The Perfect Red Lipstick: Green Beauty for Drag Queens & Makeup Fiends

Classic Red Lips Main

A bold, sexy red lip may be the biggest impact any makeup can have on your look, instantly imparting a sense of glamor whether you’re wearing a pencil dress or a t-shirt and jeans. But with the news that a a disturbing number of the lipsticks found in drugstores, department stores and high-end beauty shops are tainted with lead, you might be hesitant to swipe it onto your lips several times daily. Here are some lead-free, non-toxic options in vivid shades of red, whether you like the classic look or just a bit of gloss.

Red lips look best when the rest of your face is fresh and simple; play it up with luminous skin and a bit of mascara. Avoid dark shades of red if you’ve got thin lips, and choose sheerer formulas for daytime. Buy the wrong red for your skin tone? Don’t toss it – you can adjust the color by pairing it with a complementary gloss with either a gold/champagne or pink/purple tint.

Classic Red Lipstick

Classic Red Lipstick

If you want a bright, playful red lipstick packed with pigment, you can’t go wrong with Ilia Lipstick in Wild Child. This certified organic, lead-free lipstick has a semi-matte finish. Jane Iredale’s PureMoist lipstick in Carrie is another great option, with more of a glossy look and extra moisturizing power.

Red Lip Stain

Classic Red Lip Stain

Stain has far more staying power than ordinary lipstick, so you don’t have to worry about touch-ups. Josie Maran’s Magic Marker Cheek & Lip Stain in Flamenco (maraschino cherry red) is so light, you won’t even notice you’re wearing anything, and it lasts for hours. Tarte’s LipSurgence in Lust is a tad darker and more dramatic.

Sheer Gloss

Classic Red Lips Gloss

Give your lips a bit of a boost with Vapour’s Elixir Plumping Lip Gloss in Bitten, which contains certified organic liposomes that lock in moisture and add instant volume. On a budget? C Me Shine lip gloss in Red Hot by Yes to Carrots is a fantastic product at a low price point; it’s lush and non-sticky with just the right amount of pigment for a more subtle look – you can find it at most drugstores, and Target.

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About Stephanie Rogers
Stephanie Rogers is a fashion- and beauty-obsessed freelance writer with an abiding love for kale and organic wine, living in Asheville, North Carolina.

3 Comments

  1. Misnomer: There IS no “lead-free” lipstick – there is only lipstick with lesser amounts of lead. It is not possible to tell from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics research whether it’s possible to make lead-free lipstick. Their tests found several brands with no “detectable” lead, but then the FDA developed a more sensitive detection method and found lead at some level, some at extremely low levels, in their tests of 400 lipsticks. So that seems to indicate that lead is a ubiquitous contaminant, but that it can be reduced. In conversations with the Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health, they are in agreement that the “lead-free” claim is erroneous, and a statement is forthcoming.

  2. You should check out Brazen Cosmetics for bold & provocative nontoxic makeup! I’d be happy to send you some to play with! :)

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