Found: 17 of the Most Iconic Red Lipstick Looks in History

Red lipstick is to beauty lovers as the Super Bowl is to sports fans, cashew ice cream is to vegans, and cheese is to Wisconsinites—essential, addictive, and deliciously intoxicating. Thus, it's no wonder the look has been captured on camera and emulated for decades upon decades. Sure, a red lipstick look is as classic as it comes in terms of beauty aesthetic, but it's also seamlessly adaptable depending on the approach. Matte, candied, glossy, satiny, orangy, juicy, bloody—truly, there's a quintessential red lipstick look for everyone, even if you are (or ever have been) convinced otherwise.

Of course, we can talk all day about how unequivocally dreamy an on-point the red lip is, but how fun would that be? Thus, we decided to bring our obsession to life with never-before-seen photographic proof: 17 of the most iconic red lipstick looks ever. (Okay, we lied—they've definitely been seen before, just not all together in one place.) Do we sound dramatic? Maybe, but we have a hunch you'll feel dramatic too after gazing upon the must-have shades of Bordeaux, tomato, rose, and electrified coral. Excited? We are too. Keep scrolling for the best-ever looks to inspire your next red lipstick venture.

Marilyn Monroe red lipstick look
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Marilyn Monroe: 1953

If ever a person could be synonymous with one particular makeup look, it would be Marilyn Monroe and her signature red lip. More often than not, the icon wore her red with a slick coating of gloss.

Sophia Loren red lipstick look
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Sophia Loren: 1955

With her glowing, olive complexion and sphynx-inspired liner, '50s icon Sophia Lorena made a punchy dose of orange-red lipstick one of her mainstays.

Elizabeth Taylor red lipstick look
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Elizabeth Taylor: 1960

Old Hollywood screen siren Elizabeth Taylor was no stranger to a trademark red lipstick look. Known for her milky skin tone, lavender-blue eyes, and jet-black hair, her hue of choice was usually on the rosier side of the spectrum.

Debbie Harry red lipstick look
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Debbie Harry: 1979

Blondie's lead singer reimagined the truer red lipstick looks of decades past and instead catapulted angsty matte brick red into epic popularity. 

Madonna red lipstick look
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Madonna: 1985

Back in her "Like a Virgin" days, Madonna favored a bright shade of tomato red—crisply juxtaposing her jet-black ensembles and pounds of accessories. 

Cindy Crawford red lipstick look
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Cindy Crawford: 1990

Brick in tone and blotted to perfection, forever-iconic supermodel Cindy Crawford matched this infamous red lipstick look with her like-hued gown back in 1990.

Michelle Williams red lipstick look
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Michelle Williams: 2006

One might think tomato red and mustard yellow would verge dangerously close to condiment territory, but Michelle Williams's red lipstick moment from the 78th annual Academy Awards remains one of the single most significant beauty looks in red carpet history. 

Kerry Washington red lipstick look
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Kerry Washington: 2011

We'll never stop obsessing over Washington's candy-apple-red pout, her beaded Zuhair Murad gown, and how the two perfectly emulate one another for a truly standout red carpet moment.

January Jones red lipstick look
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January Jones: 2011

The same year (and actually, at the same award show), January Jones also worked a red-on-red ensemble—the perfect ode to her character, Mrs. Betty Draper. 

Blake Lively red lipstick look
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Blake Lively: 2012

Blake Lively almost has too many memorable makeup moments to count, but her tribute to Old Hollywood during the 2012 Savages premiere has to be right at the very top. A true blue-red with a little bit of shine, it's hands down one of the best red lipstick looks we've ever laid eyes on.

Angelina Jolie red lipstick look
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Angelina Jolie: 2012

The actress tends to work one of two signature lip looks: an impeccably glossy wash of nude or an irresistibly juicy stain of red. Here, and during the 69th annual Golden Globes, she epitomized the latter.

Margot Robbie red lipstick look
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Margot Robbie: 2015

We'd like to instate a law that actress Margot Robbie should just always wear red lipstick on the red carpet. We're just that into it. Case in point: three years later, this heart-stopping red lipstick look still has us head over heels. 

Naomi Campbell red lipstick look
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Naomi Campbell: 2016

Sure, as one of the most successful supermodels in history, Naomi Campbell has worn her fair share of head-turning red lipstick looks. That said, it's this glittering maroon-hued number from the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards that's forever etched in our minds.

Gigi Hadid red lipstick look
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Gigi Hadid: 2016

Gigi Hadid's 2016 American Music Awards look was almost too ethereal for words. The one thing that kept it from looking too precious? A saturated swipe of electric coral lipstick. We will never be okay.

Priyanka Chopra red lipstick look
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Priyanka Chopra: 2017

Never one to shy away from color, the actress's medieval-esque shade of Bordeaux just might be one of the best we've ever seen. It's especially rich set against her glowing skin and dark chocolate–swirled strands. (Psst! We collected all of Chopra's very best hair looks here.)

Janelle Monáe red lipstick look
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Janelle Monáe:

We've seen triple-threat Janelle Monáe wear virtually every shade of red under the sun. (It's a clear favorite of hers.) Alas, it was this red-hot shade of satiny orange that captured—and held—our attention during this year's Met Gala. Heavenly, indeed. 

Zoë Kravitz red lipstick look
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Zoë Kravitz: 2018

Another gorgeous star who has a soft spot for an epic red lipstick look? None other than Zoë Kravitz. We've loved every hue of crimson she's worn, but the look she debuted during this year's Golden Globes was off the charts entirely. Of course, her perfectly slicked pixie and gargantuan emeralds didn't hurt the look's impact, either. 

Next Up: The 12 best red lipsticks ever created, according to Byrdie editors.

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