The Best Red Lipsticks Money Can Buy, According To The Pros

There's a time and a place for sheer, barely-there tinted lip balm, but the holiday season isn't it. December is the time of year to pull out all the stops: velvet everything, glitter eyeshadow, and — of course — red lipstick.
But not all red pigments are created equal. For indulging in desserts, Zoom calls with your family, and cuffing season with your boo, you'll need a red lipstick that can endure the holiday hustle — even from home. Glosses and balms can take their own holiday vacation; it's time for your matte formulas to make the rounds.
To help you choose which vivid cherry or rich crimson tone to wear to the virtual company party or a bundled outdoor dinner, we asked the pros for the red lip colors they swear by, ahead.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Color in Red Carpet

Missy Elliott's key makeup artist, Alexandra Butler, keeps this under-$3 drugstore tube in her kit. "This is a favorite of mine because even though it's matte, it's super smooth when applied," Butler tells us. Butler also suggests using a deeper lip liner to enhance the color of your lipstick. "I like to pair most of my red lipsticks with Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Definer in Currant before applying the red," Butler says.
2 of 10

Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil in Dragon Girl

This cult-favorite crayon is a go-to for makeup artist Neil Scibelli, who works with Elle Macpherson and Larsen Thompson. "The color is vibrant and has a velvety finish that won't feel dry on your lips," Scibelli says. "The crayon applicator makes touching up on-the-go super easy, and when it dries, it doesn't go anywhere." 
3 of 10

YSL Tatouage Couture Liquid Matte Lip Stain in #12

Editorial makeup artist Marcio Abraao swears by this vibrant shade for clients. "This is a gorgeous cherry red that suits every skin tone," Abraao says. "It's definitely for the party girls who need their color to stay on all night without feeling dry." Abraao also loves the precision applicator, which takes the guesswork out of coloring inside the lines. 
4 of 10

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella

"If you'd rather be dancing than worrying if your lipstick is intact, get this pencil," says UK-based makeup artist Buster Knight. "It's a sexy, deep red that looks good on everyone, and it leaves the lips slightly stained as it wears off, so you don't have to worry about constantly reapplying." 
5 of 10

Urban Decay Cosmetics Vice Lipstick Mega Matte in 714

Allan Avendaño, the go-to makeup artist for Jenna Dewan, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jodie Turner-Smith, always keeps his kit stocked with this Urban Decay bullet, which goes on creamy but dries down matte. "It's very comfortable to wear and, unlike other matte lipsticks, it won't drag and tug at your lips when you apply it," Avendaño says. "Plus, it's 100% cruelty-free."
6 of 10

Sunnies Face Fluffmatte in Major

If velvety, plush, and head-turning is your red-lipstick criteria, Avendaño says you need to get ahold of this. "You will be in awe of the way this lipstick applies," he says. "It's 100% matte and opaque, but it has a luscious formula and natural, nourishing ingredients that make you feel like you have on lip balm."
7 of 10

Milani Amore Satin Matte Lip Crème in Satin

For New York-based artist Kasey Spickard, who works with Deepica Mutyala, this liquid is a must-have. "I love that this doesn't break the bank, but I love the formula even more," Spickard says. "It glides on super smooth — almost like a lip lacquer, but once it dries, it stays on all day."
8 of 10

Bobbi Brown Luxe Liquid Lip Velvet Matte in Starlet Scarlet

Spickard also swears by this luxe formula for fancy functions. "I love this for two reasons: one, it stays on all night and won't fade or flake, and two, it feels nice and luxurious to pull out of your bag during a holiday party," Spickard says. "This shade is a perfect true red that looks amazing on all complexions."
9 of 10

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color

Celebrity makeup artist and founder of Our Beauty Edit, Amber Amos, vouches for this OG Fenty Beauty formula which has a velvety matte finish. "You can eat a full meal and your lipstick will still be on," Amos says. "Not to mention it's not drying at all."

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Maybelline SuperStay Ink Crayon Lipstick In Own Your Empire

Amos also loves this Maybelline option, which you can find at your local drugstore. "It has a pointed tip, which allows you to line with precision and fill in the color," Amos explains. If you're looking for a formula that won't rub off on your mask, this is it.

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