The Ultimate Red Lipstick Comparison Post

Alright friends, let’s do this. A roundup of all of my red lipsticks and categorized into different types of red. This will require a series of posts to cover all the shades, and to not overwhelm your eyes with red.

I’ve actually done a red lipstick post before, when I first started this blog in 2018, though that was a much more abbreviated post. Since then, I’ve acquired quite a few newer shades, and compiling all of them was quite a feat. This post has been nearly a year in the making because I’ve started categorizing and swatching, then became overwhelmed and gave up. 

For the sake of my own sanity, this series will only include arm swatches, with the exception of a few Instagram reels I’m planning to highlight my favorite shades. However, if you have an interest in seeing specific shades on my lips, please don’t be shy about requesting them!  I can add a post dedicated to lip swatch photos and also swatch them in videos. 

To repeat my first post, I have a medium skintone with neutral-warm olive undertones, ranging from MAC NC30 to NC37 when I’m tan. I find a lot of red lipsticks can look different on different skintones, so one red lipstick I swatch might look totally different on me than it does on you. If you have a similar skintone as me, I hope you’ll find this as a helpful reference! 

Because I’m me, I created a matrix to categorize lipsticks, which I think fall into three major categories: cool reds, neutral reds, and warm reds. Under each category, there are 3 sub-categories of shades.

Cool RedNeutral RedWarm Reds
Pink RedNeutral CoolOrange Red
Cherry RedNeutral-warmBrick Red
Burgundy RedTrue RedBrown Red

I tried my best to categorize every single red lipstick I own into one of these 3 categories, but I do not think by any means that these are how everyone would perceive these shades. On multiple occasions, a lipstick that looked warm in the tube swatched completely cool toned on me, and vice versa.  There are a few shades I went back and forth on as to which category they belong to, so it’s not a perfect science by any means. 

The red right for me will brighten up my entire face and make my teeth look whiter. What’s the right red is will look different for any person, but I love playing with all kinds of reds. As you’ll see in later posts, I gravitate towards warm reds, but I do love a cooler toned blue-based red as I find those give add a lot of contrast and drama to my looks.

Because I have nearly 80 lipsticks in this roundup, I’m going to get right into it. I’m not going tto include product photos since what I’m focusing on is how they swatch and look on my skin. For this post, I will write the lipstick being swatched in list form, a brief description of the shade, and note if the shade is discontinued. Each lipstick will also include an affiliate link to the product, if it’s still being sold. The photo with the swatches will then come below the list. All products with an asterisk * denotes an item sent as a press sample.

Let’s get started! I’ll begin with Cool Reds.

Cool Reds

You can shop all the Cool Reds here.

The 3 categories under Cool Reds include: 

  • Pink Red – these reds have lots of bright blue mixed into the red. The shades can also range from a light pink-red to a deeper fuchsia and magenta pink red.
  • Cherry Red – a little deeper than Pink Reds, more red than pink, but these reds have deeper blue tones. The shades can range from a bright red cherry to a deep bing cherry
  • Burgundy Red – deep reds that have some purple and black mixed in. 

Group 1 – Pink Reds

Group 2 – Cherry Red (right side 3 swatches)

Group 3 – Burgundy Red

Neutral Reds

Moving on Neutral Reds, which encompass what I often see as “typical” red lipsticks of “classic” red lipsticks. Even with neutral reds, there are a lot of variations. The 3 categories under Neutral Reds include:

  • Neutral Cool – these are reds that have just a hint of blue undertones, and typically viewed as most universally flattering because the slight blue can make the teeth look whiter. 
  • True Red – reds with balanced undertones, with no discernable hint of blue or orange in them
  • Neutral Warm – reds with a hint of orange mixed in. Think a bright fire engine red. 

You can shop all the Neutral Reds here.

Group 1 – Neutral Cool

Group 2 – Neutral Cool

Group 3 – True Red

Group 4 – Neutral Warm

Group 5 – Neutral Warm

Warm Reds

The final category are Warm Reds, which include:

  • Orange Reds – these reds lean much more orange than red, but still have enough red to keep it from being a straight orange. They can be red-orange, which is more red than orange, or orange-red, which tip almost into straight orange lipstick, but still have red tones mixed in
  • Brick Red – these have a some copper and brown mixed in, but the copper and sometimes orange tones keep these from being brown.
  • Brown Red – much deeper than the other 2 categories of warm reds, with deeper brown tones

You can shop all the Warm Reds here.

Group 1 – Orange Red

Groupe 2 – Orange Red

Group 3 – Brick Red

Group 4 – Brown Red

5 Essential Red Lipsticks

While I do wear a lot of these shades, I definitely wear some more than others. I tried to narrow it down to 5 reds that I’d recommend everyone try that are currently available and not limited edition shades. It was really hard to narrow it down to 5, but I picked the essential categories. I could do so many variations of these, and include brown reds, sheer reds, etc, but I also have a post with my favorite reds coming up next.

  1. Cool Red: There’s a lot of directions you could go with a cool red. For some, a pink red is the best shade, while for me, a pink red can look off with my coloring. The best cool reds for my skintone tend to be the deeper cherry reds or burgundy reds, and my go to cool toned red lately is the Peripera Ink The Velvet Lip Tint in 34 Smoky Red, which is a deep cool toned red in a super comfortable liquid formula that has a velvety matte finish.
  2. True Red: In my opinion, a true red is a classic for everyone. It’sa bright red that is a power color. There are so many formulas available, though the  Armani Lip Power in 403 is as comfortable as you can get for an ultra opaque and decently long wearing lip formula. An honorable mention goes to Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso, which I no longer have in my collection, but is about the most perfect red shade there can be.
  3. Matte/Showstopper Red: A matte red is often synonymous with a showstopper red for me, which isn’t always the same as a true red. This is going to be different for everyone, but it’s the red lipstick I wear when I want to make a statement, when I want people to know I’m wearing red. For me, that’s Gucci Lipstick in Goldie Red
  4. Orange Red: An orange red is a summer lipstick for me. It evokes vacation vibes, summer days, and the orange tones add just a touch of freshness. My go to is Merit Signature Lip in Cabo – a bright red-orange with a balmy finish. It’s really beginner friendly if you’re inching into red lipsticks but feel intimidated by opaque shades. It feels like a lip balm and can be applied lightly or built up for more coverage. You really can’t go wrong with this one.
  5. Warm Red: Warm reds are my favorite kinds of reds, but it’s hard to go wrong with the iconic MAC Chili, which is a red with some rusty undertones. This is a beautiful red if you have warmer skintones or warm olive skintones. It’s red without being super bright, but it still makes a statement. 

So how are we feeling after looking at nearly 100 red lip swatches? Find something you like? Or maybe found a similar shade to a discontinued lipstick that you have? 

Tell me what your favorite red lipsticks are, and if you’d like to see additional lip swatches for any of these! 

As always, thanks for reading.


One thought on “The Ultimate Red Lipstick Comparison Post

  1. The term “cherry red” when it comes to lipstick has often confused me, because it’s used to describe both that electric bright pink-red color (like a maraschino cherry) or darker punchy Bing-like color. It’s like- which cherry we talking about people! But I never though of it as a spectrum of pink-red before. And then I always have those cherries in mind that are almost black and get sooo confused lol


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