Ancient warriors had their swords and shields. Marvel heroes have their superpowers. But us? We have our red lipstick. It's not just a way to make our teeth look whiter or skin look brighter; it's a silent, yet effective, way to let the world know not to fuck with you. Cleopatra crushed bugs to create her crimson pigment, a clear display of her royal status. Suffragettes wore red lipstick in the early 1900s as they marched the streets fighting for women's rights. And the movement still persists today: Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez swiped on Stila's Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso for a recent debate, and the shade sold out soon after she tweeted about it.
But for as much confidence as a red lipstick brings us, it can be incredibly difficult to nail down the right shade. There are more than 238 red lipsticks at Sephora alone, which doesn't make the process of choosing a flattering finish or undertone — particularly for my deep skin — any easier.
Of course, there are plenty of brands out there that claim to have The One: universally-flattering, long-lasting, and easy to apply. So, with the help of a few celebrity makeup artists, I put a few of them to the test. Check out how it all went down, ahead.