It took me until my early 20s to feel adult enough for red lipstick. Until then I was content to wear black or blue in pursuit of ultimate cybergoth-ness, and red lipstick whenever I tried it just felt too polished and put together. Sometimes you actually just want to be a hot mess. I finally knew it was time after watching Cry-Baby at the age of 25 and seeing Traci Lords as the ultimate badass rockabilly girl complete with crimson lips. Adulthood was imminent.
In the 10 years since, I’ve conducted an inexhaustible search for the perfect red lipstick. I’ve tried thousands – every single one offering a little slice of promise but seldom reaching makeup bag status. I’ve put a decade of research into uncovering which lipsticks have timeless appeal, emulating the way Marilyn Monroe wears a deep red in Some Like It Hot, or the orangey red Judy Garland rocks in Meet Me In St Louis. And through these trials I’ve whittled it down to two heavyweights: MAC’s iconic Ruby Woo, a super matte blue-red, and Fenty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored, a much newer bright red contender.
Faced with £5,000 worth of red lipsticks, each one sent to me (as a beauty journalist) by the biggest brands in the world with the promise that this is the ultimate red, could anything sway me from my aforementioned lipstick loves? Consider this the ultimate red lipstick edit.