Red Lips

How is this relevant to libraries? Librarians have great style. And I bet Bat Girl wore red lipstick sometimes.


I bought my first red lipstick when I was 14. A terrible clown shade from a Covergirl line of lip products, the kind with the colour on one side and a disconcerting clear wax on the other that was supposed to “seal” the colour when applied over top. Red lipstick looked so effortless and perfect on other women!  It wasn’t until my early 20s that I realized, “Oh, they all went to a MAC counter at one point.” Sephora could as easily be swapped into that statement.

Now you are worried, thinking $$$! I’m all about going cheap when it comes to trendy and innocuous items but red lipstick is such a classic, minimalist yet bold statement, it should be high-quality. Red lips are forever fashionable, to the point where it’s completely redundant that every single fashion season expounds that red lips are “in” and so it’s not like the cobalt blue eyeshadow that will sit in your makeup bag forever.

Bonuses to Paying More Money 

You get to try the lipstick on in the store.

Unless you are 13 and spend all of your time in the cosmetics aisle of the grocery store with your friends and are too scared to steal anything but terrible enough to open products and try them on in the store, you don’t get to do this with cheap lipsticks. Also, doing this did not stop me from buying that awful Covergirl red lipstick.

You are paying for the staff’s expertise and knowledge.

One time I walked into a MAC store and a sales lady came up to me and said, “try this on” and it was a beautiful bright red lipstick that looked perfect with my outfit and complexion. That is how talented MAC and Sephora people are!

Sephora = Samples

I believe you can get up to three at one time. So at least try out the good stuff because it’s free.

You can return the lipstick for store credit if you decide you really don’t like it.

Sephora’s crazy return policy means if you realize you don’t like the lipstick, you can get at least get store credit for what you bought, even if it’s used. Same with MAC.

If you’re not convinced.

If you really don’t want to pay more than $6, though, Buzzfeed recommends Wet ‘n’ Wild and Milani brand lipsticks (the latter of which I think may not be available in Canada).

The Process of Trying On

When you begin your journey to find a red lipstick, take Jane from The Hairpin’s advice and make sure you feel good that day. Don’t go hungover in your stretchy pants because you look terrible, and no matter how fabulous the lipstick you try on is, you will still look terrible.

Keep your face simple when you try on/wear a red lipstick too. It’s like the boobs/legs thing with dresses. Just show off one! Not both. What kind of hussy are you? I mostly wear a red lipstick on my face along with some blush, a cat eye, and a neutral eye shadow. I also like to wear red lipstick on days that I don’t wear eyeliner. When you do this, it is kind of satisfying to know that people think you are being super fancy and put a lot of effort into your appearance, but you really didn’t at all. Then all of a sudden you have become one of those women I mentioned earlier!

On to shades, because this is the fun part. There are blue-toned and orangey-toned red lipsticks. I tend to prefer orangey reds since I have a “warmer” complexion but I have both in my collection. My collection is also pretty MAC biased but that’s mostly a reflection of how recently Sephora opened in Vancouver and how long MAC lipsticks last for.


From left to right: Bite Pomegranate, MAC Ruby Woo, MAC Lady Danger, MAC Korean Candy, MAC Vegas Volt, Stila Fior. I am impressed at how non-gross these all look considering that I have had some of them for years.

Most Popular Red Lipstick Ever

Ruby Woo

MAC Ruby Woo. As I said, I tend to like orange-toned reds but that just speaks to how universal this blue-toned shade of lipstick is. It’s the best-selling of all time, with a nice matte finish.


A very similar lipstick is sold by Bite, which is a new small Canadian company that’s sold at Sephora. This shade is called Pomegranate. I couldn’t even tell the difference when I was sorting the photos. Maybe the photos are both of Pomegranate, or both of Ruby Woo, or mixed up. Who knows! They are both great and I wouldn’t particularly recommend one above the other, but I do like supporting a Canadian company.

Best Red Lipstick for Intimidated People


MAC sheer crème in Korean Candy. This is the red lipstick the lady at the MAC store made me try on. I think it’d be good for first-time people because it’s sheer, so you get the look of a bright red lip with a bit of softness. If you don’t like the orangey tone of this shade, there are others in this line!

Best Alternative to Red Lipstick


MAC Vegas Volt. Reportedly the lipstick that January Jones wore as Betty Draper for the first two seasons of Mad Men. It’s really a coral lipstick but it has the same vintage feel to it as a red lipstick.


Personal Favourite

Lady Danger

MAC Lady Danger. This is my holy grail of red lipsticks. I told the MAC staff I wanted a vintage Bond girl red lipstick and this is what they picked out.

Bright Lipsticks in General


Stila Fior. I just wanted to say that the guidelines of red lipstick apply to all bright lipsticks. And at this point I wanted to show you my versatility as a model.

Application Tips

Once you’ve found your red lipstick, there are some application tips to keep in mind, which may or may not only be applicable to people like me who are addicted to lip balm.

Make sure your lips are moisturized! Put a bit of lip balm on then run a wet washcloth over top of them to get rid of any flaky bits or else you will just be highlighting how incredibly dry your lips are. If your lips are cracked or super chapped, common sense says you should forgo any lipstick and only wear Blistex.

Don’t bother with a lip liner unless you’re over 45 or a smoker. Some people also like a lip brush but why?

Put on your red lipstick! I apply it directly and just use my finger to wipe off any smudges that have gone beyond my lip line. I also do the thumb trick to make sure it won’t get on my teeth. This involves putting your thumb in your mouth and forming a tight seal around it with your lips, then pulling your thumb out.

This part is kind of icky, but important. After I eat lunch, I wipe off the remains of my red lipstick and repeat the lip balm/wet wash cloth morning routine. Except usually I’m at work so I replace the washcloth with a scratchy paper towel, which works just as well! No matter how moisturizing a lipstick is, and no matter how much lip balm I put on underneath or over top, it is inevitable that by the afternoon, my lips will be chapped. If I skip this process, my lips become flaky. Ew.

It may sound like a lot of work but it really only takes a minute. And maybe your lips have a perfect PH and you simply have to apply the lipstick and go, and you are thinking, “what is up with this gross chapped lip lady?” and I say, good for you!

One last tip for all: wipe the lipstick off of your cups before putting them in the dishwasher at work/home (if you should be so lucky). You will avoid adding to the passive aggressive dishes fight you already have going on with your co-workers/boyfriend/girlfriend/room mate(s).


Picture of a Cat wearing red lipstick.


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