Red Hot Lips and their Inherent Badassery

I started wearing red lipstick while I was living in a foreign city. It was one of those things that feel a little bold and a little manageable while I was trying to define myself in a new place. People back home weren’t really interested in what I was doing with my lipstick choices, but as far as I was concerned, those shades of rouge were reserved for the likes of Dita Von Teese and Monica Bellucci on ‘Malena’ (women far sexier than I could ever hope to be).

However, I decided that a new town, with my Latina cred to protect me and no one to tell people I wasn’t cool, sexy or confident enough to get away with ruby lips, was the right place to say, “screw it” and just go for it. To people who I’d never met, it was just one more insignificant detail about a complete stranger and to those who saw me back home, it soon became a sign of how well I was doing. Of how much my new life had changed me.

 War Paint

I soon realized that those great big clichés about projecting self-confidence have some truth to them. That something as small as adding a bright streak of red to my lips had an effect not just on the way others saw me, but in how I see myself. It’s not a magic wand and it didn’t get rid of my insecurities, but it is oddly empowering. So much so that I don’t forego lipstick or use any other hue anymore.

After a little polling with some rouge enthusiasts I know, I found that even friends who don’t subscribe to an all-day, every-day red lip agree in at least a few points when it comes to why they wear it when they do. For most of them, wearing a shade of red takes confidence, but it also supplies it. It takes a bit of getting used to but gets immediate reactions. It’s sexy and chic. One of them even told me that it taught her to flaunt big lips that used to make her feel self-conscious.

All of them think it’s pretty badass.

These days I am a firm believer that everyone can (and should) do the red lip thing once in a while. This belief is confirmed every time I see one of my best male friends, who just can’t help himself and bursts in flustered acclaim of anyone in red lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fact that he’s a dude. It’s just how enthusiastic he is about how he’s never really met a woman who couldn’t pull it off. I don’t think I have either.

The right shade of rouge

I like darker, fuller shades of red. Nothing that’s too brown or purple, but a pop of true pinup-ness on my lips. I’ll go a bit pinker or a bit lighter when someone gifts me a new lipstick they thought might suit me, but after almost a decade of red lips I get pretty stubborn about “the one that looks good on me”.

Regardless of how stubborn or not you are with the right hue on your lips, we can all agree that some lipsticks are better than others. These are some of the brands I’ve tried and loved in the past.


Every self-respecting red lipstick wearer has at least one of these. In fact, I know people who swear by it and will never, ever replace their favorite shade of matte lipstick. I’m not quite as loyal to the brand, but I do have two sticks (Russian Red and Ruby Woo) and two liquid faves (Dance With Me and Feels So Grand) in my personal collection. Their liquid is pretty long-lasting, but it’ll also dry your lips after a few hours so preemptive measures are recommended.


A friend introduced me to this American makeup and skincare product company and as a beer drinker and taco eater who likes to stay up all night and do other things with her mouth (like smoke, you fiends), I can say with some authority that this is one of the truly long-lasting ones. The ones you’ll wake up to find still there in the morning if you are not careful. It comes with a gloss to keep your lips hydrated and their Brick and Blu-Red shades are pretty goddamn gorgeous.

Kat Von D

This lady knows her shit. Seriously, she does. Her Everlasting Liquid Lipstick not only makes me think of Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper, but it’s also pretty resilient. You can tell it’s a product by someone who personally cares about the importance of fewer touchups and no smears. The shade is Blood Crimson, naturally. But there’s a Neon Fire Engine Red that’s also a bit dreamy.


Revlon brought my first Red love into my life. It was a stick Color Stay that for some reason I have never been able to find again. Still, every now and then, I will find an absolutely perfect shade I refuse to part with and, often enough, it’ll be by Revlon. Their Top Tomato shade of the Ultimate Liquid Lipstick won’t last all night, but it’s pretty resilient and won’t dry your lips.

Have you found your perfect Red yet?


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