It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad that this post has FINALLY come together! I announced a while back on Twitter (follow me @BrownBeautyBlog that I was planning a post full of red lip shades for brown girls, but when I sat down to write I realized that my initial idea for this post may have been a bit overwhelming.

At last count, I had 33 red lipsticks and glosses (And that’s just in my personal stash. I didn’t even bother to count what I have in my kit for use on clients…), and including all of those would have made for the world’s longest blog post. This is also the reason that I opted for swatches instead of pics of me wearing each of the shades in this post. So, I finally narrowed it down to 17 shades in cream, matte and gloss formulas, each at varying price points.

As evidenced by the photo collage above, a bold red lip gives instant glamour, and no one can rock bold shades like women of color! Whether you are a red lip newbie or a veteran, there is something here for every brown girl of every complexion. Read on!

A cream formula is probably the most wearable way to wear red lip color, particularly for beginners. The best creams have good pigment, have a moderate amount of sheen, and feel comfortable on the lip. Here’s a closer look at my faves!

  1. Maybelline ColorSensational Lip Color in #635 Verry Cherry, $7.49 – Very similar to number #2. The only difference is that this shade is slightly brighter, with the slightest hint of pink. Very shiny and creamy, this is some of the best lipstick sold in drugstores.
  2. Maybelline ColorSensational Lip Color in #645 Red Revival, $7.49 – Again, very close in color to #1, and the same notes apply. However, this shade is hint deeper in color. A good option for the red lip newbie.
  3. IMAN Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Iman Red, $8.99 – A soft, muted red that would work for a variety of skin tones. Not as shiny as the others in this group, but has a very pretty sheen.
  4. MILANI Lip Flash Full Coverage Shimmer Gloss Pencil in Hot Flash, $6.49 – I tried to capture this shade in tons of different light and angles, but pictures don’t do this lip crayon justice. Its shine doesn’t come from glossiness, but from an almost sparkly, metallic finish. Definitely a show-stopper! Gorgeous on all skin tones, but certainly not for the shy!
  5. Eve Pearl Lip Color in Hollywood Affair, $24.00 – Red with a hint of brown, makes this shade safer for work. Great for medium to deep brown skin tones.
  6. Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Color in Reggae Red, $1.99 – I was truly shocked by this bargain lipstick. The rich pigment and shine are off the charts, and the color is a true, va-va-va-voom red! Would look amazing against the fairest to the deepest brown skin.
  7. COVER GIRL Queen Collection Lip Color in See Red, $6.99 – A bright, orange-red that’s perfect for the summer months. Girls with golden undertones or a similar skin tones to Thandie Newton could wear the heck out of this!
  8. COVER GIRL Queen Collection Lip Color in Paint the Town, $6.99 – A sophisticated, creamy blue-red with a hint of pink. I consider this the sister shade to #7, and girls with cool undertones or coloring similar to Nia Long’s would look gorgeous in this shade!


Matte lipsticks are, hands down, my all-time favorite way to wear red lip color. If you see me wearing red lips, 9.9 times out of ten, it’s going to be a matte formula. To me, it’s a very chic and modern way to wear red. The best red mattes have bold, bright color and won’t dry out your lips. These are the matte reds I keep in constant rotation!

  1. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo, $5.99 – “Soft matte” is an accurate description of this deep crimson lip shade. A happy medium between a shiny lipstick and a matte one, this shade is too pretty to pass up!
  2. Wet ‘n Wild Mega Last Lipstick Matte in #911D Spotlight Red, $1.99 -  I was wondering why nearly every drug store in my area was always sold out of this lipstick. It’s amazing! Incredibly rich and pigmented, this lipstick is only slightly matte, while maintaining a hint of sheen. Feels very comfortable on the lips.
  3. Lipstick Queen Lipstick in Red Sinner, $18.00 – I’d already owned several Lipstick Queen lipsticks before this one and had always passed on Red Sinner. When fellow beauty blogger Felicia of This That Beauty told me this shade was too good to pass up, I went for it and it’s been is heavy rotation ever since! The shade is simply gorgeous and the formula is matte, yet moisturizing. Seriously, Lipstick Queen makes some of the best lipsticks you’ll ever own!
  4. Tarte LipSurgence Natural Matte Lip Tint in Fiery, $24.00 – I call this my “Casual Red” because it’s very much no-fuss. It’s a breeze to apply and throw in my bag. It’s also low-key because the color is very soft and muted. Despite its very matte texture, it is never drying on your lips, and has a great mint flavor. Highly recommended!
  5. Stila Long Wear Liquid Lip Color in Fiery, $22.00 – Don’t let this liquid lip color deceive you. It goes on glossy but dries down to a seriously matte finish. It’s a very bold, bright, true red that is great for warm weather. Be sure to exfoliate lips first!
  6. MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $14.50 – Ruby Woo is a classic red lipstick, and for good reason. The color is stunning on a variety of skin tones, and every time I wear it people ask me what lipstick I’m wearing. It should be noted, however, that is quite possibly the driest lipstick on the face of the earth. The gorgeous color is worth it, though, so make sure lips are thoroughly moisturized before wearing.

I couldn’t leave out my lipgloss girls! Some bombshells favor a glossy lip, and I’ve found some red glosses that I found to be truly outstanding. None of these glosses skimp on bold red pigment and, or course, they give lots of shine! Off all the ones I’ve tested, here are my favorties!

  1. Obessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in NSFW, $13.00 -  The name says it all. This bold, in your face red is definitely NSFW (not safe for work)! One of the most pigmented lip products around, this liquid lip pigment lasts on your lips forever. You can see me wearing NSFW in this review.
  2. IMAN Luxury Lip Shine in Lavish, $9.99 -  The most gorgeous red lip lacquer you could ever imagine! Super glossy, patent-leather-like finish is super sexy!
  3. Black Radiance Ice Angel Refreshing Lip Gloss in Scarlet, $2.99 -  Incredibly pigmented, this rich, sparkly red is almost like a liquid lipstick. Looks both elegant and trendy. Plus, it has a fresh, minty taste to boot!

Now that you’ve got your sexy red lip down, keep the rest of your makeup look simple. Here are my tips for rocking red lips:

  • Pay special attention to your complexion and make sure skin appears flawless. Camoflage blemishes with concealer and/or foundation and keep blotting powder or sheets on hand to banish excess shine.
  • Keep your eye makeup simple. Dab a little concealer on eyelids to even out any discoloration, sweep on some black eyeliner and a couple of coats of black mascara.
  • Be very light-handed with blush. Go for a sheer wash of color in a light, soft pink or golden bronze.
  • Red lip color will show any imperfections, so make sure lips are exfoliated and moisturized beforehand. If you’re battling chapped lips, save the red lip color for another day.

There you have it! Everything you’d ever want to know about wearing red lips! Will you be giving any of these red lip shades a try? Already got a favorite red? Share it in the comments! Need a little more advice before you rock red? Hit me up in the comments or send me an email!