Which red matte lipstick is best?

If there’s one statement-making lip product you should have in your makeup collection, it’s red matte lipstick. And make no mistake: There’s a shade for everyone.

With so many shades to choose from —  and especially if you’re new to wearing red matte lipstick — you should be ready to try several colors. Mac Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick In Ruby Woo, one of the bestselling lipsticks of all time, is highly pigmented and lasts all day.

What to know before you buy a red matte lipstick

What matte lipstick is

Matte lipstick has a shine-free finish because it has a higher concentration of wax than oil. With that said, it’s far from lackluster — matte is a bold formula choice because its color is highly saturated.

Not only do most matte lipsticks require fewer swipes to achieve opaque color, but they also offer longer wear times than cream or satin lipsticks. This is partly due to their ultra-dry formulas, which causes pigment to stick to lips instead of migrating or transferring. 

Shades of red

From Dior to Revlon, just about every makeup brand has at least one red matte lipstick shade in its collection. Certain brands, such as MAC Cosmetics, even have dedicated “reds” collections featuring a few red matte shades. 

As you explore the wide world of red matte lipsticks, you might be surprised at the variety. To narrow your choices, it’s helpful to categorize red shades based on undertone. Some shades are cooler with blue undertones, whereas others are warmer with orange undertones. And somewhere in between are pinkish reds, with traces of berry, fuchsia or magenta.

What to look for in a quality red matte lipstick

Formula

In the past, most red matte lipsticks were available as classic bullet formulas. Although they’re still popular, red matte shades are now mainstays in liquid and mousse lipstick collections, too. Formula preference is subjective, and it usually boils down to overall wear experience. 

  • Bullet: These formulas typically have the longest wear times because they’re more drying than others. You may end up with chapped lips or feathering, difficult to conceal unless you wipe off the lipstick completely and reapply.
  • Liquid: Liquid lipsticks are more nourishing than bullet formulas, making them less likely to leave lips chapped. Because their wear times aren’t as long, you’ll need to reapply them every several hours. 
  • Mousse: These luxurious formulas fall somewhere between liquid and bullet lipsticks in terms of dryness. Although mousse is supposed to be a lightweight formula, certain varieties feel thick or tacky. 

Wear time

Wear time refers to how long a lipstick lasts before reapplication is necessary. Most matte lipsticks stay put for up to eight hours, and some formulas last as long as 16 hours or longer. Because reds are more saturated than most, they usually last longer than other shades. 

Hydrating ingredients

Several red matte lipsticks are infused with hydrating ingredients that keep lips soft and smooth. Some of the most popular ingredients include hyaluronic acid, shea butter and lanolin. Many prestige and luxury red matte lipsticks contain floral and herbal extracts, ranging from red peony to avocado. While these ingredients soothe lips and minimize chapping, they occasionally decrease wear time. 

How much you can expect to spend on red matte lipstick

Drugstore red matte lipsticks cost $4-$14, while you’ll pay $18-$28 for prestige formulas. Red matte lipsticks made by luxury makeup brands are the most expensive, ranging between $30-$65.

Red matte lipstick FAQ

Do I need to use a lip liner with red matte lipstick?

A. Many people apply lip liner with red matte lipstick to help it stay put longer. Lip liner also creates a “border” around lips that minimizes smears and transfers. Certain lip liners intensify lipstick color, as well. 

How does red matte lipstick look on camera?

A. Red matte lipstick doesn’t reflect light, which eliminates excess shine on camera. Because their color is saturated, it emphasizes your lips when you speak, and depending on the shade, can make your teeth appear whiter.

What’s the best red matte lipstick to buy?

Top red matte lipstick

Mac Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick In Ruby Woo

Mac Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick In Ruby Woo

What you need to know: Ruby Woo, a universally flattering shade, is one of the world’s best-selling lipsticks. 

What you’ll love: The shade has blue undertones that flatter all skin tones. It’s a fade-resistant formula that doesn’t come off when you eat or drink, and it rarely requires reapplication during the day. The formula is made without harsh chemicals. 

What you should consider: It’s a drying formula that may leave your lips chapped later in the day. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty and Macy’s

Top red matte lipstick for the money

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Mousse In 815 Red Hot

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Mousse In 815 Red Hot

What you need to know: Revlon’s budget-friendly formula doesn’t compromise on wear time, considering it stays put for at least 8 hours. 

What you’ll love: Although it’s a matte formula, it’s creamier and less drying than other options. It doesn’t take more than a couple of swipes to achieve a vibrant red. The formula is less likely to feather and transfer than other liquid matte options. 

What you should consider: Color may fade or transfer after several hours, and reapplication is necessary. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Dior Rouge Dior Refillable Lipstick In 951 Cabaret

Dior Rouge Dior Refillable Lipstick In 951 Cabaret

What you need to know: This luxurious red matte lipstick is one of the collection’s most popular shades.

What you’ll love: Cabaret is a rich, brick-red shade that can be worn day or night. It’s infused with red peony extract to nourish and soften lips. The bullet lipstick’s unique shape offers easy application around the bow of the lip and corners of the mouth. 

What you should consider: A few people said color wears off much sooner than expected.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora 

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.