Which Iconic Matte Red Lipstick Can Handle Me at My Drunkest?

I compared four classics to see which one best fits my partying tendencies.
Publish date:
July 29, 2016
nars, mac, nyx, sephora, red lipstick, matte lipstick, long-lasting lipstick

Red lipstick has been my go-to going-out lipstick for years. It's a bold color that looks great in everything from flash photography to dimly lit clubs, and it's just sexy AF. It also looks great no matter what hair color I have.

Over the years I've accumulated many red lipsticks: metallic reds, sheer reds, not-so-great reds, matte reds, you name it. For going out, I always go for matte reds, because they have the most potential to survive Drunk Maura. I put some of the most iconic matte reds to the test.

I extensively searched the internet for the most praised matte red lipsticks, and these are the contestants I came up with:

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Amsterdam

The NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams have always had a huge fan base. They're only $6 and come in 34 shades — that's certainly a good start. One of these shades is Amsterdam, which is described as a "pure red." In my opinion, it's a slightly more pink-toned red, but on the lips it reads very red (especially with a lip liner underneath, and to party-proof my makeup I always use one).

It comes in a gloss-like tube with a doe-foot applicator. The product itself is creamy and thicker than you'd expect from most liquid lipsticks. Applying the lipstick is easy, but it goes on slightly streaky. For me, it's not really a deal breaker, but you will need to apply two coats.

It doesn't dry down super-matte, which is both great and not so great. I like that it doesn't dry out my lips, but of course this will make it transfer more quickly. It fades very gracefully, though. If you've had one too many and forgotten to look in the mirror (or your front-facing camera), you don't need to worry about getting that red ring around your lips.

Verdict: This is a great red lip if you're out and about all day and have time for touchups. You can also wear this if you go out if you're not planning to kiss anyone, as this lipstick is very non smooch-proof. (Not to get too graphic about the definition of smooching, but for science, I kind of have to. I mean kissing. Not serious Frenching, because we all know how that goes down.)

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Cream in Dragon Girl

Dragon Girl has the highest ranking on MakeUpAlley out of these four lipsticks, and on top of that it's Taylor Swift's go-to lippie. I couldn't not test it out.

Dragon Girl is described as a "vivid siren red." On me, most true-red lipsticks look a little pink unless they're very blue-toned, and this one is no exception. It has a matte finish, but it doesn't even look very matte — more velvet-matte. I love that because it doesn't settle into fine lines or make your lips look dry. It looks very luxurious.

The pencil looks like a giant crayon. I love that there's a spring in the cap so it's impossible to flatten the tip if you're too excited (or drunk) when you're putting it on. The crayon makes the lipstick easy to apply, if you keep the tip sharp you won't even have to use a lip liner underneath.

There's hardly a scent to it, and the formula is pigmented, but not creamy. It feels very thin on the lips — you hardly even notice that you're wearing lipstick. It doesn't transfer to your glass when you're drinking, and it lasts through a couple of snacks. After a full meal, though, there's a chance you'll have to reapply.

You're going to want to check on your lips because it doesn't fade too evenly, but, as it only fades when you're eating, if you're only drinking with this lipstick on, you have nothing to worry about. It can resist a small smooch, but not full-on smooching.

Verdict: My friend loves it when I wear this because I finally don't leave a stain on all her glasses. Great for drinks, but not ideal for dinner.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red

This lipstick has been recommended to me by pretty much everyone on xoVain. I finally had my sister pick it up for me when she was in the US a little while back.

This liquid lipstick comes in a slender tube with a doe-foot applicator. The packaging is very simple but efficient. The formula is a little thicker than other liquid lipsticks, but it's guaranteed fully opaque in one swipe. It's incredibly pigmented.

There's a slightly chemical scent to it, but half of the time I don't even notice it. The lipstick takes about 15 seconds to dry down completely, and after that, it's very matte. I don't find it particularly drying, but you want your lips to be in good condition when you apply it.

This lipstick has incredible staying power. However, don't expect miracles. It does last well through drinks and smooches, but you're going to want to check your entire face after eating greasy food. This is the kind of formula that bleeds out when it contacts oil. I ate a burger with this and ended up with lipstick on both my chin and my nose.

The Verdict: I already sold all my friends on this bad boy.

MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo

Ruby Woo is probably the most iconic red lipstick from these four. There must be a reason it's one of MAC's best-selling shades.

The well-known MAC lipstick bullets are simple and efficient. It's annoying that you can't easily tell what color is inside, but that argument is as old as time. Usually I'm not a big fan of their Retro Matte formula because it's chalky and dry to apply. Luckily, the weather is really warm. and that's when you notice it's not hard to work with at all. If you struggle with applying it, just let it sit in your bra for a bit.

This lipstick is more creamy than the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, and it feels a little thicker on the lips. The lipstick has a very matte finish — that's why it doesn't bleed out or settle into fine lines. It's also why it's slightly drying on the lips.

Once you've applied it, it stays put. You can drink and eat without having to worry. Of course it doesn't completely survive oil, but after eating a pizza it only faded on the inner ring of my lips.

Because this lipstick still slightly moves around on your lips, it has a prettier fading situation. And if you've blotted after applying, you can easily smooch away with this one.

The Verdict: Definitely a best-seller for a reason!


To conclude, there's not one conclusive answer.

Honestly, all these are great. I think it really depends on what you want from your lipstick, besides being red and matte. For going out, I tend to lean towards the Sephora Cream Lip Stain because it's easy to apply and doesn't fade through drinks; for going out to dinner, I'd pick Ruby Woo, but my daytime go-to would be Dragon Girl.

  • What is your favorite matte red?
  • What do you look for in a going-out lipstick?