Red Lips for Every Crazy Holiday Scenario

Updated 06/07/18

No doubt about it: A bold red lip is a classic. But as anyone who’s ever purchased lipstick knows, it’s not a one-shade-fits-all sort of deal—the color and formula you choose need to fit the situation at hand. And we’re not just talking about meeting your S.O.’s family or attending your office holiday party (though there’s a lipstick for those times, too). We're talking about the unplanned scenarios—crazy or not—you tend to find yourself in when you’re home for the holidays.

Happen to find yourself stuck in the cold but still want to look extra, for example? There’s a red lip for that. Just look to NARS: Between the Powermatte Lip Pigments (long-lasting, non-drying, and pigment-rich lip colors) and Velvet Matte Lip Pencils (creamy textures with major payoff), there’s plenty of room to find something flattering. The choice is yours and the options are limitless, so you’ll need more than one red on hand to take on the season’s events. Find all the inspiration you need ahead.

pam hetlinger holiday red lips
Pam Hetlinger

When you move away from home, there’s something about going back to visit that makes you want to look your best—at all times. After all, whether you’re squeezing in last-minute shopping, hitting the market with the parents, or gathering for your hometown’s holiday celebration, chances are you’re going to run into someone: someone you want to low-key impress without trying too hard.

“A scarlet-red lip [like Cruella and Don’t Stop] screams confidence,” says Pam Hetlinger, but you have to make sure the formula is right. “The most important thing is to make sure your lips don’t feel chalky or dry after application.” (No one wants to run into an old classmate with flaky lips.) Luckily NARS’s lip pencils and tints are silky, lightweight, and enriched with vitamin E, so dryness is never a factor.

jenny ong holiday red lips
Jenny Ong

Let’s be real: Half the fun of going home for the holidays is getting to indulge your inner laziness. You have no obligations other than staying cozy on the couch with a classic movie on repeat. But even if it’s your fifth day in sweatpants, you can still look pulled together for last-minute houseguests. “Makeup helps your face look put together while your clothes take it easy,” says Jenny Ong. Here, Ong used a lip pencil in Endangered Red as a lip liner (the crayon-like shape helps with precise application) and the lip pigment in Starwoman. Mixing the two tones down sharper reds and gives them an effortlessly cool-meets-edgy vibe to match low-key attire.

mary orton holiday red lips
Mary Orton

If you live in a place where the weather is excruciatingly cold, the struggle is real, especially when it comes to keeping your look together. And New York–based blogger Mary Orton can attest to that. The simplest way to brave the cold (and look good doing it) is to add a swipe of red lipstick—but not your classic shade. We’re thinking something dark and sultry that fits with the weather forecast—like the lip pigment in Under My Thumb or the lip pencil in Damned, both of which have a cool magenta-burgundy feel to them. The liquid formula dries down instantly and locks the color in for a smudge-resistant finish, while the lip pencil keep lips hydrated—even through the most crippling of weather conditions.

sophie elkus holiday red lips
Sophie Elkus

You might have a routine nailed down during the year, but once the holidays roll around, all bets are off. You’re consuming more food and drinks, going out with friends, and staying out late at parties. All of these things are okay, but you can always spot the telltale signs. “It’s a misconception that more makeup will cover up a late night—it usually ends up looking caked on,” notes Sophie Elkus. “The beauty of adding a pop of red to your lips is that it looks polished. Even if it’s the only thing you do, you’ll appear as if you put some effort into your look.” A punch of color also counteracts signs of exhaustion and gives you a boost of confidence to get through the day without dragging. Here, Elkus is wearing Dragon Girl, an unapologetically bright color that falls somewhere between red and pink, and Starwoman, a vivid blue-red.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella $27
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NARS PowerMatte Lip Pigment in Don’t Stop $26
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NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Endangered Red $27
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NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Starwoman $27
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NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Damned $27
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NARS PowerMatte Lip Pigment in Under My Thumb $26
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NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl $27
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NARS PowerMatte Lip Pigment in Starwoman $26
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Want to take your holiday makeup to the next level? Shop the full line of Powermatte Lip Pigments and Velvet Matte Lip Pencils—they’re just what your looks are missing.

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