The Sexiest Lipsticks Ever, According to 10 Beauty Editors
Scoop one up before Valentine’s Day.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule around how to feel sexy, but in our experience, wearing a stellar lipstick never hurts. When your makeup is on point, it can sometimes feel like there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. Beauty editors understand this better than most—we’re pretty much able to test hundreds, if not thousands, of shades over the course of our careers. And most everyone will tell you, there are a handful of formulas (or maybe even one holy grail color) that we’ll turn to again and again whenever we need a little extra something. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, find out what lipsticks 10 beauty industry insiders swear by.
Beauty Editor, MarieClaire.com
“My love for a bright red lipstick knows no bounds, and my old faithful, Bawse from Smashbox, always holds me down when I need a confidence kick. It’s a blue-based red I will ride-or-die for forever. It’s one of those ‘if you know, you know’ colors I discovered back in 2016 when my former boss, Carly Cardellino, and I were testing it on a bunch of skin tones for a Cosmo story. It actually does complement all complexions, and the matte texture is so soft you forget you’re even wearing it (no bathroom touch-ups needed). It’s stuck by me ever since and garnered me many DM slides, numbers after a night out, and even job offers! The versatility is real. To me, confidence is the sexiest thing, and this color makes my lips look like money. My Saturday-night vibe usually includes turning on Megan Thee Stallion, applying this lipstick, then living my best life.”
Maria del Russo
“I wear red lipstick pretty much every day of my life. And while I love a classic red during the day, like Gucci Rouge à Lèvres Satin in Teresina Ruby or Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink in Pioneer, the color I wear when I want to feel sexy and sassy is Urban Decay’s Vice Lipstick in Hex. It’s a deeper, ruddy brick shade that brings my go-to red lip into evening hours. And since it’s super matte, it’s smooch-proof—something I’m sure my boyfriend appreciates.”
“One that looks good with nearly anything I wear or any vibe I’m going for is Pat McGrath’s Flesh 3. It’s the perfect warm, brick-rose shade that, when worn sheerly, gives me a fairy-tale-esque flush on my lips and otherwise is a perfectly sassy ’90s shade for me. I always get compliments when I wear it, I think for its unexpected impact—it’s a bit like a bold nude, which sounds oxymoronic, I understand that...but when you see it, you know.”
Deputy Digital Editor, Allure
“Charlotte Tilbury’s Hot Lips 2 collection actually contains a couple of my favorite lipstick shades, but I find myself reaching for Amazing Amal anytime I want to feel particularly, well, hot. It’s a cool red that borders on berry and complements my skin tone while making my eyes look extra green. Plus, it tends to stay on for the entire day without needing touch-ups, which makes me feel like I have some sort of sexy makeup superpower.”
Staff Writer, The Strategist
“The lipstick that makes me feel sexiest is, without a doubt, Lime Crime Matte Velvetine in Wicked. It’s just an excellent red and feels like the nighttime companion to my brighter faves. I love to pair it with a deep brown lip liner for added dimension and look for any excuse to pull it out of my makeup bag.”
Beauty Editor, The Zoe Report
“Yes, it’s cliché... but to me, there’s nothing sexier than a classic, rich red lip. What’s not so sexy is the hunt to find said shade. I’ve tried hundreds of variations—from the brightest oranges to the deepest crimsons—in order to find one shade that doesn’t require tons of manipulation. Nyma Tang’s limited-edition collaboration with MAC is my favorite. The blue-red shade is sadly sold out...but Ruby Woo works in a pinch, too.”
Associate Beauty & Health Editor, Marie Claire
“NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Just Push Play. This bloody matte formula transcends the cliché of your typical bold red. In fact, I consider it my own personal stash of liquid indomitability. Its deep, blue-based hue makes my teeth shine whiter, my eyes glow greener, and my fair skin pop in almost vampiric fashion. I use the dexterous applicator to accentuate the deep M of my top lip, over-line my soft vermillion line ever-so-slightly, then fill the rest in accordingly. After it sets, it’s practically permanent—gimlets, dancing, and my boyfriend’s scruff be damned.”
Beauty Director, Essence
“NARS Fire Down Below is a deep and mysterious matte red hue, and every time I wear it I feel like a badass queen that’s either going to captivate in the boardroom—or the bedroom. Wink wink!”
Senior Beauty Editor, Byrdie
“I’ve been wearing the same red lipstick since before I was a beauty editor (to put that in perspective, it’s been almost a decade). Nars Lipstick in Heat Wave is it. The orange-red shade brightens everything up (my face, my life), and the finish is so velvety—it offers up that elusive siren effect; full-bodied and classic. It’s so sexy, so powerful. A bright red lip just has that thing. The best part though, because I’m especially lazy, is it has an almost entirely undetectable fade. I rarely need to reapply, and that, my dear friends, is the key to a far happier existence.”
Associate Beauty Editor, ELLE
“Red lipstick is pretty and all, but for me there’s something so sexy, so carnal about pink lips. I love it in all different shades and finishes (MAC’s holiday collection had a beyond-glittery baby pink that is close to perfection for a ’90s frosted lip named Kiss of Stars). Gucci Beauty’s Love Before Breakfast is one of my favorites for a few reasons. First of all, the name is just perfect. The formula is also really wonderful—it’s super pigmented and bright, stays in place, and I completely forget it’s on my lips when I am wearing it. But maybe my favorite thing about it is how it makes me feel when I wear it: confident and powerful.”
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