the icing on the cake.

Type: Liquid | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Matte Lip Color in Rich Red

E.l.f. Matte Lip Color in Rich Red
What We Like
  • Has a built-in sharpener

  • Small and precise tip

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel a little dry

You’re right; any drugstore lipstick is going to be very affordable by definition. That being said, this goes above and beyond that standard criteria, ringing in at less than the cost of your morning coffee. While the crayon itself is oversized (read: easy to hold), the tip is very small and precise, making it great for detailed application. And to that point, this actually works awesome as a lip liner, too.

Type: Crayon | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Fair Skin: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
What We Like
  • Great warmer red color

  • Infused with good-for-your-lips ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Fun fact: This lipstick has been around since 1952, making it worthy of true legend status in our book. Since then, the formula has gotten a modern upgrade, now infused with plenty of good-for-your lips ingredients such as vitamin E and avocado oil (though the tube is still totally iconic). Definitely check out all of the reds available, there’s a great assortment, though it’s this one that’s our go-to. The warm, orange-y undertones make it an especially great option on those with paler skin and/or on those who have warmer undertones in their skin.

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Deep Skin: Blk/Opl Cream Lipstick in C-Suite

Blk/Opl Cream Lipstick in C-Suite
What We Like
  • Looks great on many skin tones

  • Complete and pigmented coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Only red shade in the line

Not all reds are created equal, and similarly, not all reds look great on deeper complexions. But this pick—which is part of an admittedly small range of shades—does. It's a ruby red that offers enough contrast even on dark skin tones. It packs complete color coverage in just one swipe and is infused with hydrating ingredients such as jojoba and monoi de Tahiti oils to make it feel extra cushiony and comfortable.

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Natural: Burt’s Bees Natural Moisturizing Lipstick in Scarlet Soaked

Burt’s Bees Natural Moisturizing Lipstick in Scarlet Soaked
What We Like
  • Buildable coverage

  • Recyclable packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t necessarily last super long

The formula of this lipstick is 100% natural, touting all kinds of natural ingredients—beeswax, moringa oil, raspberry seed oil, and vitamin E, just to name a few—that give it its mega-hydrating feel. (Bonus points for the recyclable packaging, too.) It bears mentioning that this red definitely goes on more sheer than many others, but it’s a nice choice either for those new to rocking a red lip and/or who prefer more buildable coverage.

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Long-Lasting: Maybelline New York SuperStay Ink Crayon Lipstick in Own Your Empire

Maybelline New York SuperStay Ink Crayon Lipstick in Own Your Empire
What We Like
  • Easy to apply

  • Also comes in liquid form

  • Has a built-in sharpener

What We Don't Like
  • May need a makeup remover for removal

We’ve long sung the praises of this line of Maybelline lipsticks, which comes in both a liquid and this crayon format. Either way, they are the longest wearing lipsticks we’ve ever used, staying put without any smudges or smears throughout long days of eating, drinking, and even a make-out session or two. This twist-up crayon is ideal for precise application (there’s also a built-in sharpener), and the cooler-hued red with notes of brown undertones has a natural matte finish and is also smudge- and transfer-resistant.

Type: Crayon | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Coral Red: Maybelline New York Color Sensational Lipstick in On Fire Red

Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in On Fire Red
What We Like
  • Looks great on many skin tones

  • Very hydrating and comfortable

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviewers say the color can transfer

  • Doesn’t necessarily last super long

“I am obsessed with this lipstick,” says Sesnek of another one of his favorites. “It’s a warm, coral red, a spectacular color in a formula that has incredible pigmentation,” he says. The coral-y undertones make it an especially great choice for summer (we personally love it paired with a simple white sundress), though it can, of course, work year-round and works surprisingly well on a wide array of skin tones. It’s also super creamy, thanks to a shea butter base.

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Deep Red: L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Matte Lipcolour in Doesn’t Matte-R

L’Oréal Paris Color Riche Matte Lipcolour in Doesn’t Matte-R
What We Like
  • Comfortable matte texture

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviewers say the color can transfer

Anyone who loves dark, vampy red lipstick should check out this choice. “This is a bombshell red for when you want a sexy, strong look,” says Sesnek. “The deep, Bordeaux shade has an old Hollywood vibe and even though it’s a matte formula, is still incredibly rich and hydrating.”

Type: Bullet | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Final Verdict

There are so many great red lipsticks to be found at the drugstore that you really can’t go wrong. That being said, if you’re after a foolproof pick, we can’t get enough of the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Original Satin Lipstick in True Red (view at Target), which looks great on any skin tone and has a satin finish. The Wet And Wild Mega Last Liquid Catsuit Lipstick in Missy & Fierce (view at Target) is a standout liquid option, while the Maybelline New York Color Sensational Lipstick in On Fire Red (view at Amazon) is a crayon that can’t be beaten with staying power that’s beyond impressive. And for those who are after slightly more sheer color and a very hydrating feel, the Burt’s Bees Natural Moisturizing Lipstick in Scarlet Soaked (view at Amazon) is an excellent choice.

What to Look for in a Drugstore Red Lipstick

Texture

Broadly speaking, drugstore red lipsticks tend to fall into matte or non-matte categories, though there are options that hit somewhere in between with a velvet or satin finish. Whichever finish you choose boils down to a matter of personal preference. However, if you have super dry lips try layering a lip balm underneath for some extra hydration.

Exact Shade of Red

There are tons and tons of different reds to choose from, and while there are some general guidelines that can be helpful (more on those in a moment), Sesnek says the best way to find your favorite is to simply experiment and try all different kinds.

Format

These days you can find everything from traditional bullets to liquids to crayons at the drugstore; again, it boils down to a matter of personal preference.

FAQ
  • How do you apply drugstore red lipstick?

    The same way you would any other lipstick. For maximum coverage, apply straight out of the bullet or tube, says Sesnek. If you want to make the application look super precise, you can also use a lip liner before or after to make the lines crisper and add a bit of depth, he says.

  • How do you pick the right shade of drugstore red lipstick for your skin tone?

    You can try to match the undertones to your skin undertones, i.e., go for warmer reds if you have a warmer complexion and so on. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. “There are no rules with color when it comes to reds. It’s all about personal preference and whatever you feel looks and is right for you,” says Sesnek.

  • How long does drugstore red lipstick stay on?

    According to Sesnek, it depends on the finish; anything glossy will dissolve and dissipate faster than mattes, which are opaque and the most long-lasting of any finish, he explains.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She loves busting out a red lip on special occasions, though she prefers to save some cash and procure her red lipsticks from the drugstore since it’s not a product she’s necessarily using daily. The two Maybelline products featured on this list are two of her personal rotations that repeatedly make an appearance in her rotation of reds.

Meet the Expert

Robert Sesnek is a celebrity makeup artist in New York City who frequently does both celebrity and editorial work. He’s also a Catrice Cosmetics ambassador.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough drugstore red lipsticks from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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