Fire-engine red, neon pink, dusty nude—we love them all.
In fact, the “lipstick index,” so coined by Leonard Lauder during the early 2000s recession, signals that even as portions of the economy struggle, lip product sales remain relatively stable—an indicator that this small act of self-care remains important to consumers. On the other hand, this is the first time in about 100 years since masks have become a wardrobe necessity, so only time will tell if this particular social yardstick will be relevant by the end of 2020. Our take? If it makes you feel good to rock a bold red lip alone in your living room, that’s enough.
If you feel the same way, check out 18 of our most beloved lipsticks below.
Hannah Baxter, Senior Beauty Editor
My all-time favorite lip shade is some variety of dusty rose with warm undertones. Since my lips are naturally devastatingly pale, this color brightens up my face and helps me look alive. No, better than that—it’s like I just had a 45-minute makeout session and I am now perfectly flushed. Hot tip—add a dab to your cheeks to complete the look.
Wow, I can’t tell you how many Burberry lip products I hoard on a regular basis—they’re so good. And when you want to prove to the world that you’re a badass babe who not only has her life together, but is looking damn fine doing it, this is the perfect power red. I’m also a huge fan of any velvet finish on lip products—it blends out perfectly for a slightly undone effect that is practically smudge-proof.
Nothing screams summer quite like an orangey-red lip. This new release from Rihanna wears more like a balm than a lipstick, but still delivers a gorgeous color payoff that lasts for hours. It’s also an incredibly forgiving formula, meaning I can apply it without a mirror, touch up my pronounced Cupid’s bow with my finger, and I’m good to go. No harsh lines or funky edges in sight.
Leya Kaufman, Head of Sales & Brand Partnerships
This is a showstopping scarlet shade hidden inside a miniature minimalist piece of art. This is the color I’ll always reach for when I’m trying to make a statement. There’s also something about a classic red that will always feel timeless, and the object itself really is. The lacquered lipstick tube is refillable. It also arrives in the tiniest iconic orange box.
Dior’s lipsticks always glide on effortlessly and shine for hours. This line also happens to be so hydrating that it doubles as a lip balm—so it’s arguably a two-in-one. Couple that with my coral crush, and it’s no wonder that I’m in love with this one.
I think I have at least three YSL lip products floating in every bag I own. It’s like the brand has mastered every single formula (water stain, liquid lipstick, creamy classics) in every single shade. I also truly never thought I could pull off a more traditional rose until I found this one. This is the lipstick I know I can still rock when I’m wearing a fuller face of makeup for an IRL or virtual event.
Rachel Pickus, Creative Associate
Meet my ride-or-die, holy grail, number one lipstick of choice! Seriously, I’m obsessed with this product. As someone who gravitates towards berry hues, I find this subtle wash of purple perfect for everyday. Plus, the creamy formula means you can basically apply it with your eyes closed (not like I’ve tried to or anything…).
Due to my not-so-steady hand and irrational fear of quick-drying products, I never thought I could be a liquid lipstick kind of girl. All of that changed, however, when I tried this formula from Huda Beauty. The doe-foot applicator makes for a foolproof application, while the product itself is forgiving enough to tweak any mistakes. One quick blot, and you’re good to go!
My foray into the world of makeup was largely influenced by the 18 years I spent as a ballet dancer. While my days of lethal hairspray and false eyelashes are certainly over, my love for red lipstick has stuck. Currently, I’m loving this blue-toned red from Pat McGrath for the moments I want a nostalgic pop of color.
Isabella Sarlija, Freelance Writer
My stance on the “true” red lipstick is that not many of them are on the market today that work for all skin tones. With that having been said, I genuinely believe that this lipstick delivers on the promise of being great on people of all skin tones. Its slight coral hues are great for my olive-toned skin, and the formula is highly pigmented while remaining hydrating on the lips. I like to apply it to my lips and on top of my cheekbones for a monochromatic sun-kissed look.
These days I’m looking for products to complement my preferred makeup look that screams au naturel. I love using this nude rose hue as a my-lips-but-better shade to pull the rest of my face together. I find that the sheer coverage of this lipstick is very buildable since it feels very balmy and hydrating. It’s all I could ever want in an everyday sort of lipstick.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I love neon shades of lipstick. There is something beautiful and attention-demanding about an intense color on the lips paired with an otherwise bare face. This hot pink is ideal for my summer look as it goes very well with my summer glow while having the ability to diffuse into a softer hazy pink for those days I’m looking for something a bit lighter. Its satin formula is long-lasting and remains comfortable on the lips—so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing it sometimes.
Abby Miller, Head of Production
I would describe myself as “shade shy” when it comes to my lipstick choices. I am never one to rock a red lip or bright color and always gravitate towards nudes. This shade from RMS is my nude go-to. It has a barely-there color that I love, and their formula is enriched with their RMS Beauty Oil, so its super hydrating.
I am a fan of anything that has multi-use, and this Ilia Multi-stick is the perfect do-it-all product. I love when my lipstick color matches the rest of the shades on my face, so I love to dab it on my cheeks and my eyelids. It’s the perfect pink summer flush.
My friends and I refer to this as “the sisterhood of the traveling lipstick” because this shade literally works on everyone. It’s a mauvey nude with a matte finish that makes your lips look like their own natural shade, but better. It seriously is so flattering for everyone. A definite must-have in your makeup bag.
Camille Freestone, Writer
I absolutely love a classic red lipstick, and this is my go-to. I was a dancer until I graduated high school, which entails a lot of stage makeup, and this would stay on the entire night, despite sweat and LOTS of movement. It’s a true red, so it won’t go in or out of style.
If you don’t want to purchase a ton of lip shades, this is a great option. For day, I dot it on and rub it in for a light color. Then I apply it in full force at night for a little extra umph. I literally bought a second stick so I could keep it in my purse at all times.
This arose out of a need for just a small amount of color on my lips. I am very pale, and the lack of lip color makes me look super washed out, especially in the colder months. However, on days when I don’t feel like wearing makeup, a heavy-handed lipstick would look out of place. This is the perfect subtle wash of color for super-casual days.