I've always been terrified of
red lipstick. Okay, let me dim the dramatics: Red lipstick and I never got along. We didn't call each other on the holidays to catch up and I didn't send her invitations to my birthday parties. Why? Because she has a tendency to take up all the attention in the room — and while I'm usually more than happy to share the spotlight, whenever I've worn red lips, it's just looked too dramatic or too bright. I always thought I'd just continue admiring red lipstick on others from afar, but there's no time like the present (and the first days of spring) to force yourself out of your comfort zone. I took a leap of faith and went through the cosmetic haystack to put six best-selling shades to the test. The results were surprising enough to leave me thoroughly believing red lipstick might not actually be that bad. 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. MAC Matte Lipstick in D For Danger My first introduction to makeup was through my mother's MAC liquid lipstick and brown lipliner — I remember being so excited to try them both because they made me feel grown up. One thing about this specific shade: When they say matte, they mean it. No sparkles, no shimmer, just pigment and pop (can you tell I love alliterations?). MAC Cosmetics D For Danger, $, available at MAC Cosmetics MAC Matte Lipstick in D For Danger This lipstick deserves a cleared space on my dresser and a round of applause. Uncapping this sleek black dispenser reveals a deep red that carries the signature MAC Cosmetic scent — if you know, you know. The blue undertone in this creamy lipstick complemented my skin tone without washing me out, which was somewhat of a miracle since my skin has been so pale and deprived of vitamin D. It's a true matte lipstick but didn't make my lips look dry, and the price point is reasonable. I would definitely rummage through my purse to find this the next time I find myself dressed up and out of the house. The Lip Bar Liquid Matte in Bawse Lady You put together a Black-owned cosmetics company and a lipstick called "Bawse Lady," and I should’ve known my confidence would skyrocket. From the packaging to the tone, this lip color is the one to turn heads. Since it is a matte liquid formula, I recommend using a lip scrub before or balm underneath so that lips don't look flaky or dry. The Lip Bar Bawse Lady Liquid Matte, $, available at The Lip Bar The Lip Bar Liquid Matte in Bawse Lady I'm not accustomed to matte formulas and this one felt a bit sticky when I pressed my lips together, but that's not enough to deter me from using it again. Out of all the colors I tried, this is the darkest red with a slight magenta tone, and I loved it. The standout quality of this product is the felt-tipped applicator. With a color as bold as red, it’s obvious when you’ve missed your lip line, but The Lip Bar made it so much easier with the flexible tip. I ended up keeping this on for the rest of the evening and did notice some smudging over time, but all in all, I recommend this to matte lovers. Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer in Peppermint Pop Peppermint Pop makes me think of Christmas, so to wear this shade after the month of December feels... wrong? But lipsticks aren't reserved for one month out of the year, so I gave this petite classic a try. Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer, $, available at Sephora Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer in Peppermint Pop I don't know what it was about this lipstick, but it made me feel like a dignified older woman who has a full vanity and matching chair set. That's the vision I saw in my head while putting it on and I'm sticking to it. This shade's brightness made me nervous because I thought it would be too bold, but after careful deliberation, I decided I would wear it again. The thin texture dried down to a semi-matte finish, which I prefer, and really gave me a pop of much needed color after growing ridiculously pale — one of the many work-from-home side effects. Tom Ford Lip Color in Lost Cherry This product's name is clearly a euphemism, but the phrase itself makes me think of a dusty cherry that rolled under a kitchen table, not a lip color. In any case, Tom Ford delivers an elegant-looking lipstick for a whopping $56 (which is a steal compared to the brand's $100 candles). Tom Ford Beauty Lost Cherry Lip Color, $, available at Sephora Tom Ford Lip Color in Lost Cherry This lipstick is intended to be a blue-leaning red, but it comes across more orange on me. While very pigmented, this shade wasn't my favorite and there wasn't anything else that stood out to me about it. If you're looking for a really luxe formula, though, this one might be for you. L'Oréal Colour Riche in Ruby Flame The shade name of this one made me wonder if I'd be channeling my inner Katniss Everdeen, but I'm not too sure all the odds were in my favor with this specific contender. L'Oreal Paris 317 Ruby Flame, $, available at Amazon L'Oréal Colour Riche in Ruby Flame When you uncap this golden dispenser, the sparkles are impossible to miss and so is its light orange undertone. I wouldn't grab this one for my future outings because it was too bright for my skin tone, but I appreciated the smooth texture because it didn't dry out my lips. In terms of formula, this was the most lightweight contender. It leaves a glossy, silky finish that's amplified by the sparkles, so be ready to "shine bright like a diamond," as Rihanna would say (I'm not even going to ask about the album at this point). The Lip Bar Lipstick in Cosmo To risk being redundant, I have to applaud this company for its creative packaging: This tube reminds me of the rose inside the glass container from Beauty & The Beast. Just from the look of it, the shade appears to be a darker red, but when I put it on I was surprised to find how vivid it became on me. The Lip Bar Cosmo Lipstick, $, available at The Lip Bar The Lip Bar Lipstick in Cosmo Wearing a white shirt with this color really showed me how bright it was, and I liked it. The formula has a semi-matte finish with a slightly tacky feeling, and the pigment does come off if I accidentally touch my lips or drink water. While I liked the shade overall, I prefer a darker tone, but I appreciate that this bright red pushed me out of my comfort zone. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?