20/30/40: Our Editors Talk Red Lips

When we envision our favorite leading ladies — think: Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Rihanna — we most likely picture them in their shining, red-lip-lacquered moments of glory. Red is striking, and has been a quintessential lip color for as long as we can remember. We’d be wiling to bet good money that many of you can recall your grandmothers need for perfectly applied lipstick before ever leaving the house. There’s something magic about the addition of a brightly-hued lip color that makes a woman feel empowered, slightly daring, and polished. There’s a red for every occasion. No two shades are the same, and everyone has a favorite, which makes selecting the right red for you so much more than a one-and-done process. There’s finish and undertone and application to consider. These are important decisions, people!

To weigh in on the subject, we’ve called on our editors to give you a breakdown on their go-to hues. Read about their favorites shades below, and don’t be afraid to sound off in the comments. We’re eager to hear what you’ve been wearing, too.

Twenty-something, Senior Managing Editor at The Bleu, Tiana Lewis

“I once had a friend in college vow to never wear red lipstick. My immediate reaction was to write her off as mildly strange — compartmentalize her into the group of ‘acquaintances’ I’d politely wave to on the campus lawn, but never fully associate with. Red lips were — and continue to be — a go-to fail-safe in my very limited rotation of everyday make-up looks. Whether I prefer to err on the side of classic or bold, a ruby pout does the trick every single time. Before I could say much more, my new companion (and now soon-to-be bridesmaid) explained that she once witnessed the tragic application of red lipstick on a face that too eerily resembled her own, leaving the poor girl looking nothing short of a circus clown. Needless to say, she was scarred by the entire ordeal, and because of it, lived the majority of her adult life laden with the idea that red lipstick simply wasn’t for her. She also developed a slight fear of clowns.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t convinced. Red, I protested, is so much more than a one-dimensional hue. There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. So, with my arsenal of tubes and applicators — liquid, matte, and glossy formulas abound — I went to work swatching. It might have taken hours and countless Neutrogena makeup wipes, but we finally found a shade that perfectly suited my soon-to-be best friend. She’s been converted ever since. If you, like my college companion, are struggling to find your perfect shade (I promise: everyone has one), might I encourage you to start with a few of my all-time favorites? Even if it’s a product you only break out once a year, you’ll be so glad to have finally found your match.”

Tiana's Reds

Thirty-something, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Bleu, James Kicinski-McCoy

“I don’t have a whole lot to say about lipstick, since I am generally an au naturel kind of girl when it comes to my lips. I’ll glide on a thick layer of chapstick or clear gloss for moisturizing purposes only, and out the door I go. But, I do have my moments, though usually few and far between, where I’ll confidently rock a bold kisser. It’s usually at a time when other makeup is left minimal and I just need a quick solution to running late that’s semi low-maintenance. My only real complaint about wearing lipstick is that I constantly feel the need to reapply and conduct frequent smudge checks. I’ve tried many of shades over the years, most which I’ve admittedly hated. But I will say, when I do decide to wear lipstick, it’s red or bust! My color wheel leans towards the more fiery, pimento-esque, orange-y hues because I think it suits my complexion best. Here are the three that I favor.”

James' Reds

Forty-something, Contributing Editor at The Bleu and Founder of Whoorl, Sarah James

“I fancy myself a red lipstick aficionado and I’ve searched the green beauty market up and down for the best reds out there. If you aren’t on the red lipstick bandwagon yet, can I persuade you to give it a chance? A vibrant, beautiful red lipstick can absolutely transform a face. Yes, it’s an attention-grabber. Yes, it takes confidence. Still unsure? Here are five reasons to make it happen.

  1. Wearing red lipstick is a classic look that’s been around for decades. Think Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Coco Chanel.
  2. It makes you look younger. Oh, I know some of you are going to balk at that statement, but it has been scientifically proven that what people find youthful in a face is the contrast of features. (Dark lashes/eyebrows, deep lips.) As we age, those features become noticeably paler and we begin to look more washed out. When you wear a red/bold lipstick, you create that contrast again.
  3. It lifts your mood. A bright lipstick makes you feel more chipper and even more powerful. Coco Chanel was right when she said, ‘If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.’
  4. It increases feelings of self-worth. Vain? Maybe, but when you take the time to care for yourself, it makes a lasting impact psychologically.

So, ladies. Heed my word and get some red lipstick in your queue. And you don’t have to go full-bore like yours truly and apply straight out of the bullet. Gently pat your finger on the lipstick and then dab on your lips for a much subtler effect. Baby steps, but I promise you’ll be rocking those red lips in no time. Here are my three favorite reds in green beauty.”

Sarah's Clean Crimsons

Written by: The Editors

Bleu's team of seasoned writers and editors at your service.


  1. Catherine

    April 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    What are your thoughts on red lipstick if one has thin lips? I have always believed that a bold red lip looks better on full lips.

  2. Jules

    April 1, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Ruby Woo. Same red lipstick blogs have named for literally 10+ yrs. argh. I’m slightly disappointed here. Sorry 🙁

    • Robin

      April 4, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      Sarah said “clean” reds. Ruby Woo is sadly, not even close to being clean. 🙁

      • The Editors

        April 4, 2019 at 1:56 pm

        Sarah’s three red lipstick selections — Kjaer Weis, Kosas, and RMS — are definitely clean. 🙂 However, not all of our editors’ picks are — just a few of their favorites.

  3. Mara

    April 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    It would be helpful to add some applying tips as well Here. Red lipstick application trends can be pulled off successfully or unsuccessfully (Ie./ how to get that powdery just bitten stain I see on all the Korean beauty blogs…and pull it off at 38..?) and not all reds are swipe and go.


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