Every year I leave it to the very last minute to pick out the perfect red lipstick for Chinese/Lunar New Year (assuring myself I own just the one for the job) and every year the lipstick I was sure would match totally doesn’t, and I’m left scrambling and cursing my bad memory, frantically swatching every red I own minutes before I need to be out the door.
But not this year. I got a jump on things by picking out 8 of the best reds for the season, based on not only color but formula as well. I can’t deal with drying lipsticks and am a klutz at applying bold colors and keeping them from getting on my teeth/chin/clothing, so there were a lot of points to consider when I was making this list. I swatched my arm and lips raw!
It was totally worth it though, because now I know exactly what I’ll be wearing this year. The only thing left to do is figure out how to rotate through 8 lipsticks in a day…
1. Best Bright Red:
For me, the shade of red that best represents Lunar New Year is an orange-red so bright it borders on neon – a red so striking and cheerful, one feels happier just looking at it. If you love that quintessential CNY red as much as I do, you must check out NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Light My Fire. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and so festive for this season.
2. Best Raspberry Red:
As much as I love orange reds, there’s also special place in my heart for deep, pink-based shades like Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Sheer Plaid. It reminds me of cockscomb flowers – pots of which we buy each year for decorating the house – and is perfect if you want to wear red but aren’t exactly a warm red person, know what I mean?
3. Best True Red:
Who can argue with the luckiness of a true ang-bao red? In my head, a perfect true red is rich and opaque, and skirts that fine line between bright and dark. It’s a bit of a unicorn shade in that sense, but when you see one you just know. For me, that was Make Up For Ever Artist Matte Liquid Lipstick in 401 and it was true-red love at first swipe.
4. Best Burgundy Red:
Lunar New Year isn’t just about down-home family time, it’s also about gatherings with friends. So it makes sense to have a deeper, vampier red on hand for all those evening parties that run late into the night. Tom Ford Lips and Boys in Nicholas is my pick for being the perfect balance between seasonally-appropriate and dramatic, and bonus: it’s clutch-sized!
5. Best Universally Flattering Red:
There’s got to be some lucky symbolism behind a beautiful red that flatters everyone who wears it, right? Fenty’s Stunna Lip Paint is that to a T – up till now I hadn’t encountered a red that I could honestly recommend to anyone and everyone, but here it is. If you’re blind-buying one thing off this list for the new year, this is going to be your best bet.
6. Best Bullet Listick:
If you’re looking for an all-in-one crowd pleaser as a symbolic gift for someone or a treat for yourself, Cle de Peau Beauté Lipstick in Dragon Red is the red for you. It’s got an auspicious name, a stunning red hue, and is super comfortable on the lips. Seriously, what else could anyone ask for in a Lunar New Year lipstick?
7. Best Matte Liquid Lipstick:
A lightweight, ultra-comfortable (read: non-drying) liquid lipstick with an unique applicator that makes precision application a cinch? Yes please. The opaque formula of YSL Tatouage Couture Matte Stain in 01 Rouge Tatouage dries down to a budge-proof finish that, true to its name, fades to a graceful stain rather than wearing off unevenly.
8. Best Lip Gloss:
Not comfortable in bold opaque brights? You can still get in on the action with a sheer, girlish red tint in a forgiving gloss formula like Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss in 784 Romance. It’s shiny and cheerful enough to give you all those fun festive vibes, but soft enough to pull off easily. Plus, it’s non-sticky which makes it perfect for all the eating and drinking you’ll undoubtedly be doing!
This post contains affiliate links.