First published on 12th June 2017, I’ve now revised this post adding reader recommendations at the bottom. Thanks to all who told me their top red choices!
‘Are you made for “Fire and Ice”?’ asked a 1952 Revlon advertisement for their legendary Fire and Ice lipstick and nail varnish range. The beauty brand also provided a quiz to help you decide whether to try the ‘lush-and-passionate scarlet’ shade:
Have you ever danced with your shoes off? Yes/no
Did you ever wish on a new moon? Yes/no
Do you blush when you find yourself flirting? Yes/no
When a recipe call for one dash of bitters, do you think it’s better with two? Yes/no
Do you secretly hope that the next man you meet will be a psychiatrist? Yes/no
Do you sometimes feel that other women resent you? Yes/no
Have you ever wanted to wear an ankle bracelet? Yes/no
Do sables excite you, even on other women? Yes/no
Do you love to look up to a man? Yes/no
Do you face crowded parties with panic – then wind up having a wonderful time? Yes/no
Does gypsy music make you sad? Yes/no
Do you think any many really understands you? Yes/no
Would you streak your hair with platinum without consulting your husband? Yes/no
If tourist flights were running, would you take a trip to Mars? Yes/no
Do you close your eyes when you’re kissed? Yes/no
Answered yes to at least eight of these? Then apparently you’re made of ‘Fire and Ice’!
Revlon Fire and Ice is still available and often included on ‘best red lipsticks’ lists alongside Chanel Pirate and Mac Ruby Woo. Yet having spent many years trying to perfect the ‘pure red’ look, there are four other lipsticks that I rank highly, plus a bonus suggestion *and now also eight reader recommendations*.
Kevyn Aucoin Eternal
A richly pigmented, matte true red that stays in place for hours. I’ve had more compliments and enquiries about this shade than any other cosmetic I’ve ever worn!
100% cruelty free
Lipstick Queen Red
Again a classic blue red shade, but available in two different pigments (the stronger the pigment, the denser the colour and coverage).
Saint Red has ten percent pigment and gives a light, translucent touch of colour; this is a great ‘entry’ red if you’ve never worn the colour before or don’t want anything too bold.
Sinner Red has a ninety percent pigment, giving much fuller, opaque coverage. Although it’s matte, there’s shea butter in the formula so if you find many lipsticks too drying then perhaps give this a go.
100% cruelty free
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Dragon Girl
This jumbo crayon provides a deeply pigmented colour that the brand describes as ‘Vivid Siren Red’. Again this is really long lasting – you don’t need to touch up after every cuppa – but the need to regularly sharpen can be a bit of a pain. And a bit messy. But it’s worth it for the gorgeous pop of colour!
100% cruelty free, although parent company Shiseido are not
Clinique High Impact Lip Colour Red-y To Wear
Housed in a classic Clinique silver tube, this moisturising, satin finish lipstick is an easy to wear shade even for newbie rubies. Publicity claim that it lasts eight hours, which I dispute, but this isn’t such an issue because the coverage is so sheer. I got it for a friend who was convinced that red didn’t suit her and she was immediately converted!
Clinique is not a cruelty free brand. Its policy, and that of parent company Estée Lauder, is to test on animals where this is required by national law. This is the case in China, where Clinique is sold. I’m sorry to say that I only discovered this when researching this post.
I was shocked that this is the case as so many mainstream beauty brands have adopted a 100% cruelty free policy. I’ve debated with withdrawing this recommendation as I’m not sure I now feel able to endorse the product. However, I decided to keep it in the list but highlight this issue as it feels more awareness raising than to be silent.
If you too are shocked by this, contact Estée Lauder to tell them, which is what I have done. You can also request that they change their policy and withdraw from mainland China until legislation there is changed.
Bonus: Nars Lipstick Red Lizard
If you want to feel like a 1940s film star, this is the lipstick for you! Nars describe this as a ‘full powered red’ and it’s certainly that, although it’s a darker, more berry red shade rather than a pure red. It’s also described as semi-matte but I found it very to be full matte with dense coverage.
100% cruelty free, but parent company Shiseido are not
Thank you for reading! What shades of lipstick do you recommend? Any suggestions of reds or others that I should try? You can comment below or on social media. If you enjoyed reading this post then please do share it on social media too – it really does make a difference! Again the links are below.
This post prompted a lot of chatter on social media about people’s own red lipstick preferences. Some old favourites, some new, here’s what came up:
Left to right:
Barry M Matte Lip Paint in 178 Bombshell: hot, fiery red matte (£4.99 Skin&Bones)
Illamasqua Lipstick in Man-eater: classic cherry red (£20 Illamasqua)
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Adora: metallic golden red (£17 Debenhams)
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Archangel: matte burnt red (£17 Debenhams)
Left to right:
Mac Lipstick in Lady Danger: vivid bright coral red (£16.50 Mac)
Mac Lipstick in New York Apple: muted red with pink shimmer (£16.50 Mac)
MAC Lipstick in Russian Red: intense bluish-red (£16.50 Mac)
Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Jungle Red: vivid blue red (£21 Nars)